A Guide To The Best Overdrive Pedals For Metal

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A Guide to the Best Overdrive Pedals For MetalYou play metal music and you are wondering what is the best overdrive pedal for metal? Well, every guitarist should know the importance of effects in the process of playing this crucial musical instrument. Some of these effects include distortion and overdrive. Just to clarify, these two terms are at times confused and used interchangeably. However, technically they mean different but related things.

Distortion is any process that actually alters the sound of the harmonic domain. Overdrive is actually a type of distortion achieved by achieved by saturating the valves in the amplifier. Overdrive is currently achieved using overdrive pedals.

If you have not used an overdrive pedal before, or have used one, but are still not very sure why guitarists bother to add it to their equipment, consider the following major reason. Overdrive pedals are designed to deliver the true sound of vintage tube amps. These devices help create musically-sounding harmonics as well as overtones that the amps create when they are over-driven. The pedals simulate the break up that arises when you push the amplifier to the point where it begins to distort. In simple terms, overdrive pedals enable them to achieve the designed level of overdrive in the process of playing the guitar.

Any good overdrive pedal will offer a range of effects while remaining responsive to your unique playing technique and amp settings. However, overdrive pedals are generally tailor-made for different types of music. That is why you don’t just buy any overdrive pedal you come across. This review focuses on overdrive pedals for metal sounds.

Considerations that you should make as you shop around for the best overdrive pedal for metal

Type of metal music

Your type of metal music will certainly play a role in determining which the best pedal is for you. Different variations of metal music will require different types of overdrive pedals.

Digital versus analog

The advent of digital technology has seen the proliferation of digital pedals in the midst of analog pedals. Confirm the pros and cons of both types of devices in regard to your desired sound effect before you make your choice.


There are myriads of digital effects models out there. It is important to consider the most appropriate model for your primary type of metal.


You will realize that most multi-effects units today provide you with presets. However, there is no harm in getting a unit that also allows you to create your own favorite presets which you can save and recall at the touch of a button even when you are playing.

While these are not the only considerations to make, they are pointers to what critical aspects you should have in mind as you select the best overdrive pedal for your metal. Our review highlights a major pro and potential cons for each of the pedals discussed starting with from the most to the least expensive.

Maxon Reissue Series OD808

Pro: Superb harmonics and dynamic signals.
Con: Cuts some low frequencies.

With a good budget, you can join popular artists such as Nick Hipa and Adam D who cherish this overdrive pedal for its functionality. Other than having simple controls, this pedal is valued for its numerous compelling strong points. The pedal’s high gain amp is tightened into an absolutely responsive range. This allows you to sound like you are essentially playing via a dual rectifier. The up of this is, it gives you great harmonics and punchy signals. Moreover, this pedal will sound superb with any amp you have.

Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive D

Pro: Does not allow the low-end distortion.
Con: Does not come with a power supply.

The Fulltone OCD prides in doing what hardly any other pedal does; give you sweet tube amp distortion. You will get gorgeous overtones when you are cranking it. A great capability that gives you superb low end with tons of valuable ton for your metal. The pedal comes with a battery inside.

Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive Pedal

Pro: Quite versatile.
Con: Very light pedal, feels it would easily crack or break.

Maybe your intentions include getting harmonically heavy gain or to give your sound that vital boost if so, you have a great companion in Seymour Duncan 805. What sets this pedal apart is its active 3 band shelving EQ which gives you a choice of channels to use. One great thing you will like about this pedal is that it does not limit you to a certain type of music rather; it is versatile enough for different types of music including metal, country, rock and everything that falls in between.

Ibanez TS9 Tube

Pro: Gives effect variations depending on what type of guitar you are playing.
Con: It has a low frequency that can change the EQ curve of your instrument.

In case you have used or heard of the original Ibanez TS9, then you know it was a very popular pedal with guitarists. Well, the pedal we are reviewing here is a reissue of the original version; same seasick-green paint, same components, exact housing and so forth. The speaker comes with more advanced features and capabilities to make your playing easier and enjoyable. That makes this pedal very popular among guitarists. As if that is not enough, it offers a departure from many other pedals that offer the same effect sounds irrespective of the guitar being used.

Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Pedal

Pro: Dependable midrange gain.
Con: Does not come with a power supply.

If what you are looking for is a pedal that offers you extended headroom and definition, you can count on Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Pedal’s boosted power rails to achieve just that and more. This pedal offers transparent overdrive with great response and touch. The nuance produced definitely makes many players stand out on stage. This device is not just a pedal but rather a character enriching device. A big plus that makes a darling of many guitarists is that it works great for harmonica. The mid range gain adds a lot of character to the player’s voicing without you having to add much gain. With this device, you will notice, to your surprise, that even when you lower the volume and boost the volume, any distortion you will experience will only come from your amp.

TC Electronic Spark Mini Booster

Pro: Works well for both boosting in front of overdrive pedals and for clean tones.
Con: Not ideal for a bass player.

Do not be misled by the pedal’s tiny size or by the fact that it has the word “Mini” as part of its name. Offering 20 dB of boost, this pedal will drive your sound to peak performance. Signal degradation is a major obstacle that guitarists have to constantly contend with but not with the TC Electronic Spark Booster. An appealing thing about this pedal is that it allows you to boost single coil pickups but without coloring the tone.

Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Overdrive Pedal

Pro: Great for beginners, both in cost and sound quality.
Con: Does not have an intuitive set of knobs.

If you cherish the sounds of a late 70’s overdriven tube amp, then you can walk down memory lane with this pedal. This pedal boasts, and rightfully so, of giving you exactly that kind of performance. One thing that most users have found appealing about this pedal is its richness in harmonics and the fact that you can use it for a wide range of sounds ranging from punk to country. In addition, you will find the three EQ knobs superb when it comes to increasing and decreasing their respective bands of the audio range.

Boss SD-1

Pro: Easy to shape the sound exactly the way you want it.
Con: 9-volt battery can easily run down.

Going at very affordable prices, this pedal gives you smooth, warm distortion of an overdriven tube amp, but without blurring the nuances of your preferred picking technique. For its price, the three adjustment knobs perform an excellent job allowing you to shape the sound just the way you want it. This pedal is excellent for a newbie and even seasoned guitarists who want a stomp box that is simple to set up and use. A major concern is that you need to remember to unplug the cables when through with playing. Alternatively, you might have to spend a few more bucks and buy an AC adapter just in case you are not running this device through a pedal box.