In this article, we review ten of the best overdrive pedals currently available.
Where possible, we’ve included videos of the pedals in use. Listen to the samples and find the pedal that will help you accomplish your dream tone.
Most overdrive pedals can produce a range of overdriven sounds. They can be used to give your clean sound a bit of ‘depth’, or to give your power chords an AC/DC rhythm crunch.
Many of the best overdrive pedals not only produce an overdriven ‘tube’ sound, but also produce additional sustain. Overdrive pedals can also be set to add a volume boost for guitar solos.
Overdrive pedals are always handy to have on your pedal board, even if you don’t play loud rock music.
We’ve had a lot of fun coming up with this list of what (in our opinion) are the best overdrive pedals. Any of the pedals on this list will be worth checking out if you’re in the market for a good overdrive option.
Best Overdrive Pedals Line-up (In Order Of Price)
1. Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Overdrive Pedal
Joyo are a Chinese company that produce a range of vintage style effects pedals at incredibly low prices. The Joyo JF-02 is currently under $30, and performs as well as ‘boutique’ overdrive pedals costing several times as much. We suspect this may become a future collector’s item. Get yours before someone realises they could be charging more!
2. Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
The Boss SD-1 is the first of three Boss pedals on this list. This is the classic Boss overdrive pedal that replaced the OD-1 in the eighties. Since then it has delivered its classic overdrive sounds to countless guitar solos. Your pedal board is feeling naked without one!
3. Electro-Harmonix East River Drive Classic Overdrive Pedal
An ultra-cool looking overdrive pedal that will add a distinctive distorted edge to your sound. With a no-frills, 3 controls and footswitch interface and a tempting price tag, this pedal is definitely worth a try.
4. Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Distortion/Fuzz/Overdrive Pedal
Designed as an affordable version of the legendary Klon Centaur Professional Overdrive, this little Electro Harmonix has won fans the world over thanks to its simple design and no-nonsense overdrive sound. Delivers a nice clean boost for lovers of subtle overdrive.
5. Boss OS-2 Overdrive/Distortion
Want the overdrive sound of the SD-1, but with the option of more distorted sounds for heavy rock and metal? The OS-2 may be the answer. You can select how much of a distortion / overdrive sound you require, making this more versatile than many of the other overdrive pedals on this list.
6. Boss OD-3 Overdrive
The Boss OD-3 has found favour with many guitarists needing an adaptable overdrive sound with the durability that only a Boss pedal can provide. This could well be Boss’s best overdrive pedal, and offers a sophisticated sound that so-called ‘boutique’ pedals would struggle to match.
7. Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
This is a replica of the original Ibanez Tube Screamer. The TS9 adds a ‘tube’ quality to your guitar tone and is used by any number of famous guitarists.
You can hear a comparison between the reissued pedal and the original below.
8. Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive
There’s not a lot wrong with this high-end overdrive pedal. It justifies its price tag with a versatile range of overdrive tones from smooth blues to raucous rock: Led Zep and AC/DC tones are all at your fingertips / toes.
9. Fulltone FullDrive 3 Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal
The Fulltone FullDrive 3 is a supremely versatile boost / overdrive pedal. You can choose whether to have the overdrive before or after the boost stage, giving even more tonal options. A high-quality overdrive pedal with a lot of admirers.
10. J Rockett Audio Designs Archer Tour Series Overdrive and Boost Pedal
The J Rockett Audio Designs Archer is small in size but heavy and well-constructed – as befits its price. Designed with the legendary Klon Centaur in mind, the pedal delivers classic overdrive / boost and would justify its place in any discerning rock / blues guitarist’s pedal board. One of the best classic overdrive pedals on the market.
- See reviews and current price at Amazon.com
Best Overdrive Pedals Conclusion
Much like fine wines, the difference between overdrive pedals is often subtle. Often it’s hard to discern between a decent mid-range contender and a top-quality pedal with a price tag to match.
Where overdrive pedals break from the wine analogy is the quality available at the bottom of the market. With pedals, you can get great sounds – and build quality – without spending much money. The Joyo JF-02 and Boss SD-1 have both won a great many fans, and are not a million miles away from the likes of the J Rockett and Fulltone offerings.
Unsure what an overdrive pedal does? Read the Wikipedia description.