Although there's no denying the appeal of a hand-crafted, hand-wired boutique level effects pedal, we can't all afford to plunk down over $250 for every single effect on our chain. Luckily, you don't have to spend a ton of cash in order to add high-quality tones to your setup. With that in mind, keep reading to check out five of my personal recommendations for great overdrive pedals that are priced under $100.
A reissue of one of the best-kept secrets in overdrive effects, the new Nobels ODR-1 has been one of my personal favorite OD pedals for a few months now and has won a hard-earned spot on my pedalboard for years to come. While its natural overdrive sounds great on just about any ax, it pairs especially well with single-coil equipped guitars in particular (which is no doubt why it has been a favorite of Nashville studio guitarists for years). With rich sustain, a nice midrange boost and the wide range of overdrive tones, the ODR-1 is easily one of our favorite affordable tube-style overdrives around.
There are few pedals that have created a legacy of imitators as wide and broad as the Ibanez Tube Screamer. With its signature mid-range boost and smooth tube-like overdrive, the original created a tonal formula that is still being copied to this day. With the Tube Screamer Mini, you get the same authentic tones and versatility as the original, thanks to the inclusion of the classic JRC4558D chip and the same 3 controls. Better yet, it's marked at a price that any guitarist can afford.
Sure, the MXR Micro Amp isn’t technically a true OD pedal (in the sense that it doesn't add its own gain) but the fact that its main job is to boost your signal and kick your tubes into natural overdrive – and the fact that it does an amazing job at it for an equally amazing price – is enough for us to include it on this list. While this tiny white booster might not look like much, it packs plenty of power and versatility, able to shape your sound with plenty of harmonic overtones and maximum clarity. If you love the natural overdrive tones of your current guitar and amp setup but just looking for a bit more (or a lot more) signal boost, the Micro Amp is the pedal you've been searching for.
The original DigiTech DOD Overdrive was a great pedal in its own right, but after decades in the market, it lacked a few of the modern features players had grown accustomed to. With the re-release of the DOD in 2013, DigiTech revamped much of the original while keeping the classic analog tone intact. With new features such as true bypass, a clean blue LED indicator, lighter chassis, 9-volt battery operation and a crisp new paint job, the new DOD is easy to recommend. And more importantly, it’s far more transparent than the original, allowing your gear's natural tone to come through clean and uncolored. As far as overdrive goes, you can set the DOD to give you anything from a slight boost to an all-out grind, making it a highly versatile OD pedal.
While it might not be as famous as the Boss DS-1 (everyone's first distortion pedal), the BD-2 Blues Driver is no slouch either, able to deliver that perfect mixture of smooth yet gritty tones that blues guitar is known for. But we all know that there's more to blues guitar than creamy overdrive tone, it's also about delivering a highly emotional performance through your instrument. Luckily, the BD-2 delivers on that end too as it can quickly and naturally respond to the nuances of your playing along with subtle changes in dynamics, making it tailor made for blues. And for another $50, you can upgrade to the Waza Craft BD-2W, featuring the same warm tube overdrive as the original as well as a custom mode that adds more body and sustain, built on high-quality analog circuitry.
While the five above are my personal recommendations, there's a lot more where that came from. Hit this link to check out our entire selection of overdrive pedals under $100. And as always, if you have any questions regarding the purchase of the pedals above or any other piece of gear, don't hesitate to chat with one of our friendly PAL pros by using the dialogue box below.
What's your favorite OD pedal under $100?