Best Distortion/Overdrive Pedals For Tube Amp!

Before the birth of modern music, instruments were played in its raw and clean nature, and it sounded great.

As the years go by, people became bored and wanted something loud.

They decided to crank up the volume of their amplifiers and to their shock, it was a warm and dirty distorted sound.

Everyone was astonished, and modern music was born.

Today, the best distortion pedal for tube amp can be readily ordered online to your doorstep. So, rock on dude, let’s go!

Last update on 2021-10-24 at 07:11 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Evolution Of Distortion Pedals

Over the years, music has evolved from mellow to gut wrenching wild crazy heavy metal.

Maybe we just got tired of sweet lullabies and preferred more color and action in our music.

Now, we are so much used to overdrives and distortion that inventors have devised gadgets to produce these sound signals before it goes to your speaker cab.

Well, it has drastically thinned your chances of destroying your amp set up with overheat!

best distortion pedal for clean tube amp

Guitar pedals are so mainstream today that you can modify your tones get a distorted, overdriven sound even with a small solid state amp.

Isn’t that great? Just hook up a distortion pedal and you’re ready to melt faces with warm and dirty distortion.

You won’t be needing to crank up your amp to get that crazy distortion!

Greatness In Dirty Distortion

Back when the best distortion pedal for tube amp was not available yet, it was hard to get that distinct dirty sound inside small venues and pubs.

With a tiny stomp box smaller than a pocket book, you can emulate concert-level effects that are not deafening.

We can now rock and roll without bursting eardrums.

I know as a musician, it is frustrating to have a sub-par sound just because you can’t bring your favorite amp at home, yeah, the one that gives you goosebumps whenever you practice.

Imagine the hassle of bringing that heavy block whenever you have a gig.

Just not practical, right?

best distortion pedal for a tube amp

With these portable gadgets, you won’t be needing massive amps anymore.

That saves you the hassle of bringing along your full sized amp and speaker cabinet every time you are out on a gig.

Also, you won’t be needing to buy different amps so that you could get different tones.

There are a lot of manufacturers out there who have already designed the best distortion pedal for tube amp that you could choose from.

Narrowing Down

When you start browsing the internet to search for the best distortion pedal for tube amp, you might get overwhelmed with the huge selection of results.

Because of the sheer number of assortment, selecting one or two can become confusing.

Well, you don’t have a choice but to browse for reviews and look for the one that you like.

To narrow down your selection, firstly, determine what type of music you and your band are playing with.

What kinds of effects your favorite artist use? Will it compliment with my other effects and the band?

How Does It Work?

Distortion pedals used only to have two knobs to dial, very straight forward.

Typically, that is the level knob and the gain knob.

The gain knob overdrives the signal until it becomes distorted before it is sent the amp and speaker.

The more you dial it clockwise, the heavier and dirtier your sound would be.

You will have more harmonics and feedback on this level so be careful in crank it too high.

Well, if you are a Hendrix fan, go ahead and use them screeching feedback to add character to your riff.

distortion pedal for tube amp

The opposite direction tapers your distortion close to the original signal giving you a subtle warm sounding distortion.

In my opinion, these setting is ideal for rhythm parts as it will not overwhelm the other instruments.

Pro Tip: Well, if you are in for some crazy heavy metal, put a distortion pedal between overdrive pedal and a phaser pedal for some out-of-this-world-bad-ass-face-melting riff!

The level knob adjusts how much the effect is heard over your original signal.

The higher it is, the louder the volume.

More Knobs

Some models do bring a third knob for tone control.

This can be dialed clockwise to achieve a more vibrant and crunchy sound with high trebles which are great for soloing.

Rotating it counter-clockwise will give a muddier and darker tone.

It doesn’t stop there.

There are units out there which have a different dial for the bass tones and the treble tones.

It opens up more variety for your playing style and brings a lot more settings combo you could choose from.

That’ll give you more sounds for just one pedal!

Pro tip: In a distortion pedal with bass and treble knobs, dial the bass low and the treble high for a funky sound!

Top 5 Best Distortion Pedals for Tube Amp

Here goes the top 5 best distortion pedal for tube amp that can drive your band mates crazy and vaporize the faces of your audience!

MXR M104

The MXR M104 Distortion + was designed nearly four decades ago and still finds its spot in modern music until today.

The reissue is still dressed up in its signature mustard color pretty much the same as its predecessors.

Now, what does MXR M104 Distortion + have that made it legendary and still widely used by modern musicians today?

Distortion + has a simplistic design with only two knobs to dial.

One for output and one for distortion.

Cranking up the output gives you more volume and warmer riffs while dialing it down gives crispier lead tones.

Did I mention that Randy Rhoads favored this pedal? I think having an MXR M104 Distortion + is the first step.

Dialing the distortion knob, well, will drive your signal to distortion and give you that distinct crunch.

The MXR M104 Distortion + is a versatile pedal that can provide you with warm classic distortion to heavy distortion without getting fuzzy.

MXR M104 Distortion +
  • Germanium-powered, soft-clipped distortion
  • Classic 70s distortion

Last update on 2021-10-24 at 07:11 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Straightforward configuration (output and distortion knob)
  • Great heavy crunch for rock and metal
  • Compact
  • Great Response


  • A tone knob would easily shape the sound and fit your style
  • A bit heavy for its size
  • Sucks a lot of juice on battery

Fulltone OCD Overdrive Pedals

Fulltone has manufactured a lot of good products on their line, and one of their greatest creation is the Obsessive Compulsive Drive more commonly known as OCD.

It comes in white with three knobs, one flip switch; red led light indicator and a compact finish.

The sound of OCD is another great distortion pedal that gives you more control over your tone.

Aside from its volume and drive pedal, Fulltone had decided to add another knob to shape your tone.

The volume pedal determines how loud your mix would be, and the drive pedal gives you that distortion.

The tone knob, of course, gives you the ability to dial a dark and a bright sound.

Setting the drive knob to zero position gives you a clean drive which is sweet and, I think, very appropriate for blues and the likes.

The subtlety of the clean drive just brings a great taste to it.

Fulltone incorporated a flip switch that lets you select from Low Peak mode (LP) and High Peak mode (HP).

The LP mode gives you more accent on the high frequencies and gives you more treble which is good for blues and solos.

The High Peak mode gives you a fatter solid sound, which I imagine is like a rope I can grab on and a boost in the mid-range frequency that can burst the roof with crazy distortion!

Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal
  • Compulsive Drive Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal

Last update on 2021-10-24 at 07:11 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Good range from clean drive to heavy distortion
  • Tone knob
  • High Peak/Low Peak mode


  • Can sometimes be hissy on a high gain amp
  • A bit noisy on a single coil pick-up
  • Great on its own, but does not compliment well with other effects

Boss BD-2

Boss brings us an easy to use pedal in the distortion family in its slick blue finish with yellow text.

It has level knob to adjust the volume of your mix and a gain knob for your distortion.

Boss also decided to give us more control over the shape of our output by giving us a third knob, a tone knob.

Blues driver is probably the best pedal Boss has ever made.

It's packed with a long sustain on high gain setting and gives a good clean drive without getting too thin when set on low gain.

The tone knob is surprisingly good and broadens the range of sound you get.

The twelve o’clock setting of tone paired with a high gain gives you a nice fat distortion with excellent sustain.

Setting the tone knob high provides you with a distinctly bright blues driver tone.

Do not be misled by its name as its versatility permits itself to be utilized not only in blues but you can also rock with it.

If you happen to have a boost pedal, you can bring this thing to metal!

Boss BD-2 Blues Driver Guitar Effects Pedal
  • Classic "blues" guitar tones with tube amp simulation
  • Warm distortion and overdrive

Last update on 2021-10-24 at 01:24 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Good clean and dirty range
  • Power supply plug located at the back of the unit
  • Excellent for playing blues


  • Does not have enough gain for heavier stuff
  • Battery changing is quite a hassle
  • Hisses on gain above 3 o’clock

Ibanez TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer - Crazy Metal

Ibanez is quite a competitive brand.

With this turbo tube screamer reissue, they want to make sure that they have a particular place on the market.

Aside from the drive, level and tone knob, they have added a dial to bring up their game to the next level.

This nifty baby is packed with a mode dial that lets you choose from 4 different settings giving you four distinct sound in one pedal!

The classic TS9 character is already significant in itself, with the addition of three more modes, you can use it in another genre as well.

The Hot Mode adds more gain for a fatter and heavier tone.

The + mode adds more and the turbo mode, apparently, tears up the roof.

This might be the best distortion pedal for metal!

Ibanez TS9DX Turbo Tube Screamer
  • Controls: Drive, Tone, and Level
  • Modes: Turbo, Hot, and TS9

Last update on 2021-10-24 at 07:11 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Four modes to choose from
  • Great versatility
  • Tears roof with its crazy metal distortion


  • Quite difficult to dial in a tone
  • Gets fuzzy when setting on high gain
  • Can become quite hissy if you’re not careful with the volume

Tech 21 Richie Kotzen Signature RK5

Richie Kotzen’s signature analog multi-effect is more commonly known as RK5 Fly Rig.

This rig, I know it looks like a programmable digital multi-effects, is an analog pedal!

I know in the world of guitar pedals and effects, analog units still trump the digitally processed effects.

To have the most commonly used effects in one strip of metal is just plain practical.

You would not need to bring all your big stuff and along with your gigantic amp and speakers anymore!

This thing brings out a beautiful quality sound on small solid state amp combos with its amp emulator.

Add up the distortion for crazy riffs and stomp on that delay for some amazing solos.

If that’s not enough, you still have two more effects to play with, boost and reverb.

Tech 21 SansAmp Richie Kotzen RK5 Signature Fly Rig v2 Multi-Effect Pedal
  • Signature Multi-effects Pedal with Cabinet Emulation
  • Delay/Rotating Speaker Effect

Last update on 2021-10-24 at 07:11 UTC - 4/ Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


  • Compact and easy to bring along on gigs
  • Has essential effects you need
  • Can turn an ordinary amp to a sweet sounding amp


  • Digital multi-effects does the same
  • Cannot operate on battery
  • Dial knobs are tiny

In Conclusion - Which Is The Best for Tube Amps

If you are always on the go, RK5 Fly rig can replace some of your existing effects to lighten your load when you are going out.

You can even ditch your huge amp and get a smaller portable one!

But for the best distortion pedal for tube amp, Fulltone’s OCD has the best edge among the five.

You get more options in dialing your tone and an LP/HP mode to further your playing style from clean drive and bring it to the metal arena.

Related Posts:

Best Guitar Multi Effects Pedal Under $200

Further Reading:

How Do Guitar Distortion and Overdrive Work?

Leave a Comment