The 10 Best Overdrive Pedals For Metal (2023)

As one of the fundamental guitar effects, a good overdrive pedal is a must for a rock-solid tone. While killer metal tones often rely on high-gain tube amps, there are many great overdrive pedals to achieve the dirty and heavy tone you need to play metal.

You can go with distortion, a classic overdrive, or a preamp pedal to build your overdrive tone for metal. Depending on the sound you are going for and the style you play, you can go for different stompboxes to craft your tone.

My top pick is the JHS Pedals Bonsai, which offers great reproductions of iconic overdrive effects from different eras.

My budget pick is the TC Electronic MojoMojo, a cost-effective analog pedal offering a great tube amp-style overdrive effect.

The Best Overdrive Pedals For Metal (2023) – At A Glance

And now onto the full list:

1. JHS Pedals Bonsai

Top Pick
A highly versatile overdrive pedal that offers 9 tube screamer variations in one stompbox.
View Price at Amazon

The JHS Pedals Bonsai brings many different variations of tube screamer pedals from different eras to a single metal housing. The versatile overdrive pedal features 9 different overdrive effects with authentic reproductions of each circuit.

Pros

  • Great overall sound
  • Versatile with 9 different overdrive modes
  • Compact design
  • True Bypass switch

Cons

  • Volume jump between modes
  • No battery power
  • A bit pricey

On the control panel, you will find volume, drive, and tone control knobs along with the overdrive mode switch. There are OD-1, TS808, TS9, MSL “Metal Screamer,” TS10, Exar OD-1, TS7 (+), Keeley Mod Plus, and JHS Strong Mod options to create your sound. The MSL “Metal Screamer” is a great mode for metal players with its higher gain and low-end emphasis.

The pedal also has a True Bypass switch, thanks to its all-analog circuitry. The only drawback is the slight volume difference between the modes, which can be overcome with a volume expression pedal.

Pedal Style 9-way Overdrive
ControlsVolume, Drive, Tone, Overdrive Mode
Power Supply9V DC Adapter

In short, if you are looking for that iconic sound of Tube Screamers but don’t know which one to choose, JHS Pedals Bonsai is the ideal overdrive pedal for you to have all choices in your pocket.

2. TC Electronic MojoMojo

Budget Pick
Cost-effective overdrive pedal with a great valve-like sound and plenty of controls.
View Price at Amazon

The TC Electronic MojoMojo is an affordable yet great-sounding overdrive pedal that perfectly replicates the sound of an overdriven tube amp. The pedal maintains the characteristics of your natural tone while adding thick, silky, and smooth overdrive.

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Natural-sounding tube overdrive
  • Good dynamic response
  • True Bypass switch

Cons

  • May need an already overdriven amp to reach heavy metal tones
  • Requires some fiddling for ideal sound preference

The pedal can not reach the high distortion ranges on its own but delivers everything from overdriven bluesy tones to heavy crunch for hard rock and heavy metal. For a more high-gain distorted sound, you will need an already overdriven amp or another distortion pedal to help you.

Another great feature of the pedal is the voicing switch which provides the true guitar signal or reduces the low EQ of your signal. Besides that, you get the drive, level, and a 2-band EQ to fine-tune your sound.

Pedal Style Tube-style Overdrive
ControlsDrive, Level, Bass, Treble, Voice Switch
Power Supply9V DC power adapter or 9V battery

In short, TC Electronic MojoMojo is a great overdrive pedal with an impressive value-for-price ratio to add some natural tube-style overdrive to your tone.

3. Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive

Value For Money
A historical overdrive effect pedal with a great price tag and high-quality stompbox.
View Price at Amazon

The Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive is a historical overdrive pedal dating back to 1981. It has been used by many great guitarists, from Jimmy Page to Mick Thompson, which clearly shows the versatility of the pedal.

Pros

  • Great value for the price
  • Iconic overdrive effect with rich harmonics
  • High-quality and sturdy casing

Cons

  • Might need another pedal or a driven amp for heavier tones
  • Basic features and design

The pedal comes in the traditional compact Boss stompbox and is made of high-quality and sturdy metal casing. On the control panel, you find the level, tone, and drive knobs to fine-tune your sound. The overall tone you get from the pedal is quite warm and edgy, with rich harmonics that respond well to your playing dynamics.

If you are looking to get some super heavy tones, the Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive would not be enough just by itself. But the pedal works great with other pedals or already-driven amps to reach those realms.

Pedal Style Overdrive
ControlsLevel, Tone, Drive
Power Supply9V DC power adapter or 9V battery

In a nutshell, the Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive is a highly reliable overdrive pedal to create your metal tone with its attractive price tag and impressive overdrive tones.

4. Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer

Classic
The original and most imitated overdrive pedal with impressive versatility and sound.
View Price at Amazon

The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer is probably the most imitated pedal in history thanks to its high versatility and the great tones it can provide. From Stevie Ray Vaughan to James Hetfield, it has been used by many guitarists and has become the absolute classic overdrive pedal ever.

Pros

  • An absolute classic overdrive pedal
  • Highly versatile, great for blues, rock, metal, country
  • Iconic overdrive and distortion effects

Cons

  • For some players, the bottom-end ranges might not be enough

When you turn the volume and tone up with the gain knob slightly pulled down and combine the TS9 with a tube amp, you get to the metal territory with a killer tone. When the tone control is opened up, and the volume is pushed, you can get the modern hard rock tones. If you turn down the tone knob, then you can have great blues tones.

The pedal is highly versatile and delivers great tones in any range. But, still, some players might find the bottom-end ranges lacking a bit and might need to combine with another pedal to compensate.

Pedal Style Overdrive, Distortion
ControlsLevel, Tone, Drive
Power Supply9V DC power adapter or 9V battery

When it comes to the Ibanez Tube Screamer, you can’t go wrong. It delivers great tones for any genre from blues to metal and is probably the best overdrive pedal ever made.

5. Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe V2

Versatile
Great overdrive pedal with many control knobs for total control of the tone.
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The Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe V2 is a great overdrive pedal with high versatility for guitarists looking to take total control over their sound. It comes with a 3-band EQ, volume, boost and gain control knobs along with a modern-vintage mode switch and boost-gain mode switch.

Pros

  • Warm and chunky overdrive tones
  • Highly versatile with the 3-band EQ and many control knobs
  • Can be used for any tone from heavy metal to classic rock

Cons

  • Can be hard to find the sweet spot with many control knobs
  • A bit pricey

The pedal is based on the Wampler’s popular original Pinnacle overdrive and is called a British-voiced amp-in-a-box overdrive pedal. The boost function is great as it delivers the screamer-style punch, while there is a side-mounted sag switch to control the bottom-end frequencies.

Plus, you get the modern-vintage switch to choose the character of your sound, and there is the True Bypass switch to let the signal flow through the pedal without your tone getting affected. With so many controls, the pedal can be overwhelming for beginner players, but for guitarists who like the control, this pedal is a piece of heaven.

Pedal Style Overdrive
ControlsBass, Mid, Treble, Gain, Volume, Boost, Modern-Vintage Switch, Boost-Gain Switch, Sag Switch
Power Supply9V-18V DC power adapter, 9V Battery 

The Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe V2 is a versatile overdrive pedal that you can create any tones from rock n’ roll to metal ranges, thanks to the high control you get from the pedal.

6. JHS Angry Charlie V3

British High-Gain
Great British high-gain style overdrive pedal to get Marshall JCM800 tones.
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The JHS Angry Charlie V3 is created to get the legendary tones of the iconic Marshall JCM800 in a single stompbox. It is a great pedal to reach high-gain British style overdrive-distortion tones to create your tone with a rich bass response, thick mids, and balanced high ends.

Pros

  • Iconic JCM800 overdrive-distortion tones
  • 3-band EQ for finetuning your sound
  • Full Marshall-style tone stack

Cons

  • A little noisy
  • Basic design

The pedal features the full Marshall-style tone stack with volume and drive knobs, along with a 3-band EQ to craft your tone. The controls act flat when they are in the 12 o’clock position and act as cuts or boosts when turned fully down or up.

The only drawback of the pedal is that it can add a bit of noise to your signal. But, it is not a dealbreaker, and the pedal is less noisy than the actual Marshall JCM800. Additionally, the design is pretty basic but functionality trumps aesthetics.

Pedal Style Overdrive-Distortion
ControlsVolume, Drive, Bass, Middle, Treble
Power Supply9V-18V DC power adapter

Overall, the JHS Angry Charlie V3 is a great overdrive-distortion pedal, especially if you like the iconic Marshall high-gain tones.

7. Revv G3

High-end
High-performing overdrive-distortion pedal for versatile and aggressive metal tones.
View Price at Amazon

The Revv G3 is a great overdrive-distortion pedal based on Revv amplifiers’ purple channel to deliver aggressive metal tones. It features the 3-way aggression switch to adjust the amount of gain you want from the pedal, giving you the versatility to have different metal tones.

Pros

  • Great and aggressive overdrive-distortion tones for metal
  • 3-band EQ and 3-way aggression switch for finetuning your tone
  • Sounds good when used at any place in the signal chain

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • A bit muddy on high gain

The pedal can go anywhere in the signal chain, and it will perform great. Either in front of an amp, with other pedals or in the effects loop, or direct into a cab simulator, the pedal will give you the roaring tones you like for playing metal.

Depending on the EQ settings, the pedal can sound quite chunky with a good amount of presence and girth, which is great for modern metal tones. The Blue aggression mode saturates the sound and adds a bit of growl and mid-focus, while the red mode is for saturated lead tones.

Pedal Style Preamp/Overdrive/Distortion
ControlsVolume, Drive, Bass, Middle, Treble, 3-way Aggression Switch
Power Supply9V DC power adapter

Although Revv G3 is a high-end pedal, it is totally worth it if you want to deploy different styles of highly aggressive metal tones.

8. Friedman Amplification BE-OD

High-Gain Monster
High-gain overdrive pedal for heaviest metal tones based on the Friedman BE100 tube amp.
View Price at Amazon

The Friedman Amplification BE-OD is one of the best amp-emulating pedals for metal players. The pedal is based on the  Friedman BE100 tube amplifier and offers plenty of British-flavored gain for heavy metal tones.

Pros

  • Can supply a high amount of gain
  • Great for high-gain tones of metal
  • Impressive emulation of the Friedman BE100 tube amplifier

Cons

  • Might be too much gain for some players

With many controls, including Bass, Treble, Presence, Volume, Gain, Tightness, and internal gain control for even more gain, you get good control over your sound. The overall sound of the pedal has quite a bite and thickness. Although it is labeled as an overdrive pedal when the gain is high, it reaches the traditional distortion territory.

The pedal offers quite a versatility for high-gain players as it can deliver everything from bigger, more open overdrive to a tight and focused distortion effect. But if you want some classic rock-style tones, too, this pedal might be too much for you.

Pedal Style Overdrive
ControlsBass, Treble, Presence, Volume, Gain, Tightness
Power Supply9V-18V DC power adapter

Overall, the Friedman Amplification BE-OD is a highly flexible high-gain pedal for metal players with a good amount of control to subtly shape your sound and create some of the heaviest metal sounds.

9. MXR EVH 5150

Van Halen Signature
Great overdrive pedal created with Eddie Van Halen for overdriven tube-like saturated tones.
View Price at Amazon

The MXR EVH 5150 is the signature overdrive pedal of Eddie Van Halen, which provides killer hard rock and metal tones just like a distortion pedal. It gives the American high-gain tones Van Halen is famous for, with plenty of control to shape your sound, and has saturated, highly overdriven tube-like tones.

Pros

  • Great Eddie Van Halen-style tones
  • Smart Gate circuit to prevent undesirable noises
  • 6 dB preamp boost for extra punch
  • 3-band EQ for finetuning your sound

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • The chunky design takes up a bit of space on the pedalboard

One of the pedal’s strongest points is the 6 dB preamp boost switch that kicks the pedal into high gear and the Smart Gate circuit that acts as a noise gate and prevents any kind of unwanted noise in the signal. 

With hand-adjusted multi-stage MOSFETs, the pedal provides great high-gain tones which pass through the overdrive region, reaching distortion realms. It is a great pedal to use with amps that have good clean sounds but lack the distortion needed for high-gain tones.

Pedal Style Overdrive
ControlsOutput, Bass, Mid, Treble, Gain, Preamp Boost Button
Power Supply9V DC power adapter or 9V battery

The negative sides of the pedal are its price tag and the fairly chunky design which takes up a bit of space on the pedalboard. But if you like Van Halen and looking for a good high-gain pedal for heavy tones with rich harmonics and high saturation, this is a great pedal to check out.

10. JHS Paul Gibert PG-14

Wide Range
Impressive distortion pedal with plenty of controls for the lead guitar players.
View Price at Amazon

The JHS Paul Gibert PG-14 is the signature pedal of the guitar virtuoso Paul Gilbert. The pedal offers a wide range of expressive, dynamic amp-like distortion tones, which are especially great for lead guitar players. The FET-based circuitry of the pedal provides for fully cranked amp tones at manageable volumes.

Pros

  • Wide range of amp-like distortion tones
  • Great mid controls
  • Responds great to playing dynamics
  • Great for the lead guitar to stand out in the mix

Cons

  • A bit pricey
  • Needs some fiddling to get the right tone
  • No battery power

You will find Volume, Mid, Drive, Tone, Mid Frequency, and Push control knobs on the control panel. But be careful with the Push dial as it adjusts the preamp’s gain in front of the circuit’s FET amplifier to reach a wider range of textures in terms of overdrive and distortion. So, it allows the pedal to act like a second high-gain amp in front of your amp.

The pedal also responds great to your playing dynamics, making the pedal perfect for lead guitar playing and solos. The mid controls with mid and mid frequency knobs also add quite a versatility to the tonal range.

Pedal Style FET-based Distortion 
ControlsVolume, Mid, Drive, Tone, Mid Frequency, Push
Power Supply9V DC power adapter

The pedal is a bit pricey but is perfect for lead and rhythm guitar players who like to have rock-solid metal tones, which you would expect from a guitar virtuoso like Paul Gilbert.

What is Overdrive?

The overdrive effect is the tone you get from a tube amp pushed to its sonic limits. The sound of a maxed-out tube amp provides the purest overdrive with heavy saturation and grit that became the iconic tones of rock and metal. So, the overdrive effect is the tone you get from a cranked tube amp.

However, not every guitar player can have huge tube amps and the option to play them with high volumes forcing the limits to have the organic overdrive effect. That is why there are stompboxes, providing the same grit and saturation without taking up too much space or the need for higher volumes.

What is the difference between Distortion and Overdrive?

Distortion is more aggressive than overdrive, and it saturates your tone much more, affecting your natural tone significantly. The overdrive only boosts your amp and mimics your natural tone, while distortion adds a high amount of grittiness, and saturation, completely changing your tone.

With the overdrive effect, the sound is responsive to your playing and picking dynamics. But, with the distortion, the dynamics do not depend anymore on how aggressive or soft you play. So, distortion is used for much heavier tones for metal and similar genres.

Where does an Overdrive Pedal go in the Signal Chain?

Pedals that amplify the sound should be the first step in the signal chain as a general rule. Otherwise, they may also amplify the noise coming from other pedals. So, overdrive and distortion pedals, as well as wah and compression pedals should be located at the beginning of the signal chain.

What to look for in an Overdrive Pedal for Metal when buying?

When choosing an overdrive pedal, sound, versatility, quality, and price are the points to check. The most important is the sound and the tone you want to achieve. Having the flexibility to craft other tones is also important, as well as the build quality and the price.

Summary

Overdrive is one of the most fundamental electric guitar effects that created some of the most iconic tones in rock and metal history. Many great overdrive pedals on the market can get you the metal tones you are after, but it is important to choose the right one, depending on your playing style and budget.

My top recommendation is the JHS Pedals Bonsai, as it is a highly versatile overdrive pedal offering great reproduction of iconic tube screamers from different eras.

My second recommendation is the TC Electronic MojoMojo, which can give you the iconic tube-like amp overdrive effect for quite reasonable prices.

Berk Oztuna

Berk Oztuna

Berk Öztuna is a handpan player, percussionist, and guitarist. He has been playing multiple instruments over the last 10 years. He started his music career as a guitarist, playing with several bands before putting his main focus into playing the handpan.

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