Heavy metal guitarists are always looking for the best metal overdrive pedal to boost their brutal tone! These pedals are designed to add a gritty, distorted sound to your guitar, giving you a heavier, more aggressive tone. While there are many different types of overdrive pedals on the market, metal players need a specific type of overdrive that can handle the extreme levels of distortion and gain that their music requires.
The best metal overdrive pedals offer a high level of gain, a tight low end, and a defined midrange, allowing you to cut through dense mixes and deliver the heavy sound that metal demands. When shopping for a metal overdrive pedal, it’s important to pay attention to the level of gain offered, as well as the overall tone shaping capabilities of the pedal. Additionally, metal guitarists often use multiple pedals in their signal chain, so it’s important to consider how the overdrive pedal will interact with other effects.
After researching and testing ten different metal overdrive pedals, we’ve identified the top performers that deliver the heavy, aggressive tone that metal players demand. Whether you’re looking for a classic metal sound or a more modern, high-gain tone, our top picks have you covered. In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at each of our top picks and what sets them apart from the competition.
Best Boss Overdrive Pedals
The following pedals are from the series of overdrives that Boss has produced over the years and includes the OD pedals that are best for metal.
- The pedal delivers rich, smooth, and highly musical overdrive tones that can complement your sound.
- It is exceptionally versatile and provides tones that will inspire guitarists everywhere.
- It is made of high-quality materials, so it is durable and built to last.
- The pedal may not be suitable if you’re looking for a more aggressive distortion sound.
- It is not the most affordable overdrive pedal on the market.
- It may not be the best option for guitarists who prefer a more transparent overdrive sound.
We have used the Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal and found that it delivers a classic overdrive sound that can be used in a variety of musical genres. The pedal is easy to use and has a simple layout, which makes it ideal for beginners and professionals alike.
This is one of my favorite overdrive pedals. It currently sits on my board. Its used by countless professionals. The SD1 – JCM800 combo is one of the pinnacle sounds of 80’s metal. For example, this classic combination is used by Zakk Wylde.
- Delivers killer separate overdrive and distortion effects that you can combine for cool blended effects
- Designed to provide raunchy, hard distortion
- Compact and sturdy design
- Some users may find the tone too harsh or artificial
- The pedal can be a bit noisy at high gain levels
- The controls can be a bit tricky to dial in
- Dual-Stage Overdrive Circuit delivers unmatched sustain and compression
- Increased dynamics yield a bigger sound than any previous BOSS overdrive pedal
- Dynamic, non-muffled tones reminiscent of classic overdriven stack amps
- May not be suitable for those looking for extreme distortion
- Some users may find the pedal a bit noisy
- A bit pricey compared to other overdrive pedals on the market
- Get the iconic HM-2 “chainsaw tone” with the BOSS HM-2W.
- The HM-2W delivers the authentic analog sound of the original in all its glory, coupled with lots of modern refinements for enhanced performance.
- BOSS five-year warranty.
- The Waza sound is different than the regular sound.
- Competes with other pedals in terms of noise.
- Not suitable for all genres of music.
- Provides super-long sustain and heavy mids and lows like a stack of overdriven amps.
- Compact and durable design makes it easy to transport and use on the go.
- Easy to use controls allow for quick adjustments to achieve the perfect sound.
- Some users may find the distortion to be too intense for their tastes.
- The pedal may be too noisy for some setups.
- The lack of true bypass may be a concern for some guitarists.
- Ultra-heavy distortion with sharp-edged attack for crushing metal riffs
- Deilvers massive distortion and gain with heavy lows, making it perfect for playing Nu Metal, Grind Core, Industrial, Hard Core, or any genre that requires crushing sound.
- Complements and cuts through any blast beats your rhythm section can create
- Lack of versatility
- No mid knob
- Can’t dial the distortion down and get a smooth distortion
Best Value OverDrive Pedals
These metal overdrive pedals provide a good balance of quality construction and great overdrive tones at a reasonable price.
- The fine-tuned tone control allows for sculpting low end, clear top end, and focus midrange with blooming sustain.
- The all-analog approach to a classic tube-like overdrive circuit offers loads of headroom and almost three-dimensional clarity that will push your amp over the edge.
- The reimagined tone control is finely tuned to sculpt low end, clear top end, and focus midrange with blooming sustain.
- The pedal is a bit pricey compared to other overdrive pedals on the market.
- The asymmetrical silicon diode arrangement in the third clipping option may not be to everyone’s taste.
- The pedal may be too complex for beginners who are just starting to experiment with overdrive pedals.
- Offers a wide range of overdrive sounds within straightforward design aesthetics. You can achieve anything from boost, transparent low gain, to huge amp-like medium overdrive sounds
- The simple knob functions give you control over the Volume, Body (or EQ), and Drive
- Made in Kansas City USA
- The Gain toggle gives you a choice between more saturated and compressed or more open and crunchy dynamics. This switch plays a big part in how the pedal responds to your playing and touch as a player
- Runs on 9V DC Negative Center power and consumes 12mA
- Total control of your overdrive sounds with Drive, Level, Bass, and Treble controls
- Zero loss of tone with True bypass
- Awesome mid-shift with the Voicing switch
- May sound muddy when playing chords
- Battery installation can be difficult
- Great with a high gain amp but won’t work as well with a low to medium gain amp.
Best Overall Premium Overdrive Pedals
The pedals below include some of the best available overdrives but the cost more than the value options.
- Designed in collaboration with Eddie Van Halen, this pedal delivers a full range of powerful saturation and hyper-driven tones.
- The multi-stage mosfets, 3-band EQ, boost switch, and Gate provide exceptional sonic flexibility.
- The EVH 5150 Overdrive features true bypass switching and comes in a road-worthy housing emblazoned with custom EVH artwork.
- This pedal may not be suitable for those who prefer a more traditional, vintage sound.
- Some users have reported that the pedal can be noisy at high gain settings.
- The price point may be a bit high for some users.
- The pedal provides a wide range of overdrive tones that can be tailored to your playing style.
- The Bass and Treble controls are ingeniously configured to refine your sonic profile.
- The pedal is housed in a compact MXR mini design that frees up pedalboard space.
- The pedal requires a power supply that does not come with the pedal and cannot use a battery.
- The gain can get a little granular past noon and into light fuzz territory when cranked.
- The pedal works best to boost high gain amps so it won’t work well with low to medium gain amps.
- The dynamic control allows for nuanced shaping of your sound, from gentle amp enhancement to powerful overdriven tones.
- Effortlessly transition from subtle front-end boost to heavy overdrive and distortion, granting you complete tonal control for various musical styles.
- Designed to deliver top-notch sound quality and reliability, making it a valuable addition to your guitar setup.
- The brown color may not be to everyone’s taste.
- The controls may take some getting used to if you’re not familiar with Amptweaker pedals.
- It’s a bit on the pricey side compared to other overdrive pedals on the market.
- The Voice switch adds clarity to the tone, making it more transparent yet robust.
- The Fat switch enhances the gain structure, adding an extra dimension of gain with a custom MOSFET clipping stage.
- Built in the U.S.A. with high-grade components for superior sound and response.
- Some users have reported the pedal being too bassy.
- The Fat switch can add noise along with gain.
- No battery connector inside, so you’ll need a 9v power jack.
- Delivers the same tonal versatility, sensitivity, and harmonically rich overdrive as the legendary Small Box all-tube amplifier
- Responds to guitar controls and picking nuance exactly like the amp
- Gain control and gain structure switch take you from gritty to hard rock with ease
- The price point may be a little high for some
- Some users may find the controls to be a bit overwhelming at first
- The pedal features a classic treble control that perfects the pedal’s higher frequencies, while the active bass and mid controls boost or cut the desired frequencies.
- The same magic-sounding buffer with all of the clarity, punch, and detailed breakup of the original Tumnus is still there, but if you prefer the sound of true bypass performance, just hit the switch on the side of the pedal for uncolored tonal purity.
- The normal/hot switch goes from standard Tumnus gain to higher gain, allowing you to use it to boost a driven amp or another pedal, as a stand-alone overdrive, or as an “always on” tonal sweetener.
- The price of the pedal may be a bit high for some people.
- This is a Klon clone so this type of distortion won’t work as well for a low gain amp. Use this with a tube amp that already has enough gain. distortion sound.
- The refined set of gain stages cut through the low-mids of the original and bring extended punch and clarity.
- The two distinct voicings, “Super Lead” and “Super Bass,” allow for versatile sound shaping.
- The three-knob treble-middle-bass tone control complement reproduces exactly the tone circuits of the Super Lead and Super Bass amps.
- The internal slider switch can be difficult to access.
- The pedal is somewhat bulky and may take up a lot of space on your pedalboard.
- The price is a bit high compared to other overdrive pedals on the market.
- The five different modes provide a wide range of tonal options, from compressed and smooth to heavy compression and thick.
- The wet/dry mix knob allows you to blend your clean signal with the overdriven signal, giving you even more tonal possibilities.
- The build quality is excellent, and the pedal feels sturdy and reliable.
- The dry signal is not fully controllable, which may be limiting for some users.
- The pedal is a bit on the expensive side compared to other overdrive pedals.
- The LED lights can be a bit bright and distracting on a dark stage.
When it comes to buying the best metal overdrive pedal, there are a few key features that you should consider before making a purchase. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
Gain and Tone Control
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a metal overdrive pedal is the gain and tone control. This feature allows you to adjust the amount of distortion and tone of your guitar sound. A good metal overdrive pedal should have a wide range of gain and tone control options to help you achieve the sound you want. Pedals with lower max gain will work better on high gain amps.
Build Quality and Durability
Metal overdrive pedals are often used in live performances and can take a lot of wear and tear. Look for a pedal made with high-quality materials such as metal with good quality footswitch / buttons.
True bypass is a feature that allows you to switch the pedal on and off without affecting the tone of your guitar. This is often called a “transparent overdrive,” This feature is important because it ensures that your guitar’s natural tone is preserved. This is really important when you have a killer amp that already has an amazing tone.
When choosing a metal overdrive pedal, consider the power supply options. Some pedals can be powered by batteries, while others require an external power supply. Make sure to choose a pedal that is compatible with your preferred power supply method.
While it’s important to invest in a high-quality pedal, you don’t want to overspend on a product that doesn’t meet your needs. Look for a pedal that offers the features you need at a reasonable price.
By considering these factors, you can choose the best metal overdrive pedal for your needs and achieve the crushing heavy metal sound you want for your guitar.