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Today in 2019, there are a bunch of overdrive pedals on the market to choose from. From cheap Chinese pedals to high-end boutique works of art, it's hard to sift through the noise. Don't worry! We've chosen the best overdrive pedals that tower over the competition. No matter your budget, you'll find an overdrive that will push your amp just the way you want.
If you're not sure what an overdrive pedal does what makes it sound different from a distortion or fuzz, check out our guide about the differences between overdrive, fuzz, and distortion. Once you're up-to-speed, come back and check out our recommendations!
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If you're short on time, check out a summary of our recommendations here. For more information, then keep reading all the descriptions and learn about your favorite pedal below.
The Boss SD-1 is the archetypal overdrive. It's extremely responsive to your playing, making sure all your subtleties aren't lost in the ether. The SD-1 is rock solid and time-tested. Debuting in 1981, it's one of the granddaddies of overdrive and still in production today - and for good reason. Tone-wise, the SD-1 can get gritty, so it makes for a great rock overdrive. Combine the SD-1 with a humbucker equipped guitar and you've got a recipe for iconic rock tones like AC/DC or Led Zepplin. In fact, the SD-1 was a staple on Jimmy Page's pedalboard throughout the 1980s, so you know it's up to snuff. Thanks to its simple controls, you won't need to spend much time dialing in your overdrive tones.
If you're on a budget, and you can't justify spending hundreds of dollars on a boutique pedal, the Boss SD-1 will give you all the overdrive tones you're looking for.
This overdrive needs no introduction. The Ibanez TS9 TubeScreamer has been the overdrive of choice for decades, used by rock and blues icons like John Petrucci, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Carols Santana. Throw this pedal in front of your amp and you're in store for some classic overdrive tones that will push your amp to its limits. With only 3 knobs for tone, level, and drive, it's super easy to understand and adjust. Place the TS9 in front of a clean amp and say hello to classic blues and rock tones. Place it in front of a crunchy amp, and you're set for some hard rock and heavy metal shredding. Kirk Hammett was well-known for using one in his rig for much of his Metallica career.
The TS9 is well-known for giving a boost to mid-range frequencies, which makes your solos sing. If you're using it to play hi-gain genres like hard rock or metal and keeping this pedal engaged throughout your set, remember to compensate for the extra mids using your EQ controls.
You might come across the TS808 during your guitar journey. The TS9 and TS808 are very similar, but the main difference is that the TS9 sounds more 'modern'. It's both brighter and more aggressive than the TS808. If you're more of a jazz/low-gain blues player, you might enjoy the Ibanez TS808 a bit more.
Does the Horizon Devices Precision Overdrive djent? You bet your bottom it does. Developed with Misha Mansoor of Periphery, the Horizon Precision Overdrive will transform your tone into a djentleman's dream. This pedal was created for one purpose: to tighten up your high-gain tones for more focused and harder hitting riffs that typify modern heavy and djent-inspired music. If you play a 7 or 8 string guitar and live for downtuned playing, you'll be happy to know that the Precision drive was built with your type of playing in mind.
The Horizon Precision Drive comes with four knobs, allowing you to dial in everything from noisy, screeching 80s metal to a more modern, percussive tone that hits hard. Because the overdrive portion of your signal chain is liable to create a lot of noise, Horizon had the foresight to include a built-in noise gate to keep your tone as mud-free as possible.
According to its creator, the Earthquaker Devices Palisades is the 'Mega Ultimate Overdrive', and it's hard to disagree with that assessment. Based on the legendary TS808, the Palisades has more controls and options than you might know what to do with. You can choose from a low and high gain channel, 6 clipping voices, and 5 'bandwidth' settings to really have the freedom to dial in just about any sound you can dream of. Each channel has its own gain knob, allowing you to switch seamlessly between tones for easy live playing.
Versatility is the name of the game with the EQD Palisades. Its 6 voices allow you to get everything from light overdrive to an all-out fuzz depending on the voicing you choose with the Voice knob. A Tone knob and Bright switch give you extreme control over how much treble you want to in your sound. There's even a Boost switch to really turn up the volume and make your solos stand out. You even can even temporarily activate the Boost or second Gain channel by simply holding down the respective switch with your foot! You won't find many pedals that are more versatile than the EQD Palisades.
We've seen a bunch of different overdrive pedal at all budgets and types of music. If you're still unsure, get the Ibanez TS9 TubeScreamer! It's the tried and true option and has been used for decades by all types of guitarists. We hope this helped! If you have any questions or need help choosing, let us know in the comments.