Best Overdrive Pedal

Best Overdrive Pedal

For many guitarists, their first effects unit is an overdrive or distortion pedal. From classic bluesy drive to metal mayhem there's plenty of options with something for everyone.

What overdrive pedal? The first Guitar FX pedal that most people buy is an overdrive/distortion pedal, so the first question is, what is the difference? Well an overdrive pedal is generally considered to be a more natural distortion that may comes from overdriving valves /tubes and distortion is a more aggressive form of overdrive. Overdrive has soft clipping that creates a warmer tone (think bluesy) than distortion that utilizes hard clipping for a harsher, more edgy tone (think heavy rock and metal).

So what is the best overdrive pedal for guitar? What is the best distortion pedal? And what one do I need? Well based on your basic tonal goals you will first need to decide if you are after classic warm Overdrive tones or the more upfront, edgier Distortion sound. There are many options available whatever your budget, so here is a quick guide of some of the best selling models.

The BOSS SD1 Super Overdrive pedal is a great value pedal that delivers the classic BOSS stompbox rugged build and yields 3 controls Level, Drive and Tone - it produces the warm, overdriven sound of a tube amplifier. The hugely popular BOSS DS1 Distortion pedal is an equally good value pedal but delivers an edgier, more cutting tone than the SD1.

Sticking with BOSS but going up in price is the BOSS BD2 Blues Driver, it gives you instant access to genuine, warm

overdrive sounds usually reserved for 30 year old amps . At the other extreme you have the BOSS MT2 Metal Zone which delivers thick, heavy tube gain distortion with 2 dual EQ knobs for the ultimate in tone tweaking.

Marshall’s name is legendary in the amp world and their pedals do justice to their name too…without breaking the bank. The Marshall Bluesbreaker has two modes, the Boost mode allows you to drive the front end of your amp without altering your tone and the Blues mode gets you that classic natural style overdrive of legendary Marshall amps. The Marshall Jackhammer contains extreme distortion levels with an option for either Overdrive or Distortion mode, highly versatile and authentic heavy tones on tap here.

MXR have a great range of overdrive and distortion pedals. Their looks and build quality are as legendary as their tone and with a drive pedal to suit all players it's worth checking the range.

The Electro Harmonix Little Big Muff has classy boutique styling and produces silky smooth sustain and creamy tone that made the legendary 1970 Big Muff Pi famous. The Electro Harmonix Nano Muff features a tiny footprint, simple one knob operation, low price point and delivers a vintage analog overdrive tone.

Blackstar are one of the market leaders when it comes to amps and their range of pedals utilize tubes to ensure classic valve tone is with you all the way. The full range include boost, overdrive and distortion pedals but special mention goes to the Blackstar HT Dual Distortion. It features 2 independent channels - Channel 1 has Clean or Crunch modes and can be used clean, as a boost or overdrive
whilst Channel 2 gives distortion tones from super crunch right up to screaming lead – this is a hugely popular pedal

thanks to not only its great tone but its highly versatile 2 channel setup. If heavy hitting distortion is what you are after then the Blackstar HT-Metal Valve Distortion Pedal is the ultimates shredders options. It's a two channel filth machine delivering clean, overdrive and all out super high gain lead modes. For those on a budget make sure ou checkout the Blackstar LT range.

Finally we have TC Electronic and their range of compact pedals. The TC Electronic Mojo Mojo Overdrive pedal will give you that classic sweet blues lead and chunky rhythm tone. Next we have the TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion that will give you the powerful early plexi tone, a highly musical distortion great for saturated lead sounds and fat blues tone with attitude. Taking it to the next level is the TC Electronic Rottweiler Distortion which will deliver classic heavy rock and power metal tones – this is the great shredders pedal with the true feel of raw power that only a high-gain tube amp used to be able to deliver.

This is our guide to a range of ever popular guitar overdrive and distortion pedals - there are many more models available at GigGear which can be found here.

Our Harlow Superstore holds a vast array of pedals in stock, on display, ready for you to demo – as with all FX pedals it really is a personal choice so feel free to pop down and try out a few.


Posted on 8th May 2012 by Rob Evans


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08th May 2012


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