Overdrive pedal is designed to simulate the creamy sound of an overdriven tube amp or to provide a gain boost of a tube amp.
Overdrive pedals are classic sounding-tone shaping guitarist’s tools, mostly used to increase the amount of gain (distortion) that you get from your amplifier.
The most copied pedals ever made are TS-808 and TS-9 pedals which first showed in the mids 70’s. The technology started to grow up and many companies started to produce transistor based amplifiers.
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The Tube Screamer pedal was the answer to give your brand new transistor amp – the tubes magic. Giving you that “vintage tube” sound, harmonically rich and crunchy sounding in a small footprint.
Many modern “boutique” pedals are based on the anatomy of TS OverDrive.
One of the significant character of the famous overdrive circuit is:
To preserve the tone – frequency character of the guitar and amplifier and keeping the guitarist dynamic expression.
Basically its a pedal achieving over-driven sound based on op-amp Japanese JRC-4558 chip and using two silicon diodes to produce soft, symmetrical distortion stage.
Over the years pedal builders were changing the clipping stage in the overdrives from silicon to led diodes or germanium ones which are giving the feeling of saturation only achieved in the real tube amps.
LED diodes are giving more headroom and less compressed feeling.
Many models are offering different clipping stages to choose from, using switching system between different diodes.
The famous OverDrive was brought to the listeners and guitarists by SRV in late 70’s , which later become one of the most iconic guitar sounds ever made.
Later in the years they began to show up in many modern guitarist pedal boards as rhythm and solo boosters. Helping many shredders and Guitar gods getting their tone to the next level, a huge high gain with endless sustain.
Today’s Djent 8-9 strings guitarists will be lost if these pedals don’t exist.
The low end produced by these guitars is always controlled and shaped by TS based overdrive pedal in front of high gain amp to keep the low end tight and well pronounced.
But don’t forget about their original purpose, they are really helpful to shape your bluesy – rock tone. You must try them in your clean channel and you will get that vintage tube like saturation with a little tweaking of your amp settings and pedal.
Get a Fender, an amp with nice tweed voiced clean channel and put your OverDrive pedal in front and you will get instant SRV tone in seconds!
So, as you can see, its one of the most used tool from 70’s to
Every guitar player has at least one in his pedal board to give his tone more distinctive voice and unique sound!
Most of the time you will see the OverDrive with settings like: Drive-Gain knob at zero, Tone at middle and Volume knob almost at max in front of a tube amp, transistor or modern software amp simulator, giving a tight low end or screaming full with harmonics rich lead tone.
When your amp needs a little magic or your solo tone has no sustain, the overdrive pedal is the tool you gonna need!
Used from SRV, Steve Vai to Animal as Leaders, its a legend that will live forever. 🙂