Best Guitar Drive Pedal

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The ringing sound of a guitar chord channeled through a guitar drive pedal doesn’t just sound cool, it’s also the foundation for dozens of genres and styles of music. The implementation of drive pedals ultimately changed the sound of music forever. While the origin of the over-driven guitar tone first occurred accidentally when amplifier tubes were turned up too loud, the effect has since been implemented into the rigs of guitarists worldwide seeking to have notes sustain longer, showcase more character, and sometimes take on an effect that’s unable to be contained. If you’re a guitarist, you simply need a drive pedal and we’ve outlined what you need to look for in our buyer’s guide below.

Best Guitar Overdrive Pedal:

The concept of overdrive was first introduced into the world of guitars when amplifier tubes were accidentally turned up too loud, resulting in a crunchy, gritty tone. It turned out to be a happy accident, as this is now a sound that guitarists actively seek for a variety of genres of music. Enter the overdrive pedal – this effect provides that warm, “pushed” sound regardless of what type of amplifier it’s being used with, and is responsible for the iconic tone of players like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson, to name a few. These are the best overdrive pedals with each one we've chosen built in metal, rugged housing that makes the pedal quite durable, offers tone controls to tweak the sound and character of the overdrive before leaving the pedal, and can be powered by a single 9V battery which makes these picks convenient options for players on the move.

Ibanez TS808 Original Tube Screamer Overdrive Pedal

Ibanez’s TS808 Tube Screamer reissue perfectly copies the design and sound of the original classic. Warm, preamp-like sounds is what this pedal provides, making it perfect for those looking to add some grit to their rhythm playing. Read Full Review

Ibanez TS808 Original Tube Screamer Overdrive Pedal

Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Mosfet Overdrive Pedal

Guitarists seeking a double-shot of overdriven tone will want to check for Fulltone’s FullDrive2 MOSFET overdrive pedal. This unit provides two channels of overdrive, offering a dynamic range of sonic grit as well as an added boost for greater sustain. Read Full Review

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    Fulltone Fulldrive 2 Mosfet Overdrive Pedal

    Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal

    The BOSS SD-1 Super OverDrive pedal offers the same reliable build and sound that the rest of the company’s line of effects gear has offered to players for years. With its simple layout, you’ll waste no time in boosting your sound just as some of the great guitar heroes have when using this pedal. Read Full Review

    Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal

    Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Distortion Overdrive Pedal

    Great soul food can give you that warm, fuzzy, satisfied feeling inside, and that’s exactly what Electro-Harmonix’s Soul Food overdrive pedal looks to achieve with the tone it provides. Emulating the legendary (but prohibitively rare and expensive) Klon Centaur overdrive pedal, this piece of gear offers transparent overdrive in a compact and durable package. Read Full Review

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      Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Distortion Overdrive Pedal

      DigiTech Bad Monkey Tube Overdrive Pedal B Stock

      DigiTech’s Bad Monkey overdrive pedal is super affordable, built to last, and offers a simple yet clear boost that will have your guitar tone growling like a cranky chimp in no time. EQ controls allow players to smooth out the distortion that this pedal produces. Read Full Review

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        DigiTech Bad Monkey Tube Overdrive Pedal B Stock

        Best Guitar Distortion Pedal:

        Distortion pedals have played a prominent part in practically every incarnation of rock music since the genre’s inception. These pedals take the concept of overdrive to the extreme, while providing their own tone instead of relying on the sound of amplifiers and tubes. This sound is more “in the box” than regular overdrive pedals, and often allow players to craft their own EQ and compression settings within the effect itself, resulting in a sound that is often described as jagged and metallic. Here are the best guitar distortion pedals, with each we've chosen featuring a gain control that gives players the ability to dial in the exact type of distortion they’re looking for, they're housed in a sturdy metal housing ideal for players who like to rock out when they stomp down on their pedals without fear of damaging their gear, and they also offers tone frequency control to give players the ability to tweak the EQ of their sound.

        Boss DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal

        Anyone remotely familiar with guitar effects pedals should recognize the little orange BOSS DS-1. A classic distortion pedal, this piece of gear has been used by guitarists for over 30 years, and provides a range of tonal possibilities from mild to full-on face-melting assault. Read Full Review

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          Boss DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal

          Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal

          Pro Co’s RAT2 is ideal for bringing your guitar tone into the sweet spot of rock music, offering a boost that is perfect for a variety of playing scenarios. Its simple design makes it easy to dial in the perfect tone for all of your distorted guitar needs. Read Full Review

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            Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal

            Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi Distortion Pedal

            Electro-Harmonix’s Big Muff Pi sits somewhere in between the realm of fuzz and distortion pedal, but one thing is clear this pedal is perfect for driving your guitar tone into full-blown, face-melt territory. Its long-lasting sustain and simple design have made it the distortion pedal of choice for guitarists over the last four decades. Read Full Review

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              Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi Distortion Pedal

              Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pedal

              A reissue of its original classic predecessor, Ibanez’s TS-9 Tube Screamer distortion pedal offers a cranking overdrive that will push your guitar’s tone to the very edge. Its trademark bright green design and durable metal chassis have made this pedal distinct and durable. Read Full Review

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                Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer Overdrive Pedal

                DigiTech Hardwire Series TL-2 Metal Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal

                Most distortion pedals can be used for various styles of rock music, but there are some that are especially suited for heavy and hard rock/metal. Enter DigiTech’s TL-2 HardWire Metal Distortion pedal, a stompbox that pushes gain to the breaking point and offers a great deal of tone control via the unit’s knobs. Read Full Review

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                  DigiTech Hardwire Series TL-2 Metal Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal

                  Best Guitar Clean Boost Pedal:

                  A guitar clean boost pedal is designed to increase the signal of the instrument before it hits the amplifier, all without adding any unwanted distortion or fuzz. These tools can also be used to boost certain frequencies in the signal. In all, they achieve an effect similar to a distortion or overdrive, in that they bring the signal out and in the front; but in a more subtle way. One might use this effect when they want to take a clean solo, or if they want to bring the signal of their guitar further out in the mix. Here are the best guitar clean boost pedals, with each one we've chosen featuring control parameters to adjust the way in which the effect is being applied, they're built with sturdy, durable chassis to protect the pedals from any wear-and-tear, and they also feature a prominent bright light which indicates when the pedal is in use.

                  Xotic EP Booster Mini EQ Effect Pedal

                  With a design based on the legendary Maestro EP-3 Echoplex, Xotic’s EP Booster is relatively simple in its design and size. But beyond being a superb tool for boosting guitar volume, it also can greatly enhance the tone and warmth of signal that runs through it, too. Read Full Review

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                    Xotic EP Booster Mini EQ Effect Pedal

                    Blackstar HTBT1 HT-BOOST Pure Valve Clean Boost Pedal

                    Blackstar’s HT Boost was designed with the tube amp in mind, as this guitar clean boost pedal is perfect for magnifying amp overdrive tone in a transparent way. Its genuine valve design produces an effect similar to adding two extra hot valves stages to an amplifier. Read Full Review

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                      Blackstar HTBT1 HT-BOOST Pure Valve Clean Boost Pedal

                      BOSS FB-2 Feedbacker/Booster Pedal

                      Unlike other guitar clean boost pedals, the BOSS FB-2 fulfills more than just the role of increasing the sound of your instrument. It also features an option that produces a tight and controllable feedback that sounds smooth and authentic. Read Full Review

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                        BOSS FB-2 Feedbacker/Booster Pedal

                        Electro-Harmonix The Mole Nano Bass Boost Guitar Effects Pedal

                        Guitarists who were around in the 1970s may be familiar with The Mole. Electro-Harmonix’s clean boost pedal of yesteryear offered a rich, low-end bottom to guitarists’ sound, along with a 20dB signal boost, and its reissued descendant maintains the legacy of this awesome-sounding pedal. Read Full Review

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                          Electro-Harmonix The Mole Nano Bass Boost Guitar Effects Pedal

                          Fulltone FB-3 Fat-Boost 3 Boost Pedal

                          Most people would associate the idea of boosting a guitar signal by 35dB as a distorted experience, but that feat is in fact possible with Fulltone’s Fat Boost 3 guitar clean boost pedal. An 11-position gain control gives players incremental, precise direction over just how this pedal will make their guitar sound. Read Full Review

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                            Fulltone FB-3 Fat-Boost 3 Boost Pedal

                            Best Guitar Fuzz Pedal:

                            The guitar fuzz pedal takes the concept of distortion to a whole new level. Fuzz thickens up a guitar’s tone so much that the effect is often used sparingly, and often as a slight enhancement to a distortion or overdrive pedal to push the signal just over the edge. Jimi Hendrix was a huge proponent of the fuzz pedal, particularly for the fact that it is remarkably malleable to performance techniques like pick attack and interaction with the instrument and other effects pedals. There’s no way to quite predict how it will affect the sound in the effects chain, but once you get a handle on it, it can be quite the secret weapon. Here are the best guitar fuzz pedals, with each one we've chosen equipped with tone control knobs that allow you to more precisely craft your fuzz tone, an LED light to clearly show when the effect is in use, and they're all housed in sturdy and durable metal casings designed to withstand the normal wear and tear of the road.

                            Way Huge Electronics Swollen Pickle MKII Super Jumbo Fuzz Pedal

                            If you’re looking for a fuzz pedal that can range from mild to massive in its effect, look no further than Way Huge’s Swollen Pickle. In addition to packing all of the classic features that define the fuzz effect, the Pickle also offers additional controls that can give you an even tighter control of how your tone will sound coming out of this box. Read Full Review

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                              Way Huge Electronics Swollen Pickle MKII Super Jumbo Fuzz Pedal

                              Keeley Fuzz Head Pedal

                              Fuzz head may sound like some sort of derogatory playground insult, but guitarists seeking a powerful blend of fuzz and overdrive to their effects rig should recognize that it’s actually a powerful tool in cranking up the classic fuzz tone. Keeley’s Fuzz Head pedal provides dynamic fuzz that is easily able to be tweaked thanks to its simple controls. Read Full Review

                              Keeley Fuzz Head Pedal

                              Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi Distortion Pedal

                              The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi is pretty much synonymous with guitar fuzz pedals at this point, thanks to its use by some of music’s biggest players over the course of the last four decades or so. Designed with bold simplicity and offering an unparalleled sustain, this is the fuzz pedal that set the standard for most other fuzz pedals. Read Full Review

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                                Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Pi Distortion Pedal

                                Fulltone 69 mkII Guitar Fuzz Pedal

                                With its year-referencing title, Fulltone is pretty clear about what aesthetic they’re aiming for in their ’69 mkII fuzz pedal. Its tiny size is deceptive when compared to its mighty, fat tone. Read Full Review

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                                  Fulltone 69 mkII Guitar Fuzz Pedal

                                  Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix (TM) Fuzz Face Mini Distortion

                                  There are few guitar players that epitomize the fuzz tone as much as Jimi Hendrix, so Dunlop’s JH Fuzz Face Mini is the perfect tool for achieving the smooth, thick sounds that the icon used to put the effect on the map nearly 50 years ago. Compact yet still packing all of the electronics that contributed to Jimi’s classic sound, this is definitely a great place for those seeking guitar fuzz in all of its glory. Read Full Review

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                                    Dunlop FFM3 Jimi Hendrix (TM) Fuzz Face Mini Distortion
                                     

                                    Guitar Drive Pedal Buyer's Guide

                                    Because guitar drive pedals have played such a significant role in the music to emerge throughout the last 60+ years, there are many options to choose from. There are different branches of drive pedals that exist, each one providing an alternate approach to giving your guitar signal an extra bit of growl. Guitar players tend to be pretty picky when it comes to choosing a pedal that best fits their style and works well within their pre-existing rig, so trying them out for yourself is a must. But before you do that, there are some things you should know about when it comes to selecting one of these iconic pedals.

                                    Overdrive

                                    Overdrive pedals provide the most subtle form of drive. The very first overdrive pedals were designed to work in conjunction with tube amplifiers, pushing a greater amount of signal into the amp to create a slightly dirty, more powerful tone. With the popularity of solid state amps, more overdrive pedals have been designed to provide the same sound without having to rely on the amplifier’s actual tubes.

                                    With a warm and “pushed” sound that’s still under tighter control than some of the more extreme versions of drive pedals available on the market, the overdrive pedal has played a significant role in the signature sounds of players such as Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Johnson. Through the tweaking of the pedal’s knobs and settings, guitarists can use the pedal to craft a sound that is distinctly their own.

                                    Distortion

                                    If overdrive pedals played a huge role in the sound and direction of popular music starting in the middle of the 20th century, the distortion pedal specifically would have to be the poster child of that movement. Due to their prevalent use in nearly every incarnation of rock music since the genre’s inception, there may be more distortion pedals on the market than any other type of guitar effect.

                                    Taking the overdrive pedal concept to an over-the-top extreme, distortion pedals provide their own tone rather than enhancing the sound of an amplifier and/or tubes. With a sound that’s more “in the box”, distortion pedals allow players to tweak both EQ and compression settings to sculpt sounds that can be described as jagged and metallic. If you’re looking to bring an unstoppable fury to your guitar sound, distortion pedals are the answer.

                                    Fuzz

                                    Taking the distortion pedal concept a step even further is the fuzz pedal. The fuzz effect thickens up a guitar tone to such extremes that it’s typically used sparingly and often as a slight addition to a distortion or overdrive pedal to boost a guitar part just over the edge. With controllable parameters for the effect’s volume level and “fuzz”, the sound produced with fuzz pedals is also very responsive to external factors, such as how a guitarist utilizes pick attack and how loud the instrument is turned up.

                                    Although it’s place in the hierarchy of drive pedals may make it seem like some sort of unmanageable wrecking ball, fuzz pedals are remarkably malleable to performance and interaction with other effects pedals in a guitar rig. If you’re looking for a classic example of fuzz guitar in its most realized glory, you don’t need to look any further than many classic songs and performances by Jimi Hendrix.

                                    Boosters

                                    The booster is a drive pedal that’s truly the most simple of all, as it effectively just functions as a preamp placed before an amplifier’s input. By design, they don’t add any color or tone; instead, they simply take the sound of a guitar and boost it (hence the name).

                                    Although they are often just used to make the signal louder (a technique often necessary in rigs using either several guitar pedals or cables that stretch out for many feet), some of them have been known to add a slight mid-to-high-end boost that’s desirable for lead guitar parts. Legends such as Brian May of Queen and Eric Clapton all used booster pedals to really make some of their guitar parts soar and stand out in the mix.

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                                    1 comments
                                    • Kalizahouse Kalizahouse

                                    Qu Pedal necesito para que mi Charvel DS3 con Humbuckers Pasivos,suene como si tuviera los clsicos pickups Activos Les Paul. Clean clido y cremoso y fuerte distorsin seca. Me gusta Metallica y con ZOOM Gn1Ext,no lo consigo .Sera un PreAmp Booster , un Overdrive o uno tipo Big Muff?O qu? Por favor, orintarme sin que supere los 100$. Gracias.

                                    Posted on 12/13/2012 4:37 pm | Reply