Overdrive Pedals: What They Are and How to Use Them

Overdrive Pedals: What They Are and How to Use Them

Overdrive pedals are a popular type of effects pedal used by guitarists to create a distorted, crunchy sound. In this beginner's guide, we'll explore what overdrive pedals are and how to use them.

What are Overdrive Pedals?

Overdrive pedals are effects pedals that create a distorted, overdriven sound by increasing the gain of the guitar signal. They are often used in rock, blues, and metal music to add grit and sustain to a guitar sound. Overdrive pedals can be analog or digital and come in a range of different shapes, sizes, and colors.

Types of Overdrive Pedals

There are many different types of overdrive pedals available, each with its own unique sound and character. Some popular types of overdrive pedals include:

  • Tube Screamer: One of the most famous overdrive pedals, the Tube Screamer has been used by countless guitarists over the years. It has a warm, midrange-heavy sound that is great for blues and rock music.
  • Klon Centaur: The Klon is another legendary overdrive pedal that has become incredibly sought-after in recent years. It has a transparent, natural-sounding overdrive that works well with a wide range of different guitars and amps.
  • Blues Driver: The Blues Driver is a popular overdrive pedal from Boss that has a bright, crunchy sound that is ideal for blues and rock music.
  • Fulltone OCD: The OCD is a versatile overdrive pedal that can be used for a range of different styles of music. It has a warm, natural-sounding overdrive that works well with both single-coil and humbucker pickups.

How to Use an Overdrive Pedal

Using an overdrive pedal is relatively simple. Here are the basic steps:

  1. Connect your guitar to the input of the overdrive pedal using a guitar cable.
  2. Connect the output of the overdrive pedal to your amplifier using another guitar cable.
  3. Turn on the overdrive pedal and adjust the gain, tone, and volume controls to achieve the desired sound.
  4. Experiment with different settings to find the right sound for your playing style and the type of music you are playing.

Tips for Using Overdrive Pedals

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your overdrive pedal:

  • Start with a low gain setting and gradually increase the gain until you find the right amount of distortion for your playing style.
  • Use the tone controls to shape the sound of the overdrive. For example, turning up the treble can make your sound brighter and more cutting, while turning up the bass can make it warmer and more full-bodied.
  • Experiment with different pedal placements in your signal chain. Placing the overdrive before or after other pedals can have a big impact on the overall sound.
  • Try using an overdrive pedal as a boost. Set the gain low and the volume high to give your sound a bit of extra punch and sustain.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment! Overdrive pedals are versatile tools that can be used in a variety of different ways. Try different settings, pedal combinations, and playing techniques to find the sound that works best for you.


Overdrive pedals are an essential tool for any guitarist looking to create a distorted, crunchy sound. By understanding the different types of overdrive pedals available, how to use them, and some tips for getting the most out of them, you'll be well on your way to creating your own unique guitar sound.

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