Top 14 Overdrive Pedals From $20 to +$150

The Overdrive Guide

Although this is a simple effect, there are different types of overdrives, each one with its own unique features that makes them easy to recognize, like a good old tube screamer. In this guide, you can find some of the best overdrive pedals we can find in the market, covering a variety of sound types and prices.

The Overdrive Effect

The Mooer overdrive monopoly

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on an overdrive pedal or want to test different classic overdrives, but still getting a high-quality pedal, Mooer has you covered.

This company makes all kind of pedals, but where they really shine is in the overdrive $50 range.

This effect type is their specialty and they have nailed it offering a wide variety of overdrive types, including clones of the best classic pedals as well as some designs of their own.

That being said, I could fill this post only with Mooer pedals but that would be unfair as there are other pedals that are worth mentioning for some unique features.

Here is the overdrive pedals series by Mooer:

  • Boss BD-2 clones: Mooer Blues Crab, Mooer Blues Mood
  • Tube Screamer clone: Mooer Green Mile
  • Zen Drive clone: Mooer Rumble Drive (emulates the overdrive of a Dumble amp)
  • Fulltone OCD clone: Mooer Hustle Drive (Tube amp sound)
  • Signature pedals: Mooer ANZI The Juicer

If you are curious about the whole Mooer family, take a look at the attached image. They cover every freaking iconic pedal of guitar history!

Beyond Mooer: a rich variety of brands and sounds

Things get interesting once we pass the +$100 level, with a pretty healthy competition of both well-stablished and boutique brands, offering the highest quality overdrive pedals.

Although we can find a couple of Tube Screamers (impossible not to add them) there is still a great variety of sounds and styles. Other than that, here we’ll find some unique sounding pedals like the Boss BD-2 or the Fulltone OCD, which are known to be used as “inspiration” for other clone pedals of lower prices.

We also have new twists of the TS character, like the Seymour Duncan 805, which takes the TS 808 to the next level or the new Ibanez NTS (Nutube Tube Screamer), using the new Korg’s vacuum technology. We’ll see if it manages to replace the classic models…

Where Can I Find The Best Overdrive Pedals?

OK, so now that we the introductions has been done, let’s do a quick review of the pedals that we’ll be covered in this guide:

Top 6 Overdrive Pedals Under $100

Biyang Od-10 Mad Driver

The Biyang OD-10 Mad Driver is a clone of the Ibanez Tube Screamer TS808 using the very same chip, the classic JRC4558.

But it doesn’t stop just there, it adds two additional modes to deliver a wider customization range:

  • Normal: standard classic Tube Screamer sound
  • Bright: more trebly attacking sound
  • Warm: more bassy sound

It uses an aluminum case, which is something to keep in mind in the $30 price range.

I’ve seen lately a lot of people using this pedal and for a good reason: the sound is incredibly good. Just take a look at this video and see for yourself how it performs compared to a TS808.

I must say though that, although the sound quality is really impressive, I wouldn’t be that sure about its durability. Don’t expect it to endure as a TS808 would do because you will be disappointed.

If you are OK with that then I’m sure you will love this pedal!

Behringer Vintage Tube Monster VT999

The Behringer VT999 Vintage Tube Monster is a hybrid design utilizing solid state ICs and a 12AX7 tube for overdrive distortion.

  • Real 12AX7 preamp tube provides warm tube-amp sound
  • Adjustable noise gate gently cuts pickup hiss out of your signal path
  • 3-band equalizer
  • Behringer 9V DC power supply included

The main problem I see with this pedal is that, out of the box, the pedal sounds a bit rough and ratty. There is no just-on-the-edge setting between clean and overdrive.

If you are into pedal mods, you can find on eBay and other stores some kits to improve the overall pedal behavior adding a new dimension of sounds that goes from an almost clean boost, through a dynamic blues overdrive, classic rock crunch, to full distortion.

TC Electronic MojoMojo

Looking for classic tube-amp-style drive? From bluesy breakup to screaming solos and chunky crunch, the MojoMojo has got you covered!

One cool behavior thing is that adjusting the Drive knob actually changes its threshold, rather than arbitrarily adding or removing distortion.

Also, it has two knobs for controlling the tone (Bass and Treble) adding an extra customization variable to the overdrive mix that will let you create a wider variety of sounds.

Thanks to the above mentioned features, this pedal provides really good dynamics, responding naturally to your guitar’s volume which allows you to control the character of your drive by simply riding the volume knob.

As for the Voice switch, in the down position the low-frequencies are slightly boosted while in the up position doesn’t apply any extra effect.

If you want to try something different (too many TS clones around already), give the MojoMojo a try!

Mooer Hustle Drive

The Mooer Hustle Drive is a very dynamic dirt overdrive that emulates the sound of a cranked up tube amp.

In fact, this pedal is a clone of the Fulltone OCD overdrive pedal, which can be found for around 130 dollars (we are talking about an $80 difference).

The Hustle Drive gives you control over volume, tone and gain/drive and there is also a toggle for low and high peak.

  • High peak mode (HP) boosts up the bottom end. When increasing the distortion via the Drive knob, you get more volume and a slight increase in high-mid range (around 3.5KHz)
  • Low peak mode (LP) colors the original sound very little but works well for clean boosting

Mooer Audio has done an amazing job of cramming a lot of tonal goodness in this little tiny pedal.

You can see a comparison video between this pedal and the Fulltone OCD here to see for yourself how good it is.

If you listen carefully, perhaps you find the OCD a little bit brighter, but you can actually get almost all of the OCD tones out from the Mooer tweaking tone control.

Mooer MOD2 Rumble Drive

The Mooer Rumble Drive is a true-bypass clone of the famous Zen Drive pedal enclosed in a tiny metal case.

In this type of overdrive, the gain range is not huge by design and it’s focused is on the mid-range frequencies.

This combination creates a very dynamic behavior, providing a different sound depending on how hard you attack the strings.

The main features of this pedal are:

  • Good tone and a clean/clear sustain
  • Very light compression allows for responsive and dynamic playing
  • Pretty noiseless, which makes it easy to combine it with other pedals before and after the signal chain
  • Doesn’t generate much overdrive, and it seems to top at 75% of the knob drive
  • Lacks bass and high-end bright, which leads to focus too much on the mid-range

Official manual

Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini

This made in Japan pedal is the mini-sized version of the legendary Ibanez TS8, probably the most used overdrive pedal in the history.

The mini TS has a JRC4558D IC chip in the core of its analog circuitry, as well as a standard true-bypass switch.

This pedal is perfect to be used either as an overdrive or booster as it delivers a wide drive range.

Also, keep in mind that the Tube Screamer overdrive (clones included) is known to boost the mid-range frequencies while weakening low freqs.

One of the cons (shared between all the mini-sized pedals) are the small knobs, which can be difficult to manipulate on stage.

If you want to try something cheaper at expense of a lower quality, take a look at the Mooer Green Mile.

Top 8 Overdrive Pedals Over $100

Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

Soft creamy overdrive Solid-rock built Same issues as original version

Demo Buy at Amazon

The Ibanez TS808 was one of the first attempts to pack the overdrive effect into a pedal format, and actually sounding incredible. Even not as popular nowadays as its successor, the TS9, the TS808 has its own reason for existence.

There are enough subtle differences between the two, even though the circuitry is more or less the same, except for a slight difference in the output section, which changes the pedal’s overall tone color.

Recognizing that there is a significant demand for the old TS808, Ibanez has released a reissue of this epic model, which is essentially just the same pedal as from the 70’s in both a positive and a negative sense.

The tone and controls remain untouched (same old JRC4558D IC chip) but it also comes with one its most criticized aspects: a really weak footswitch that can easily go out on you. Also, running the TS808 through an effects loop is generally a bad idea. For some reason, the pedal just won’t cooperate if it’s not fed directly into the front of the amp.

Generally, comparing the TS9 and TS808, the former would come out as a bit more aggressive. TS808 is noticeably smoother to work with, while it’s gain levels are fairly balanced. With that said, TS808 works rather well with other effects pedals, so you don’t have to worry too much about there being a conflict on your pedalboard.

The control layout is very simple to use too, with Overdrive, Tone and Level controls at your fingertips, and a large square foot-switch. Overdrive adjusts the amount of distortion that is introduced into your signal path. The Tone control adjusts the amount of high-frequency contour, adding the exact amount of bite that you desire. The Level pot attenuates the level of the distorted signal, whilst preserving the level of the original signal.

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

Unique overdrive tone Several mods & DIY variations Narrow tone range

Demo Buy at Amazon

First introduced in the form of the TS808 in the last 70’s, different versions have been released, including the iconic Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer.

I’ve been a huge Stevie Ray Vaughan fan for years, and this is actually the pedal that SRV made famous. The TS9 provides a narrow range of tones but it is the unique tone that you could only get from this pedal.

With that in mind, you should get this pedal only if you are looking for this kind of tone. If that’s your case, rest assured that you won’t be disappointed.

Another of the most acclaimed features of the TS9 is how well it stacks with other pedals, and what it can do with a wide range of equipment. You can use it turned all the way up as a booster for solos. It can also help to smooth out the noise included in the signal chain by other dirt boxes.

Sound Features

This pedal provides a creamy, punchy, powerful, bluesy overdrive., specially suited to those who are looking for an overdrive tone and low tone saturation.

By itself, it’s a great smooth overdrive pedal that puts a mid-hump in your tone and can nail everything from blues to rock.

Want to know more? There is an awesome post exploring the history of the different Tube Screamer versions, reissues, and components. Check it out here.

More to come in the next post update…

Wrapping Up!

You did it! We covered a lot of material in this guide I really hope going through it has helped you to learn something new about overdrive pedals and that it also helped you to discover new pedals you might didn’t know about.

To close this up with an awesome video from Roland’s Effects 101 series, where you can learn all the basics of overdrive pedals. Johnny DeMarco guides you through every knob in the Boss SD-1 explaining the effect that they have on the tone, as well as some pretty nice demos… Enjoy!

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