Do good overdrives need flashy names? According to BOSS, they don’t. The BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal is a simple guitar effects pedal that promises a meaty overdrive effect at an agreeable price.

Its forefather, the OD-1, was possibly the first overdrive guitar pedal. It was at least the first to have “overdrive” as its title, rather than “fuzz” like everything else in the ‘70s. After a few different editions, the OD-2 came about and saw great popularity.

In 1997, the further enhanced OD-3 hit the market. It’s remained the same since, which should imply that it’s good. Let’s see how good in this BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal review.

BOSS OD-3 OverDrive Sound

A BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal is like an OD-2 with a stronger, cleaner sound. Although an OD-2 in Turbo mode has slightly more drive on tap, the OD-3 does a better job pushing your tubes to their limits. And it works well as a clean boost.

Quality overdrive pedals aren’t all about maximizing gain. If that’s what you’re after, you’ll want to look for distortion pedals.

The BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal produces that smooth, warm saturation without excess harshness even when maxed out. It retains a dynamic, transparent tone as well.

Whether you play the blues, hard rock, or pop matters little. The BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal offers the kind of saturation that can work in any setting, especially on lead guitars.

With a hot enough pickup and a good tube amplifier, you can even get some mean metal tones out of it. Speaking of pickups, higher settings call for humbuckers, since single-coils get buzzy.

Compared to the BOSS BD-2 Blues Driver, the OD-3 has better clarity and an overall higher-quality sound. It doesn’t have the gutted low end of Tube Screamers and their copycats either. I’d liken it more to a Fulltone OCD pedal, although it’s not as powerful or clean on higher settings.

What about famous guitarists who play through a BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal? Joe Walsh, of Eagles fame, is one example. Another one is film music composer and Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood. Let’s not forget the jazz fusion icon Dean Brown and YouTube bass virtuoso Davie504.

BOSS OD-3 OverDrive Pedal Features

The BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal relies on a dual-stage drive circuit with a transistor configuration that roughly mimics an op-amp setup. This design produces asymmetric clipping and a fat yet dynamic compression that op-amps can’t match.

Getting technical, the first gain stage has a notch filter before it, and clipping diodes both before and after. The second stage is a typical discrete class A configuration with clipping diodes followed by an active EQ circuit.

Thanks to this clever engineering, the BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal has a dense and organic tone that sounds like an amp stack running hot. The buffered bypass design helps it maintain a strong signal even in long pedal chains.

Furthermore, it has the typical BOSS tank-tough housing with a big square footswitch and three control knobs.

The DRIVE knob adjusts the overdrive intensity while the LEVEL knob sets the output volume. With the TONE knob, you can filter out harsh overtones to taste.

Technical Specs

  • Size: 2.9 x 5.1 x 2.4 inches
  • Weight: 15 ounces (with battery)
  • Input impedance: 1 Megaohm
  • Output impedance: 1 Kilohm
  • Controls: Drive, Level, Tone
  • Bypass: Buffered
  • Powering options: 9-volt battery or PSA series AC adapter (not included)

Do you want more information? Here’s the user manual.

Should You Get a BOSS OD-3 OverDrive Pedal?

With this BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal review, I can conclude that the OD-3 may be one of the most underrated overdrive pedals on the market. If it had a fancy paint job and a catchy name, it would probably place among the revered modern classics and cost twice as much. But that’s not how BOSS does things.

All in all, it’s a no-nonsense drive pedal that gives you a high-quality, transparent yet thick and hot tone at a reasonable price. And let’s not forget the durable build and small pedalboard footprint.

If you play rock or blues, it’s an excellent pick.

Thanks for reading my BOSS OD-3 OverDrive pedal review. Check in regularly for more guitar pedal reviews.