We recently posted this comprehensive list of High End Overdrive pedals with Boost (and also this one of similar Amp-In-A-Box pedals). This below is the guide to the more affordable OD/Boost stompboxes that retail for under $200.
We are reposting the intro from the high end article – please skip it if you read it already!
THE IMPORTANCE OF DYNAMICS
Dynamics have become very important in contemporary rock and pop music. Instrument levels and roles can change throughout a song several times, and the educated guitarist, knowing that, sets up her or his pmeedalboard in a way that facilitates volume and tone variations at the touch of a footswitch (or three…).
That is the main reason why overdrive and distortion pedals with an incorporated boost circuit triggered by a second footswitch have become quite popular over the past few years: the (normally clean) boost circuit placed before or after the OD/Distortion allows for an extra push in volume during solos or loud choruses without losing the guitar’s original tone.
Also, having the two effects embedded in one pedal allows for optimized stacking of the two gain stages, or extra creative routing pre/post options just a switch away.
PICK YOUR OD FLAVOR
Of course, every guitarist has different tastes when it comes to overdrive, but there are so many great options out there that no matter what sound you’re going for, in all likelihood you will be able to find a pedal that can come close to the sound in your head (and if you don’t, maybe you should look into building your own pedals, that’s how boutique manufacturers are born!).
This list is a comprehensive overview of the affordable overdrive/distortion pedals with an extra boost footswitch currently available on the market – with description and a video link to convey what kind of sounds they can get you. It doesn’t include “Amp-in-a-Box” style pedals (i.e. stompboxes that attempt to emulate a specific amp) – you can find that list here, and the list of high-end ones here.
If some models are missing, please use the comment section on this page (not on Facebook!!!) to bring it to our attention.
As usual, the pedals in each gallery are organized according to perceived popularity, and clicking on the thumbnails will open a demo video!
MID PRICED OVERDRIVES UNDER $200 WITH EXTRA BOOST
While not offering features sets quite so advanced as the options in the high end categories, the stompboxes listed here offer solid tone at a plausible price point. Some do feature more advanced controls and routing options.
Fulltone Fulldrive III ($159)
An upgrade from the super popular Fulldrive II, using a JFET design to achieve an even more tube-like sound. The beauty is in the Clipping toggle switch, where you can select from a solid range of overdrive sounds. The 90’s setting is a fat midrange via symmetrical clipping, Comp-Cut is total opamp overdrive that is heavy, loud, and really cuts through. The Wide Asym setting embellishes the highs and lows.
The Dynamics knob is a really cool idea. It’s a limiter designed to change the response of the pedal, letting you dial in the perfect feel for any amp. It also features independent channels, an upgrade over the previous model.
Tech 21 OMG ($189)
Richie Kotzen’s all analog signature overdrive, designed to get the sound of a Class A tube amp. 28dB of preamp gain is on tap to give you days of sustain and controlled feedback. The Girth knob is an interesting active midrange control. The boost channel is a single pot and can be used independently.
CMATMODS – Super Signa Drive ($169)
This is one of the more responsive and tonally versatile pedals on the list. The Super Signa Drive is a great sounding all-around low to mid-gain overdrive. The toggle switch on the Drive channel alters the EQ response of the tone knobs while keeping the overdrive sound intact. Even though there isn’t a whole lot of gain to be had, both channels are independent and stack well.
Egnater – Goldsmith ($199.99)
A 100% analog overdrive that can handle anything from classic rock to punk. It’s got the mid-range presence of a Marshall, and the top end of a Fender-style amp.
Controls are just like the Silversmith. The Tight switches manipulate the bottom end, and are available on both channels. Patch jacks add increased routing options, as they effectively split the pedal into 2 (overdrive and boost).
Egnater – Silversmith ($199.99)
100% analog, mid-high gain distortion/boost pedal. Boost can be run before or after the distortion by using the Path switch to select the order of the effects. Tight switches on both channels roll off some of the bottom end, and there is a switch that selects the frequency of the Contour control.
The Patch jacks are really unique, allowing you to effectively split the pedal into 2, and routing however you’d like. Definitely one of the higher-gain selections here, with a great feature set.
Radial Engineering – Texas-Pro ($169.99)
The Texas Pro is a versatile Tubescreamer-style overdrive with a Class A booster. The Range switch offers 3 tonal options – a mid-focused Tubescreamer style, a chunky medium gain, and a high-gain, aggressive sound. The boost channel is based on a Class A design, and both channels are independent and can be stacked. Send/Return jacks allow for more complex routing options.
Coppersound Pedals – Foxcatcher ($199)
A really well-made low-gain boutique overdrive that gets into tube amp territory. It can sound a little thin by itself (depending on your setup), but really shines pushing an amp. The overdrive sounds are glassy and punchy, without a lot of bottom end. The boost section sports a single knob, and you can run it before or after the overdrive. The Foxcatcher can be run at 18v for increased headroom.
Radial Engineering – Regency ($169.99)
The Regency was designed with a unique purpose – to pre-emphasize the gain stage of high gain amps. 2 independent circuits add punch, sustain, and harmonics to your signal. A 3-way Low-Mid switch selects between different EQ curves, tailoring the Regency to your rig. Rounding out the feature set is a built-in effects loop, which is activated when the Boost channel is engaged.
Radial Engineering – North Star Overdrive ($169.99)
A clean, transparent overdrive that definitely has some amp-like qualities. This is definitely a midrange type of overdrive, perfect for rock, country, and blues. The boost channel can get up to 24dB of clean gain with its Class A design. The North Star sports its own effects loop, just like the other Radial products on this list.
AFFORDABLE OVERDRIVES (UNDER $150) WITH EXTRA BOOST
If you’re looking for options that won’t break the bank, but still offer pretty solid tone, then these are for you. A few of these do offer some cool features (for the price point) but most are fairly basic.
Fulltone – Fulldrive II ($139)
The Fulldrive II is a FET-based design, which has a more natural feel and response – more like an amplifier. Unlike many pedals on this list, the boost channel is meant for higher-gain – not just higher-volume – sounds.
MXR Custom Audio Electronics – MC402 ($140)
This Boost/Overdrive is a collaboration between MXR and pedalboard ace Bob Bradshaw. It’s a no-frills, 3 knob overdrive with a boost channel capable of adding up to 20dB of gain. The channels are independent.
Build Your Own Clone – Overdrive 2 ($102.99)
While discontinued, the Overdrive 2 from BYOC is still worth a look. Based on a Tubescreamer design, it crams an overdrive channel and boost channel into a standard pedal enclosure.
It’s got the normal Gain, Volume, and Tone controls as well as switches to select different flavors of overdrive and different EQ curves. While some might find the enclosure too small, it’s a DIY pedal so you can really do with it what you’d like.
Electro-Harmonix Operation Overlord – ($147.80)
The Overlord is an interesting take on overdrive. The boost is before the drive section in this pedal, and it features a single Boost knob for volume. The drive circuit is based around an FET design to give more of an amp-like feel.
The 3-band EQ is active, and a toggle switch selects different input levels, as the Overlord works with a variety of instruments like guitar, bass, and keyboards.
The coolest feature on the Overlord is the Dry knob, which blends your wet and dry signals. You can use the pedal as a full-on overdrive, or ride it to get a more “transparent” thing going like you would get from a Klon or Timmy. You can also run it in stereo if you like, a feature not usually seen in gain pedals.
The tone is solid, but you can’t get very much gain out of it, even with the boost engaged. But with the Dry knob, active EQ, stereo outs, and affordable price this is a fully featured tone shaper.
Jet City Amplification – Afterburner ($89.99)
The Afterburner is one of the lowest price point selections on this list, and for good reason. It’s a simple 3 knob overdrive with a 1 knob boost. The channels are not independent, and the boost does not have a lot of gain on tap. The sweet spot seems to be in the tone knob. More-so than most pedals on this list, your guitar/amp selection really affects how this pedal sounds.
Build Your Own Clone – Crown Jewel ($129.99+)
The Crown Jewel sports an insane amount of tonal options. This is not a clone of any pedal in particular, as the idea for this stompbox comes from marrying many different design ideas from various overdrives. EQ comes in 3 bands, with a parametric (with 3 way Q-switch) mid-range allowing you to zero in on the frequencies that are most complimentary to your setup.
Hard and Soft clipping switches give you access to 9 different types of drive, making the Crown Jewel a real “swiss army knife” kind of pedal. There is also a switch to run the pedal at 18v for more output and headroom, or 9v for a more classic overdrive sound.
The boost side is totally independent from the other channel, and one of the coolest features is that it is modular. There are a variety of different boost modules, and BYOC is constantly adding more. You can also select the order of the channels via toggle switch.
The Crown Jewel is appropriately named, and with the level of detail you can get with the advanced EQ and different flavors of drive it can literally fit into any style or setup.
Tech 21 – Boost Overdrive ($149)
The Boost Overdrive is an all analog design. It’s a standard 3 knob overdrive with an additional Sparkle switch that adds upper harmonics. The boost channel is 1 knob and can give up to 21dB of clean gain. The channels can be used independently, but the boost is post-overdrive.
– by Brandon Stoner and Paolo De Gregorio