Players' Picks: Top 20 Overdrive Pedals

There are so many overdrive pedals out there - many of them virtually identical - that creating a "best of" list is borderline silly. Most of those lists will only mention the latest releases, with a buy button linking to Amazon so you can pay full price for a shiny new example.

In response, we're offering a look into what players actually play, as measured by sales volume over the last year on Reverb. This list will be updated as tastes change over time, but the idea is to show what picks for overdrive pedals - new or used - are durable, player-approved, tested over time.

We'll editorialize on a few to explain why we think players love them so much, but let's give the data a chance to speak first.

The Best-Selling Overdrive Pedals on Reverb: Nov 2015 - Nov 2016

Rank Model Price
1 Electro-Harmonix Soul Food $50 - $79
2 Paul Cochrane Timmy $115 - $130
3 Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer $65 - $100
4 Fulltone OCD V4 $80 - $115
5 Xotic EP Booster $80 - $115
6 Boss BD-2 Blues Driver $50 - $99
7 Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive $30 - $49
8 Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini $65 - $80
9 J. Rockett Archer $130 - $189
10 Fulltone Full-Drive 2 MOSFET $80 - $115
11 JHS Morning Glory $140 - $199
12 Klon KTR $220 - $270
13 Xotic RC Booster $110 - $169
14 Analogman King of Tone V4 $400 - $500
15 Ibanez TS808 Tube Screamer Reissue $100 - $179
16 Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret MKIII $120 - $169
17 J. Rockett Archer Ikon $150 - $199
18 JHS Superbolt $135 - $199
19 Walrus Audio Voyager $120 - $189
20 Earthquaker Devices Palisades $180 - $250

The Electro-Harmonix Soul Food

We weren't surprised to see this at the top of the list. You can pick these up for around $60 or less (make offers on used listings) all day long - not bad for a really good imitation of a Klon Centaur. There may be better "klones" out there, but not at this price point.

And it's even better when you turn down the "Drive" knob and explore its clean boost capabilities...

The Paul Cochrane Timmy

If the Soul Food exploded because of the sound you get for the price point, the Timmy might stand on sound alone. It's double the price of a Soul Food, but there is something undeniable about the tone. It aims for transparency, without the compression or mid-bump you might get with a Tube Screamer-type overdrive. Whether it achieves that or not, players everywhere have decided it still sounds fantastic.

People often talk about the Timmy, the Fulltone OCD (also on the list), and the Emerson EM-Drive (surprisingly absent from the list) in the same breath, as if they were the holy trinity of modern transparent overdrives.

The Ibanez TS9, TS808 and Tube Screamer Mini

The fact that three of the Tube Screamer offerings from Ibanez make the list is a testament to the influence and popularity of its core sound. If there was an overdrive family tree, the Tube Screamer would be close to the top, spawning legions of imitations (the Electro-Harmonix East River Drive is pretty darn good at the $50 price point).

From Stevie Ray Vaughan to Trey Anastasio, the list of famous users is miles long. But don't think you're getting a "transparent" overdrive when you buy one. Players love it because of the way it colors your signal with slight compression and boosted mids.

The Klon KTR

If it's even marginally within reach and has the official Klon badge on it, people will buy it. Bill Finnegan's modern take on the original Klon Centaur is certainly popular, though we're hesitant to say it's any better or worse than the original.

See our shootout of the KTR vs. Centaur vs. other klones in the video and let your ears decide.

Analogman King of Tone

This is the only pedal on here that regularly sells for above $300. It's also the only one with consistently low inventory on Reverb. You can't make the it-sells-often-because-people-don't-like-it argument with this one.

People aren't rushing to sell theirs, and there aren't many in existence relative to the other picks listed here. What does that tell you about this overdrive?

JHS Superbolt

There are classic Tube Screamer-esque overdrives, transparent overdrives, multi-stage hyper-tweakable drives, and then there are overdrives that aim to replicate the sounds of classic amps. The JHS Superbolt is the most popular of these, shooting for the flavor of breakup native to vintage Supro amps (think early Led Zeppelin studio recordings).

If this sounds good to you, keep in mind that amp-modeling overdrives work best with amps that have natural flat characteristics on clean settings.

Learn more about effects pedals on our Effects Pedals: What Do They Do? | The Basics homepage.

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