We love pedals and you love pedals, but we all know that it can be difficult to choose which ones are worth the hard earned cash we have to fork out to get them. We hope to make that a little bit easier for everyone. And for those of you who don’t have the time to wade through endless posts, we have compiled a list of some of our favorites to have been released this year. These are gain pedals. Some are fuzz, some are more like distortion, and some are overdrive. Different flavors for similar purposes. So if you’re looking to saturate an already dirty amp, or transform that clean, pristine amp into a high gain monster, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our ten favorite gain pedals of 2023.
Keeley Noble Screamer Overdrive/Boost Pedal
The Nobel’s OD pedal (the other green overdrive pedal) has been a staple on Nashville pedal boards for ages, and has in recent years come to the attention of a broader audience of guitar players. Always ahead of the curve, the master of modifications himself decided to create a pedal that contains the sounds of the Nashville classic, as well as those of the equally legendary Tubescreamer. In addition to the two pedal modes, Keeley has included two amp-like circuits. The Keeley Noble Screamer Overdrive/Boost Pedal is one of the most versatile re-imaginings of two beloved classics, at once vintage and modern.
Beetronics FX Nectar “Tone Sweetener” Overdrive/Fuzz Effects Pedal
Fuzz or overdrive? Why choose? The Beetronix FX Nectar “Tone Sweetener” Overdrive/Fuzz Pedal contains both a fuzz and an overdrive circuit, both voiced for modern applications. The overdrive delivers a nuanced take on the Tubescreamer sound, while the fuzz circuit has been stabilized so that it plays nice with your other pedals. Top-mounted control knobs and a slanted enclosure keep things feeling old school, while two LED lights keep things looking new.
Revv Chat Breaker Overdrive Pedal
Eschewing trends towards vintage sounds, the Revv Chat Breaker Overdrive Pedal looks towards the future of gain pedals. Inspired by the current AI revolution, this pedal seeks to breach uncharted territory and inspire new sounds with its nuanced circuit and fully fresh take on the gain pedal.
Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra Overdrive Pedal
What do you get when you combine a Rangemaster treble booster and a Laney Supergroup preamp? Crushing Sabbath tones. The Catalinbread Sabbra Cadabra Overdrive Pedal is designed to deliver this classic combination in the convenient form of a four knob pedal. For fans of the classic Sabbath tones, this one is a keeper.
Laney Black Country Customs Monolith Distortion Pedal
The famed British amp maker delivers a whole palette of flavors with this boutique pedal offering. Claiming a fully usable range of distortion tones, from crisp and jangly, to sludgy, to searing, the Laney Black Country Customs Monolith Distortion pedal is a welcome addition to any rig.
Electro-Harmonix Spruce Goose Overdrive Effects Pedal
Designed to be more than just another Bluesbreaker pedal, the Electro-Harmonix Spruce Goose Overdrive Pedal comes with some additions that sweeten the deal when it comes to versatility and function of design. The “Lift” switch adds the option of what is essentially a preamp boost in three different flavors. EHX drives it all home with the addition of a boost circuit that is engaged by holding down the pedal’s toggle switch. It’s like a mini vintage rig, all in one single pedal.
Benson Amps Germanium Boost Effects Pedal
The secret sauce of classic fuzz pedals, germanium is equally renowned for its pleasing, chewy tone, and its extreme sensitivity to temperature. Within the context of an in-your-face fuzz pedal, this instability can be a good thing, and often leads to pleasant surprises. However, the temperamental nature of germanium makes it less ideal for more subtle applications, such as a boost pedal. With their Germanium Boost Pedal, Benson Amps delivers a solution to this problem with their proprietary error correction circuit. What you get is that inimitable germanium tone with way more stability so you can keep things subtle and not worry about any unpleasant surprises.
MXR Wylde Audio Overdrive Pedal
The man, the legend. Zakk Wylde has been associated with signature gear for decades, and here we have the newest offering from Wylde and MXR, commemorating a partnership of 20 years. A self-professed meat-and-potatoes-guy, Zakk Wylde likes to keep things straightforward, and this unit is about as straightforward as it gets. With three knobs and tons of tone, the MXR Wylde Audio Overdrive Pedal is designed to pummel the front-end of your amp with rich, traditional high gain energy.
Origin Effects DCX Boost Tone Shaper & Drive Pedal
For those who want to chase the classic studio tones of the 60’s and 70’s, boutique pedal icon Origin Effects delivers the goods in the form of their DCX Boost Tone Shaper & Drive Pedal. This is different from traditional gain pedals, but those who know the power of classic microphone preamps, and how good they can sound on guitars, are sure to be impressed by this unit.
DOD Chthonic Fuzz Effects Pedal
From the makers of one of the most coveted gain pedals comes a new offering with the potential to achieve equally legendary status. What’s special about the DOD Chthonic Fuzz Pedal is its specificity. Designed to thicken up single coil sounds, and convincingly distort otherwise clean amps, this pedal achieves a task often attempted yet rarely achieved. Three knob design ensures plenty of room for tone shaping.