7 Best Overdrive Pedals That Can Make Your Guitar Growl!

By Monica | Product Reviews

Jun 08
best overdrive pedal

When it is about rock n' roll or metal, we know that being rough is necessary. That's why having the best overdrive pedal is quite essential to these genres. After all, this is the type of stompbox that could guarantee that your instrument can unleash wall-crushing sounds and unrivaled sonic capacities.

An overdrive pedal is not an optional accessory. Instead, you consider it as an essential addition to your pedalboard. For a modern guitarist like you, it is pretty vital that you will be able to create impactful growls and lead lines. If not, then your role in the mix wouldn't be so apparent.

If you are just new to this type of musical accessory, then being overwhelmed by the numerous available options is pretty understandable. The market today has been filled with so many models and variations of overdrive pedals that choosing become a tedious process. Therefore, getting lost in the jungle is quite easy.

However, we won't let that happen. Not on our watch! We have listed and tested some of the most excellent options when it comes to this particular stompbox. Check out and read their full reviews to see which one of them can bring the "bang" in your playing!

Best Overdrive Pedals: Our Top Picks

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Things to Consider Before Buying an Overdrive Pedal

Before you hit the market, we have to learn first the basics of an overdrive pedal. In this way, you will know the essential application of this stompbox. Moreover, it will also let you prevent from buying a low-quality and substandard model. Don't worry. You don't need to become a seasoned guitarist before you can discern a good overdrive to bad one.

1

Mechanisms of an Overdrive Pedal

For those who are using a tube amp, the overdrive pedal can maximize the distortion (or gain) that comes out from the tubes. Specifically, the tube amp can provide more distortion if you will crank it at higher volumes. On the other hand, the role of the overdrive pedal is to make sure that this process will go as smooth as possible. Moreover, the pedal should never "flavor" the sound of your guitar. Otherwise, the latter would become too artificial.

A natural-sounding distortion is said to be organic. Many guitarists would prefer this kind of aural characteristic. After all, an overdrive pedal should still preserve the authentic sound that a guitar should produce. For example, you cannot integrate a flavored sound on highly sophisticated genres like blues or rocks.

There are also other applications that an overdrive pedal can perform. Aside from driving enough gain in your amplifier, this one can also work together with a distortion pedal. Now, we know that both of these two have a lot of semblances to each other.

This is the reason why they work so well together! Specifically, guitarists attach the overdrive pedal to the front portion of their distortion pedal. Through this, they would further maximize the gain that is coming from the signal chain.

Another function that an overdrive pedal can do is by acting as an EQ alternative. With this capacity, the overdrive pedal can amplify the mid-range and treble response of your guitar, which is highly necessary for solos. This is a necessary thing for picky players, as it gives them sufficient control to their guitar throughout the entire mix.


2

Choosing an Overdrive Pedal

As we mentioned earlier, you don't have to become a seasoned guitarist before you can spot a good overdrive. Even beginners in this field can already find an overdrive pedal that would meet their expectations.


3

The Pedal and Your Rig

Before you buy an overdrive pedal, make sure that you can discern how it will perform with your rig. This is the match-making phase that only you can solve. In short, it is the process that guarantees that the pedal will complement your tube amp and guitar.

Take this for example. A Fender guitar and tube amp are considered "bright." Therefore, if you want to even out the frequency response, you have to get an overdrive pedal that has "dark" and "heavy" voice. This kind of setup is quite necessary for those who are playing the lead. The particular role requires bright sounds so that it can stand out in the mix. On the other hand, you need a pedal can blend perfectly in the mix you are designated to the rhythm role.


4

Sounding of the Pedal

Of course, you should also consider the quality of voice that an overdrive pedal can produce. Before buying, make sure that you have already assessed the level of distortion that a particular overdrive pedal can give. And for this case, we highly recommend that you do the testing by yourself. Test the overdrive pedal on a rig that is similar to yours. If the sound satisfies you, then you should get the pedal already.

But if you are getting the overdrive pedal via online retailers, then you should search on YouTube instead. Most of the popular overdrives that you can see on the market today have demo versions on the site. You have to listen to them first before you start making the purchase. In this way, you will certainly avoid having a bad product.

Best Overdrive Pedals: Features, Performance, and More!

We already covered the essential things that you have to know about overdrive pedals. Now is the perfect time to introduce our top picks for this particular stompbox. So what are you waiting for? Read on!

The Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive is the type of pedal that you would want to get if you are looking for a warm and organic distortion. This one can perform subtlely, as it perfectly emulates the playing style of its user. Specifically, this one has a smooth performance and can perform excellently in genres like rock and blues.

The SD-1 is a compact pedal. Therefore, fitting it in your pedalboard won't become a problem. It is also durable and made from high-quality materials. In short, it can survive even if you use it on a regular basis. This pedal comes with a sophisticated overdrive circuitry. Because of this feature, it can create the classic but all-natural growl for your amp. Moreover, it provides sufficient tone control so that you can configure how the drive should sound.


Pros:

  • Highly responsive overdrive pedal
  • Fits perfectly on a pedalboard sizes
  • Provides sufficient control for distortion and overdrive
  • Can work on multiple genres
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty

Cons:

  • It would be better if it has higher output (but it is not exactly a deal breaker)

Let's take a look at this product...



The MojoMojo is a prized opus of TC Electronic. There is no doubt about that. This one has a unique design and performance but makes it simple but complex at the same time. It is among the few overdrives in the market today that can sound like a real amp. Moreover, it has a minimal compression but wide character that makes the sounds articulate and highly distinct.

Apparently, the MojoMojo used an innovative circuitry that increased it voltage by three to four times compared to its competitors. But the reason for this major revamp is not to produce more distortion. Instead, the circuitry is there to improve the dynamic of the pedal. Therefore, you can really expect that this overdrive pedal can produce natural growls!

Right off the bat, the MojoMojo overdrive pedal sounds great. You don't need to tweak it too much before you can hear its amazing sound. Just dial the mode that you want and this pedal is ready to serve you!

Pros:

  • Tone controls are very precise
  • Comes with a voice switching feature
  • Can produce very organic and "alive" sounds
  • Powerful circuitry
  • Doesn't flavor the sound even in high volumes

Cons:

  • No noticeable drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...


Behringer is another overdrive pedal that can blow you away. This particular pedal is known to generate vintage overdrives that are very familiar with seasoned guitarists. The tone it creates is fat and thick, but the sustain it has is seamless and smooth.

The Behringer Vintage is using an authentic 4558 IC distortion diodes to produce all organic and unflavored sounds. Moreover, it has MA150 diodes as well that captures every detail of your playing style. From the subtle overdrive up to crushing tube sounds, this one can replicate them fully! It also comes with tone, level, and drive controls so that you can shape your sound the way you want it!


Pros:

  • It has a noise-free operation
  • Exceptionally rugged (it is made from high-quality materials)
  • It comes with LED status indicator
  • Comes with dedicated knobs for Drive, Level, and Tone
  • It can capture all the subtle details of your playing

Cons:

  • Cons:It's hard to change its batteries
  • It doesn't have an AC adapter

Let's take a look at this product...


It doesn't matter which music or guitar forum you are in. When the discussion is about overdrive pedals, the Fulltone OCD will certainly be mentioned. At this point, it is undeniable that this one is among the most loved overdrives by guitar enthusiasts and players. Of course, we can cite a lot of reasons for this.

One of the biggest selling points of the Fulltone OCD is its versatility. It can work perfectly on any genres that require overdrive and distortion. Moreover, it comes with two modes that you can switch easily. Specifically, they are the Low Peak and the High Peak. The Low Peak is somehow a subtle boost of sound. It doesn't crank your sound. Instead, it just maintains it current aural characteristics. On the other hand, High Peak gives your guitar the aggressive sound that it needs.

Meanwhile, the pedal has touch-sensitive control knobs (Volume, Tone, and Drive). The availability of these controls allows you shape the tone according to your playstyle. Also, it improves your versatility together with the instrument. Therefore, getting this pedal is something that you wouldn't regret!


Pros:

  • Highly versatile overdrive pedal
  • Provides both subtle and aggressive overdrive effects
  • The overtones can clearly stand out in the mix
  • Compact and durable design
  • Easy to use (no more tweaking needed)

Cons:

  • It creates noticeable low frequencies when you tune up the gain

Let's take a look at this product...


The Ibanez TS9 has been an iconic overdrive pedal in the guitar industry. Its popularity rose right after the TS808 Tube Screamer of Ibanez was released. We can say that it is a classic but all-powerful overdrive that can still fit most modern applications. Specifically, it has a mid tone that can work correctly for any blues song.

The Ibanez TS9 still comes with three control knobs: Drive, Level, and Tone. The same as other pedals, using this stompbox is pretty easy as well. It also comes with a footswitch that has the same appearance as of Boss products. Such can really make you feel nostalgic. But comparing the two brands, we deem that the Tube Screamer is quite heavier compared to most Boss pedals.

When it comes to performance, the TS9 still works as promised. It can create clean and crisp boosts to your guitar sounds. Although there is a little grit that you can hear, this overdrive pedal can still produce the overtones that you want!


Pros:

  • Extremely durable construction
  • Knobs are touch-sensitive
  • Provides adequate control for tone-shaping
  • Pretty compact (can fit most pedalboard)
  • Doesn't flavor the instrument sound too much

Cons:

  • Not as versatile as other overdrive pedals (since it is a vintage unit)

Let's take a look at this product...


The world of overdrive pedals has been filled with different brands and varieties. Therefore, it is no wonder if some new emerging names won't get the respect that they deserve. However, Joyo is not the same. It is still a young blood in the industry. However, the accolades it received is pretty impressive already.

When it comes to appearance, their Joyo JF-02 is somehow similar to the Fulltone OCD. Their layout is pretty the same. However, unlike the standards models, the control knobs of the Joyo JF-02 are the following: Gain, Tone, and Level. Meanwhile, its construction doesn't feel cheap, which is surprising, considering that it has a low price.

We should not also undermine the sound quality of this overdrive pedal. The sound it produces is as great as most popular units on the market today. However, if you pay attention to details, you can notice that when put at the same settings, the OCD will sound brighter than the Joyo JF-02. But of course, with its price, this overdrive pedal is a deal that you want to seal!


Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Sounds pretty decent
  • Rugged construction
  • It is noticeably compact
  • Sound frequency is versatile

Cons:

  • It is quite noisy when it is operating
  • It doesn't use a true bypass circuitry

Let's take a look at this product...


The Behringer Overdrive/Distortion Od300 is designed to compete with the leading overdrive pedals on the market today. Of course, we can say that it has a chance, considering that it has an ergonomic design and solid performance. Just as its name suggests, this one can do both overdrives and distortion at the same time. It is a feature that you cannot get on most of its counterparts.

The sounding of this pedal is pretty great also. It can pick up the subtle details that you imbibe in your instrument. Moreover, we are happy that it didn't color the tone at all even when we cranked it fully! For its price, getting this unit on your pedalboard will never be regrettable!


Pros:

  • High-quality construction (made from Germany)
  • True-bypass circuitry
  • Intuitive interface (it has a LED indicator)
  • Provides both overdrive and distortion effects
  • Compact design

Cons:

  • It sounds fuzzy
  • Consumes battery too much

Let's take a look at this product...

Final Verdict

An overdrive pedal will certainly improve the versatility of your playing style. Moreover, it enables you to stand out in the mix, regardless of how subtle or aggressive you put your instrument in the mix!

Among the overdrive pedals we featured, the Fulltone OCD left an exceptional impression to our ears. It is powerful and articulate at the same time. It uses a true bypass circuitry that makes it sound authentic, rich, and warm. We can guarantee that it doesn't flavor your sound, no matter how much you modify its controls!

But of course, we still recommend that you should try each of these pedals that we mentioned. You will never know which one can satisfy your requirements until you don't test all the viable options!

Did you like this list? Which among these overdrive pedals do you want to try? Tell us your answers in the comment section below!

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About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don't want to drop my zeal--especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!