When you are working on creating your top metal guitar tone, an overdrive pedal is a must-have. Overdrive pedals range in levels of distortion and can be used to provide more sustain for lead guitar parts or more crunch for rhythm guitar parts.
Quick Links To Our Best Overdrive Pedals For Metal Guitar Recommendations
- Ibanez Tubescreamer TS9 – OUR TOP CHOICE!
- Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
- Maxon OD808
- Friedman BE OD DLX
- JHS Moonshine V2
We’ve put together a list of the best overdrive pedals for metal guitars below.
Our Top Overdrive Pedals For Metal Reviews
Ibanez Tubescreamer TS9
The Ibanez TS-9 “Tube Screamer” pedal is a classic overdrive pedal that was originally released in the mid to late 80s. It was prominently used by J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr and many other grunge bands of the era. The TS9’s tone has a thick sound and heavy-metal scooped mid range that makes your guitar cut through and makes your riffs sound tight.
It has two knobs; one adjusts output volume, one adjusts tone. The tone knob has a great range of possibilities, one end of the spectrum is a nice compressed sound that pushes your amp harder, while the other end gives you plenty of headroom for pedals like delay and reverb. It also has a bright switch which adds treble, it can be nice to add in a TS9 towards the end of your effects chain if your other effects are getting muddy.
While the TS9 is great for classic rock, punk, and grunge it can also be used for heavier styles.
- It is incredibly versatile; it can be used for classic rock, grunge, punk and heavier styles of music.
- It has a wide range of tone possibilities
- The TS9 is a reliable pedal with years of use
- It is not a very subtle overdrive and can cause some distortion if driven hard.
- The TS9 doesn’t have an option to adjust the amount of signal it takes in.
- Sometimes when you have the bright switch on, it can cut out your signal or muddy up your tone a bit.
Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
The Soul Food pedal is an overdrive pedal that has a warm and full tone. It doesn’t really sound like what most people think of when they think of a “distortion” pedal, but it’s an excellent option for guitarists that want to go in a heavier direction.
It has quite an unusual sound, it definitely doesn’t sound like a traditional overdrive pedal. The Soul Food has that satan-esque type of mid range and amounts of gain which gives you a thick metal sound that is reminiscent of the 90’s when grunge and metal were exploding onto the scene. If you’re into metal at all, the Soul Food will make your guitar cut through with a nice and thick distortion tone.
The Soul Food is great for metal music and heavier styles like punk, but it can also be used for classic rock or country.
- It has a metal sound that is reminiscent of the 90’s when grunge and metal were popular.
- It has a nice mid range that isn’t too soft or too harsh.
- It can tone down plenty of high frequencies with the treble knob.
- It doesn’t have a wide range of tone possibilities
- The Soul Food can get too mid-rangey and muddy up your sound.
The Maxon OD808 is a Japanese overdrive pedal that was first released in the late 80s and has become popular with heavy rocker’s due to its dynamic sound. The OD808 has a bit of an unusual tone, it’s a bit mid-rangey and has a fair amount of gain. But, it definitely has a crunch that is reminiscent of 80’s metal.
The tone knob on the OD808 isn’t very powerful, it’s more subtle which makes this pedal great for being placed in your effects chain. It does have a switch that changes between the USA setting and the Japan setting, so you can choose between two different tones from one pedal. The Jap setting really has that mid-rangey metal sound, while the USA setting is a bit less saturated in the mids and is slightly more treble heavy.
The OD808 is great for death, thrash or heavy rock like the heavier bands of the 80’s but can also be used for other styles of music.
- It has a nice amount of gain and a somewhat mid to high rangey tone that gives your tone a nice growl.
- The OD808 is well made with quality components
- It’s a reliable pedal that is built like a tank
- It doesn’t have a wide range of tone possibilities.
Friedman BE OD DLX
The original BE-OD Deluxe pedal is back and better than ever! This outstanding overdrive pedal provides the perfect mid-range balance that guitarists value so highly. Add either smooth or sharp highs, three different types of distortion, and a wide-range gain control. Also included are bright and blend switches to add extra edge or “hair”. This pedal is perfect for the professional and the home guitarist.
The BE OD DLX is an absolute monster of a pedal! But more on that later, right now we’re going to focus on why it’s so good. The BE OD DLX has a wide frequency range which gives it a nice and smooth mid range sound. It’s not as harsh or muddy like some overdrives, and it does have a touch of distortion. It has quite a wide clean tone which makes this pedal a great option for the musician that wants to have control of their sound. In addition, this overdrive is extremely well built and durable, it will last you for many years to come.
The BE OD DLX pedal can be used for mid range rock and metal music but also has quite a wide range of tone possibilities which makes it excellent for jazz players as well.
- It has a smooth and warm mid range tone.
- It has adjustable controls that give it a wide amount of tone options.
- The DLX is very well built with high quality components.
- It has a strong casing that will definitely protect your investment.
- It’s a little pricey but it’s worth it, especially if you value well crafted and reliable pedals.
- It has a wide range of tone possibilities that makes it hard to pin point a particular tone.
JHS Moonshine V2
The Moonshine V2 is a well-built overdrive pedal. It has a very smooth and warm tone that is perfect for rock or metal music. It has 3 modes which are low, medium, and high which makes this pedal great for anyone with different levels of experience. It has a pretty simple design with only one foot switch but for what it lacks in complexity, it makes up in tones. This relatively simple pedal is great for blues, jazz, country, rock, and metal players.
The Moonshine V2 overdrive pedal is built with high-quality components which are another reason why this pedal is a great purchase. The casing is made out of durable hard plastic which will ensure that your investment will last you a long time. It has jaws that will keep it from accidentally falling, which is a great feature to have. All in all, the Moonshine V2 is a great overdrive pedal for beginners and pros alike.
- It’s easy to use and has 3 different modes.
- It has an incredible range of tones for its price point.
- The knobs can sometimes be difficult to adjust without having to hold it and bend down.
Our Best Metal Overdrive Pedal Conclusion
These are the top 5 overdrive pedals that I would recommend for metal guitarists. They are all great choices and each of them is very different from the next. The decision ultimately comes down to what kind of tone you’re looking for, so choose the tone that’s right for your playing. If you have a pedal that you are absolutely in love with and don’t believe that I’ve mentioned it, let me know by leaving a comment below and checking out these best metal distortion pedals as well.