Best Guitar Overdrive Pedal for Beginners in 2021

Best Guitar Overdrive Pedal

You only need a few pedals to get that professional guitar sound and an overdrive pedal will definitely help you get there. In fact, an overdrive pedal is one of the most common guitar pedals used today. Right up there with the compressor pedal. the fuzz pedal and the funky wah pedal as well.

Of course, this all depends on what kind of music you play and the sound you are trying to achieve but if you want to sound like a real rockstar (Metallica, Megadeth, and other heavy metal bands), you need to play around with an overdrive pedal.

Here is what a guitar sounds like before using a guitar overdrive pedal:

Here is what it sounds like after it runs through an overdrive pedal:

Notice the difference?

Yeah nobody can live with your typical electric guitar sound after they hear what an overdrive pedal can do.

You might be able to mimic this with a midi guitar controller or even a synthesizer but it can’t beat the real thing.

An overdrive pedal does require a 9V battery, it’s their power supply. However, overdrive pedals tend to drain the 9V batteries pretty fast so it’s highly recommended that you look into a daisy chain power supply.

Now let’s have a look at the best overdrive pedal for beginners in 2019.

Boss Super Overdrive Pedal

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal
  • Overdrive Pedal f Electric Guitar
  • Legendary BOSS overdrive pedal with genre-defining sound and feel
  • Stacks well with boost, overdrive, and distortion pedals

Do you know what is the best thing about getting some music gear?

Finding out that it’s going to last for a very long time.

No matter how much you use it, it just going to keep performing like a true workhorse.

That’s exactly what the BOSS SD 1 is. Definitely one of the best Boss overdrive pedal available today.

Some even joke around about the durability of this overdrive pedal as it just might last longer than the pyramids. Now that might be stretching it a little bit you get the idea. Durability and reliability is definitely not a problem with this overdrive pedal.

What about the tones it produces?

Well if you like that old school rock sound like most Metallica’s songs, test this one out. This is the choice for most professionals and beginners alike.

Heck, even some blues players use this.

Definitely one of the most versatile overdrive pedal out right now (Actually it’s been the popular choice for quite some time now),

Fulltone OCD – Best overdrive pedal for metal

Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive Pedal
  • Compulsive Drive Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal

Another gem of a drive pedal, the Fulltone is considered as one of the best ever made by many professionals. In fact, the more experience you have as a rock guitarist, the more you will love this Fulltone OCD guitar pedal.

A good sign of a quality pedal is that it’s built like a nuclear bunker and this one fit’s the bill right down to the tee. Just like the Boss SD 1 mentioned earlier.

People are known to go pretty hard on an overdrive pedal anyways and the Fulltone seems to come out strong all the time. A highly recommended OCD overdrive pedal but there are some negatives.

Like if you are somehow unable to find the tone / sound that you were looking for, you might get quite frustrated. This overdrive pedal has proven to be a shoo-in for most but there are still people who just don’t like it.

Behringer To800 Vintage Tube-Sound Overdrive

Behringer TO800 Vintage Tube Overdrive Pedal
  • Status LED for effect on/off and battery check
  • Captures every nuance of your playing from smooth overdrive to screaming tube sounds
  • Dedicated Drive, Tone and Level controls for awesome sound shaping

If you perform live, this overdrive pedal is definitely for you. Although the overdrive pedals the professionals use are pretty expensive, the Behringer TO800 Vintage overdrive pedal is second to none.

I know this brand somewhat personally because I actually own their audio interface as well.

Let me tell you something, these guys have been in the game for so long for a reason. They know music production inside and out. All that expertise clearly shows in this Behringer overdrive pedal as well. Just like a pedal should be, it’s pretty simple yet powerful.

The Behringer To800 vintage tube overdrive comes with three knobs that you can tweak to find your own unique sound.

Speaking of knobs, a lot of guitar heads don’t like them on this Behringer pedal. They say the knobs feel too “cheap”. I think that’s just a matter of opinion but just to frank . . . try to avoid getting advice from music “nerds”. They are more interested in talking about music then actually making it.

MXR EVH5150 Overdrive – Best Guitar Overdrive Pedal

You got to love these guys.

They actually collaborated with Eddie Van Halen to create their impressive line-up guitar pedals.

The MXR EVH5150 overdrive pedal is part of that exclusive family and you know what that means, you’re going to get some really solid tones witch this overdrive pedal.

The MXR overdrive pedal produces really rich tones so you truly “feel” what you’re playing.

Isn’t that what music is all about anyway?

People really enjoy how responsive this MXR overdrive pedal can be, especially it’s noise gate feature.

Noise gate is a feature that minimizes any extra noise that is being created. It’s a common thing used in music production as well. 

So if glam rock is your thing (I don’t like calling it glam rock at all btw), and you really want to get your 80s style rock and roll on, I believe the MXR EVH5150 may help you out.

Try combining it with the EVH90 on your pedalboard for even more rad tunes.

Wampler Tumnus V2 Overdrive & Boost Guitar Effects Pedal

Wampler Tumnus V2 Overdrive & Boost Guitar Effects Pedal
  • Designed to be a versatile addition to any setup, any style
  • Use with other pedals to shape the total gain, as a stand alone overdrive, or as a slightly dirty boost to push the...
  • Can even be used as a buffer because this pedal is not true bypass

I left the fact that there’s so much choice right now because there are such great products in this category. It’s absolutely a delight for guitar players all around the world.

Well, you can add the Wampler overdrive pedal to that elite list. The distortion created is what we call in the game as “crunchy” and the boost gain is simply adored by a good chunk of active guitar players (First timers and the professionals).

This is a very well constructed pedal so feel free to rock out with your . . . heart out (Yeah that’s exactly what I meant . . . yeah . . .)

Behringer OD300

Behringer Overdrive/Distortion OD300 2-Mode Effects Pedal
  • Behringer Overdrive/Distortion OD300 2-Mode Effects Pedal - (9V Battery and PSU-SB DC Power Supply Not Included) -...
  • Take off with overdrive, distortion or a combination of both effects in one powerful pedal
  • This Behringer product has been designed to compete head to head with leading products on the market

Now if you’re looking for your very first overdrive pedal, and are still not sure what you’re getting into, the Behringer OD300 compressor pedal is the one that comes to mind. It comes with 4 knobs to help you adjust the level, tone, drive, and mode. The Behringer OD300 is quite loved by people who get them.

That’s understandable because the first time you play with a decent overdrive pedal, your world will literally change. There is a reason why professional guitar players use pedals. Anyways, there is a downside to this one.

Placing the 9V battery can be a bit of a struggle. If you can get away with a 9v Power adapter, might as well go for it.

Horizon Devices Precision Drive Modern Overdrive Pedal

Horizon Devices Precision Drive Modern Overdrive Pedal Electric Guitar
  • Volume - Extra headroom. 6 on the Precision drive is equal to 10 on other drives.
  • Attack - Dial in the perfect amount of punch without compromise.
  • Drive - From tight rhythms to glassy lead tones.

Another proved overdrive pedal. Man, don’t you just love the plethora of awesome overdrive pedals in the market? There is truly something for everyone. This specific model is recommended for all our hard rockers and metal lovers. They seem to enjoy the Horizon… the most. One of the best features of this pedal is the built-in noise gate.

It kicks it right after the gain and the sound produced is pretty solid.

Purpose of a noise gate?

Although the Horizon is loved by many, if you are picky or have a very good idea of what your sound should be, you might not like it as much. Great for beginners and intermediates but the super ‘techy’ guitarist don’t care much for this one. Oh well, to each it’s own.

JHS Bonsai 9-Way Screamer Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal

JHS Pedals Bonsai 9-Way Screamer Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal, Green
  • The Bonsai is our tribute to one of the greatest pedals ever created, the Tube Screamer
  • A Simple rotary knob switches through nine classic, vintage, rare, or hard to find variations of the Screamer
  • The Bonsai Does Not emulate these pedals, it is exact replications of these nine units all housed in one box

Word on the street is if you like overdrive this overdrive pedal should be on your pedalboard. In fact, some even say that should be the only pedal that you should use. I don’t know about you guys but that is a pretty big statement.

I’m kind of surprised because the JHS guys have been in the game since 2007, so they know what they’re doing. As far as this specific overdrive pedal goes, there’s just way too much-loved buy guitar players for this one. If there’s anything that ever came close to perfect overdrive pedal, this would definitely be in the top three.

To get a little specific, the crunchiness of this overdrive pedal is praised by pretty much all the users. We just love that extra punch at this overdrive pedal creates and adds to the existing tone your electric guitar.

J. Rockett Dude Pedal

J. Rockett Audio Designs Tour Series Archer Overdrive and Boost Guitar Effects Pedal
  • A recreation of an iconic circuit matching all of the wonderful qualities of the original
  • A great clean boost that goes all the way to a chimey classic organic gain
  • Can be used as just a clean boost by turning the gain all the way down

No keep in mind these guys make a lot of overdrive pedals, but this one is specifically known as the dude. I know, pretty cool name eh?

The dude is helping a lot of guitar players achieve super smooth tones with minimal tweaking. I mean it’s a simple overdrive pedal with less than a handful of knobs anyways.

I personally love things that are straight to the point and they do a great job and this pedal is one of them. Most guitar enthusiasts notice a massive Improvement in the mid-range, a space which usually holds the bulk of a lead anyways.

My only complain with this overdrive pedal is they have to do something about the color combination. Black on black just doesn’t work especially when you’re playing a guitar in a darker setting like for most gigs. This is a nice smooth overdrive pedal.

Ibanez TS808

Ibanez TS808 Overdrive Pedal
  • Overdrive, Tone and Level controls
  • Delivers that warm, natural tube overdrive sound previously unattainable by conventional units.
  • Zine die cast construction and rugged rubber stopper assures durability.

Now this pedal is highly recommended by a lot of pros and amateurs alike. Especially if you own a Fender guitar or two.

The tones created by this overdrive pedal are very well received. Most report creating UK style rock and roll tones which in my book are awesome. I mean say whatever you want about the British, their music is awesome.

Anyone remember Smash Hits?

Hope I didn’t date myself but oh well, I don’t care. this is so much fun.

Although there’s mostly good feedback on this overdrive pedal, a few have reported construction flaws. Like faulty knobs, etc.

Just something to keep in mind. It’s one of those you either love it or hate it kind of overdrive pedal.

Nobels ODR-1

Nobels ODR-1 Overdrive Effect Pedal
  • Natural, Tube-Like Overdrive
  • Spectrum Control
  • High (1M) Input Impedance

The ODR-1 had a cult like following. In fact, there are fans that are ready to go to war for it. Metaphorically speaking of course but that’s because they really love is overdrive pedal.

If you prefer to really push you’re tones to the limit without creating any harshness or “muddiness”, this overdrive pedal may help you achieve that effect. It may be the only overdrive pedal on our list that most people report getting two of.

One for purely distortion (It has a nice growl to it) and one for overdrive of course. Lots of people create their own unique “stacks”. I mean who knows what kind of new crazy sound you might end up with. Heck it could even end up being your own unique signature sound.

Anatomy of an Overdrive Pedal

Anatomy of an Overdrive Guitar Pedal

Although each overdrive pedal comes with it’s own unique bells and whistles, if you understand these basic three concepts, than you should be all set to morph into the next [Insert your favorite rockstar name here].

As you can tell, we don’t pick any favorites . . . We are fans of them all.

Level Knob

Controls how loud a pedal would be. Which is basically referring to the volume aka amplitude of an overdrive pedal.

Drive knob

Controls the amount of effect or in this case, ‘overdrive’ a pedal produces.

Tone knob

Basically makes the sound (Audio signal) sound fuller. If you’ve heard of saturation, I feel like this is exactly what a tone knob does.

Power Adapter

Pretty self explanatory. This is where you connect the power source for your overdrive pedal. Although most overdrive pedal (Guitar pedals in general) require a 9v battery, you’ll be way better off if you connect it to a direct power source. Guitar pedals kill 9volt batteries faster than anything. Don’t make this an unnecessary expense.

Guitar Input Jack

This is where you will plug in your guitar.

Amp Output Jack

This is where you amplifier goes in or your multitrack recorder, etc.

Battery Case Screw

Once you unscrew this (Usually with your index finger and your thumb), you should see an opening. This is where the 9Volt battery goes in.


Peter Thomas

Peter is a well-known guitar teacher in Ealing. He’s taught hundreds of guitarists of all levels, covering everything from rock and pop to jazz and classical.Have a question, need some help, or want to give your opinion? Drop us a comment below!

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