Top 10 Best Overdrive Pedal Reviews – Know More Before Buy

Music is no doubt the best way to communicate to the soul. If you are a guitarist, churning out the best tunes can be a big plus. It is no wonder most musicians invest in an overdrive pedal. As you might be aware, there are so many types of pedals. Therefore, finding one that is capable of adding an oomph to your sound requires quite some research.

Generally, an overdrive pedal works by spicing up the pre-amp section of your system. At the same time, it can yield similar results by boosting gain within the circuit. Sometimes that’s all the magic you need to stun on stage.

Put your pedal to good use and you are sure to color the sound of your guitar tunes. You can also highlight or de-highlight high, medium and low frequencies.

To help you make sense of all this information here’s run-down of top ten best overdrive pedal reviews.

What is an Overdrive Pedal and How Does it Work?

An overdrive pedal is an independent unit that is added to a guitar to enhance sound quality. It has three key knobs: “Tone”, “Volume” and “Gain”. There are however some pedals with only two knobs – “Volume” and “Gain”. To help you get the hang of it, we will take you through each knob and what it does.

Best Overdrive Pedal

The “Gain” knob is the unit that spices up the signal. If the “Gain” is set to a high, the output volume becomes louder. The signal also becomes much brighter. If set on a low, the signal becomes darker. In such circumstances, you would need to compensate for a brighter tone or higher volume.

You need the “Tone” knob to control the sound. One can turn it up slightly for a brighter tone. Likewise, you can turn it down to darken the sound. Interestingly, some machines have reversed tone. Adjusting the tone upwards, in that case, can darken your tone instead of brightening it.

The “Volume” knob is for compensating the volume boost. Some guitarists play with this knob to achieve higher gain settings.

Top 10 Best Overdrive Pedal Reviews

To make an informed choice, it’s imperative to compare and contrast the best overdrive pedals. Using this basis, we factor in things like EQ control and gain to help you arrive at a final choice. We also weigh in various customer reviews and try to understand which one leads the pack.

Behringer Vintage Tube Overdrive TO800

TO800 Overdrive is known for one thing – offering classic blazing sound. It works pretty effectively at recreating real-tube crunch sound. One thing that stands out about this unit is that it features legendary technology. It is made based on MA150 distortion diodes borrowed from the 4558 op amps. Thus the TO800 brings rock’s powerful overdrive to your doorstep. As such, the final results is a very faithful, vintage tone machines in the history of music.

Dedicated Drive

Let’s you enjoy the better tone and level control. Talk about a clean ticket to shaping exactly the kind of sound

you want. Plus there is a LED light that tells you exactly when the TO800 is active. Besides, there is a high-end on and off switch which gives you top-notch signal integrity.

Ease of Use

Presents you with a dedicated TONE, LEVEL and DRIVE control. This, therefore, gives you the exact sound shape you’re interested in. For even more control, there is a 9V battery complete with PSU-SB DC power supply.

High-Quality Components

This unit was conceived by a German machine maker. As you know, German machines have a good reputation in terms of quality. Besides that big name, a closer look at it reveals a combination of quality components. That alone complements a rugged construction, which ensures long life.

Things we like:

  • Offers screaming fat tone complete with smooth sustain and vintage overdrive.
  • Capable of capturing every nuance to spice up your music.
  • The unit never goes out of style. It combines legendary innovations with modernity.
  • Despite its beauty and quality, it is quite affordable.
  • Has low noise despite it not being a true bypass.

Things we don't like:

  • It has plastic construction. The build can easily give in to pressure especially if you will be touring with your gear more often.

Donner Blues Drive Vintage Overdrive Guitar Pedal Review

Donner Blues is known for two things – “hot” and “warm” tone models. Thanks to the “hot” mode, you can now enjoy more power in your tone. The “warm” tone is just what you need for smoother and sweeter sound. By syncing this dynamic duo, you can create a musical performance like no other. In the end, you end up with outstanding medium frequency. That alone makes it possible to experiment even with traditional blues.

High-End Overdrive Tone

Being completely analog, it stands tall in a various best overdrive pedals review. It has an outstanding medium frequency. This makes it ideal for playing the blues. The machine is known for its plumpness and smoothness especially with the Boost on.

Easy Control

Comes equipped with three knobs including“Gain”, “Tone” and “Level”. With two models to choose from, you can always make whatever kinds of music you want. You only need to play around with the three knobs to soup-up your music tone.

Great Design

Visibly, this overdrive has a classic mini size which is both durable and convenient. To top it up, there is a true bypass knob which makes it easy to switch your guitar’s signal pass. You can, therefore, enjoy an improved quality of play even when you disengage the effect. Moreover, you can feed your amp with unaltered signal direct from your instrument.

Things we like:

  • Well built casing with full metal shell.
  • Has a true bypass which guarantees zero tone coloration.
  • Has a level knob for controlling the volume alongside distortion effect.
  • Offers two models namely Hot and Warm.

Things we don't like:

  • Does not use batteries. Instead, it is powered by a wall adapter which limits its flexibility.
  • It is tinier than what you would expect.

Behringer Overdrive OD300 Distortion Pedal Review

This Behringer Overdrive often ranks top among cheap, best distortion pedal reviews. Price matters aside, the OD300 is a darling to many live performers. It is one of the few models we feel won’t give you a hard time on stage. Its design is rather solid. A cute pink plastic casing provides it with eye-candy protection. We like the fact that it runs on a 9V battery (standard adapter also works).

Plastic Cover

While some people think lowly of its plastic design, it is clear that this is not just another piece of plastic. It is high-quality plastic that’s made and reinforced with high-end inputs. Though it is not as sturdy as other metal covered units, it’s sure to last long. All you need to do is maintain it and keep it off unnecessary impact.

Easy To Use

The pedal comes with an LED status indicator. This is backed by four control knobs and a mega ON/OFF footswitch. Also, thanks to its design, it is lightweight weighing in at only 11.7 ounces. For easy packaging, the overdrive pedal occupies a total of 2.8x2.1x4.8 inches. Its knobs “Level”, “Tone”, “Drive” and “Mode” are pretty basic.

Enhanced Performance

Although it does not offer top-level sonic bite, its tone is solid enough for use in live shows. The OD300 is known for its natural, thick and warm tone. Moreover, it offers just enough versatility to cater to various genres. You can use it to test its blues although you can still tackle metal as well. Considering its friendly price-tag, which is quite affordable, you will get a good deal.

Things we like:

  • Offers a great combination of effects and distortion in one unit.
  • Excellent level, drive, tone and modal controls for improved sound shaping.
  • High-quality product with first-class ON/OFF switch for improved signal integrity.
  • Easy to operate and easy to set up.

Things we don't like:

  • It's knobs is cheap and may sometimes feel like they have grit on them. Some people prefer to use it as a backup pedal only.

Danelectro D2 Fab Overdrive Pedal Review

With the history spanning back almost 40 years ago, the D2 is a member of best overdrive pedals review. One thing that makes it stand out is its authentic build. The guitar is authentically made for optimum results. The pedal offers a realistic tube overdrive which is known for being responsive. To top it all up is the ability to simulate the breakup that occurs when a tube amp is being operated at full blast. It’s therefore not uncommon to see this unit on the stage of a major artist.

Danelectro puts a high-quality effects pedal on your hand without demanding too much. You can thus own a pro unit without breaking the bank.

Authentic Built

It's built by a company that has been in this industry for several decades. Unlike other pedals, it simulates the breakup that may occur when your amp operating. It’s no wonder this unit is a commonplace feature in professional artists concerts.

Design

Although the pedal is made of plastic, it has a durable, sturdy and firm feel. It actually sounds professional when used as intended. 

Simply put, it does a stellar job in overdriving the preamp tubes in your valve amplifier. Best of all, you get versatile tones and drive. The low-profile pedal has a blue ON/OFF light which is DC compatible.

Things we like:

  • Has a friendly interface with a simple combination of knobs for easy control.
  • Built with a low profile in such a manner that it won’t tip over.
  • The foot switch is large enough for better performance on stage.
  • Compact and light enough for easy packing up – a big plus if you’re planning to travel.

Things we don't like:

  • It is way too small and even the foot switch has no “click”.
  • The footswitch is pretty shallow.

Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Overdrive Pedal Review

From rich distortion to clean boosts, this pedal can easily become your best buddy. It gives you a platform to push your favorite amplifier to its breakup point. Thanks to its electro-harmonix, you can easily take-on aggressive and distorted lead tones. The main thing that stands out about it is higher drive settings boost with fantastic mids too. This also helps your tone to cut through any mix without sounding overbearing. So whether it's single-coil pickups or humbuckers, it offers enough space to fine-tune.

Transparent Overdrive

This is a low gain and highly transparent overdrive. It works pretty effectively at giving you the right kind of dirt you need. You don’t have to go to a full blown snarl territory – this pedal does a pretty good job all by itself.

Responsive Pedal

Even the best overdrive pedals review documents can attest to this fact. This is a highly sensitive touch pedal. It reacts pretty good to your style of play than a lot of other pedals. Its gain is set low and in addition, the amp is set at just below overdriving. Although it is difficult to tell when the pedal is actually on, this pedal lets you shine through.

Awesome Versatility

This is your go-to overdrive pedal if you’ve been yearning for those warm blues tones. It has rich overtones. In fact, it's quite unique in character than most distortion units available out there. It is arguable that this is much more tube-like than an ordinary Boss DS-1. It has tight but more focused sounding. So whether you want great pick attack or fast legato lines, this is probably one of the best buys you’ll find.

Things we like:

  • Well built trouble-free overdrive pedal with no hissing or popping.
  • Can also work as a booster when used in combination with other pedals.
  • Encased in a seemingly durable metal box, which has a decal on top to reduce cost.
  • Energy efficient as it only uses 22ma at 9v direct current (with the option of using a 9V battery as well).

Things we don't like:

  • It tends to cut the bass and give a mid-EQ pump. Although it sounds good, you may need to invest in a more high-end unit for better transparency.

Tom’sline Engineering AGR3S Overdrive Boost Pedal

This unit stands out as one of the best designed overdrive pedals. For starters, it is encased in an aluminum box. That alone ensures its long-lasting and rugged enough for on-stage use. Its volume, gain and tone make it an ideal overdrive. From the look of things, its design is pretty easy to use. Key knobs and buttons are available for all to see as well.

Intelligent Built

This unit has a beautiful and sleek casing which resembles a cherish jewelry. Though the aluminum casing may look heavy, it really isn’t. As you might be aware, aluminum is quite light. Unlike other cheap plastic

covered units, this one looks classy. All that goodness is trapped within a unit that’s 2/3 the size of a small iPhone. If you're looking for a pedal that complements your bustling career then this would be a good choice.

Easy To Use

This unit solely relies on pedal power. There is no battery inside. Moreover, you will find Velcro tape and MAB signature poster attached. That’s of course in addition to its 2 models – boost and normal. There’s also a stop bar on the pedal to prevent accidents when you move off buttons. With such features in place, learning how to use this unit is pretty straightforward.

Michael Angelo Batio’s Number One

There’s no doubt that this has been named top among the best overdrive pedals review articles. Even a legend guitarist Michael Angelo Batio has endorsed it. He reportedly uses this signature pedal all the time at his master classes and concerts.

Things we like:

  • Extremely fast picking.
  • Compact design making it easy-to-carry anywhere.
  • RoHS regulations compliant.
  • It is very affordable.

Things we don't like:

  • This is a cheap overdrive and it may not sound like a strymon.

Ibanez TS808 Overdrive Pedal Review

Plug the TS808 into your guitar and you are sure to introduce a thicker, tube-style tone. The green beast is a legend by itself. Not to mention that it offers a myriad of modern tweaks as well. The original version of this costs an arm and a leg on the marketplace. But with this reissue, you can get some decent results at a reduced cost. This is the tool you’ll need to push your amp and round out your tone.

Classically Made

The way this pedal is made qualifies it to be seen as a pro pedal. Countless guitarists prefer it for its smooth and full tone. In a nutshell, you get the sound of a classic tube screamer at the price of a basic unit. What an innovative way to prop up value for money?

Plug and Play

This is an extremely easy to use overdrive. Besides it being smooth and sweet, it has some beauty secrets. First, it comes with the same chip and analog as the original Tube Screamer. You, therefore, end up with a unit that sounds amazing. And even if you want to experiment with jazz, rock or blues, the Ibanez TS808 has got just the warmth you need.

Has An Oomph

As a guitarist, if your tone has been suffering from lack of real warmth then this is the screamer to die for. It has a square footswitch alongside bright green enclosure. The unit uses an integral chip and circuitry similar to the one used on the JRC4558D. Overall, this gives you a full overdrive with improved level controls.

Things we like:

  • Comes with a handy LED indicator which displays effects status and battery condition.
  • Rubber stopped for enhanced durability.
  • Boasts a standout square footswitch.

Things we don't like:

  • It's switch button does not always respond. In some cases, you’ll turn it off and it’ll turn itself on sometimes.

JHS Moonshine Overdrive Pedal Review

Although the USA company behind this is relatively new, they seem to have done a stellar job this far. The JHS Moonshine is itself a handmade “stomp box”. It stands out due to its unique overdrive plus capability to produce thrilling sound. As a matter of fact, this pedal is strong enough to enhance tonal integrity and versatility. And even though it is packaged in a small case, it managed to deliver attractive color tone. The unit can run on 18 V which means it’s powerful enough to increase your tonal output.

Easy To Use

The JHS ranks as top best overdrive pedal thanks to its improved controls. Its knobs blend smoothly with its chassis. This makes it very easy to configure the unit. Three knobs are provided for including volume, tone, and drive. That’s of course in addition to a two-sided toggle which provides you with heavy adjustment.

Enhanced Output

The pedal is crafted in great detail. This gives it the ability to deliver any overdrive tone you may like. Moreover, this unit is designed to intelligently follow the signals of your guitar. It does so effectively, even adjusting to its attitude. Worth noting is that it is very sensitive to touch. It’s remarkably your pedal’s best friend as far as size is concerned.

More Grit and Tonal Flexibility

Although this unit is based on TS circuit, it has improved grit and tonal flexibility. At 18V capacity, it can comfortably accept more headroom. Above all, its output is 2-way proof toggle switch which lets you play around with the tone. The down position of the pedal adds some mids and compression. The up position, on the other hand, provides a boosted tone.

Things we like:

  • Has a unique tonal character with way more oomph on tap.
  • Produces a wide range of gain levels and volumes.
  • More sonic versatility.
  • Handmade in the USA.

Things we don't like:

  • There are no specific issues that we could identify with this unit, not even its price tag.

Electro-Harmonix English Muff’n Overdrive Pedal

Originating from the rich history of British guitar amps, this pedal is as iconic as ever. The Muff’n is a powerful preamplifier with natural tube saturation. And sports real tubes. It is made by EHx, a British company known for producing great quality pedals. It boasts a 12AY7 which cascades into a 12AX7. This ensures it provides just the right flexibility to tackle Brit-valve sounds. It’s a fact that the Muff’n re-creates majesty and classical tonal effects with great accuracy. With this unit, you don’t have to approximate the tones.

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Smooth Tone

The Muff’n plays gently and nicely. It smoothes out all the grits tonally and at the same time responds very dramatical to boost. Although it is not quite versatile tonally, it still does its bit of the job very well. So if you can’t afford a high-end boutique map, this decent overdrive pedal can fill in that slot.

More on Offer

This pedal offers more than your average stomp box can deliver. Its effect blends well with the notes you play. That is to say, the distortion component produced is monophonic. The final sound output tends to stay at the same frequency irrespective of the fret you play at.

Well Built

The English Muff’n is housed within a folded steel casing. It has 5 normal-sized control knobs and two protruding preamp tubes. Moreover, it has a funky 12 volt PSU with an unusual and impractical connector. Generally, this pedal brings a gritty vintage overdriven. Worth mentioning is that this is a fully-fledged tube. It requires a beefy 12 volt PSU and internal transformer.

Things we like:

  • Excellent sound quality.
  • Very responsive and versatile.
  • Adds full-on overdrive or subtle tone boost.
  • Output and input gain knobs simplify the job of integrating into your studio.

Things we don't like:

  • Too harsh and trebley sounding for single coil guitars.

Wampler Dual Fusion V2 Effects Pedal

This pedal stands-out as it's specially voiced to the generation of fusion guitarists. As you may be aware, fusion is a relatively new concept with roots in classic blues and jazz/rock. As such, this unit offers you two independent circuits. These are based and completely modified on the Paisley Drive and Euphoria overdrive. It clearly offers the most versatile stacking with improved signal path options. That’s of course in addition to added versatility and modernity.

Tonal Transparency

The Wamper delivers incredible tonal transparency. It offers a tight response on the low end. Indeed, the pedal remains true to the tone of your guitar and amp. And because it has two pedals in one, it undoubtedly is one of the most versatile units you can plug into.

Responsiveness​​​​​​​​

Outstanding responsiveness – those are the only two words best describing it. For sure, it generously accommodates your pick attack and offers you enough headroom. So if you want to experiment with an array of sounds or just enhanced guitar control, it got you covered.

True Bypass

Known for its great transparency, perhaps it is one of the reasons why it is the best pedal. Indeed, its dynamism allows you to utilize advanced gain structure. This is in addition to a wide array of sounds.

Things we like:

  • Packaged with high-end film capacitors for superior response.
  • Wide array of sounds.
  • Minimal popping.

Things we don't like:

  • It's footswitch produces an audible click in the audio path.

How to Choose an Overdrive Pedal

There are many factors to consider when it comes to choosing the best overdrive pedal. Here are some tips on choosing the right unit for maximum gain and tonal flexibility.

Gain

In general, overdrives are defined based on their sound. Is the sound organic, natural, amp-like or smooth? In most cases, raunchy and hairy sounds are slightly aggressive.

Analog vs. Digital

You have the option of either choosing digital or analog circuitry. Analog circuitry is operated by modifying an actual sound signal. This skill has been used since the early 80s. On the other hand, digital circuitry converts your instrument’s output to digital bitstream.

This is then modified before translation to analog sounds for final output. While many guitar players revere analog pedals, there is a fast-growing demand for digital circuitry as well. The main advantage of going digital is you access some advanced effects.

Best Overdrive Pedal 2

On the other hand, analog has the beauty of producing the signal that is less prone to lose. This is because they don’t use digital conversion. Indeed, digital conversion tends to add some artifacts to the original sound. As such, some quality might be lost. That said, digital technology has really evolved. They give you more versatility and additional processing power. You can go digital if you want more control over a range of parameters.

Overdrive Models

Many overdrive pedals have evolved to include things like microphones and cabinet speakers. Some even come with microphone placements. It is no wonder many units are nowadays categorized to incorporate a wide range of effects. They are often grouped into categories such as:

  • Mics
  • Amps
  • Stompboxes

Indeed, as technology advances, many models have become realistic. Some even closely resemble the gear on which they're based. With that in mind, it’s imperative to go for a technologically advanced overdrive pedal.

Preset Options

Irrespective of the modeling technology used, a large number of pedals provide presets. Simply put, presets are involved in tweaking and creating an overall sound. It’s advisable to go for an overdrive pedal with this array of options. This enables you to even create customized presets. As a beginner, you can start with a factory preset. You can then tweak it to your own taste and save it in a location you can recall. Afterwards, you’ll only need to touch the button while playing and your presets will be activated.

Benefit of Buying an Overdrive Pedal

What do you go for when you want to create your very own signature guitar sound? The answer is, of course, nothing else other than an overdrive pedal. Here are the reasons for that.

To Power-Up Your Amp

The reality is that your amp may not give you just the right tone. The work of a pedal is therefore to sharpen the razor of your tone. What’s more, you can use it as a booster to tighten your bottom end. There are some people who like to use pedals as thinned out, sounding distortion in specific parts of a song. Likewise, others go for it if they don’t like their amp’s distortion character.

To Push Things to The Limits

In some cases, your amp may not have the natural distortion for the style of music you want. For instance, a majority of amps cannot handle death metal. So, in that case, it’s wise to invest in a pedal.

To Provide a Footswitch

Another instance that underscores the importance of overdrive pedals is in footswitch. Some amps don’t have a footswitch. In that case, it becomes extremely difficult to switch to a dirty channel mid-way. As such, your distortion may not be gained enough or it may fail to produce to distorted tone you want. Investing in a good pedal, in that case, helps improve the value of your amp.

Spicing Things Up

What you should know is that the art of playing guitar is more or less like cooking. With a bit of skill, imagination and a list of quality ingredients, you can create a signature dish. Likewise, overdrive pedals are the ingredients you need to break from that tired old tone.

Simplifying Your Signal Chain

Sometimes, all you need to transform your music career is the right technology. And that’s exactly what overdrive pedals do. They simplify things in your signal chain. Besides that, they pump up things so they hit the input stage hard enough to saturate. By doing so, they iron out the dynamics in your signal by evening out troughs and peaks. That by extension enhances the volume level.

Enhanced Responsiveness

Responsiveness is yet another reason to invest in an overdrive pedal. They turn the volume pot into a gain cum voicing knob. As a guitarist that’s all, you need to tame the little brute and throw some dirt in the works. Oh yes, and it also enables you to crank it to unleash a screaming, creamy monster of a sound.

Final Verdict

Looking forward to carving out your niche? By skimming through best overdrive pedals review articles, you’ll surely get the hang of it. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and create your own signature sound. Push your guitar skills to a whole new level. Try anything and nearly everything. And even if classic rock is not your kind of thing, you can still up to your blues with it.

We recommend checking out: JHS Moonshine Overdrive Pedal. It offers more power than your average “stomp box”. Moreover, its pedal is expertly crafted, giving you the ability to deliver any tone you may like. The Muff’n Overdrive Pedal would have been a fantastic alternative. It's the only downside is that it’s too harsh on single coil guitars. If you’re on a tight budget, the Behringer Overdrive OD300 is a worthwhile option. Its small knob issue is not really a big issue to worry about.

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