12 Apr Best 25 Overdrive Pedals to try
Confused by the hundreds of OD pedals out there?
We all love an overdrive pedal – that rich, creamy, gain makes the ribs tickle and the heart warm – but with just about every pedal company, of which there are hundreds, making at least one overdrive, distortion, boost or fuzz pedal, where do you start?
Some players have loads of overdrive pedals in the collection and on the board and others have ‘the one’ that is their sound. I am still searching for mine although a few have come close…
Many pedals are based on a few originals like the Klon Centaur and Ibanez Tube Screamer and many aim to recreate that classic Marshall rock sound or punchy, warm drive of a Fender amp.
You can spend your life looking for that perfect tone but to help you get started here is our take on the Best 25 Overdrive Pedals you should try, in no particular order or price!
- Blackstar Dept 10 Dual Drive
- ThorpyFX Gunshot
- Stone Deaf PDF 2
- Fulltone OCD
- J Rockett Audio Archer
- Echoline Roadrunner
- Boss DB-2 Blues Driver
- EHX Soul Food
- JHS Morning Glory
- Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
- MXR 250 Double Double
- Analog Man King of Tone
- Keeley Electronics D & M Drive
- Venuram Jan Ray
- Supro Drive
- Way Huge Green Rhino
- Fredric Effects Golden Eagle Klone
- Origin Effects Revival Drive
- Free the Tone String Slinger
- Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive
- Xotic SL Drive
- Carl Martin Plexitone
- Catlinbread Dirty Little Secret
- Mesa Cleo
- Ibanez Tube Screamer
Blackstar Dept 10 Dual Drive
Blackstar are not a company to stand still and here we have one of their new advanced valve pedals, the Dual Drive.
Here’s what Blackstar say about it “Brought to you by Blackstar’s R&D division responsible for blue-sky innovation and design, Dept. 10 are the most advanced valve pedals in the world.
Meticulously designed and engineered by a team of musicians for musicians. At the heart of each Dept. 10 pedal is an ECC83 triode valve, running at more than 200V internally like a valve amp, which allows them to deliver organic tone, dynamics and break up.”
The mission at ThorpyFX is to “produce the best sounding, most robust and most beautiful guitar effects available. This is achieved through great design, great engineering and holding true to our ethos of providing “Superior Fidelity Tone Machines” to discerning guitarists.”
ThorpyFX say the Gunshot was “designed to be the overdrive to beat all others. Sonically most overdrives can sound thin or lack a certain “something” when compared to a real valve amplifier. It’s an unfair comparison really, but it is possible to solve this problem. This is where the Gunshot comes in, at the heart of the pedal is a proprietary cascading “gain engine” tuned to deliver maximum tonality for as wide a range of amps as possible. Through tweaking the pedals controls to taste you can achieve overdrive flavours from subtle through to searing, think slightly hairy blues to hard rock. The tones produced are addictive and inspiring in equal measure.”
Stone Deaf PDF 2
The original PDF-1 put Stone Deaf on the map, evolving the legendary Maestro MPF-1 and dragging it into the 21st century. The PDF-2 turns things up a notch, bringing more gain and more flexibility for the ultimate overdrive and distortion effect.
The PDF-2 is its newer, shinier younger brother, with a lower noise floor, an adjustable gain control, and dual footswitches for hands-free toggling between the clean and dirty channels. Everything people love about the original, with a whole new set of tricks. Hand built in the UK as well.
Obsessive Compulsive Drive. The OCD was the first pedal to use Mosfets as clipping devices. Another first was their configuration as “hard clippers connected to v-ref” instead of to ground, as was the norm. These things contribute greatly as to why the OCD has such touch-sensitivity…why they react so well when the strings are hit hard or soft, and why they sound & feel different than all other pedals out there, 90% of which are just slight tweaks of the Tube Screamer. First launched in 2004 and tweaked ever since!
J Rockett Audio Archer
The Archer is sort of a 2 in one pedal. It can be used as just a clean boost by turning the gain all the way down. As you introduce gain it will attenuate the clean signal but there is a magical blend in between that you will find.
We all want an original Klon Centaur pedal but sadly, unless you re-mortgage the house and scour the universe we shall never have the pleasure of seeing it on our board. What better then than to get a pedal made by the company that worked with the Klon designer?
The Roadrunner is a transparent and organic sounding boost / overdrive pedal, with selectable diode clipping for different drive characteristics, sag and compression.
The pedal is harmonically rich and really easy to dial in to any amp using the responsive presence control.
The Roadrunner can also work as a boost to push your amp over the edge into natural drive, or to add extra gain in front of your other drive pedals without changing their tone.
Boss BD-2 Blues Driver
A classic from Boss. The BD-2 Blues Driver delivers the creamy, yet crunchy sound associated with great blues guitar. This popular pedal provides instant access to the kind of warm overdrive and emotive distortion usually reserved for 30-year-old tube amps.
EHX Soul Food
The EHX Soul Food Transparent Overdrive is their affordable version of the Klon Centaur. Its circuitry features boosted power rails to provide abundant headroom and increased definition. Best of all, you don’t have to be a rock star to own one!
Super responsive and transparent the Soul Food has extended headroom and definition.
JHS Morning Glory
The Morning Glory is their most well-known overdrive pedal, winning more awards and receiving more accolades than any of their other designs. One of the most transparent overdrives out there it can add mid- to low-level grit to your crystal-clean tone and boost a crunchy tone into thicker sustain.
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
Based on the breakthrough Boss OD-1 design (c1977) which evolved into the more versatile SD-1: this added an active tone control for shaping the treble response and subtle enhancements for more low-end body.
It gives your tone a push where it matters most, ensuring your guitar always sits perfectly in the mix with warmth, clarity, and rich presence. Lower drive settings are great for rhythm parts, while higher settings are ideal for fat, singing leads.
MXR Double Double
The MXR Double-Double Overdrive serves up two classic overdrives in a single housing, selectable with the flick of a switch—a Low Gain circuit for rich, fiery midrange tones and a High Gain circuit that kicks up the gain and emphasizes highs and lows—with tone controls to season your overdriven sound.
Use the Treble and Bass controls to season your overdriven sound, and then crank the Level and Drive controls to turn the heat up to your liking.
Analog Man King of Tone
Anything with a five year waiting list must be good! The King of Tone first appeared in 2003 and quickly sold out. Now on Version 4 it is a bit of a mythical pedal but revered by all who have it on their board.
Great for pure, overdriven tube territory resulting in juicy rock tones. These sell for 3-4 times their price second hand, if you can find one…
Keeley Electronics D&M Drive
The signature pedal of Daniel Steinhardt & Mick Taylor of That Pedal Show, the D&M Drive is a dual drive and boost pedal.
It offers a gorgeous sounding high-voltage Boost side which is designed to impart the perfect tone on any amp that needs to be pushed. The Drive side offers everything you would want in a powerful gain stage. From flat honest overdrive that is perfect for any set of chords to searing hot lead work with tons of sustain.
Venuram Jan Ray
The Jan Ray was designed to recreate the punchy clear tone of the Blackface Fender amps from the 60’s – the so called “Fender Magic 6” sound. This is an easy to handle overdrive keeping the characteristics of the guitar with great sustain without any unnatural compression. Hand built and high quality.
The Supro Drive captures the unmistakable sound of Supro vintage tube amplifiers. By recreating every aspect of the circuitry of a 1960s Supro tube amp, including an actual output transformer, the Supro Drive achieves the magnetic saturation that gives Supro amps their iconic deep, warm, and gritty rock n’ roll tones.
It features a toggle switch offering high-headroom Bold sounds or high-gain Rich tones. The pedal also features an assignable Expression pedal control for adjusting gain with preset minimum and maximum settings.
Way Huge Green Rhino
The Green Rhino Overdrive Mark IV has more force than ever behind its mighty charge, featuring the Volume, Tone, and Drive controls of the original with the MKII’s 100Hz, an all-new 500Hz control, and a Classic switch to get the simple Volume, Tone, Drive setup and sound of the original Green Rhino Overdrive.
Fredric Effects Golden Eagle
A highly sought-after boutique overdrive and one of the finest and smallest klones you can buy. This is a 100% accurate electronic clone, with nothing added or removed from the original effect. So the buffer and charge pump circuitry are intact and it sounds great.
Origin Effects Revival Drive
The Origin FX RevivalDrive is a premium-grade, two-channel overdrive pedal that delivers a wide range of British and American amp flavours, with genuine valve amp-like playing feel and realistic harmonics. From clean to fully cranked. Intuitive controls let you go under the hood to tweak every aspect of the amplifier, from preamp shape to power amp breakup, even down to the sag and ripple of the HT supply.
Free the Tone String Slinger
This ultra-detailed, cutting-edge overdrive was released as part of Free the Tone’s 15th Anniversary celebration. The String Slinger revives that ideal American Blues sound. Its viscous, clean-to-crunch tone with moderate compression feel can generate the best Blues sound.
Mad Professor Sweet Honey
One of our favourites the Mad Professor Sweet Honey Overdrive (SHOD) is a touch sensitive low gain overdrive pedal. It is designed to overdrive distorted amplifiers and give dynamically controlled light overdrive on clean sounds.
Distortion level can be controlled by pick attack and pickup strength. Harder picking for overdrive and softer for a cleaner tone. With the unique Focus control, you can adjust the feel and dynamics of the pedal as well as overall EQ.
Xotic SL Drive
The SL Drive offers very amp-like response (thins legendary British cranked amp sounds) and cleans up nicely with a roll of your guitar’s volume knob. The internal dip switches allow you to choose the sound characteristics of two amp models. The “Super Lead” setting offers a brighter tone with more gain, while the “Super Bass” setting has more low end with less highs.
Carl Martin PlexiTone
A high gain three step rocket of an overdrive. The PlexiTone offers two step overdrive, the crunch channel and the high gain channel, on top of that it gives you an up to 20dB clean boost channel.
The crunch channel goes from subtle overdrive to hard rock gain stage, the high gain channel goes from rock gain stages to absolutely meltdown, with loads of gain and low end, and all in a tone that brings the memory back to the early 80’s high gain guitar hero’s.
Catlinbread Dirty Little Secret
The Dirty Little Secret gives you that classic 70’s Marshall amp sound transforming any amplifier into those raging British stacks.
Mesa Engineering Cleo
The Cleo is a low gain pedal anchoring Blues, Roots, Indie Rock and even doubles as a hearty Boost, while it enhances, not covers up, the sound of your instrument. With sweet, open top end clarity and not too much saturation, it allows you to craft anything from a subtle boost up through urgent mid gain drive to harmonically-rich overdrive.
Ibanez Tube Screamer
One of the pedals that started it all way back when. The Ibanez Tube Screamer, in its many versions and forms, can be found on pedal boards in every corner of the globe, on arena stages, in small studios, and bedrooms. Its warm overdrive is a sound many players, from advanced to beginner, could never do without. A classic original.
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