- by Kevin Deal
Many kinds of pedals can aid your music performance every time you strum your guitar. One of the pedals frequently used is the overdrive pedal.
Overdrives tend to have two purposes for your guitar performance. First of all, this pedal should provide a gain boost to your tube amplifier. This is to create distortion. Secondly, it looks to resemble a mildly distorted tube amplifier that is overdriven.
Having a great overdrive pedal can widen your range of songs to perfect. Without an overdrive pedal, your electric guitar can fall short in covering a classic rock song that uses a lot of it.
Moreover, having the best overdrive pedal can give you fantastic effects to bring your performance to new heights.
Top 5 Best Overdrive Pedal Reviews
The Intricacies of an Overdrive Pedal
To reiterate, your overdrive pedal will work together with your tube amplifier. The pedal assists your tube amp to reach distortion at higher levels. The overdrive pedal does this without coloring the tone too much.
The sound of the distortion to be made would usually be more natural. This is because if you crank your overdrive pedal to maximum, it often creates a self-generated distortion.
If you think about the overdrive pedal, always remember that it’s a soft-clipping device. Distortion pedals are stronger which is why it’s always used in metal or punk music.
Here is a video that highlights the uniqueness of an overdrive pedal.
On the other hand, since an overdrive retains your guitar’s sound, it’s typically used for classic rock and blues styles.
Playing with an Overdrive Pedal
Before buying an overdrive pedal, you should know what to expect once you start using it.
We have already stated the fact that an overdrive pedal is a less harsh version of the distortion pedal. However, you should also know that there are certain times where it can have a substantial distortion effect.
An overdrive pedal usually gives your guitar a warmer effect. This is the case when you’re strumming your guitar gently. However, if you’re about to change strumming patterns, you could see a significant difference.
There’s a stronger distortion effect whenever you strum harder. It’s still a subtle effect and is still not comparable to a distortion pedal’s effects. But it’s always a plus since it gives you more room to generate different effects to your playing.
You can watch video that further explains the primary uses of an overdrive pedal below.
How to Choose an Overdrive Pedal
Because overdrive pedals have a gray zone definition, you can use it for a lot of playing styles in your music. This makes it quite difficult for a beginner, though. You might be overwhelmed with the number of models that you’ll see in the market.
The first thing you should look for in an overdrive pedal is not the pedal, but your playing style. An overdrive pedal’s use is different for lead guitarists and rhythm guitarists.
- If you’re playing the lead, you might want a pedal that can assist you to produce effects that can stand out and be distinguished. If your pedal helps your amplifier generate warmer and smoother sounds, then it means you’ve come across a good one.
- If you’re playing the rhythm, you obviously would want the opposite. You want a pedal that can help you blend the effects with the rest of the music. Subtle tones are ideal for this playing style.
Don’t be mistaken; there are overdrive pedals that can accommodate all of your needs thanks to its versatility. At the end of the day, choosing your pedal is just a matter of a hearing test. We’ll cover up the best there is out there to help you out further.
Reviews Of Top 5 Best Overdrive Pedal
1. Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive
The Fulltone OCD is revered by many reviewers to be one of the best overdrive pedals you can find. It’s frequently recommended, and the ratings are typically high for this product.
Perhaps, one the reasons why it’s a favorite is the versatility it offers. Foremost, it has two switchable modes. These are low peak and high peak modes. You can switch through a small toggle right around the top of the pedal.
To further explain these modes, the low peak function is best for the rhythm role. As we previously discussed, some guitarists want to retain the tone of their guitar. This feature works well since it doesn’t go overboard when it comes to your overdrive pedal’s effects.
On the other hand, high peak mode gives you an aggressive approach to your music. It boosts both the mid and high frequencies which let you push the pedal to the max.
It’s ideal if you want to stick out your overdrive among the present tune of the song.
- Features touch-sensitive knobs
- Comes with Volume, Tone, and Drive functions
- Tone knob brightens the sound of dark tube amplifiers
- Cleans up when guitar’s volume knob is lowered
- Features rich overtones that are best reserved for class A tube amplifiers
- Gives you tonal versatility when it comes to overdrive tones
- Perfect for fine tuning your pedal
- Comes with a 9V battery
- True bypass
- Let’s you play clean or rough
- Low and high peaks retain the tone of your electric guitar but give it strong (or mellow) overdrive
- Built like a tank, it’s heavy-duty material and construction provides you with a long-term product.
- Battery replacement is quite difficult to handle
- Screws can be a challenge to remove during this process
- Might have an excessive amount of sub-low frequencies when you turn on the gain, could be a bit annoying for some musicians
2. Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Overdrive Pedal
The Joyo JF-02 features a bypass wiring with other quality components to offer. It’s extremely versatile regarding tones while recreating the late 70s overdriven tube amplifier.
Similar to the Fulltone, the Joyo’s interface features Gain, Tone, and Level with the same toggle switch. The Joyo also doesn’t disappoint if we’re comparing its sound to the previous product we reviewed.
Comments on this overdrive pedal say that the Joyo JF-02 is quite hard to distinguish from the OCD at first. That’s pretty big of an accomplishment especially since Fulltone is a renowned brand.
However, there is a difference if you try to check its sound further. The Fulltone OCD sounds brighter compared to the JF-02. On the other hand, the JF-02 Ultimate Drive has more bass and mids. The tone knob can also brighten the pedal if you’re leaning onto that.
- Extremely versatile in sound
- Features Tone, Gain, and Level knobs
- Can recreate a late 70s overdriven tube amplifier
- One of the most inexpensive overdrive pedals
- Has a low peak and high peak function
- Gives you a beautiful and clean boost to suit your playing style
- Has a lot of gains compared to others
- Rich in second and third order harmonics
- Octave button may create undesirable sounds after using this for a while
- Questions about durability
- It might look sturdy due to the metal box design, but there are problems with internal parts
- Volume tends to weaken over time
- Comments indicate that it might only last a few months
- Sound can be muddy and unclear past below 1 o’clock
- Might create a bad hum when connected to other pedals
3. Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is a classic in the world of guitar pedals. If you’re a savvy guitarist, who might not be surprised as to why this made it on the list. It’s been for the better part of many rankings and lists now, making it one of the most coveted pedals around.
However, unlike the first two pedals, the Ibanez Tube Screamer is not a versatile pedal. If the Fulltone OCD is an all-around pedal, the Ibanez is a specialist that does one thing extremely well.
This one thing where the Ibanez TS9 excels at is boosting the signal at the front end. This gives you a vintage sound boost that caters to almost every genre you’re playing.
- Extremely simple interface
- Comes with Tone, Drive, and Level knobs
- Stompbox with footswitch design makes it easy to operate
- Knobs are touch sensitive and work well
- If the Drive knob is all the way down, it gives you a clean boost
- Provides you with a lot of mids
- It retains a lot of signals to aid your playing
- Plays very well with a distorted amplifier
- May not be ideal for beginners
- No level control
4. Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
The Boss SD-1 can give you a wide array of options to dial in. You can dial from subtle grit to smooth, all while sustaining lead tones. You can also control how much overdrive you put. This is done by altering your picking attack.
It also has three knobs like most of the products reviewed here. These pedals are Level, Drive, and Tone controls. These three are all adjustable for you to shape the music that you want. You can go mild to hard thanks to these knobs.
The Boss SD-1 also features a unique symmetric drive circuit. This delivers a richer overdrive effect that can stand out in lead situations. Furthermore, you can use the Boss SD-1 as a signal booster as well.
The Boss SD-1 is also designed as a stompbox. This makes it easier to operate when you’re playing.
- Creates warm sounds and the notes are clear
- Unique symmetric drive circuit
- Gives you the option to use it as a signal booster
- Created out of steel; makes this product extremely durable
- Great range for an overdrive pedal
- The crunch sound is efficiently delivered
- The sound can be quite metal or digital at times
- Susceptible to create hissing sounds during and after using
- Difficult to dial a little touch of crunch to the pedal
5. Fulltone Fulldrive2 MOSFET Overdrive Boost
The Fultone Fulldrive 2 offers a clean boost and overdrive. These are its two main features that separate it from the rest. The default is Overdrive mode while the Boost mode lets you engage with the lower-right footswitch.
Surely, if the Ibanez TS9 is the leader in boosting the signal, the Fulltone is the best when it comes to versatility. There’s just not much in the market that offers this many tone options.
- Two small toggle switches is what gives this pedal supreme versatility
- CompCut: clean boost to enhance sound
- Flat Mids: more transparent overdrive
- Vintage: mid-range-heavy
- Comes with Standard or MOSFET mode
- You can dial any tone, giving it great range
- Gives great boost and overdrive to solo plays
- Great bargain for what it offers you
- Could have circuit problems when switching modes
- Has issues with its frame’s construction
To reiterate, buying an overdrive pedal is all about your preference and playing style. There are many different products that we have reviewed, all catering to different needs.
If we’re taking versatility to play along with the pricing, the Fulltone OCD Overdrive should be the best in the business. It comes with a wide array of features that you just can’t pass up.
The High and Low peak modes coupled with the touch sensitive knobs make this a soft pedal to use. You can virtually switch from rhythm or lead playing with the Fulltone OCD.
Although the Joyo Ultimate Overdrive can battle it out regarding sound and versatility, the Fulltone gets the edge here for being the original OCD overdrive pedal. Not to mention, it seems more sturdy and durable compared to the other products. There aren’t many cons that should scare you away from this complete package. Just always remember to test it out and if like what you hear, then it’s the pedal for you!
Check out the following guitar pedals too!