10 Best Boost & Overdrive Combo Guitar Pedals 2018

best boost overdrive combo pedal

In our reverb-delay combo pedals post, I discussed that the two effects make a natural pairing, practically begging to be combined into one pedal. They typically appear at roughly the same spot in the signal chain, and do somewhat similar jobs. They’re equally at home on monster pedalboards and stripped down fly rigs.

In our post on the best boost pedals, I talked about how boost and overdrive are mighty similar, as well. They can both affect serious magic in a tube amp, generating natural compression that feels great under the hands. Of course there are differences between them, and most players would have (at least) one of each.

As the popularity of combo pedals continues to grow, we’re starting to see some excellent examples of boost-overdrive combo pedals hit the market. For a lot of players, pairing one of these with a combo reverb-delay could very well be their entire pedalboard. For the more adventurous out there, they provide an inherently useful, relatively utilitarian platform on which to build.

At their most basic, boost pedals do one of two jobs on a pedalboard: increase saturation or increase overall volume. For example, I use an EarthQuaker Devices Arrows before any of my other dirt pedals, in particular because it’s designed to add a gain stage and boost the midrange. If the boost section of your combo boost-overdrive pedal comes first, this is the job it’s meant to do. Using it this way, you can turn your soft-clipping overdrive into something bordering on distortion, which means that the single pedal gives you three drive levels within one unit.

On the other hand, if your boost-overdrive has the boost second (or if they’re switchable; we’ll get to that), you can use the boost to simply make your dialed-in overdrive sound louder. The most common use of this is for solos, but it can also come in handy for matching varying pickup output levels between guitars. Like delay and reverb, pairing these two things is obvious when it comes right down to it.

For this list, we’re focusing on effects pedals with a boost side and an overdrive side. They must be able to cascade into one another, but it isn’t a requirement that the boost can be used independently, necessarily. Some other optional goodies include: order switching, expression pedal capabilities, ability to send the outputs to different places, and so on. We won’t cover drive pedals that have two differently-voiced channels, like the Wampler Dual Fusion or the new Fender Pugilist, for example. Our focus here is on boost and overdrive in particular, so for the most part, we’re avoiding hard-clipping true distortion pedals. Finally, things like the Truetone Route 66, which combines compression with overdrive and which we put on our best overdrive pedals list also won’t qualify. Boost plus overdrive, at a minimum. You get it. Make those tubes sing.

One last note before we dive in: Just like on our overdrive list, you won’t find the Analogman King of Tone below. Is it amazing? Yes, it is. Might be the last word in boost + overdrive? It might. You know where to go to get on the list to (someday, maybe, hopefully) have one made for you, but here we’re focusing on things that aren’t quite so difficult to come by so you can, you know, actually play it. Similarly, but to a much lesser degree, we considered but decided to leave out the Xotic Effects AC/RC Oz Noy, since it was limited edition.

For those looking for flexible all-in-one drive units, here are the top ten best boost-overdrive combo pedals.


1. Chase Bliss Audio Brothers

Since I poked fun at them in my review of the new Fender pedal line (more on that in a moment), I thought it was only fair that I put their immense gainstage machine at the top of this list. It meets and exceeds the requirements for appearing on our list, featuring the requisite boost and overdrive, but also a fuzz circuit. Each of these are assignable to either of the two channels in the pedal, and there are 33 routing combinations thereof, making it extremely flexible.

Controls on this unit include a Master volume and a Mix knob, as well as a Gain and Tone for each channel. A switch below the knobs lets you easily select between the boost, drive, or fuzz circuit. The Stack switch allows you to change the routing, with options for Parallel, A into B, and B into A, tunable with the Mix knob. This would be eminently usable if that were all, but since it’s Chase Bliss, there’s more going on here.

The toggle between the footswitches recalls two presets. Preset #1 is to the right, which you can assign by holding down the right footswitch for three seconds, then holding down both footswitches for an additional three seconds until the LED blinks confirming a save. Preset #2 is to the left and assignable by the same process, except starting with the left footswitch. You can use MIDI to recall your presets, or use the company’s own Faves pedal to do that job. Every setting on the pedal can be saved this way, including the position of the dip switches.

According to the user manual, the dip switches work with your expression of choice in the following manner: “The Master, M/S, Gain A, Tone A, Gain B, and Tone B dip switches on the left side simply turn that parameter on or off expression / CV capability. Master, M/S, Gain A, Tone A, Gain B, and Tone B dip switches on the right side control whether or not the parameters will rise (go clockwise with expression) or fall (go counterclockwise with expression).”

All of this is digitally controlled, but each of the circuits are totally analog; this isn’t a DSP situation. Incredibly modern, incredibly flexible pedal that could just be your be-all, end-all.

Price: $349

Buy the Chase Bliss Audio Brothers here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: JFET, IC
  • Voicing: Custom
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Switchable order?: Yes
  • Power: 60 mA at 9V DC
  • Other features: Expression pedal input with dip switches to customize, preset save, MIDI input for recalling presets, optional buffer

Find more Chase Bliss Audio Brothers information and reviews here.



2. EarthQuaker Devices Palisades

overdrive pedal, best overdrive pedal, tube screamer, ts9, klon centaur

(Earthquaker Devices)

After long resisting calls to do so, EQD finally came out with their take on the vintage TS808. Uninspired by the original, though, they went above and beyond to make the old workhorse into something new. Somewhere in this pedal is every kind of Tube Screamer sound, so spend some time tweaking and you’ll have them all in one place.

For knobs, you get Boost, Volume, and Tone, as well as Gain A and Gain B. You also get a Voice knob that lets you choose from six different clipping voices, as well as a Bandwidth knob that sets the range of tone and gain available to those respective knobs. The settings for the Voice knob are as follows: 1. No diodes: Least distortion, most open. 2. LED clipping: A small amount of breakup with lots of volume. 3. Mosfet clipping: Sparkly overdrive good for harmonics. 4. Asymmetrical Silicon clipping: Closest to the original 808 sound. 5. Symmetrical silicon clipping: Tight and distorted. 6. Schottky Diode clipping: More akin to fuzz.

This is huge for experimentation, but also for dialing in the right sound for your exact setup. The Boost footswitch is, of course, set by the Boost knob and gives you additional volume when you need it. You select between the two Gains using the Gain B switch, and the Activate switch is a true-bypass on-off. Gain A is lower in gain an better for chords, while Gain B is heavier and excellent for shredding. You also get a Bright/Normal switch and a Buffer switch that can tighten up tone.

If all that weren’t enough, this pedal also has what EQD call “Flexi-Switching”. This means that the Gain B and Boost switches can be used normally as latching switches, but if you hold them, they turn into momentary switches. That’s especially well-suited to the boost, but driving the amp harder for short sections is an interesting use, too.

Sure, it’s a bit of a pedalboard hog, but it’s also among the most supremely flexible overdrives on the market. If that’s an issue, this general idea also comes in non-boost-enabled format, called Dunes.

Price: $212.46

Buy the EarthQuaker Devices Palisades here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: LED, Mosfet, Silicon, Schottky IC
  • Voicing: Tube Screamer TS808 (and beyond)
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Switchable order?: No, fixed as post-gain boost
  • Power: 45 mA at 9V DC
  • Other features: Bandwidth and Voice selectors, Flexi-Switching for latching and momentary use

Find more EarthQuaker Devices Palisades information and reviews here.



3. Ibanez TS808DX Tube Screamer Booster/Overdrive Pedal

Ibanez

If we’re going to include another company’s boost plus Tube Screamer offering, it only seems fair that we also include the one from Ibanez itself. This is a far simpler unit than the first two on this list, simply combining the overdrive you know and love with a +20dB boost added to it.

Controls are straightforward and utilitarian, including Overdrive (gain), Tone, Level, and Boost. It’s the control set you know and love from other Tube Screamers, with the last of these knobs controlling the level of boost activated with the Boost footswitch. There’s a Pre/Post switch so you can set it before or after the 808 gainstage.

The boost can be used independently of the drive circuit, which isn’t the case for every pedal on this list. If you know and love the Tube Screamer but want one of these combo pedals, this is probably the one for you. Much less flexible than some of the others, but much less fussy, too.

Price: $198.99

Buy the Ibanez TS808DX Tube Screamer Booster/Overdrive Pedal here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: JRC4558D IC
  • Voicing: Tube Screamer TS808
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Switchable order?: Yes
  • Power: 9V OR 18V DC
  • Other features: Toggle switch for 9V or 18V operation for higher headroom

Find more Ibanez TS808DX Tube Screamer Booster/Overdrive Pedal information and reviews here.



4. Keeley D&M Drive

Keeley

Fans of the best show on the internet, That Pedal Show will already be totally familiar with this pick. Since it was Mick’s comment that inspired my reverb-delay combo pedals post, I would be remiss if I missed this one here. Created by Robert Keeley to reflect the dual personalities of the show, this pedal is definitely for Strat and/or Tele swinging players with the finest in boutique tube amps (running in stereo, of course) behind them. But it’s also for the rest of us, too.

This is a pretty straightforward affair with Level, Gain, and Tone knobs for each side. They’re independently switchable, with a toggle switch to decide the order. They’re so independent, in fact, that clever use of TRS cables will allow you to send each to different parts of a signal switcher, like Dan’s GigRig G2, to choose just any random example.

The Dan side is a full-range, multiple-gainstage overdrive that ventures into distortion territory. It’s saturated and full of harmonics. The Mick side is higher-headroom with a pronounced mid-boost, not unlike a Tube Screamer. These guys have played their fair share of pedals, so if this is what they came up with when they worked with Keeley, it’s almost certainly worth a look.

Price: $229

Buy the Keeley D&M Drive here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: Unknown
  • Voicing: Custom
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Switchable order?: Yes
  • Power: 55 mA at 9V DC
  • Other features: TRS insert cables for independent integration into switching systems

Find more Keeley D&M Drive information and reviews here.



5. Fulltone Full-Drive3 Overdrive Boost

Fulltone

Right off the bat, we must acknowledge that the Full-Drive2 could have fit in this position just as well. It’s the original, and Fulltone’s first major hit. I’ve opted for the Full-Drive3 for two reasons: 1. The order of the boost and drive are switchable in this version. 2. Fulltone’s own product manual states, “…the FD3 is a much more evolve and natural-sounding design offering a vast array of both clean and distorted tones.” Might as well go with the latest and greatest, I say.

Controls on this include Volume, Tone, Overdrive, and Boost. There’s a three-way voicing switch that allows you to choose between 90s (smooth, symmetrical clipping), Wide ASYM (wide, asymmetrical clipping with lots of harmonic overtones), and CC (no diode clipping, driving the chip directly). There is, as discussed, a switch for swapping the order of the boost and drive, though only the drive can be used truly independently. Finally, there’s a Dynamics knob, which is a germanium-based limiter, which works something like a compressor. This will help keep things lively and tidy for any kind of live mix.

If you already know you dig the Fulltone vibe, this pedal combines a few of them into one very flexible, high-fidelity unit.

Price: $135.20

Buy the Fulltone Full-Drive3 Overdrive Boost here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: JRC4558D IC, Germanium limiter
  • Voicing: Full-Drive2, Class A amp
  • True bypass?: No
  • Switchable order?: Yes
  • Power: 13 mA at 9V or 18V DC
  • Other features: Three clipping modes,

Find more Fulltone Full-Drive3 Overdrive Boost information and reviews here.



6. Fender Santa Ana

image of fender santa ana pedal

Fender

If you’ve been curious about Fender’s new line of pedals, I spent some time with the entire line and discussed them at length here. It just so happens that one of those new releases is a boost plus overdrive, making it perfect for this list. On the whole, I found the whole line to be very good value, in part because of a few nifty little design touches they included.

Controls include a four-band EQ across the top, Level, and Drive. The toggle in the middle controls what Fender refers to as an American and British amp voicing. In my experience, the American was a bit shrill, but there’s a wide range of usable tones to be found in the British side. On the top of the pedal, you’ll find switches for FS Select, which allows you to change the gain order, which is indicated by the Level Boost and Drive Boost LEDs. There’s also a switch between buffered or true bypass, and to turn the LEDs inside the knob off, if you wish.

This is an overdrive at heart, and as such, the two cannot be used independently. The boost serves to modify the overdrive circuit, but I doubt that will be much of a limitation. I like this pedal and I think a lot of players will be able to find a use for it. I’m glad Fender went with something like this instead of a more standard single-use OD.

Price: $199.99

Buy the Fender Santa Ana here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: FET
  • Voicing: American and British amps
  • True bypass?: Yes, optional buffered
  • Switchable order?: Yes
  • Power: 130 mA at 9V DC
  • Other features: Voicing switch

Find more Fender Santa Ana information and reviews here.



7. Bogner La Grange Overdrive Guitar Pedal

Bogner

As with the Fulltone, we could’ve made different choices here. Bogner also make the Ecstacy Blue and Ecstacy Red overdrive plus boost pedals, but the La Grange just wins out for us. Both this pedal and the one that follows are going after an overdriven Plexi sound, as so very many pedals on the market try to do. This one has some unique features that set it apart from the pack, though.

Knobs on this include Boost, Volume, Tone, Gain, and Channel Blend. The last of these controls the blend of the two channels of a ’67-’69 Plexi, with T being bright and B being normal. There’s a Structure switch that allows you to set the pedal to tight and focused to the right, open and loose to the left, and somewhere in the middle in the center. Presence allows you to dial in added high-end for more brightness, while the Gain switch sets the range of the Gain knob between High, Medium, and Low.

The real kicker is the Variac switch, which is probably among the best of the “Brown sound” emulations. It affects a drop in voltage, which adds compression and harmonics. The expression pedal input works with the Gain knob and takes the knob’s position as the max. Finally, the boost in this can be used independent of the drive circuit, which is handy.

Price: $249.99

Buy the Bogner La Grange Overdrive Guitar Pedal here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: OP-AMP, Germanium, Class A gain stages
  • Voicing: 60s Plexi amp
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Switchable order?: No, fixed as post-gain boost
  • Power: 9V DC
  • Other features: Expression input, Variac dropped voltage switch, channel blend

Find more Bogner La Grange Overdrive Guitar Pedal information and reviews here.



8. Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe V2 Guitar Effects Pedal

Wampler

There really are a lot of Marshall Plexi pedals on the planet, but Brian Wampler is among the people most qualified to take a crack at the genre. His YouTube channel is full of videos breaking down his intimate understanding of circuits and frequency response, and all that knowledge comes together in this excellent unit.

Controls include a three-band active EQ, Gain, Volume, and Boost. All straightforward and easy to grasp, but note that those are active EQ, so they boost and cut when needed.. There are two switches for treble and bass boost, the latter of which is supposed to emulate a kicking 4×12 cab. This is the second version, which moved the jacks to the top of the pedal and move to silent, relay-based soft footswitches.

The order of the boost and drive aren’t switchable, but where in most cases builders opt for it to be a volume boost after the drive circuit, Wampler decided to dedicate as a drive saturator boost. It’s a Tube Screamer style thing, which emulates the classic pairing used over the years. Smash a TS into the front of a Plexi — it sounds great. Now you can have that in a single pedal for use with any amp. They also make the Vox-flavored Thirty Something, which does a very similar job for those sounds.

Price: $239.97

Buy the Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe V2 Guitar Effects Pedal here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: Unknown
  • Voicing: Plexi amp, Tube Screamer
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Switchable order?: No, fixed as pre-gain boost
  • Power: 22 mA at 9V DC, 34 mA at 18V DC
  • Other features: Bass and treble boost

Find more Wampler Plexi-Drive Deluxe V2 Guitar Effects Pedal information and reviews here.



9. JHS AT+ Andy Timmons Signature Overdrive Pedal

JHS

So, we’ve got 60s Plexis covered, but what if you’re more of a JCM fan? The original Andy Timmons signature from JHS was a custom take on the Angry Charlie, which is meant to be a JCM800 in a (smaller) box. The latter of these we discussed briefly in our best distortion pedals post as it is/is not a clone of a MI Audio Crunch Box, depending on who you ask. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

JHS has just recently released the AT+, which takes all that JCM goodness that was custom-voiced for Andy and adds a boost circuit to the front of it. That’s right, the front, just like the Wampler above. There’s a knob for controlling the boost level, but otherwise the control set is the same, including Volume, Drive, EQ, and Air. The Air knob is essentially a presence control for controlling top-end brightness. The toggle switch in the middle controls the 25-, 50-, and 100-watt modes, which allows you to dial in the perfect mix of overall volume, crunch, and compression.

While you can’t change the boost order, they are completely independent, so you can choose to use that boost alone or to saturate the pedal.

Like a few of the others on this list, JHS has boost plus overdrive options. You could also have a look at the Ruby Red Butch Walker Signature, which goes after 60s Supro amps, or The Kilt, which combines a JFET boost with an updated Bixonic Expandora.

Price: $219

Buy the JHS AT+ Andy Timmons Signature Overdrive Pedal here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: Unknown
  • Voicing: 80s Marshall amp
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Switchable order?: No, fixed as pre-gain boost
  • Power: 100 mA at 9V or 18V DC
  • Other features: Three-way mode switch

Find more JHS AT+ Andy Timmons Signature Overdrive Pedal information and reviews here.



10. Xotic Effects AC Plus 2-Channel Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal

Xotic Effects

Compared to the rest of the offerings that fall into the boost category at Xotic, there was almost no way the AC Plus wouldn’t get overlooked. Stablemates include the crazy-good BB Preamp, the now-ubiquitous EP Booster (which we put on our boost pedals post), the RC Booster and its gaintastic younger brother. The AC Plus has a lot to live up to, while also being by far the most aesthetically-challenged of the lot.

That said, if you can look past the awful graphics, this pedal could be your hidden gem. Each side has a Volume and a Gain knob, while side A gets a simple Tone knob that attenuates treble and midrange. Side B gets a three-band EQ, as well as a Clipping mode switch that allows you to choose between Hard or Soft. Side A also has a booster for midrange and bass that increases both by +3dB.

Both sides straddle the line between boost and overdrive, with side A being a bit more compressed, and side B primarily a clean boost that can be altered into heavier crunch with the clipping switch. The switch in the middle allows you to change the order to get the perfect tone.

If you like any of Xotic’s other boosters, this pedal covers almost all of the territory represented by its higher-visibility siblings. You might also be more inclined to go with this if you’re a frequent single-coil user, as this unit excels in that application. To be sure, it’s not much to look at, but it is a complete solution worth exploring.

Price: $196

Buy the Xotic Effects AC Plus 2-Channel Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal here.



Specs:

  • Clipping circuitry: Unknown
  • Voicing: Custom
  • True bypass?: Yes
  • Switchable order?: Yes
  • Power: 15 mA at 9V DC
  • Other features: Clipping switch, midrange and bass boost, independent tone controls

Find more Xotic Effects AC Plus 2-Channel Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal information and reviews here.


We give an honorable mention to the CMATMods Super Signa Drive Overdrive, which is solid, but didn’t quite make the list.

Looking for more drive tones? Try our best distortion pedals, best booster pedals, best Big Muff pedals, or best overdrive pedals posts.


Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.

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