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The Best Overdrive Pedals with a 3-Band EQ (2023)

There’s nothing better than taking a simple overdrive pedal, plugging it into a tube-driven amp, and letting it do its magic. By pushing the tubes over the edge, you get some of the tastiest and most responsive tones. Of course, you could also plug it into a solid-state amp and get that sweet soft-clipping tone that gets it closer to tube amps.

However, one limiting aspect of overdrive pedals, at least to some extent, is that they usually come with a tone knob rather than an equalizer. This is why we decided to set out to search for the best overdrive pedal with EQ controls and help you become more sonically diverse.

Our Top Picks

  • Seymour Duncan 805Known for its variety of tones from a slightly dirty boost to piercing lead tones.
  • Marshall The Guv'norThis pedal works really well when you crank it up and then use your guitar’s volume controls to go from soft overdrives to high-gain lead tones.
  • Soldano Super Lead OverdriveA diverse pedal designed to bring you a tone that’s close to Soldano’s legendary SLO-100 amp.
  • Strymon Riverside Multistage Drive A boutique two-stage pedal that doesn’t come cheap but is well worth the price.
  • Friedman BE-OD DeluxeIf you want something more conventional in terms of controls and features and still get a pro-level tone, Friedman’s BE-OD Overdrive is a great pick.

In this guide, we’ll answer some questions you may have about overdrive pedals with a 3-band EQ and take a closer look at our picks.

Why Choose an Overdrive Pedal with a 3-Band EQ?

There are a couple of reasons why you should consider getting an overdrive with a 3-band EQ and not just your usual one with a tone knob. The first one, as we already mentioned, is that having an EQ brings more versatility to tone shaping.

While there are some variations to how a tone knob affects your tone, it’s essentially a one-dimensional control (for the lack of a better word) that lets you choose the amount of high-ends going into the mix. Some may impact the EQ curve in other ways but the general idea is the same. But a 3-band EQ would give you more control over your tone.

The second reason why such overdrives could be a better choice is that no two amp models are the same. So having more detailed controls would help you get the best out of your amp and your guitar.

Now, having more controls doesn’t necessarily make one pedal “better.” After all, pedals are just tools and it comes down to how you use them. With more options, you’d most likely have more variety, and you’ll definitely have more control. Just know that the tone that you hear is, ultimately, the result of multiple factors and your overdrive pedal is just one component of many.

The Best Overdrive Pedals with a 3-Band EQ?


1. Seymour Duncan 805

Although most people know Seymour Duncan for their pickups, there are a few other product categories, including pedals and even pedal-format amplifiers. For this list, I’d like to bring up their 805 overdrive. Although keeping a compact casing, the pedal also comes with a 3-band EQ.

Seymour Duncan 805 Overdrive Guitar Pedal - Versatile with 3-Band Active EQ for Electric Guitars, Perfect for Blues, Country, and Rock

But what’s interesting is that they made these controls smaller so that they’re not taking away a lot of the space on the pedal’s top panel. They’re much smaller than your usual knobs and are placed in a triangular shape to keep things tidy. Of course, you can also find your usual volume and gain knobs.

The 805 overdrive is known for its variety of tones, especially when paired with a tube amp. Essentially, it goes from a slightly dirty boost all the way to piercing lead tones. Overall, its tone tends to be slightly softer and moderately crunchy. In my experience, you can get some incredibly juicy tones with humbuckers or P90s in neck positions. It can add just enough dirt for you to work with the dynamic responsiveness of your tube amp.


2. Marshall The Guv'nor

Marshall’s Guv’nor got its new version in 2023. For the most part, the pedal is almost the same as the older versions. But most importantly, this overdrive helps you get close to conventional distortion.

So why not get a distortion pedal instead? Well, interestingly enough, this soft-clipping pedal can give you more variety with a tube-driven amp and sometimes even with a solid-state amp. In my experience, it works really well when you crank it up and then use your guitar’s volume controls to go from soft overdrives to high-gain lead tones.

Marshall DriveMaster Overdrive/Distortion Pedal

Of course, this is all enhanced with the pedal’s 3-band EQ. What’s more, there’s even an effects loop for which you’ll need a Y-shape TRS cable. Sure, it may not be like your conventional way of stacking effects. But it does open up new possibilities, both sonically and functionally.

Depending on the settings, the Guv’not can work both as an overdrive and a distortion. It’s like having classic pedals like DS-1 and Tube Screamer in one. This also helps it cover a lot of styles. But in my opinion, it works best with your usual classic rock and hard rock stuff.


3. Soldano Super Lead Overdrive

With their reputation for building some incredible amps over the years, getting the company’s Super Lead Overdrive should be a no-brainer. In terms of functionality and features, you’ll get everything that you need and way more than that.

Now, this compact piece is designed to bring you a tone that’s close to Soldano’s legendary SLO-100 amp. These pedals come with the so-called “cascading-gain-stage” design which, in practice, brings more versatility. So depending on the settings, this pedal can go from soft-clipping overdriven tones up to some soaring high-gain leads, even for some serious modern chugging riffs.

Soldano SLO Pedal Super Lead Overdrive Guitar Pedal w/Pitbull Audio Microfiber Cloth & Patch Cables

But from my experience, Super Lead Overdrive works best with these milder settings. And, of course, there’s the 3-band EQ on the pedal’s top side, along with your usual volume and tone controls. However, there are two additional features, one of which is the presence knob. This one will help you dial in just the right amount of high-mids.

And, on top of that, there’s the “deep” switch on the pedal’s side. This toggle replicates that “depth” knob on SLO-100 amps. Essentially, it just adds a boost to the lowest audible bass frequencies. Of course, the results will depend on the amp that you’re using. But overall, it helps you get that smooth bassy overdrive on some settings.


4. Strymon Riverside Multistage Drive

If you want one of those “boutique” pedals but that’s still worth the price, then Strymon’s Riverside overdrive is worth checking out. Sure, it’s not the cheapest one on the market but this is one of the best overdrives that you can get today.

The pedal comes with two switches, essentially making it a 2-stage drive. In practice, you can use it as a clean boost and up to a full-on hard-clipping distortion pedal. But no matter the setting, the pedal’s focus is still on retaining all of the sonic qualities that we love.

Strymon Riverside Multistage Drive Pedal

Nonetheless, its biggest strength is diversity. Accompanying the 3-band EQ and basic controls, we have two on-board switches as well. One is for low- and high-gain modes while the other, labeled as “push,” lets you add more midrange into the mix.

The list of features goes on with the presence switch on its side. Instead of a knob, you get a 3-way toggle for lower, normal, and higher presence settings. There’s also an expression input that allows you to control any parameter individually or use it in other ways, even for MIDI features for some advanced professional setups. There’s even a “boost” jack there that lets you use external switches, expression pedals, or even other Strymon pedals for a variety of options.

And we’re barely scratching the surface for this pedal. If you want something advanced that you’ll want to keep for your entire career as a guitar player and build advanced setups, then get this pedal.


5. Friedman BE-OD Deluxe

On the other hand, if you want something more conventional in terms of controls and features and still get a pro-level tone, Friedman’s BE-OD Overdrive is a great pick. The legendary amp manufacturer delivers somewhat of an emulation of their amp tones in a very compact pedal format.

The BE-OD Deluxe comes with two channels with completely independent controls. Apart from 3-band EQs, you’ll also find “tight” switches and presence controls. The “tight” switch helps you get those modern-style tones.

Friedman Amplification BE-OD Deluxe Dual Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal

The pedal is extremely versatile while still keeping things straightforward with separate channel controls. Its overall character tends to be more in the vein of British-style tube amps, as is the case with Friedman’s products. And, of course, you can achieve soft overdrives and up to heavy leads. But even the softest tones come with their fair share of “dirt.”

Again, not the cheapest overdrive pedal that you’ll find out there. But with proper settings, this one helps you turn even mediocre amps into real mean tone machines. No matter the genre, or genres, that you’re into, this pedal will get you the tone that you want.


FAQs

What’s the Difference Between a Tone Knob and a 3-Band EQ?

A tone knob is essentially a treble roll-off. But even though it controls the amount of high-end in your tone, it could affect your overall EQ curve in different ways as well, depending on the pedal. So it can sometimes be like a “1-knob EQ” for lack of better words.

Meanwhile, a 3-band equalizer gives you control over three separate frequency ranges. Although the exact frequency ranges will differ from pedal to pedal, you’ll still have more control compared to just having a tone knob.