Top 5 Best Overdrive Pedals I Recommend


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Overdrive pedals are so common that it’s harder to list how many players DON’T own one than it is to list how many do.

In fact, if you compile a list of your favorite guitarists, the number of those who DON’T own an overdrive pedal is probably close to zero.

If you’re considering adding an overdrive pedal to your collection, it can be hard to know where to start.

The market is saturated with pedals upon pedals and confusing technological jargon at each turn.

Suddenly, getting your hands on some funky effects seems more like a chore than something to enjoy.

Don’t throw in the towel just yet. If you’re itching to get your hands on a shiny new overdrive, let us help you out.

So, stick with us to explore our list of the best overdrive pedals on the market, and take a look at our buyer’s guide below for some tips and tricks on finding the perfect pedal.

Donner Blues Overdrive (Warm/Hot Modes)

Donner Overdrive Guitar Pedal, Blues Drive Vintage Overdrive Effect Warm/Hot Modes True Bypass

Let’s kick things off with the Donner overdrive. This pedal has two overdrive modes, warm and hot.

The warm overdrive bears a remarkable resemblance to the classic TS overdrive sound, and the hot mode gives a much tighter, louder sound.

We found the controls incredibly easy to use when we tested this pedal. This pedal comes with three central control knobs, level, gain, and tone.

Level controls the output volume, tone controls the brightness, and gain changes the overdrive amount.

Each knob has a wide control range, and we found we could achieve a very wide tonal range. You’ll also have the two-way tone switch to change between the warm and hot tones.

We found this pedal sounded best when playing either blues or rock. In particular, the hot mode provided a very accurate interpretation of the traditional rock and roll sound, which we loved!

If you know your pedals, you’ll probably notice that this one sounds very similar to the tube screamer-style overdrive.

You can also use the hot setting to boost the overdrive, turn the gain down, or deliver a signal boost which we love.

The only downside to this pedal is that the ‘warm’ setting requires constant adjustment. The knobs don’t feel too secure, making finding that clean tone a challenge.

Pros:

  • Easy to Use: With just three main control knobs, the Donner blues overdrive is simple to use, even for beginners.
  • Versatile: You can achieve an extensive tonal range with this pedal, and the hot setting doubles up as a signal boost, too.
  • Clean Tone: Thanks to the true bypass, there’s no cracking, humming, or fuzz with this pedal. The tone is clean and clear and would definitely be suitable for playing live music, as well as a private jam session.

Cons:

  • Temperamental Settings: We found that the ‘warm’ setting required frequent adjustment and often fell out of tone. This can make it tricky to achieve the right sound.
Donner Overdrive Guitar Pedal, Blues Drive Vintage Overdrive Effect Warm/Hot Modes True Bypass
  • 🎸[2 overdrive modes] Warm: The classic TS overdrive sound replica. Hot: More powerful, a louder, tightened sound.
  • 🎸[Style-type] Combining iconic vintage tube overdrive sound with wide dynamic range, Donner overdrive pedal gives you a wide tonal range from smooth whispers to searing leads.
  • 🎸[Easy to use]Flexible knobs for tone control: LEVEL (output volume), TONE (brightness) and GAIN (overdrive amount).
  • 🎸[True bypass guitar pedal] True bypass provides transparent tone. Enduring aluminum alloy chassis.
  • 🎸[Power supply] DC 9V Adapter power supply.(NOT INCLUDED)

Joyo JF01 Vintage Overdrive

JOYO Vintage Overdrive Pedal Classic Tube Screamer Pedal for Electric Guitar Effect - True Bypass (JF-01)

 Lover of all things vintage? Let’s carry on the theme with this vintage overdrive pedal from Joyo.

 First off, let’s talk about appearances. This pedal has a quirky and colorful design, which we love.

The greens and yellows will make a colorful addition to any pedalboard, practice room, or live venue!  

During testing, we found that this overdrive pedal once again delivered a very similar tone to the TS808 tube screamer.

In other words, the overdrive is very mellow and smooth, with a nice level of sustain.

Once again, this pedal keeps it simple with just three controls (drive, volume, and tone), and during testing, we found that these were easy enough to adjust with our feet!

So, if you want a ‘hands’-off’ kind of pedal, this one is excellent, especially for live performances.

This overdrive is an excellent choice if you’re a hobbyist, professional, or semi-professional.

It works well as a boost, and you don’t need any extreme level adjustments to achieve a good tone. It also works well for single coils and hummers, and the build quality is excellent.

This Joyo overdrive provides a more ‘muffled’ effect and can be a little quieter compared to some other overdrives.

Unfortunately, we did feel that the ribbon cable (that connects the switch PCB to the main PCB) was a little flimsy. Without careful attention, this could easily break.

Pros:

  • Sturdy Construction: This pedal is made from long-lasting steel, which is durable compared to other materials
  • Ease of Use: What we love the most about this pedal is how easy it is to achieve the right sound. There’s a lot of tonal range here, but you don’t need to make any drastic adjustments to get the right sound.  

Cons:

  • Weak Ribbon Cable: This could break if you’re not careful. If you’re using this pedal regularly, you’ll need to keep a close eye on this.
JOYO Vintage Overdrive Pedal Classic Tube Screamer Pedal for Electric Guitar Effect - True Bypass (JF-01)
  • JOYO Vintage Overdrive guitar pedal with RC4558 chip is a representation of the classic TS808 tube screamer.
  • Producing warmer overtones at quieter volumes when used as a clean volume boost, and can achieve a harsher distortion as gain is increased.
  • True Bypass provide transparent tone to keep the best tone quality, aluminium-alloy housing classic stoving varnish finish, stable and strong.
  • JOYO is over decade of brand reputation, with the most popular budget pedals, amplifiers, wireless systems, controllers, metronomes, tuners winning the love of global guitarists and inspiring people's music dreams.
  • Before playing, please make sure the guitar is fully connected with the pedal. in order to make JOYO pedals work properly and avoiding unexpected noise, we recommend you to purchase an extra JOYO original power adapter, or choose the other reliable brands and make sure it meets the working current requirement of single pedal.

Fulltone OCD Overdrive Pedal

Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal

Next up, we have the stunning OCD overdrive pedal from Fulltone.

This pedal comes in a minimalist off-white design with black knobs and a bold blue LED light.

Like other well-known pedals, this one comes with a simple design and just three knobs: volume, drive, and tone.

However, this pedal does come with a unique HP/LP (high peak/low peak) switch, which can take your tone from a clean one to a crunchier, sustain-laden distortion.

When we tested this pedal, what we loved the most was its versatility. We were able to achieve heavy, crunchy overdrives and crystal clear cleans in just a few switches!

However, we would say that the heavier sounds are quite subjective.

If you’re using the most extreme end of the overdrive, it can be described as a little ‘untamed’ with fuzz and all. It’s gritty and harsh, which will suit heavier players very well.

 It’s very easy to achieve some classic tones with this pedal. For example, expect some sabbath-y fuzz and punky Marshall tones in one box.

This pedal also has a discreet JFET input section, which increases dynamics, reduces popping, and provides better interaction between single coils and humbuckers.

The only real downside to this pedal is just how intense the overdrive is. Yes, it’s adjustable, but the harsher end of the overdrive may not be suited to players who prefer cleaner tones.

Pros:

  • Additional Controls: The high peak/low peak feature is something we haven’t seen on other pedals. It gives you more control over your tone, which many players will appreciate.
  • Versatile: This pedal can give you anything from a completely clean overdrive to a heavier, crunchier sound. This will suit players with a wide variety of tastes.

Cons:

  • ‘Fuzzy’ Tone, Acquired Taste: Although this is a versatile pedal, the crunchier overdrive tones can be harder to tame. Achieving a middle ground between clean and heavy can be difficult, which may not suit all players.

Wampler Tumnus Deluxe Overdrive

Wampler Tumnus Deluxe Overdrive & Boost Guitar Effects Pedal

Now it’s time to take a look at the Wampler tumnus deluxe overdrive. Straight off the bat, this pedal has a unique, eye-catching design.

Its subtle, glittery-gold casing gives it a beautiful vintage look, and its clock face centerpiece is a nice touch.

This pedal has more controls than we’ve seen our others. The wampler tumnus includes bass, mids, treble, level, and gain knobs.

The classic treble control knob gives players more control over the pedal’s higher frequencies, and the bass and mid controls can eliminate any undesired frequencies, so you’ll get a crystal clear sound every time.

You can even switch this pedal between ‘normal’ and ‘hot’ with a switch that transforms your standard gain sound into something higher and heavier.

When we tested this pedal, we were blown away by the buffer inside the tumnus deluxe and the power of the true bypass.

We found that the buffer in the pedal enhanced our tone, even when the pedal was switched off!

This pedal is designed to tone stack, and you’ll have so much tonal control in just one pedal, you’ll be blown away.

The only issue we found with this pedal was the boost function. When you engage the boost, the pedal tends to make a loud, hissing sound.

Sometimes, we were able to fade this out by playing around with the knobs, but on other occasions, we couldn’t shift it.

However, this sound will suit those looking for an eighties shredder metal vibe.

Pros:

  • Attractive Design: This pedal has a stunning vintage design that will appeal to many players.
  • Plenty of Controls: With this pedal, you’ll have far more control over your tonal range than you would with other competitors.
  • Powerful Buffer: The buffer inside the tumnus can clean up your tone, even with the pedal switched off!

Cons:

  • Temperamental Boost Function: The boost function on the tumnus can be a bit loud, hissy, and hard to control. This won’t suit all players.
Sale
Wampler Tumnus Deluxe Overdrive & Boost Guitar Effects Pedal
  • Same magic sounding buffer with all of the clarity, punch, and detailed breakup of the original Tumnus
  • Easily accessible true bypass performance for uncolored tonal purity at the flip of the side mounted switch
  • A classic treble control like the original perfects the pedal’s higher frequencies
  • Active bass and mid controls boost or cut the desired frequencies
  • Normal / Hot switch goes from standard Tumnus gain to higher gain

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal

Now, let’s finish off our roundup with the Boss SD-1 overdrive pedal. 

Boss is a familiar name that even the most inexperienced guitarists will have heard of.

The Boss super overdrive includes three control knobs: tone, level, and drive. Its stompbox design allows you to turn the pedal on and off in an instant or revert to your original amp settings.

This makes adjusting your settings when playing live more accessible than ever before.

When using this pedal, we noticed that your pickups will hugely affect the type of tone you can achieve.

For example, some pickups will produce a thick, raging overdrive that can be hard to tame with the pedal’s control knobs.

The harshness of your picking can also determine whether your notes sound light and clean or roaring and loud.

The SD-1 can provide a warm, clean tone to almost anything, whatever the genre. Even the dirtiest signals can be made easy on the ears with just a few adjustments to the pedal.

This pedal would work well as a booster, but you can also dial in a fair amount of distortion too.

Not to mention, this pedal is built like a tank. It’s a classic for a reason, and its build quality speaks for itself.

The SD-1 has a wide tonal range. Its lower drive settings complement rhythm sections perfectly, and the higher settings would suit singing leads well.

This pedal is also very sensitive to input gain. This isn’t a bad thing, though, as it means you have the potential to dial in many types of overdrive by simply playing with your guitar’s volume.

Pros:

  • StompBox Design: This is an attractive and convenient design, especially for live players or those who prefer a more ‘hands-off’ approach.
  • Versatile Overdrive: The boss pedal delivers warmth, clarity, and presence to almost any signal. The control knobs also have a wide scope for tonal control.

Cons:

  • Pickup Sensitive: Your pickups will have a huge effect on the quality of your tone. This isn’t as much of a problem with other pedals. Just be aware that your pickups and picking styles can significantly change your sound.
Sale
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal
  • Warm, smooth overdrive sounds
  • Connectors: INPUT jack, OUTPUT jack, AC adaptor jack
  • Includes a Tone control
  • Includes 9V battery

Buyer’s Guide

 You can never have too many overdrives.

These pedals are every guitar player’s staple, and if you don’t yet have one, you’ve now probably come to realize the benefits of having such a versatile addition to your arsenal.

 Not all overdrive pedals are the same, though. Some are versatile, some are warm, others are crunchy, and their overall design can affect your tone and performance.

So, before you rush off to buy yourself an overdrive, let us guide you through everything you need to know before buying an overdrive pedal.

What Does Overdrive Do?

Think of overdrive as more of an attitude than a sound. An overdrive pedal will add more grit to your signal – this will sound like turning your amplifier up to the point of breakup.

Most overdrive pedals have a wide tonal range. Their controls allow you to switch between anything from a crunchy, more ‘traditional’ overdrive sound to something cleaner.

Overdrive pedals work with various musical genres, including blues, rock, and metal.

While an overdrive pedal will push your signal quite hard, it doesn’t change your tone drastically.

This makes them so different from distortion pedals, which offer more saturation and spice and alter your sound more dramatically.

Look At The Gain

One of the most important things you should be looking for in an overdrive pedal is the amount of gain offered.

The amount of gain can determine what sort of tones you can create. Some gain levels can also cut out specific frequencies, which might not give you the tone you’re looking for.

Overdrive pedals often have a smaller gain range than fuzz or distortion pedals, but they can still become the backbone of your sound and the solid foundations to build upon.

If you’re confused about the amount of gain offered on a pedal, check one out in-store, or consult online reviews for more information.

Consider Input Signal

Remember: overdrive pedals will increase your input signal. This means that any other pedals or amplifiers used with the pedal can react and dramatically change your sound.

Unfortunately, this often means you’ll only need to do a minimal amount of work to push your amp into extreme distortion. However, it does mean your settings will be more sensitive.

If you’re using low-quality amps or pedals with poor internal circuits, this may affect the sound of your overdrive, too.

Consider the quality of your existing equipment before buying a pedal because this can determine how well your overdrive performs.

Tone Stacking

Some guitarists LOVE to tone stack. This will mean using more than one overdrive pedal to achieve the desired tone.

For example, if you’re new to pedals, you may be asking yourself, “do I really need to tone stack?”. The answer is probably not.

If you’re a beginner guitarist or you’re new to pedals, it’s best to get a feel for using a pedal before adding others into the mix.

Start off with just one overdrive pedal. Choose one with a good tonal range and a simple setup, and work on achieving your desired tone.

Once you’ve got a feel for how your pedal works and what you want from your overdrive, you can start adding more pedals.

When used together, you’ll get a fuller, richer sound with an even greater range of control.

For example, if you want to perform live, you might achieve a better sound with tone stacking than with just one pedal.

Final Thoughts

Overdrive pedals are one of the most well-loved effects in the world. In simple terms, these pedals can give your tube amps just a little more oomph.

While the effects may not be dramatic, they’re noticeable enough to transform your sound, boost your signal, and guarantee a red hot performance every time.

Whether you’ve been using pedals for years or you’re shopping for your first one, overdrive pedals are a great one to add to your setup.

They’re easy to use and versatile enough to be paired with plenty of other effects so that you can build your perfect sound with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Overdrive Better Than Distortion?

The answer depends on the sound you’re looking to achieve. For example, an overdrive pedal is better for producing cleaner sounds.

Overdrive pedals amplify your guitar’s natural sound without changing the tone too much. Distortion pedals give a heavier, crunchier tone that’s more noticeable in heavier music.

When Should I Use An Overdrive Pedal?

You can use an overdrive pedal to complement or enhance the sounds of your existing amplifier.

If you like the sound of your amp, but you’re looking for a bit more ‘bite,’ an overdrive pedal would be perfect for you.

Is An Overdrive Pedal The Same As A Tube Screamer?

The tube screamer is the most common type of overdrive pedal. Tube screamers and overdrive pedals are essentially the same things.

Although all tube screamers are overdrives, not all overdrives are tube screamers; however, many overdrive pedals are modeled on the tube screamer design and sound.