The Best Overdrive Pedals - Under $50, $100, & $150

The Highest Rated Overdrive Pedals Under $150

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Overdrive pedals were designed to hit the first gain stage on tube amps harder, effectively functioning as another tube and therefore, adding more gain. They can also be used as a standalone source of grit to bring your clean tone to the "edge of breakup."

Some overdrive pedals can be used as a "clean boost" for added volume or gain during solos. They generally have high headroom, low to mid gain and a frequency response that helps tighten up the sound of higher gain amplifiers. Many modern high gain sounds are achieved by using an overdrive pedal in front of a high gain amp such as the Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier or Peavey 6505 series.

Since there are so many on the market today with varying levels of gain, headroom and tonal options, we have gone ahead and selected the market's best overdrive pedals.

We set our price limit to $150 to focus on a great price to performance ratio. Our recommendations are categorized further into three price ranges to help in your selection.

Without further ado, here are The Best Overdrive Pedals Under $50, $100, & $150

The Best Overdrive Pedals

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

Best Cheap Overdrive Pedals Under $50

Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 2950+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$52
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Overdrive Pedal Under $50.

Note that while this was priced under $50 when we first published this edition, the price has since gone up.

The Boss SD-1 is an affordable overdrive that can easily go toe to toe with the more expensive boutique options.

The cool thing about this pedal is how simple and versatile it is. It’s easy to dial in a ton of different tones, the range of gain on tap is useful in every setting, and when you turn the gain all the way down you can get a clean-ish (still colors your tone) boost.

It is a bit more aggressive and colored than the more transparent overdrives on this list, leaning more towards the distortion side of the spectrum rather than the organic tube-like overdrive other pedals we’ve featured.

Features:

  • Controls: Level, Tone, Drive
  • Analog
  • Buffered Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter/Battery
  • Used by: The Edge, Jonny Greenwood, Steve Vai, Zakk Wylde, John 5

Pros
Users appreciate how easy it is to get a good sound out of the SD-1. And there are plenty reports of it sounding good with various amps from expensive Fender & Marshall amps to more affordable practice amps. There are many who compare it to a Tube Screamer, but with a bit more bite. Its reliability is without question, having been built to the same strict quality standards as other Boss stomp boxes.

Cons
While many appreciate its easy-to-dial classic overdrive flavor, those who want more control and flexibility are not impressed.

Overall
If you're looking for a plug-and-play overdrive that'll work with most amplifiers then check out the Boss SD-1.

Best Overdrive Pedals Under $100

Ibanez TS Mini Overdrive Pedal

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 1100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$80
Ibanez TS Mini Tube Screamer Overdrive Pedal

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Overdrive Pedal from $50 to $100 along with the EarthQuaker Devices Plumes and Ibanez TS9.

The Ibanez TS Mini is a streamlined and compact version of the popular Tube Screamer. As such, it is also a more affordable and accessible alternative.

At its core is the same Tube Screamer tone that's responsible for shaping the sound of countless popular guitarists, but since this one is smaller, it doesn't take much precious pedalboard real estate, making it an easy addition for any setup.

Features:

  • Controls: Tone, Level, Overdrive
  • Analog
  • Hardwire Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter/Battery
  • Used by: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Gary Moore, John Mayer, Carlos Santana, Eric Johnson

Pros
This pedal continues to exceed the expectations of many, especially when considering its price and size. Even those who owned older Tube Screamer pedals attest that this compact pedal sounds like the real thing. And much like the original, it is often praised for how good it sounds when used as a boost with good sounding amps.

Cons
There are a few who caution that the pedal is not as durable as the original stompbox, and they recommend a bit more care, especially with its knobs.

Overall
The Ibanez TS Mini gives you the iconic Tube Screamer tone without using too much money or space.

EarthQuaker Devices Plumes

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Overdrive Pedal from $50 to $100 along with the Ibanez TS Mini and Ibanez TS9.

The Earthquaker Devices Plumes is the company's own take on the "beaten to death" Tubescreamer design. Instead of the classic tubescreamer 4558 IC and BJT transistor buffers, the Plumes operates on JFETs for lower noise, and more chime on the high end.

The Plumes also features 3 clipping modes. Mode 1 is an LED clipping mode for a crunchy Brit-like tone; Mode 2 is a purely clean boost without clipping; Mode 3 is an asymmetrical clipping design similar to the original Tubescreamer with more output and less of the dreaded Tubescreamer midrange hump.

Features:

  • Controls: Drive, Level, Gain, Clipping mode toggle
  • Analog
  • True Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter/Battery
  • Used by: Mick Thompson (Slipknot), Mike Stringer (Spiritbox), ishiwatari Makiko (The Peggies)

Pros
Many feel like the plumes is a clearer and more versatile upgrade to the classic Tubescreamer design. Many users have purchased the Plumes to replace TS and TS-alike pedals on their board. They love the clarity and versatility of the Plumes as well as its ability to function as a boost, an additional gain stage or as a standalone dirt pedal in front of a clean amp.

Cons
Early units were met with some quality control concerns with some users getting no signal through but no recent reviews note this flaw so it's safe to assume that the issue has been rectified for newer units.

Overall
If you're bored with your Tubescreamer and Tubescreamer tones in general, try the Plumes by EarthQuaker Devices. It packs a versatile punch that can do everything the TS can do and more.

Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pedal

95
GEARANK

95 out of 100. Incorporating 2550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pedal

At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Overdrive Pedal from $50 to $100 along with the Ibanez TS Mini and EarthQuaker Devices Plumes.

With a long list of big name users, there's really no denying the influence of the Tube Screamer to rock music and guitar playing in general. As such it is a good idea to keep the current production model as close to the original as possible.

They did this by having the TS9 pedal built in the same factory as the original, along with utilizing the same components and distinct green paint on its chassis. This means that you're getting the same pedal as artists like Stevie Ray Vaughn used to craft their immortal tones,

Features:

  • Controls: Tone, Drive, Level
  • Analog
  • Hardwire Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter/Battery
  • Used by: Cliff Burton, The Edge, Buddy Guy, Kirk Hammet, Greg Howe, Gary Clark

Pros
Users have plenty of good things to say about this pedal, and they come from a wide variety of musical backgrounds. And while it does well as a stand alone pedal, the TS9 is more often commended for being a good tone enhancer, be it for tube amps, or for a complex pedalboard.

Cons
The TS9 is not as versatile when used on its own, so it may not appeal to those looking for an all-in-one overdrive pedal.

Overall
The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is as classic as it gets, get it if you're looking for the classic overdrive tone, or if you want to enhance your sound.

Best Overdrive Pedals Under $150

Xotic SL Drive

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$132
Xotic SL Drive Overdrive Pedal

No guitar sound is more iconic than the roar of the mighty Marshall Super Lead. Colloquially known as the "Plexi", this mythical beast of an amplifier was created to do one thing: Go loud. However, as time goes by, more and more guitar players are starting to prefer more, manageable stage volumes and so the tone of the Plexi has faded to near obscurity. This is because the Plexi's roar cannot be contained under polite stage volumes.

The Xotic SL drive was designed to emulate this famed tone. While many would think that this is a distortion pedal and not an overdrive, the SL drive was meant to add the feel and character of the famous Super Lead/Super Bass series to an existing amp rather than be a standalone pedal for gain. It does have plenty of gain on tap but as you turn it up, the gain only gets thicker, similar to pushing the power amps of the amplifier it seeks to replicate.

The SL drive is housed in one of the smallest enclosures in the market. Despite this, it has great tweakability thanks to its internal dip switches for Super Lead/Super bass mode, and other eq options to tailor your sound.

Features:

  • Controls: Drive, Level, Tone, Internal dip switches for various modes
  • Analog
  • True Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter/Battery
  • Used by: Andy Timmons, Nile Rodgers, Guthrie Govan

Pros
Despite its simple controls, many users were delighted to find that the pedal is easy to tailor to their amplifier. The character and tone sounds, and more importantly, feels like a Super Lead. Even longtime users of the famed amp felt the same way.

Cons
Dip switches can only be accessed by opening the pedal up. This can be a pain when you need different tones on the go. Another user noted that they disliked the pedal but only because they favor other amp tones. One Super Lead amplifier owner noted that while the character is there, it lacks the low end punch that the Super Leads and Super Bass series are known for.

Overall
The Xotic SL drive is a cult favorite among Plexi connoisseurs. the small size, versatile tonal options and unmistakable growl of its namesake won the hearts of many guitarists (and even bassists!). Get it if you want to add some Marshall flavor to your rig. The SL Drive is one of, if not the, definitive Marshall-in-a-box pedals.

Fulltone OCD V2

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 1150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$140
Fulltone OCD V2 Obsessive Compulsive Drive Pedal

Fulltone’s OCD is a highly regarded overdrive pedal, and judging by user reception, the OCD V2 appears to be a worthy follow up to the line. The cool thing about this pedal is that it manages to perfectly straddle the line between ease of use and versatility.

The pedal comes with four controls: volume, tone, gain, and a hp/lp switch. The gain has a smooth sweep, allowing you to dial in both subtle, lightly overdriven tones as well as more traditional hard clipping distortion (and everything in between). The hp/lp switch (high-peak/low-peak) changes the voicing of the pedal, with high-peak emphasizing high-end frequencies and the low-peak mode retaining more of your initial tone.

Another interesting feature of this pedal is its enhanced bypass, which is essentially a form of buffered bypass which is more transparent (doesn’t impact your signal) than standard buffered bypass. The pedal can be switched to true bypass via an internal switch.

Features:

  • Controls: Volume, Tone, Drive, HP/LP
  • Analog
  • True Bypass/Enhanced Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter/Battery
  • Used by: Keith Urban, James Valentine

Pros
The Fulltone OCD V2 is well loved for its sensitivity to pick attack, allowing for broad dynamic control over your tone. It is also well received for its flexibility, which makes it easy to integrate with various guitar pickup configurations, amps and rigs.

Cons
There are a few who feel that this pedal has a bit too much low end, opposite to the thin sounding complaints received by other overdrive pedals. Goes to show that you really can't please everybody (especially guitarists). There are also some who still prefer the tone of the original OCD, which has been superseded by this new version.

Overall
If you're looking for an overdrive pedal with amp-like attack sensitivity, then check out the Fulltone OCD V2.

Maxon OD808

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
Maxon OD808 Overdrive Pedal

While the Ibanez Tubescreamer is the household name for low to medium gain overdrives, many people overlook the original Maxon OD808 as the original pedal.

Designed by Susumu Tamura for Maxon and released in 1979, the Maxon OD808 was designed to replicate tube saturation in a pedal format.

Ibanez adapted the Maxon OD808 circuit into the Tubescreamer model name. While there are many Tubescreamer clones, derivatives and mods today, the OD808 was an industry first when it was released.

Features:

  • Controls: Drive, Level, Bass, Treble, Voice
  • Analog
  • True Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter/Battery
  • Used by: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Adam Dutkiewicz (Killswitch Engage, Metal Producer), Misha Mansoor (Periphery), Eric Johnson

Pros
Many OD808 users note that they prefer the Maxon original for its clarity and lower noise floor compared to the Ibanez TS808. Others also like the enclosure and footswitch better than the Ibanez version.

Cons
Most cons come from mistakenly buying the Maxon OD808 for high gain, thinking it was a distortion pedal.

Overall
The legendary Maxon OD808 has found its home on the boards of many musicians of various genres. Sure, there are many pedals today that revoice, alter or modify the platform of the OD808, but for many purposes, the original is always best.

Keeley Super Phat Mod Full Range OD Pedal

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$149
Keeley Super Phat Mod Full Range OD Pedal

After gaining popularity for modding existing guitar pedals for various players, Keeley Electronics have become a guitar pedal manufacturer themselves. The Super Phat Mod in particular stemmed from them modding the Boss BD-2 by adding a Phat switch to improve its low end response.

This version now comes with Keeley's own designed JFET gain circuit which enhances harmonic saturation and tube-like response. As the name implies, it also comes with the Super Phat switch that lets you go from Flat (flat response) to Phat (subtle bass boost).

Features:

  • Controls: Level, Tone, Drive
  • Analog
  • True Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter/Battery
  • Used by: Simon McBride, Jesse Johnson

Pros
This pedal is rated highly for its tone, which is often described as transparent and polished. Touch sensitivity and versatility are also often commended in reviews, impressing even experienced guitarists who have tried more expensive overdrive pedals. Guitar.com's Richard Purvis describes it as a "smooth yet snappy overdrive that sounds totally convincing all the way through its gain range".

Cons
Not many complaints, other than price tag, but most users are happy with their investment.

Overall
The Keeley Super Phat Mod Full Range OD is ideal for those who want a smooth and polished overdriven tone.

Wampler Tumnus

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$150
Wampler Tumnus Transparent Overdrive Pedal

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Overdrive Pedal Under $150.

When it comes to overdrive pedals, the Klon Centaur is king. The pedal has gone beyond being a piece of gear to being a mythical piece of music history. Unfortunately… genuine Klon overdrives can cost anywhere from $1500 to $3000. Because of the pedal’s cost, numerous imitators have come out of the woodwork to try to create a Klon Centaur that’s attainable for any musician. And its hard to name a better option than Wampler’s Tumnus.

The Wampler Tumnus is first and foremost a transparent overdrive, which can be a good or bad thing. A transparent pedal is only going to sound as good as your gear, so its not a good choice if you’re running a beginner’s setup.

Features:

  • Controls: Gain, Treble, Volume
  • Analog
  • Buffered Bypass
  • 9-Volt Adapter (No Battery)
  • Used by: Joe Arick (Session guitarist for: Josh Turner, Hunter Hayes, and Florida Georgia Line), Joe Perry

Pros
Like the Centaur this pedal is based off of, the Wampler Tumnus is also incredibly touch sensitive. And this is reflected in many reviews, with some stating that the pedal is analogous to playing through a driven tube amp, cleaning up and distorting based on pick attack. Guitarworld's Paul Riario concluded his review by saying: "The Tumnus delivered all the hallmarks of magical overdrive: with touch responsiveness that accentuated my pick attack, subtle hints of compression, rich midrange and warm overdrive."

Cons
One thing to know about this pedal is that it’s not true bypass, which may be a deal breaker for some. The pedal uses a buffered bypass, which boosts your signal even when the pedal isn’t engaged. While not as transparent as true bypass pedals, buffered bypass pedals are great if you’re running a long signal chain.

Overall
If you want nothing less than the best rated overdrive pedal in the sub $150 price range, then get the Wampler Tumnus.

Things to Consider When Buying an Overdrive Pedal

If you’re not very experienced with overdrive pedals, or you just want to brush up on your background knowledge before putting any money down, check out the sections below!

  • Controls

    The controls on your overdrive pedal will generally fall into three main categories: Gain, Volume, and Equalization.

    Gain (also referred to as Drive or Overdrive) controls the amount of overdrive present in your signal, with lower levels adding subtle grit to the tone, while higher settings apply more overdrive saturation.

    Volume controls the level of the signal, or how loud it is.

    Equalization controls, often referred to as tone, control a section of the frequency spectrum. A control simply labelled: tone, generally changes both low and high-end frequencies. Some pedals come with controls that only effect certain parts of the spectrum, like the mids or high-end (these controls are also generally labeled as the frequency they control).

  • Ease of Use

    Overdrive pedals may not seem complicated at first glance, but believe it or not they can be a bit hard to work with depending on your gear and the controls on your pedal. Some pedals have so many controls that it can be hard to dial in a good sound, or the controls they do have can be counterintuitive. Conversely, there are also pedals that only have three controls. In fact, some of the most highly regarded pedals ever only have three controls.

    You may be asking: If some of the greatest overdrives of all time only have three controls, why should I bother with more getting more controls? Well, it depends on the tone you want and what you want to have control over. If you want to carefully sculpt your tone, a more feature rich pedal might be right up your alley. The only tradeoff is that it will take longer to dial in that tone. Whereas with a simpler pedal, it’s more of a plug and play situation. Pedals without a ton of controls may be less versatile, but they’re also easier to get a good tone out of when compared to a pedal with more controls (case in point for those of you who’ve read up on different pedals, the Boss Metal Zone).

  • Expensive vs. Affordable

    When looking at gear, many of us assume that more expensive pedals are always going to be better than their cheaper counterparts. In practice this doesn’t always turn out to be the case. Now, we’re not saying that people who buy expensive pedals are all a bunch of cork sniffers, because that’s not that case. More expensive pedals can have a range of benefits including versatility and durability.

    Expensive pedals generally come with more controls, or are engineered with a high-level of quality towards a specific purpose. They can cover more ground sonically, and they’re built with (as a general rule) higher grade components. They also have a tendency to isolate noise better, so you don’t get as much electrical interference.

    However, cheaper pedals can still offer the sound you are looking for, they just may not be as versatile or be built with the same quality components. A good example would be the original Ibanez Tube Screamer. It was affordable when first released, and it went on to grace the rigs of some of the best guitarists in the world.

Best Overdrive Pedal Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2018 and the latest edition was published on February 5, 2021.

Since there are many multi-effects, distortion and fuzz pedals that can also be used as an overdrive pedal - we decided to narrow down our scope to those that are designed primarily (properly labeled) for adding overdrive effect to electric guitars. Being readily available from a major American retailer was also a selection criterion. And for this 2021 edition, we further limited our search to a maximum street price of $150. Even with all these limitations, we still ended up with a short list of 24 overdrive pedals and over 18,300 reviews, ratings and recommendations - you can see the list in our Music Gear Database. All these data were fed into the Gearank algorithm resulting in rating scores out of 100 that allowed us to come up with a list of best overdrive pedals derived from market sentiment. Finally, we divided our recommendations based on price, including sub $50, sub $100, and sub $150. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

Aside from endlessly window shopping and watching hours of gear reviews for leisure, he enjoys playing competitive FPS games, MMORPGs and caring for his 5 cats. He is primarily influenced by guitarists like Kurt Ballou and Paul Gilbert. His favorite pieces of gear are his Ibanez RG550RFR, Orange Brent Hinds Terror amplifier and EQD Acapulco Gold fuzz.

Contributors

Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Mason Hoberg: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: By Gearank.com using photographs of the Boss SD-1, Ibanez TS9, Wampler Tumnus, Keeley Super Phat Mod and Fulltone OCD V2.

The videos above have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

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