• New Sponsor: ShipNerd, Ship Your Gear with Us... for less! Click Here.

Whats the best ultra low-volume overdrive pedal you've used?

I'm looking for guys out there that have used overdrive boxes with 40watt + amps at really low volumes with great results.

I know there will be lots of answers, but I'd like to see what you've guys tried and your experiences.


Oh look! This is a thing I can change!
Good tone is a physical experience that doesn't come at midnight volumes. Sorry.
I understand its always a compromise. I've got a 10watt amp... I'm just looking for some ideas. I know it sounds a bit funny, but I have a possible gig coming up where I have no idea what I'll need power-wise, and by bringing a larger power plant, I have at least one side covered. I'd like to know what the best possible option might be to have the other spectrum covered if I find myself keeping the amp on 2.

I'm not a rookie to this whole situation. I just haven't had this particular instance happen in a good while now, and wondered what more recent experiences with gear has been.

Yes, there are technological amps out there that have amazing ranges from loud to quiet. But My options are limited because of a financial bind. This is where the pedal comes in. Its an option that doesn't break the bank. Since after the gig, i'll know better what to use down the road powerwise.

BTW, if it helps anyone, I already know a compressor is probably key to the equation. I've got a nice old CS-2 that sounds great!...

Sorry for the long post! :)
Thanks for the reply. I don't want to declare the amp because that will swade player's suggestions. What is important to note would be that it is not a master volume amp. So preamp distortion is probably out.

Like most everyone, I prefer to run my amps at near glass-melting levels. I'm sure the original poster is aware of the tradeoffs inherent to low vol jamming on a mid-powered amp, but low vol jamming is what he is after, so here are a few thoughts.

In cases where I had to play softly and still get a decent OD tone I have had decent luck using very little preamp gain in the amp and using an OD or distortion pedal to push the amp on the front, and/or sometimes a good clean boost. In one amp I was able to get a pretty good sound by doing all the above and using the clean boost in the loop to relieve the congested sound caused by the low volume level. Below is a short list of ODs, distortions and boosts I have found to work suitably in these rare "quiet time" cases:

Rocktron Zombie
Subdecay Blackstar
Marshall Jackhammer

Mesa V1 Bottle Rocket
Tech21 XXL
Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive

Catalinbread Super Chile Picoso
Radial Switchbone's clean boost

Jubileeman, Since I do not know what kind of amp these would be getting used on, there's no telling whether they will sound good or not, with the possible exception of the SCP. I have not found an amp that it does not sound great with.


Stephenson Stage Hog will get you there better than anything else IMO....
Bad news - expensive.
Good news - you don't even need the amp.
What kind of tone are you looking for? I've liked every dirt box I've ever owned, for one thing or another. It's all about the context.

Actually, any tone is fine. Honestly. I already have a few oddities that are similar to tubescreamers, but I'm looking for something that simply...in the end...sounds like the least amount of compramise in authentic guitar straight into cranked amp tone.

Again... This is not a struggle for perfect tone. Just the absolute closest folks have gotten. I know if there was an absolute perfect solutions, no one would ever buy an attenuator:)


king of tone
boss od3
keeley bd2
RAT! (though not amp-like, still very fun and fuzzy at low volumes)
katana . . . .

at low volumes. . . i usually find i have to change the settings on the pedals so that they are doing more work than when they are at loud volumes.. . . .

i would use ANY of the above for what you described. . . .

i'd START with an od3 at 60 bucks used and see how that does you. . .


Senior Member
I really dig my Landgraff LDO at lower volumes.
I also really enjoy the toneczar dove and openhaus at low volumes (these probably do it the best, IMO).

Tube Guy

Gold Supporting Member
A Roger Mayer Voodoo Blues works for me.

It's my pedal of choice for speech level volumes thru large amps. It beats my MVs, attenuators, Tweed Princeton ...


Senior Member
I figure a bad monkey. At low vol, tone is not a factor, you just want it to sound decent. The BM is warm and musical, and you can adjust bass and treble.
I also like the AC booster: creamy sustain, articulate, with bass and treble. Sound ggod soft. Eternity too.


The Jetter Gold is known to be designed for, and thus supposedly excel at, bedroom levels (I've never tried one personally, thus I can't vouch for it with experience)


On the contrary and proof that the greater lesson can be learned which is tone is subjective, I prefer the LDO at High Volumes!!

I've heard that the Zendrive sounds great at low volume, and I know an 80s TS9 does...


I've had good luck with my Marshall Guv'nor 2 at bedroom levels run in the clean channel of my Fender amps. It will do the job for convincing drive or distortion depending on the gain setting. However, like anything else, it's not comparable to the harmonic tones you get at rehearsal and gig volumes.


IMO you can get any of your preferred OD/drives to sound at least good when you push the preamp a bit at low volume, such as can be done with a Barber Launch Pad (I've tried other boosts but this one's my fav). Even my VibroChamp is too loud for play at home and the LP has made my VChamp, Deluxe Reverb, and Bandmaster all sound really good at civilized volumes at home. HTH :)

Trending Topics

Top Bottom