To complement your punchy riff with that classic valve amp sound, an overdrive pedal allows you to find yourself in the band whilst retaining tone. They are more universal that a lot of people think are an important tool used by a metal, rock, or even blues band among others. To add a little power to your stack and without sacrificing too much room on your pedalboard, there are tonnes of these pedals that suit different genres.
Because of this, it can be hard to find the ideal product so we have created the following list of the best overdrive pedals. Some pedals are well suited to the heavier end of the scale and those a bit more subtle but whatever your preference, there are those that add full-on saturation as well as the understated.
Quick Summary of Overdrive Pedals
BOSS Super Overdrive Guitar Pedal (SD-1)
You can’t go wrong with a Boss at least we’ve never found that to be the case and in their SD-1 overdrive pedal, we see no reason to change our minds. This is somewhat of a classic and offers the user a warm yet smooth overdriven sound with natural distortion. For blues and rock guitarists, this is the ideal pedal for your rig and the tone control allows you to find that perfect spot of tube amp growl and something a little more subtle than other pedals.
It can be picked up for a very appealing price which you might expect from Boss and although the term ‘built like a tank’ gets thrown around a lot when it comes to pedals, it is a term you’d use to describe this one. It complements valve amps well to give your sound a little more oomph when you need it and allows your amp to be more responsive to your playing.
- Great price
- Smooth sound ideal for blues and rock
- Level tone and overdrive
- Solid build
Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini
Compact but able to pack quite the punch, the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini is one of the most well known and best overdrive pedals going. It is also one of the most reasonably priced options that give you the option to tweak the tone, level, and overdrive. For a little more bite in your distortion, it is a great addition to your pedalboard and features midrange growl making it appealing for a bunch of different guitar styles.
It really is pretty small so you can always find room for it and when you take the gain down but up the overdrive, you’re starting to give the distorted sound what it needs to make more of an impact. Close to the full-sized version but for a smaller price making it a great investment that saves you some cents for another pedal – what could be better!
- Convenient size
- Good value
- Tube screamer tones
- Complements distorted sounds well
- Does not come with a lead
Boss BD-2 Blues Driver Bundle with Instrument Cable
This is the best blues overdrive pedal but also the ideal bundle for anyone who needs the extra accessories. It comes with a handful of picks and an instrument cable so you can add it to your rig with ease. When you have it all set up you’ll see why this is heralded as one of the best pedals for blues tones and doesn’t overcomplicate things to make it easy to get to grips with.
It has a smooth yet crunch sound ideal for blues and is responsive to volume changes whilst offering warm distortion. With gain tone and level control, there aren’t as many options as some of the stompboxes on our list but it is great for anyone who knows what they want and likes to keep it simple. It is also available with the power cable if you need it but either way, you get ideal tube amp simulation.
- Good value
- Blues tones
- Gain and level control
- Good boost for overdrive amps
- Some people need a little more presence
Fender Santa Ana Overdrive Pedal
Although it doesn’t have the same decades of service as some of the other pedals on our list, it is one of the most versatile and has a lush sound to deliver a stompbox with plenty of additional features. Any touring guitarist will appreciate the backlist knobs that make it easy to make adjustments and anodized aluminum body that protects it from offers you the chance to use vintage tube overdrive without any unnecessary noise.
You can pick from a more subtle sound to full-on saturation and there are plenty of minor adjustments you can make to tone so it is easier to hit the right spot. Change everything from middle and treble to bass and drive then switch between two voice sounds of your choice. This is one for the experienced players but the reward is in a versatile overdrive pedal.
- Lots of options for tweaking the sound
- Two voicing options can be customized
- LED-backlit knobs
- Ideal for touring
- Not as easy for a beginner
EarthQuaker Devices Palisades Mega Ulitmate Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal
Best For Effects
With a wide range of effects available this is one of the best overdrive pedals for anyone who wants to be able to tailor their overdrive for different styles in one pedal. Somewhat of a legend, it offers a variety of voices in one tube screamer pedal. Two gain channels allow you to give your guitar a clean yet punchy sound and you can play with the impact of the distortion via the bandwidth knob to from it from light to full-on crunch.
Gain A is ideal for strumming with its lower gain and subtle sound and if you want to switch to a solo, gain B is your go-to setting for higher gain. With a normal/bright switch and adjustable buffer settings and they have managed to pack a lot into one overdrive pedal.
- Two gain channels
- Lots of effects
- Something for almost every style
- Buffer settings
- Steeper learning curve
Chase Bliss Audio Brothers Analog Gainstage Guitar Effect Pedal
Best For Distortion
One of the most flexible overdrive pedals available with a variety of options for the seasoned guitarist. There are two analog channels separate from one another so you can blend sounds, combing for a richer sound or keep them apart for separate use. You can even amend the gain and tone of each channel independently so it is like having more than one overdrive pedal at your disposal.
It packs a lot into a compact size making it ideal for touring and you can add a little fuzz if there is a need for it and choose from buffered or true bypass. A versatile pedal that seems to give you endless options and an impressive sound.
- Versatile with lots of options for boost, drive, and fuzz
- Set up two channels
- Can blend sounds
- Might be a bit pricey for some budgets
Overdrive Pedal Guide
To give your sound added more of a presence without overdoing things, an overdrive pedal is one of those tools you must have in your rig. Whether you are a touring band or want to enhance the tone in your garage then there are plenty of great options out there, but how can you tell what is best for you?
To help you make a sensible decision, we have created the following buyer’s guide. Not to be confused with distortion, overdrive has a unique sound, here’s how to tell the good pedals from the bad.
What To Look For In An Overdrive Pedal
The Right Size
This is less to do with the sound but more to do with the room on your pedalboard. If space is at a premium then you can pick up a reliable product in the mini or compact sizes. They might not have all the features but can still deliver a warm, clean sound without taking up half the pedalboard.
If this is less of a concern then go for a stompbox that has more features and tweaks than you know what to do with at first, but grow into.
Being able to pick between two sounds can mean less fiddling around between songs to switch between the perfect overdrive settings. A lot of the high-end overdrive pedals allow you to select separate channels and with some, you can even blend them for a richer sound.
being able to choose between tone and drive is great as you can get a less complex overdrive pedal that is easy to get on with. However, some people will find this restrictive and want more knobs with a greater selection of options to tweak. This is for the more experienced electric guitarist but is this is you then you might want to up your budget to get a little gain, fuzz, and beyond.
If you are a touring guitarist then the basic overdrive pedals might not be able to withstand the rigors of a tour. They can be useful as a backup but for day-in-day-out use and loading and unloading, the higher quality pedals can be a better fit.
Although most guitar pedals are built to last since they get trod on to switch them on and off, it is best to check for how reputable the durability of the pedal is before you think about loading the tour van.
What Is An Overdrive Pedal?
This is as good a place to start as any as an overdrive pedal is one of the first that most electric guitarists should consider. By overloading tube amps, they show the first signs of distortion without being the full-blown version. With a mix of a little fuzz and crunch, this is where we have overdrive.
A pedal allows you to recreate this sound and make adjustments to fit your genre. Since it is used in just about every style of electric guitar it is important to be able to tone the intensity down when necessary or give it more of a kick.
Overdrive Vs Distortion
These two go hand in hand in a lot of ways but the likes of Blues guitarists will find overdrive to be useful but there is no room for distortion.
Although there are some similarities they have some pretty important differences. An overdrive pedal is less driven by gain and offers a smoother sound with warmer tones than distortion. Distortion, on the other hand, has a more aggressive sound, increasing the impact of the guitar in the chorus of a rock song or solo of a heavy metal band through a load of gain.
If you play blues or classic rock then you will likely benefit from using an overdrive pedal, the same goes for a lot of indie music.
Should I Buy An Overdrive Pedal?
If the genre of music you enjoy or play fits then an overdrive pedal is a good investment into your sound. When looking to increase the volume of your guitar but maintain a clean, warm sound with pleasant tones, this is the pedal you should purchase.
They are good for playing guitar at home as you don’t have to. increase the volume so much to get a bigger sound, something your neighbors will thank you for.
How Much Does An Overdrive Pedal Cost?
Like most pedals, you can pick up a basic overdrive pedal for around $50 and still have a lot of fun creating a bigger, warmer sound. If you want to be able to customize the sound from the pedal and are a touring guitarist who needs a richer sound, then $250 – $350 is a good benchmark for buying the best overdrive pedal that money can buy.
Still, there is nothing wrong with staying within your means if this is a stretch as some of the world’s biggest bands use the simpler overdrive pedals because they fit their needs.
What Is The Best Overdrive Pedal?
This is an objective one as the best overdrive pedal for someone on a tight budget who just wants to use it at home is the BOSS Super Overdrive Guitar Pedal (SD-1). It has a classic sound with a little distortion but warm tones and can be picked up around $50.
In terms of buying an elite pedal that has added features and is better suited to touring or a seasoned electric guitarist, the Fender Santa Ana Overdrive Pedal is an incredibly versatile option. It allows you to tweak everything from the middle to the treble and has the durability to withstand daily use and tour life.
You can also customize two voice sounds to give you the ability to quickly switch between unique voices.