The Best 5 Overdrive Pedals for Under £100
If you’re starting out on your path to getting the sound you’ve dreamed of, then nailing your overdrive sound should be the first thing on the list.
If you haven’t got the luxury of a huge budget to play with then thankfully there’s still a huge amount of choice for well under £100.
Confused on where to start and what to test? Here’s the five overdrive pedals that we think should be firmly on your consideration list.
A starting point for many people, my first pedal was a Boss. If you’re on the hunt for a simple overdrive pedal that sounds great in front of most amplifiers, the Boss OD-3 is a great place to start.
Originally launched as the OD-1 in 1977 it was one of the first overdrive pedals on the market, and helped to turn Boss into the pedal making monster they are today. Built on a quad op-amp chip, the pedal features a simple three knob control.
On the left you have a level control which as you’d expect controls the level coming out of the pedal, and on the right you have your overdrive (gain) control. Crank it up and you’ll get a super nice, creamy overdrive which has definitely stood the test of time.
Visually and control wise, the main difference between the OD-1 and OD-3 is the introduction of the tone control sitting in the middle of the unit.
For £89 it’s not the cheapest overdrive pedal on the market, but given it’s heritage we think it still represents great value for money.
The smaller sibling of the classic Ibanez Tube screamer, the Tube Screamer mini packs pretty much all of the punch from the original pedal into a much smaller casing, with far smaller controls.
Although die-hard fans of the original pedal might not agree, we think that because it’s still based on the JRC4558 IC chip, this mini version is a great option for anyone who wants a tube screamer but is limited by budget.
Most people who have tested the original vs. the Tube Screamer Mini next to each other have reported that the quality still remains. In terms of controls you have the tone, level and overdrive controls, albeit the tone and level knobs are absolutely tiny.
Given the original Tube Screamer is priced at £179, being able to pick up the mini for £69 in our mind is excellent value for money.
What greater endorsement could an overdrive pedal have than being a mainstay on the board of Jimi Hendrix? The Big Muff by Electro Harmonix ticks that box and also happens to be very well priced indeed.
The combination of the above have made the Big Muff an extremely popular pedal over the years, and that’s before you consider how great it sounds.
Obviously the final tone is going to depend heavily on the amp you run it through, but the Big Muff in my mind gives off a great halfway house between distortion and overdrive. It’s smooth in one sense, and crackly in another.
Playing around with the volume, tone and sustain controls allows you to get that balance just right. If you need something a little more adjustable then you have a huge variety of models from the miniature versions through to the more complex Big Muff deluxe.
Coming in at £69 we think the Big Muff deserves a place on most pedal boards!
Ok, so not purely overdrive but closer to a fuzz, the RAT pedals are a great choice for guitar players wanting the slightly more dirty end of overdrive.
As with the Big Muff, there are a few different models of the RAT, from the original to the ‘You Dirty RAT’, to the ‘SOLO RAT’ right up to the control and feature heavy ‘Deuce Tone RAT’. If you’re looking for a reliable, dirty overdrive at a decent price, then you really can’t go wrong with the standard classic RAT.
As with all of the pedals listed in this articles, the controls on the RAT are somewhat simple. You have three knobs – volume, filter (basically tone) and distortion. Even with the distortion control at the lower end of the scale, the output is already higher than say the Tube Screamer.
Priced at £69, it’s a great starter option for people looking to get their first taste of overdrive pedals.
Priced at just £42, this pedal happens to be the cheapest in the list and also happens to offer the most control.
Being a fairly modern option compared to the rest, TC Electronics say they designed this overdrive pedal to sound just like the overdrive from a cranked up amp. The pedal fits into a pretty small casing, with controls for level, drive, bass and treble you have the ability to shape the sound to your needs.
You also have the tiny ‘voice’ switch in the middle of the unit, which gives you a boost in the mid range if you need it.
For such a great price this pedal is clearly going to be attractive to beginners, but there’s no reason why more serious players shouldn’t also give it some thought.