Are you unsatisfied with the tone of your high gain amp?
I got you covered: The overdrive pedals for high gain amps that I review in this article can significantly improve your guitar tone!
In this article I’ll answer the following questions:
To find the 5 best overdrive pedals for high gain amps, I spent hours testing pedals, reading the opinions of the community, and speaking with guitarists, so you don’t have to.
Here’s an overview of the top 3 best overdrive pedals for high gain amps:
Do you need an overdrive pedal for high gain amps?
Do you own a Marshall, an Orange, a Mesa/Boogie, a Peavy, or any similar amp?
If so, then you own a high gain amp!
You can improve the sound of most high gain amps by supplementing it with an adequate overdrive pedal.
Do you run into any of these problems when playing guitar through your high gain amp?
- Your high-gain tone sounds muddy and badly articulated.
- Your guitar’s frequencies are badly balanced and lack bass and mids.
- Your guitar tone doesn’t have the power to cut through the mix in a band setting.
Then you should buy an overdrive pedal for your high gain amp!
An overdrive pedal can significantly improve on the weaknesses of high gain amps and help you achieve the guitar tone you’re looking for.
You should use an overdrive pedal with a high gain amp if you want …
… a more precisely articulated guitar tone.
… a more balanced frequency mix.
… a more powerful metal tone.
Best overdrive pedal settings for high gain amps
In most situations, you’d use an overdrive pedal with a high gain amp to boost mid and bass frequencies and to give your guitar tone more punch.
You can usually achieve these improvements with some common settings:
- Turn the pedal’s Gain/Distortion down.
- Turn the pedal’s Volume up.
- If possible: Turn the pedal’s Mids/Bass higher than its treble.
These settings ensure you get the most out of your new overdrive pedal when using it with a high gain amp!
Review: The best overdrive pedals for high gain amps
1. JHS Morning Glory
Style: Transparent Overdrive
Range: Clean – Mid Gain
Settings: Volume, Drive, Tone & Gain Switch
Bypass: True Bypass
Power: 9 V Power Adapter
Pros and cons
+ Improves the sound of mediocre amps
+ Adds tonal and responsive nuances to your tone
+ Models the famous Marshall Plexi tone
– Operates exclusively on 9 V power adapter
The JHS Morning Glory is the perfect overdrive pedal for high gain amps in any situation.
Its transparent overdrive properties and its broad gain range make the JHS Morning Glory extremely versatile. – That’s the reason why it fits the requirements of almost every guitarist with a high gain amp.
You can shape the tone of the JHS Morning Glory with its Volume, Drive, and Tone knobs. These options offer more than enough versatility to optimize its tone for your high gain amp.
By adding additional tonal and responsive nuances to your guitar tone, the JHS Morning Glory can significantly improve the sound of mediocre (solid-state) amps. The JHS Morning Glory can even make your high gain amp sound like the characteristic Marshall Plexi that Jimi Hendrix, Pete Townshend, and Eric Clapton made famous!
The only real downside to the JHS Morning Glory is, that it operates exclusively on a power adapter. So you have to buy an extra cable and maybe even reorganize your pedalboard if you want to use this overdrive pedal with your high gain amp.
2. Ibanez TS9 Tubescreamer
The all-time classic.
No other overdrive pedal has influenced blues, rock, and metal music more than the Tube Screamer.
Because the Ibanez Tube Screamer is an excellent “boost-style” overdrive pedal, it fits high gain amps extremely well. When you turn the gain up and the volume down, the Tube Screamer gives you its characteristic mid-boost that adds tightness and definition to your high gain guitar tone!
As you can see in the overview, the Tube Screamer doesn’t offer much gain on its own. That’s not too much of a problem when you use it with a high gain amp. But if you’re simultaneously looking for an overdrive pedal for a clean amp, the Tube Screamer lacks the necessary gain range.
3. Electro-Harmonix Soul Food
The community favorite.
The Electro-Harmonix Soul Food is the community’s favorite overdrive pedal for high gain amps!
Its transparent overdrive properties are a perfect fit for most high gain amps. Even though the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food doesn’t offer much gain on its own, it can shape the tone of your high gain amp and give it a more responsive and tube-like feeling.
If you’re worried about the limited gain range of the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food, I can reassure you: It’s also an excellent overdrive pedal to stack other gain pedals on!
4. Behringer VT999 Vintage Tube Monster
Real tube charm.
The Behringer Vintage Tube Monster is the only overdrive pedal for high gain amps on this list, that operates on real tubes!
It has an incredibly versatile gain range that makes it the perfect overdrive pedal for any high gain, low gain, solid-state, or tube amp!
With its in-depth settings, you can adjust the tone of the Behringer VT999 Vintage Tube Monster to your individual needs and preferences. – It’s the perfect pedal to build the foundation of your guitar tone on!
The real tubes inside this overdrive pedal only have one significant downside: They take up lots of space on your pedalboard. But that’s a small price to pay for a real tube tone!
5. Strymon Sunset
Style: Twin-Channel Overdrive/Boost
Range: Clean – Distortion/Fuzz/…
Settings: GF/Texas/Treble, 2stage/Hard/JFET, Configure, Brigt; Drive, Level & Tone (for each channel)
Bypass: True Bypass
Power: 9 V Power Adapter
Pros and cons
+ Six unique overdrives and boosts
+ Two effects can be stacked in series or parallel
+ Loads sound presets via MIDI-cable
– Options can be overwhelming
The Strymon Sunset is the best overdrive pedal for high gain amps for you if you want an overdrive pedal that can do it all!
You can combine the six unique overdrives and boosts of the Strymon Sunset on two different channels. That’s how you can mix your effects-combination. There’s no feature that the Strymon Sunset doesn’t offer: Clean boost, overdrive, distortion, fuzz, …
However, these endless options and controls can also be overwhelming. That’s why I wouldn’t recommend the Strymon Sunset to beginners or guitarists that like simple and quick solutions.
I hope that this article about the best overdrive pedal for high gain amps helped you with choosing your next favorite overdrive pedal! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us!