Hello and welcome to the Guitarlessons.org overdrive pedal buyer’s guide.

Overdrive might just be the most important and popular guitar effect. It fills an important role in just about every genre and has been a defining quality of the electric guitar sound for as long as electric guitars have been around, more or less. There are so many options that it can be hard to separate the best overdrive pedals from the average or downright bad ones.

That’s why I wrote this article. To highlight the best overdrive guitar pedals and explain what makes an overdrive great so that you can make an informed decision.

Overdrive Pedals Reviewed:

Understanding Overdrive

Overdrive is the phenomenon that occurs when a hot signal’s volume overloads the medium that’s carrying it. The result is that the sound breaks up and more harmonic overtones occur while the dynamic range decreases. Your guitar tone becomes fatter, warmer, dirtier, and grittier. This is also called clipping or saturation. In the world of guitar effects, overdrive is considered separate from distortion and fuzz, although they are all closely related versions of the same effect. For more information on clipping and the difference between overdrive and distortion, take a look at the Distortion Pedal Buyer’s Guide.

The original overdrive effect emerged when people played their guitars too loud for the vacuum tubes of their amplifiers, causing the sound to distort. Since then, people have found many other ways to achieve this effect. The main benefits of using an overdrive pedal include the compact size and the fact that you can achieve rich overdrive without having to play at eardrum-shattering volumes. There’s also the advantage of having a consistent sound that you can bring with you and play through different amplifiers. This is especially useful since not all amplifiers offer a proper overdrive.

Each different type of overdrive circuit also has a characteristic sound, and some are better for certain purposes. Overdrive is perhaps the most popular guitar effect, and there’s a myriad of overdrive pedals out there. This guide will show you the best overdrive pedals available and help you understand what makes each one so great, so that you can make an informed decision and get the overdrive that suits you the best.

What to Look for in The Best Overdrive Pedals

Overdrive Type

There are different types of overdrive that utilize different mechanisms to produce the sound. More importantly, some pedals create more grit while others offer a better low-gain profile. Since each overdrive has a characteristic tone, and certain amplifiers and music genres sound better with certain tone qualities, it’s good to know what overdrives are good for what.

In this day and age, it’s not so much about which type of clipping diode or op amp drives the sound anymore. Many pedals use combinations or complex constellations that defy the old categories of which circuit type sounds like what. And the improved tone control makes the best overdrive pedals of today very versatile since you can sculpt the tone to your liking.

What’s more important is to look and listen for the general sound type.

Transparent overdrive pedals retain a lot of dynamic range and preserve the general character of your guitar signal. They produce a nice warmth without sacrificing much clarity. The tone is punchy and responds to your playing style. The legendary Klon Centaur is a perfect example of transparent overdrive.

Blues overdrive pedals produce a fat vintage tone with a rich midrange and subdued treble. It’s a simple but full sound with a long sustain due to the reduced dynamics. Tube overdrive, in the context of pedals, refers to emulations of the sound of overloaded tube amplifiers. Most often, the target sound is that of classic British amps.

Boost isn’t technically a form of overdrive, but it’s often a secondary function of overdrive pedals. A clean boost raises the headroom and volume of the signal without any distortion, but it’s often used to push a signal harder into a subsequent overdrive circuit.

Those are the main terms worth memorizing. This guide will describe any terms introduced as we go.

Gain

Gain refers to the volume increase that pushes the signal into overdrive. Pedals and other gear usually have a knob that says either Gain or Drive, with which you control the amount of overdrive.

The range of such dials can vary a lot, and so can the frequency curve that drives the sound. Some pedals let you drive the signal really hard and get a hot overdrive that’s crunchy enough for heavy metal, while others only give you a light warming effect. The latter ones tend to produce a better low-gain sound than the ones who have a wider span, but it varies. Some pedals let you combine an assortment of clipping stages for a custom overdrive sound, while others use a very simple clipping circuit that produces a muddier tone.

The gain structure can also vary quite a bit. This refers to the frequency curve before the clipping occurs. The intensity of a given frequency range before distortion affects the harmonic profile of the final sound. For example, blues overdrives tend to emphasize the low midrange and reduce the treble.

Tone Control

Overdrive enhances a lot of the details of your sound, and it can produce a lot of excess dirt depending on the gear you use. That’s why tone control is so important. Different pedals tackle that issue in very different ways. The most common solution is a low-pass filter that lets you clean up the treble after the overdrive. This is what the typical Tone knob does, but some have a different mechanism behind them. There are also pedals with a filter for the low end. Some of the best overdrive pedals feature an equalizer which allows you to adjust the volume of the bass, midrange, and treble separately.

You will also find that certain overdrive pedals have tone controls that take effect before the overdrive, which alters the character of the sound a lot. Last, but not least, voicing toggles let you use different-sounding overdrives in the same pedal. But only certain pedals have this feature.

Bypass and Signal Integrity

A bypass circuit is a separate circuit that lets your signal pass through the pedal unaffected when you turn the effect off. The quality of these circuits can differ a lot, some polluting the sound with noise while others are crystal clear. There are also different types of bypass circuits. The two main types are buffered bypass and true bypass.

Buffered bypass takes the signal through the main circuit even when the effect is off. It boosts the signal at the end to make up for any lost volume.

True bypass uses a separate short, straight circuit that doesn’t color the sound. In essence, true bypass is cleaner but the signal loses more volume as it proceeds through the signal chain.

Certain pedals let you switch between the two types of bypass, but most only have one or the other. True bypass is more popular for overdrive pedals, since they tend to reside early in the effects chain and may cause a lot of noise later down the line. But in the end, it’s all a matter of Preference.

The Best Overdrive Pedals For Guitar

In this section, we will take a closer look at some of the best overdrive pedals on the market.

There’s an introduction to each pedal, a review and breakdown of their features, and tips on how and when to use them.

Without further ado, let’s begin.

Our Top Pick - Wampler Tumnus Deluxe

You’ve got to love the Tumnus Deluxe overdrive pedal. It’s based on the legendary Klon, generally considered the ultimate “transparent” overdrive that a lot of the best overdrive pedals try to emulate. Tumnus Deluxe isn’t a mere attempt at replicating a classic, it surpasses the legend on which it was based. And unlike the Klon, which costs thousands of dollars if you can find one, the Tumnus has an approachable price.

The sound is rich and warm with an open top end, reminiscent of classic amplifier overdrive. It’s also got a three-band equalizer for further sound sculpting, letting you achieve a wide variety of different overdriven sounds. The three EQ knobs and the gain control are responsive and let you make very small adjustments to each parameter so you can get just what you want. The sound is balanced and clean in general, with great string-to-string clarity, less muddy-sounding than generic overdrives. If you want more bite and grit, just flip the switch in the middle, right above the iconic light pole. In “hot” mode, you unleash even more gain for a dirtier and more aggressive tone that’s great for rock music.

A superb buffer circuit makes the tone come out clear and powerful when the effect is switched off. Many guitarists like the added character. But if you prefer a clean true bypass signal, don’t fret. There’s a switch on the side that toggles the bypass mode, so you can let the pure, untouched guitar signal through. Due to this dual bypass design, you can also use this pedal as a clean boost with tone control when you don’t want overdriven tones.

The thorough attention to detail and great build quality earns this pedal the top spot on this list of the best overdrive pedals. High-grade components in a tough metal casing, made in the U.S.A. It runs on nine-volt batteries or a power supply. Top-mounted cable jacks help conserve space on your pedalboard. One slight downside is that many angled power cords may not fit. The visual design is worth a mention as well, with the famous namesake faun and the light pole that lights up when you engage the effect, to let you know you’ve opened the portal to a magical world of sound so your guitar can roar like Aslan. It will draw reactions from audiences and band mates alike.

Pros
  • Great build quality
  • Powerful yet clear sound
  • Extensive parameter control
  • Buffered and true bypass
Cons
  • Picky about power jacks
  • It’s pricey

This overdrive pedal sure deserves to have “Deluxe” in its name. If you crave a truly high-quality overdrive with plenty of creative control, we recommend the Wampler Tumnus Deluxe.

Keeley Oxblood

The strange name and design hint at the character of this pedal. The Klon Centaur is as enshrouded in myth as the legendary beast after which it was named. People ascribe it almost divine qualities, and many are willing to pay thousands of dollars for an original. Many pedal manufacturers make so-so replicas of this legendary overdrive. Keeley chose, instead, to study the Centaur and create a Minotaur of its own to rival the legend.

A number of additions and modifications make this a strong contender among the best overdrive pedals on the market, and it surpasses the Klon in a few regards. It’s certainly more versatile, for one. It’s still that transparent, gentle overdrive that makes the tone sweet and gooey. It has the same internal charge pump, increasing the headroom and output by increasing the voltage to 18 volts. And you can still use it as a clean boost. But it has an enhanced gain structure and doesn’t produce that boxy sound that limits the usefulness of Centaurs and most Klones. Oxblood unleashes a nice, gritty roar when you crank the overdrive. This makes it much more useful, and it’s one of the best overdrive pedals for classic rock.

This overdrive is made even more versatile by the clipping switch on the right. It lets you choose between two clipping diodes. One offers more gain and compression while the other is more transparent and dynamic. So this overdrive can work for country, metal, and anything in between. The “Phat” switch takes this one step further, letting you choose between strong or weak bass response. When it’s off, the overdrive has a Tube Screamer vibe to it. So, in essence, you get four distinct voices in one pedal.

The only drawback, when compared to pedals like the Tumnus Deluxe, is the somewhat limited tone control. the voicing switches make up for the limits of the Tone and Volume knobs. Compared to a Klon Centaur, the Oxblood comes out on top. While that may sound blasphemous to some, the truth is that people really buy Klons for the name and nostalgia, and some modern pedals surpass the original in multiple ways.

It’s built in Oklahoma and the quality is excellent. It takes a nine-volt battery or DC power supply. It’s true bypass, but it’s unlikely that you’ll ever want this pedal turned off when you play. It’s a great overdrive/distortion that doubles as a sweet clean boost and general tone-shaping tool.

Pros
  • Amazing Klon-style overdrive
  • Extensive sound shaping capabilities
  • Lots of crunchy gain on tap
  • Great clean boost
Cons
  • The price
  • Too transparent for some cheap amps

The Oxblood is really tied with the Tumnus for the best overdrive pedal title. It’s even more of a powerhouse in some ways. If you need a powerful, studio-grade tone enhancing tool with a really sweet sound, take a closer look at the Keeley Oxblood.

Bogner Ecstasy Blue

This is more than an overdrive pedal. With its various dynamics and tone shaping functions, it’s like a Bogner amp head in pedal format. As such, it is a very expensive piece of gear, but it’s worth it if you want the best tone you can get.

Ecstasy Blue lets you emulate the sound of the blue channel on the classic Bogner Ecstasy amplifier. In case you’re not familiar with that name, it’s one of the most iconic amplifiers of history and it played a big role in the evolution of rock in the ‘90s. Compared to the red channel, and the corresponding Ecstasy Red pedal, Ecstasy Blue has a fatter and more subdued sound. It’s ideal for classic rock and blues, but it’s capable of so much more. If you’re interested in the more extreme Ecstasy Red, you can read my review here.

This pedal doesn’t utilize op-amps and clipping diodes to achieve its sound, the overdrive comes from discreet Class A circuits just like a proper amplifier overdrive. The Variac switch engages the compressor, which is smooth and fat like a vintage tube amp with a dropped voltage. The overall sound is powerful and clear, with great touch sensitivity and note separation. The distortion can get really thick and crunchy when you crank it up, making it a great overdrive for hard rock. If it gets too messy for your taste, it’s easy to clean it up with the three-band equalizer. As if that wasn’t enough tone control already, you also have three tone sculpting switches to play with.

The mode switch lets you select between two different gain settings, with Plexi sounding like a classic British amp distortion. “The “pre eq” switch changes the frequency curve before distortion to determine how open the overdriven tone is. The structure switch changes the overall gain structure, emulating three different versions of the Ecstasy amp from different eras. This makes it an extremely versatile overdrive.

There’s also a separate switch for the boost, which can be a clean boost or a way to drive the distortion harder. It has independent controls for volume and gain which light up when active. There’s a remote jack, so you can toggle the bypass and boost with an external switch if you prefer that. Everything is high--quality, with double sided gold-plated circuit boards and a housing that’s tough as nails, and the true bypass circuit is really transparent. Although with all the sound-enhancing effects you get from this overdrive pedal, you won’t use the bypass much at all, if ever. While I recommend getting a power supply, nine-volt batteries will work just fine. The LEDs will blink when the battery’s getting low.

Pros
  • Excellent build quality
  • Authentic, famous tube distortion tone
  • Superb tone control
  • Boost and Compressor included
Cons
  • It’s very expensive
  • Takes quite a bit of space

If you don’t mind splurging and you want a really powerful, flexible overdrive pedal that gives you extensive control over your guitar tone, Bogner Ecstasy Blue is the ideal overdrive for you.

JHS Bonsai Multi-Overdrive

How do you like the idea of nine classic overdrives in one pedal? While JHS is most famous for modified versions of popular guitar pedals, they have some great ones of their own as well. As you may have guessed based on the color of this pedal, its main focus is Tube Screamer type overdrive. They’re not mere emulations but exact replicas of the circuits. Let’s begin with a breakdown of each overdrive unit included.

  • OD-1 (1977) The classic Boss Overdrive. It’s bright and hot, and it doesn’t respond to the Tone knob.
  • TS808 (1979) The original Ibanez Tube Screamer. It has a fatter sound with less distortion and more midrange.
  • TS9 (1982) An updated version of the TS808 with a bright sound.
  • MSL (1985) The Metal Screamer is a more extreme version of the Tube Screamer with more bass and higher gain.
  • TS10 (1986) Another version with a fatter, bluesier tone, used by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Pearl Jam.
  • XR (1989) The Polish Exar OD1 is a rare cult classic with a distinct high-gain tone that sounds like Santana.
  • TS7 (1999) The more modern Tube Screamer features a “hot mode” with that produces a crunchy, rumbling tone.
  • Keeley (2002) This is based on Robert Keeley’s famous TS808 Mod+ which has more bass, smoother mids and treble, and less noise.
  • JHS (2008) Josh’s own “Strong Mod” TS9 mod which has a very powerful and tight sound with boosted highs and upper mids.
  • Many musicians like to argue about which version of the Tube Screamer is the best. If you’re indecisive about ideal your overdrive, JHS Bonsai is an amazing option. You get nine popular overdrives spanning four decades, including some hard-to-find classics, all in one compact stompbox. The price is quite high, but it’s less than two proper Tube Screamers, so it’s well worth the cost. It’s very versatile and there’s a tone for every kind of guitarist.

    Everything else about the build and use of this pedal is standard and straightforward. Although it requires a nine-volt DC PSU which is sold separately.

    Pros
    • Nine great overdrive circuits
    • Great value for the price
    • Powerful tone with a generous gain range
    Cons
    • Limited sound shaping options

    If you love Tube Screamers but you wish they had a wider variety of sound character, you’ve found the ultimate overdrive pedal for your music. JHS Bonsai is among the most versatile and best overdrive pedals of all time.

    J Rockett Audio Designs Rockaway Archer

    This is the oddball of the list. Rather than a straight overdrive pedal, this is also an equalizer. It’s a nice combination that lets you boost and shape your tone in more ways than simply adding dirt. Guitar legend Steve Stevens, most famous for his work with Billy Idol, helped design this sound shaping tool.

    The overdrive is a kind of Klon imitation. On lower settings, the overdrive is really clear and transparent, while higher settings produce a nice amount of dirt. It can get pretty hot too, although that’s not its purpose. You’ll get plenty of intense crunch if you use it to push your amp overdrive harder. You’ll want this pedal to be the first one in your chain. The EQ and overdrive will give you an amazing amount of control over how later pedals react and affect your final sound. The overdriven sound is caused by germanium clipping, which most people prefer to place first in the chain. It’s a true bypass pedal, although you’ll want to keep it engaged at all times.

    The six-band EQ lets you adjust your tone so you can always get it just right. Each band can boost or cut by up to 18 dB, and the sliders light up so you can use the EQ in the dark. No more frustration at a fixed Tone knob that can’t seem to get the excess mud out of your overdriven tone with certain guitars no matter how you turn it. Regardless of what other gear you use, you can always get your preferred tone with this equalizer. Together with its beautiful overdrive, this makes it a perfect sound-shaping tool that works for every genre that utilizes tasteful overdrive. It sure beats crowding your pedalboard with a separate EQ for each dirtbox.

    It has many uses and suits every kind of music, but where it really shines is in hard rock and other genres where you need to fight to stand out in a thick wall of sound.

    The build quality is superb, with top mounted input and output jacks and a tough metal casing. It doesn’t accept batteries, but any regular negative tip nine-volt DC PSU works.

    Pros
    • Nice Klon-style overdrive
    • Amazing sound-shaping capabilities with built-in EQ
    • Superb build quality
    • Really versatile
    Cons
    • It’s expensive
    • No battery slot

    Even the best overdrive pedals can make your tone very messy, and clarity is important for a powerful sound. The JRAD Rockaway Archer solves this issue, and it’s a perfect option for those who need more control over their sound.

    Crowther Audio Hot Cake

    Hot Cake is the result of a long time of experimenting and fine-tuning by guitarist Paul Crowther. He still makes them in his home in New Zealand, so you know you get limited edition, handmade quality products and not something half-broken that never passed human scrutiny. The first version came in the late seventies, and the modern ones have gone through a number of revisions and upgrades. The overall tone is still the same, timeless and reliable. Hot Cake pioneered the “transparent overdrive” market, before it was even a concept, long before famous legends like Klon and the Timmy. This is a real cult classic overdrive pedal.

    The pedal casing is tough as rock, everything is firmly in place and sturdy. It’s built to last. The footswitch and knobs have a nice resistance to them, so you won’t make any changes by accident. The buffer is superb, giving the clean tone more power and presence when the overdrive isn’t engaged. You can power this pedal either with an ordinary (Boss-style) power adapter or with a nine-volt battery. In addition to the visible knobs for Presence, Drive, and Level control, there are two internal DIP switches. One lets you toggle between Bluesberry and regular voicing, and the other lets you optimize the pedal for either guitar or bass. This makes it one of the very best overdrive pedals for bass guitar.

    It’s very versatile for such a simplistic-looking pedal. It works like multiple dirtboxes in one, and we love how it interacts with classic Vox amplifiers. When you set Drive and Presence to zero, the pedal is more or less transparent. Turning them up, you can achieve a variety of overdriven sounds, from subtle and mellow to wild and hot. Lower drive settings add a nice layer of dirt without crushing the treble, while higher settings get really warm and more fuzz-like. Unlike the typical overdrive or distortion pedal, Hot Cake retains a fair amount of dynamics in the lower frequency spectrum. Instead of a muddy rumble or weakened bass, you get a clean and responsive tone with better string-to-string clarity.

    In Bluesberry mode, the tone is a bit different. It’s better suited for humbuckers and Marshall/Mesa type amps, while the regular voicing is ideal for single coils and amps like the Vox AC30. It’s an incredibly versatile overdrive pedal.

    Pros
    • High-quality, handmade build
    • Powerful yet dynamic sound
    • Versatile tone with many options
    • Great overdrive for bass guitar
    Cons
    • Quite expensive
    • May be too transparent for certain amps

    Whether you’re looking for an organic “transparent” overdrive, a subtle fattening effect for more harmonics and sustain, or a wild fuzzy distortion, Hot Cake will satisfy your hunger.

    Fulltone OCD V2

    The name might seem a bit ironic at first glance, but the D actually stands for Distortion. It’s a beloved classic with a great sound, a nice amount of creative control, and an agreeable price tag.

    It has the three standard control knobs: Volume, Tone, and Drive. But there’s also a flip switch to toggle between HP and LP. These aren’t High-pass and Low-pass filters, but High-Peak and Low-peak modes. LP leaves the input tone alone, while HP boosts the midrange, drive, and overall volume, with a slight treble boost. With minimal gain and high volume, you get a gritty boost effect. With maximum drive you get a rich, crunchy distortion, especially in HP mode. The tone control reaches from really dark and dull to bright and shimmering. So you can get a powerful, balanced tone regardless of the specific guitar and amplifier combo you use.

    It’s sturdy and built from high-quality components. You can switch between true bypass and enhanced bypass. The latter is an improved version of buffered bypass, which uses a different FET configuration to retain playing dynamics. This makes it more expressive than typical buffer circuits, so your technique and emotion come through better. It takes a nine-volt battery or a PSU, which is not included.

    It’s more than an overdrive pedal. It can give you a clean boost or a full-on screaming tube-style distortion. It’s among the most versatile and overall best overdrive pedals on the market.

    Pros
    • Sturdy build
    • Plenty of distortion
    • Enhanced bypass and true bypass
    Cons
    • Somewhat pricey

    This isn’t your average simple blues overdrive. It’s a complex high-end unit with vast tonal capabilities like the previous two. If that’s what you’re going for, OCD V2 is a great candidate that’s a bit cheaper.

    Fulltone Full-Drive 3

    The third version of Fulltone’s Full-Drive series of overdrive pedals delivers three different types of overdrive in one convenient, easy-to-use overdrive pedal. On top of this, the generous and innovative controls let you achieve a vast variety of different tones. It’s also smaller than its predecessor by about a fifth.

    There are separate switches for the overdrive and the clean boost, which is very transparent. You get an impressive amount of control over the boost, beyond just the Boost volume knob. The smaller Dynamics knob next to it lets you compress the signal to taste and attenuate those harsh overwhelming volume spikes we sometimes get when we use a boost and hit a hard note or chord. To be more specific, it’s a germanium diode limiter. The little flip switch to the left of the Boost knob lets you decide whether the boost comes before or after the overdrive. Boosting after the overdrive simply raises the volume, while boosting first will drive the signal harder into the overdrive. This way, you can get an intense, crunchy metal distortion if you so please.

    Now for the overdrive itself. It uses a classic JRC4558D chip, and it can drive it over the top. The JFET circuits give it a nice, powerful tube sound. A three-way switch lets you choose one of the three clipping modes.

  • 90’s uses symmetrical clipping with a fat midrange and massive sustain. It’s great for leads, especially when using single coils, but it can get a bit muddy if you play darker riffs.
  • Wide Asymmetrical produces a more organic tone with richer treble and bass response and a pleasant layer of even harmonics. It’s amazing for riffing in particular, with its brightness and clarity.
  • CompCut is a pure op-amp overdrive without any clipping diodes. It’s loud and has a nice bite without sounding harsh or muddy.
  • Using the Tone and Overdrive knobs, you can achieve almost any type of overdriven tone. They each have a wide span, allowing for very subtle or intense effects. The newer Full-Drive 3 models are buffered instead of true bypass. It’s a powerful and clean-sounding JFET op-amp buffer, so it won’t do anything bad to your signal. You can power it with nine-volt batteries, but we recommend buying a PSU to keep it going.

    Pros
    • Amazing tonal variety and control
    • Robust build
    • Limiter included
    • Sounds great
    Cons
    • Takes some time to get acquainted with all controls
    • Fairly pricey

    If you need a versatile overdrive that can handle just about everything and gives you full control, this is one of the very best overdrive pedals out there.

    Paul Cochrane Timmy V2

    One of the best Klone-type overdrives on the market, Timmy is one of hyped up modern legends that gets a lot of praise from various musicians. It’s transparent and versatile, with a strong semblance of the Klon Centaur tone. It’s also a great clean boost pedal. While his bigger brother Tim has a few minor features that Timmy doesn’t, Timmy is the more popular option due to convenience and usability.

    You can dial in your perfect overdrive tone thanks to the Bass and Treble dials. The Bass control applies a high-pass filter the sound BEFORE any distortion takes place so you can sculpt the overdrive structure, while the Treble control helps adjust the brightness of the overdriven tone with a low-pass filter. As you turn these knobs up, they cut the sound, which may feel a little backwards at first. Then you also have the usual controls for gain amount and output volume. But what really sets Timmy apart is the three-way switch that lets you choose between three different clipping modes. In the middle position, it has the classic symmetrical clipping tone of the older Timmy pedals. If you want a more compressed sound, flip the switch down. Flipping it up gives you a rich, asymmetrical clipping tone. So you can find the right overdrive sound for any context.

    While it is in the same category as Klon emulations, it really is a different beast altogether, and in a category of its own. It’s transparent yet powerful with versatile gain profiles and a fantastic overall tone. From subtle warming to heavy crunch, Timmy can cover all your overdrive needs. However, keep in mind that a transparent overdrive like this one may sound bad if your amplifier isn’t very good.

    In usual Cochrane fashion, the Timmy overdrive pedal is built with quality components and housed in a durable metal casing that will withstand intensive touring. The true bypass circuit is nice and silent. It runs off a nine-volt battery or power supply.

    Pros
    • Transparent, organic sound
    • Three different clipping profiles
    • Nice sound sculpting capabilities
    • Wide range of gain
    Cons
    • Somewhat pricey
    • Too transparent for some cheap amps

    This pedal is like a Klone but better. It’s transparent and capable of old-school tones, but it can do so much more. Timmy won’t disappoint.

    Electro-Harmonix Soul Food

    Electro-Harmonix Soul Food is a beautiful-sounding transparent boost and overdrive pedal which will make your guitar sing loud and clear. The pedals boosted power rails feed more power into the circuit, making your signal louder. This provides a nice clean boost or drives the signal harder depending on how you set the drive knob.

    You can think of it as a Klon Centaur imitation that doubles as a booster pedal. Unlike most other good Centaur clones, this one comes at a pretty nice price. What’s really nice about this overdrive is that it doesn’t compress your signal very much, it’s transparent and dynamic. A very responsive treble knob helps you tame any piercing boosted notes. Louder and quieter parts will stand out, and the string-to-string clarity is good as well. If you like to play complex, technical stuff and you need an overdrive that doesn’t make it muddy, EHX Soul Food is a fantastic choice.

    You can choose between buffered and true bypass, and both have a clear hi-fi sound quality. This is great if you have a long pedal chain, where volume loss and a high noise floor are both common issues. The overall build is high-quality, rugged, and really tough. It takes a nine-volt PSU or battery as its power source. You get three control knobs to adjust the overdrive amount, treble, and output volume.

    It’s a simple pedal and it sounds really nice.

    Pros
    • Great build
    • Loud and clear sound
    • Great clean boost
    • True/buffered bypass options
    Cons
    • Very limited tonal capabilities

    Guitarists who want a straightforward, great-sounding overdrive pedal without modern bells and whistles will love the EXH Soul Food.

    TC Electronic MojoMojo

    TC Electronic pedals tend to be among the most impressive in their categories, and the MojoMojo is no different. It gives you a wide variety of overdriven tone in a single, compact pedal.

    It’s a sturdy metal box with four full-size knobs and a true bypass footswitch. Instead of the typical tone knob that controls the frequency of a peak or LP filter, the MojoMojo has one knob for bass and one for treble. They control the volume of what sounds like shelving filters. The Voice switch in the middle changes between two different voicing settings. One has a fairly flat response, the other bumps up the midrange a bit. It feels good to have so much power over the sound of the guitar, and being able to adjust it to whatever amp you’re playing and to the acoustics of different locations.

    The range of the Drive knob is generous, letting you produce a lot of dirt. It has a nice, fat sustain, especially if you boost the bass a bit. In general, the overdrive sounds a lot like a Tube Screamer 808 with the mid-boost voicing, but a lot more open with the other voicing. It works for all types of music, rock and blues in particular. It’s so versatile for a compact pedal, and the price is great for what you get.

    Other than this, it’s a pretty standard design. Nine-volt operation via PSU or battery, I/O jacks on the sides, and a true bypass circuit.

    Pros
    • Versatile sound
    • Great value
    • Sturdy build
    • Treble, bass, and voicing controls
    Cons
    • Can sound a bit mushy at high-gain settings with certain amps

    As the name implies, this pedal has a warm, vibrant overdriven tone to it. One of the best overdrive pedals if you like your overdrive thick and gooey.

    RockBox Baby Blues

    This is another Bluesbreaker-style overdrive, and it has a really amp-like sound to it. It’s among the best overdrive pedals for blues on the market. It’s ideal for that low-gain blues overdrive tone, but if you crank it up you’ll get a delicious, wild British tube tone. So it’s pretty versatile for a blues pedal.

    The high-quality vintage dual glass diode circuit gives it that really organic, thick sound, similar to vintage amplifier breakup. Glass diodes are uncommon these days, but their characteristic sound makes it worth spending some extra time or money getting the best blues overdrive. It’s fairly transparent, letting the characteristics of your guitar come through. Both humbuckers and single coils will come through sounding fat and musical. What really makes this pedal stand out from typical blues overdrive pedals is that it has four voicing switches. You can use them together or each on its own. Drive1 and Drive2 toggle the two overdrive stages. Boost gives a clean volume boost, and Bite makes the tone brighter. With all switches on, you’ve left blues territory and landed in the realm of heavy metal. If you’re one of those guitarists who love both blues and harder styles of music, Rockbox Baby Blues is the perfect overdrive stompbox.

    The general build is solid, with a sturdy metal casing and knobs that are both responsive and comfortable to use. The paint job is nice too, and you can choose between vintage blue metallic or a unique swirly finish. It runs on nine-volt batteries or an AC adapter.

    Pros
    • Lovely authentic vintage tone
    • Extensive controls
    • Good clean boost
    • Great value
    Cons
    • Expensive

    The Baby Blues overdrive pedal is a true masterpiece that will satisfy any blues guitarists who can afford it.

    Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

    No list of the best overdrive pedals is complete without a Tube Screamer. Much like the SD-1, it appears on countless records spanning decades and genres. Prominent examples include Phish, Metallica, Santana, and Keith Urban. The Tube Screamer Mini delivers this classic effect in a tiny, compact pedal. And just like the size of the pedal itself, the price is also reduced, landing around half the price of a TS808.

    The design is straightforward with the three typical knobs, a traditional footswitch, and nothing more. That’s all you need to get that timeless, versatile overdrive that makes your amplifier tubes scream. The overdrive is rich and warm with a fat sustain. If you set the gain below the 12 o’clock position you get a subtle warming and fattening effect. Crank it higher and you start getting some real grit, perfect for classic rock. The natural loudness of this pedal lends itself well to solos and lead licks. If you turn the tone down low, you get a dark, bluesy tone. With high tone settings, you get a bright and crunchy tone.

    It’s not one of those mini pedals that sacrifice tone and quality for the sake of a smaller size. It’s true to the original Tube Screamer, except for the smaller footswitch. The same JRC4558 chip drives the sound and it’s still a true bypass stompbox. It has an interesting control knob layout, with very small knobs for tone and volume and a big one for overdrive amount. The big knob makes it easy to adjust the tone in the dark, even with your toes. This allows you to drive the tone manually as you play, for a more dynamic effect. This pedal is too small to fit a battery compartment, but it comes with its own PSU.

    Pros
    • Space-efficient
    • Affordable and beginner-friendly
    • Famous, versatile tone
    • True bypass
    Cons
    • Limited sound options
    • No battery slot

    If you’re looking for a pedal that helps conserve space and money without holding back on the overdrive, this may be the best overdrive pedal available. The simplicity and price point make it ideal for beginners.

    Wampler Euphoria V2

    The Euphoria V2 sounds a lot like a Tube Screamer or Dumble, but it’s better in a couple of ways. It’s more transparent and less muddy, and it has wider tonal capabilities. It’s also built by hand in the U.S.A. using high-grade resistors and film capacitors for ideal sound quality.

    This pedal has a three-way voicing switch, making it very versatile. “Smooth” gives you a warm tube style overdrive. “Open” has more presence and bite. “Crunch” is a more aggressive distortion. There’s also a pre-gain bass control knob. Driving the bass into the overdrive increases the midrange harmonics stemming from the low end, making the tone rounder. Decreasing it does the opposite, producing a thinner, harsher sound. There’s also a regular Tone knob that helps you tame and define the sound post-distortion. Using the Euphoria V2 is like having a few of the best overdrive pedals compiled into one convenient pedal. While it’s not the best emulation of any one particular overdrive, the fact that it combines all these high-quality tones is rather amazing.

    It gives single coils a nice bite and thickness, while feeding it a humbucker signal produces a powerful gritty tone. Regardless of guitar and amp model, you can find an ideal overdrive tone for your music. Whether it’s hard rock, jazz, or worship music doesn’t matter. It’s also true bypass, for those times when you want to keep your dry tone as clean as can be.

    You can feed it either nine or 18 volts with a power adapter or nine-volt batteries. If your battery runs low, the LED will flash three times to let you know. The top-mounted I/O jacks help Conserve space on your pedalboard.

    Pros
    • Three distinct voicing options
    • Plenty of sound-shaping controls
    • Nice gain range
    • Sounds great
    Cons
    • It’s quite expensive

    Wampler Euphoria V2 is one of the most versatile overdrive pedals on the list. If you have the money, this pedal is a great choice that you’ll always find useful.

    Friedman Amplification BE-OD

    This is a powerful overdrive pedal that will give you that authentic British crunch and a lot of control over the final tone. It’s an emulation of the famous Friedman BE-100 amplifier.

    It’s perfectly transparent when it’s off, as it’s a true bypass, and the moment you turn it on you notice a nice coloring of the tone even with the gain all the way down. As you turn it up, it transforms via light saturation to gritty high-gain overdrive. If you like a more subtle range of gain, you can turn down the internal trim pot to taste. Or you can turn it up higher if you want aggressive distortion, it’s up to you.

    What’s really nice about this overdrive pedal is the amount of control you get over the sound. You get three EQ bands. Bass and Treble are self-explanatory, and Presence is for the really high treble content. There’s also the Tight knob, which tightens up the bass frequencies. It’s a really versatile overdrive that will make any amp sound like a classic British tube with just a little extra clarity. It’s definitely more rock than blues, and it’s capable of producing a great, thick metal tone if you push it hard.

    It’s lighter than the typical pedal of this size and style. So it’s portable and one of the best overdrive pedals for busking. But it may not be as durable as some of the other options. It doesn’t take batteries, but it accepts any 9-18V center negative PSU. But it’s built in the U.S.A. and seems like great quality in general, and the price seems to confirm this.

    Pros
    • Superb, versatile British tube amp sound
    • Extensive tone controls
    • Impressive gain range
    Cons
    • No battery slot
    • Pretty expensive

    In essence, it’s like a Friedman BE-100 in pedal form. If you’re looking for the best overdrive for rock music, this is a really strong candidate.

    Mad Professor Simble

    If you’re familiar with classic overdrive pedals, the name will give you a solid hint at what this pedal does. It’s a Dumble-style overdrive, and one of the very best overdrive pedals in this category.

    The first thing that stands out about the Simble is the control interface. The knobs differ from the norm, both in name and function. Sensitivity seems to adjust the threshold of the distortion and compression, in other words producing more or less overdrive. Accent alters the treble and pick attack before the overdrive. Contour controls the brightness of the overdriven tone. Level handles the output volume. Once you understand the knobs, it takes almost no effort to dial in a perfect Dumble tone.

    It has a sweet, organic warmth to it and a gentle tube-style compression that retains excellent touch sensitivity. Due to the wide reach of the overdrive amount, you can use it for a clean boost or a fat crunchy overdrive. Although it sounds the best somewhere just above the middle, where you’ll find a sweet blues/rock overdrive that’s very musical. The tone controls really let you shape the sound, making it more versatile than it may seem at first glance. It’s a great overdrive for riffing and rhythm work in particular.

    The Simble lets your guitar’s characteristic tone shine through in a really nice way, while taking a more dominant role against the amplifier. Its great bandwidth also places it among the best overdrive pedals for bass guitar.

    While the build quality is good in general, the woody finish can wear off easily. It has a silent true bypass circuit, in case you want to disengage it for some reason. It requires a separate nine-volt DC PSU or battery. Rather than flash, the LED gets dimmer as the battery runs low.

    Pros
    • Great-sounding Dumble-style overdrive
    • Nice tone-shaping abilities
    • Great overdrive for bass guitars
    Cons
    • Hard to balance output level
    • Quite pricey

    If you love vintage tones but you want the superior range and control of modern overdrive pedals, you’ll love the Simble.

    MI Audio Effects Super Blues Pro

    Michael Ibrahim is one of those pedal manufacturers that has a cult following, and the Super Blues Pro is one of the most popular MI guitar pedals. As the name implies, it’s a low-to-mid-gain overdrive tailored for blues guitarists.

    The tone-shaping controls look pretty interesting. In addition to the usual Volume and Drive knobs, there are three small black knobs for further sound sculpting. Detail adjusts the frequency curve with what sounds like an SVF filter or an EQ, shifting the bias toward treble when you turn it up and mids when you turn it down. Body controls the bass and low mids, letting you beef up the tone or hollow it out for a Fender combo type of sound. Trim adds more grit and sizzle by driving another part of the circuit, this second overdrive sounds a bit like a Dumble. But the main attraction is the duo of voicing toggles. Each one can toggle an additional soft clipping stage, the first one being a bit fuzzier than the other. The options for each are Silicon, Mosfet, or None. Silicon has a compressed, mid-heavy tone. Mosfet is brighter and more dynamic. If both are set to None, you get an almost-clean boost which is great for driving your amplifier or subsequent pedals harder.

    This is probably the best overdrive pedal for blues and heavy rock tones. It’s versatile and powerful, with true bypass and an overall great build. Considering what you get, the mid-range price is a really good deal. It has an internal 18-volt power supply and takes a regular nine-volt battery or center negative power adapter.

    Pros
    • Excellent, fat blues tone
    • Extensive tone control
    • Great clean boost
    • Very versatile
    Cons
    • Tricky to balance output between different voicing settings
    • A little pricey

    This thing can produce a variety of rich overdriven tones, from transparent Centaur-esque saturation to throaty distortion. For those who love bluesy tones, but not how rigid and limited blues pedals tend to be, the Super Blues Pro is the perfect overdrive pedal.

    J Rockett Audio Designs The Dude

    The Dude is another great overdrive pedal based on the classic Dumble overdrive. It’s not meant to be a straight replica though, but a great overdrive of its own.

    It has a somewhat unusual control design. Instead of a gain knob, you have the Ratio knob. This adjusts the ratio of clean boost to overdrive, like a dry/wet mix dial. Turning it clockwise increases gain while reducing the clean boost volume. This way it’s easy to find the perfect balance for your needs without having to twist multiple knobs. Where your sweet spot is will vary depending on your gear and your preferences. This control ranges from a nice clean boost to a rough overdrive, although it doesn’t get all that hot and crunchy. It’s best used for those sweet moderate-gain overdrive tones, and it sounds best with humbucker pickups.

    Another unfamiliar face is the Deep knob. This one controls the midrange volume. You can scoop it out for a more modern rock tone or bump it up for a bluesy Tube Screamer style overdrive. If the scoop makes the sound too harsh, just roll back the Treble knob a little. The general tone is like a warm and thick rug that really brings the sound together.

    It’s a solid build with quality components, true bypass, a durable casing, and top mounted I/O jacks. The controls are firm and responsive. A green LED shows the working state of the pedal, and you can power the device with a negative tip nine-volt adapter or a battery.

    Pros
    • Sweet, meaty overdrive tone
    • Nice tone control
    • Convenient boost/overdrive ratio dial
    Cons
    • Somewhat limited drive
    • A little pricey

    Those who like Dumble-style overdrive but wish it had more modern capabilities will love The Dude. It’s an ideal overdrive pedal for rock and blues.

    Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal

    Here’s one of the most popular overdrive pedals in the world, the industry standard since the ‘80s, and for good reason. It sounds good, it’s affordable, and it’s built like a tank.

    When it comes to parameter controls, you’ll find the three standard knobs. It has the typical Boss guitar pedal design with a big, square footswitch that makes it easy to turn the effect on and off even on a dark stage. Input on the right and output on the left. It’s simple and effective. You can use a PSU or power it with a nine-volt battery.

    In terms of sound, it’s balanced and versatile. You’ve heard it on countless albums spanning many genres. Asymmetrical clipping gives it that organic overdrive that sounds like a tube amp that’s cranked to the breaking point, but at a lower volume. It’s thick and warm without too much compression. At lower settings, it offers a nice bite without losing clarity. A signal from a humbucker pickup will get really fat and thick, while single coils retain a lot of dynamics and sound cleaner. It’s a great overdrive pedal for blues and country music.

    The only downside is that it produces a bit of hum and hiss. Since it has no true bypass, it can make your signal chain a bit noisy.

    Pros
    • Excellent build quality
    • Popular, versatile tone
    • Good value
    Cons
    • A bit noisy
    • Limited sound options

    Boss SD-1 has retained a top spot among the best overdrive pedals for decades. If you want a rich, flexible overdrive that’s easy to use, you’ve found it.

    Maxon 9-Series Overdrive

    If you thought Tube Screamers are all Ibanez, you’re actually mistaken. Maxon built the early Tube Screamers and other pedals for Ibanez, and took over production when Ibanez employed a cheaper Taiwanese company. The Japanese Maxon pedals are, according to many guitarists, superior to the Taiwanese Ibanez ones. The only reason this timeless classic isn’t higher on the list is because of the JHS Bonsai and the Mini TS, both of which sound really similar but have other convenient features. For the true TS fan, though, the Maxon 9-Series Overdrive is the best option.

    The classic square Tube Screamer footswitch is great because it makes it easy to toggle the effect without paying too much attention, even in the dark. A sturdy metal casing makes it very durable. The circuitry is much like the original TS808 with a JRC4558 chip, but it’s a bit improved. There’s more power, a tighter low end, and a bit of extra bite due to additional distortion transistors. With a maximum gain boost of 55dB, this thing can get really loud and fierce. This makes it one of the very best overdrive pedals for lead guitarists.

    Sound-wise, it’s the classic fat TS tone with a rich bass response and long sustain, but with a little bit extra everything. Your tubes will scream a little louder and a little clearer. If you like it more mellow, you can roll back the Tone knob.

    Many famous guitarists, from Joe Bonamassa and Trey Anastasio to Kirk Hammett and John Petrucci, have used Tube Screamers to create their powerful guitar tone. You can’t really go wrong with one of these.

    Pros
    • Fat yet responsive tone
    • Vast gain range
    • Famous, popular sound
    • True bypass
    Cons
    • Limited sound options

    People love Tube Screamers for a reason, and this is perhaps the best version of this legendary overdrive. If you want something tried and true, this is the overdrive for you.

    JHS Morning Glory V4

    If you love the sound of a Marshall Bluesbreaker, you should take a good look at the Morning Glory. It’s based on the Bluesbreaker circuit, but it has extra features and an improved overall tone. It’s a great way to add the fatness and touch response that your amplifier may be lacking.

    It’s a very crisp, open-sounding overdrive that can cut through a busy mix. If you prefer a more subdued tone, there’s a bright-cut switch on the side. The drive knob spans from perfectly clean to a dirty blues tone, and if you want more crunch you just flip the Gain switch to drive it even harder. It’s a great blues overdrive pedal but it’s also great for classic rock when you use the high gain setting. However, it’s not meant for really aggressive distortion. The circuitry improves the general headroom so you can get a powerful clean volume bump out of it as well. The Tone and Volume knobs are nothing out of the ordinary.

    The red jack on the right side is for a JHS Red Remote footswitch. If you buy the Red Remote, you can toggle the “red” voice with it, which has more gain and an enhanced bass response. The LED turns red when you engage the high-gain mode, and blue when you disengage it. If you play live, you’ll want the switch.

    Its ideal use is as a first-stage overdrive and booster, at the beginning of your signal chain, with a medium Drive setting. It colors your tone in a very musical way and adds a lot of thickness. The only thing to watch out for is the noise that may accumulate in long effects chains or ones with heavy compression.

    The pedal seems really sturdy and reliable, but it’s worth noting that it doesn’t have a battery slot. You need a standard nine-volt DC negative PSU.

    Pros
    • Excellent, bluesy tone
    • Two voices, one bright and one dull
    • High-gain and clean boost options
    Cons
    • A little bit pricey
    • Somewhat noisy
    • No battery slot

    The Morning Glory V4 is more geared toward blues, but it can dish out a lot of grit when needed. It’s one of the best overdrive pedals for blues guitarists.

    Boss BD-2 Blues Driver

    The second Boss pedal on the list is more specialized than the previous one. As you might have guessed, Blues Drivers are some of the best overdrive pedals for blues musicians. That’s not to say that’s all it’s good for.

    In fact, it offers a surprising amount of gain and sounds more in-your-face than the typical blues overdrive pedal. If you like the heavier, dirtier kind of blues with aggressive guitars and harmonicas, this is the pedal for you. It’s also capable of a decent classic rock sound. With the knobs at lower settings, it gives you a perfect, mellow blues tone. A little goes a long way. Whether you like it subtle or up-front, this pedal can satisfy your cravings for raw, meaty overdrive.

    The pedal responds well to dynamic playing nuances. Much like an old amp that hits the breaking point when you play hard. It has a nice twang to it on higher Tone settings, making it a great overdrive pedal for country music as well. For those fat blues tones, you need to turn the Tone knob down. The buffer circuit can be a little noisy, but you won’t notice it while playing.

    In typical Boss fashion, it’s built to last and it accepts both batteries and an AC adapter, which is sold separately.

    Pros
    • Generous gain range for a blues pedal
    • Superb build quality
    • Great price-to-value ratio
    Cons
    • No true bypass
    • Limited tone control

    For blues musicians who can’t get enough of dirty overdrive, the BD-2 is an obvious top choice.

    Caline CP-20 Crazy Cacti

    Caline is one of those Asian brands that mostly make cheap emulations of classic pedals. The CP-20 is a bit more creative but it is, in essence, a copy of the Fulltone Full-Drive we looked at earlier. This may be the best budget overdrive pedal on the market.

    It’s a fairly big pedal with many switches and knobs, but it’s lighter than it looks. It still seems sturdy enough to withstand pretty rough use. It has the typical control knob trio of Volume, Tone, and Drive, plus a Boost knob. Just like the Full-Tone 2. And the boost works the same way, you activate it with a separate footswitch and it works with the overdrive. It can still work as a clean boost with the right settings, and you can get a lot of volume out of it. Unlike the F-D2, however, it doesn’t do 18V operation, so it’s not quite as powerful. The positive side of this is that any old Boss-style PSU or nine-volt battery will do just fine.

    The two voicing toggles let you choose between different kinds of clipping. The first one lets you choose between Vintage, FM, and Comp Cut. Vintage has the classic mid-boosted tone of the Full-Drive 2, which is similar to a TS808. FM is short for “flat mids” is more transparent with a more natural response curve. Comp Cut has that driven tube-like op-amp sound. The second toggle gives you the options of two different clipping modes. Mosfet is a dirtier and more muffled sound, while Normal is brighter and more asymmetrical.

    It’s impressive for a cheap pedal in general, and it comes pretty close to the Full-Drive 2. However, you’ll notice its lower quality of both sound and Construction. The main thing that detracts from its quality is the limited range of some of the control knobs. It’s not quite as versatile as it looks, although it’s still one of the best overdrive pedals under $50.

    Pros
    • Great price
    • Full-Drive 2 replica
    • Powerful sound
    • Lots of gain
    Cons
    • Lower overall quality

    If you’re looking for something that’s affordable yet powerful with lots of sound sculpting options, the CP-20 won’t disappoint.

    DigiTech DOD Gunslinger Mosfet Overdrive

    The DOD Gunslinger packs a lot of punch in a small, sturdy package. And it comes at a nice price too.

    The characteristic mosfet clipping gives you a hot and punchy tone. It’s a crisp overdrive with great string separation and natural dynamics. Harder notes will clip harder and get grittier without excess compression. Softer playing will sound cleaner, and you can play wild arpeggios without producing a muddy mass of sound.

    When it comes to controls, you get two tone-shaping knobs in addition to the drive and volume controls. One for the treble and one for the bass. The range of the controls is nice, all the way from dull and fat warming effects to sizzling crunch. Raise the volume and drop the gain, and you’ve got a sweet clean boost with tone adjustments. Really neat. It’s a true bypass pedal, so your dry tone will stay really clean.

    Its stylish brushed metal housing is really tough. You can tell its working state by the intense, blue LED indicator in the middle, which also helps you see the switch in the dark. So it’s a great overdrive pedal for live use. Especially since you can choose between nine or 18-volt operation. This lets you adapt your output to the venue, but more importantly, it means you’re more likely to find a backup power supply in a pinch.

    Pros
    • Great build
    • Punchy tube-like overdrive
    • Great price-to-value ratio
    • Good for beginners
    Cons
    • Limited sound options

    The dynamic, versatile tone, the simple controls, and the nice price place the DOD Gunslinger among the best overdrive pedals for beginners. Although experienced musicians who like mosfet drive will love this pedal even more.

    Behringer Vintage Tube

    Almost every pedal so far has been a really high-end deluxe overdrive pedal. The Behringer TO800 is a budget pedal, and the cheapest overdrive pedal on the list. Perhaps on the market. Which is quite typical of Behringer.

    Just by looking at this pedal, you can see what it’s trying to mimic. It is, in essence, a TS808 for those who find the TS808 too expensive. It sounds similar, which isn’t bad for something in this price range. If all you’re looking for is something cheap that sounds good, the Behringer TO800 is a good choice. It also has the same control layout and general design. Except the Behringer is plastic, which makes it less durable than other pedals. It’s a pretty strong plastic though.

    It can do both blues and hard rock, with a surprisingly fat and warm overdrive tone. The versatility and low price point make this one of the best overdrive pedals for beginners. The only major downside is that replacing the battery can be a little difficult. But you can solve that problem with a power supply or powered pedalboard. Since it’s lighter than most pedals, it’s highly portable and great for busking.

    Pros
    • Great price
    • Pretty convincing Tube Screamer imitation
    • Light, compact, and portable
    Cons
    • It’s a bit noisy
    • Lower overall quality

    If you’re looking for a really cheap option that still sounds right, the Behringer TO800 is a great choice.

    Donner Blues Drive

    Here’s a small, cheap overdrive that actually sounds good.

    Compared to most overdrive pedals, the Donner Blues Drive is rather tiny. But it’s far from flimsy with its sturdy metal housing. The only real downside to the size is that there’s no room for a battery, so you’ll have to use a nine-volt DC wall wart, which doesn’t come with the pedal.

    It also sounds really good for a budget pedal. There’s no notable humming or hissing, the overdrive is thick, and you get pretty good control over the sound. You can toggle between a “Warm” mode and a “Hot” mode. They have different gain structures, “Hot” being brighter, crunchier, and richer in general. “Warm” is the kind of fat, dark overdrive you’d expect from a pedal with “Blues” in its name. It sounds similar to a Tube Screamer, but the tone is darker. Unlike many other budget pedals, this one has a transparent true bypass circuit.

    It’s a sweet, plump overdrive that’s very approachable due to the low price, small size, and simplicity. It’s one of the best overdrive pedals for beginners.

    Pros
    • Two different voices
    • Nice gain range for a blues pedal
    • Amazing price
    Cons
    • Limited tone control
    • No battery slot

    It’s a strong contender against the Boss Blues Driver. While the overall quality is a bit lower, the cheaper price and additional voicing switch make it a better option for some guitarists.

    Final Thoughts on The Best Overdrive Pedals

    That concludes our list of the best overdrive pedals. From classic legends to innovative cutting-edge overdrives, this list has something for everyone. If you’ve gotten this far, I’m sure you have a decent idea of which pedals are your favorites. If you have a hard time deciding, jot down your favorite features and go over the list again to find the pedals that best fit your criteria. Eliminate them one by one until you’ve narrowed it down to the one or two that you want to buy. A great overdrive pedal will take your guitar playing to new levels.