You Ask: What’s the best drive pedal to cut through loud mixes?

Tired of mushy sounding dirt boxes? It may be time for a new drive pedal.

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In this new Q&A series, we address some of the questions sent in by our readers. To kick things off, we have a query from Graham Gallivan, who wants our recommendation for the ideal drive pedal to scythe through the mix – especially when playing with a loud band.

Graham asks: “I’ve been trying for some time now to find the right distortion/overdrive pedal for my needs, and I wonder if your resident pedal expert can help. I’ve now been through several – including a Big Muff Pi and ProCo Rat in search of the perfect dirt box.

The Big Muff really wasn’t for me and heavily compressed my sound. When I plugged in the Rat, it sounded great, and I thought all my problems had been solved, yet at the first practice with my band, I began having second thoughts. Using a Fender DeVille, the Rat is a little too gritty; it also compresses too much and our drummer drowns me out! Tweaking the filter control helps a little, but it’s still not right.

Is there anything you could recommend that’ll still cut through the mix when the going gets loud?”

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We’re big fans of the Fulltone OCD. It’s a first-class drive pedal with loads of sustain and harmonic overtones and a range of overdrive textures from Keef to Kurt. There’s bags of headroom and punch, especially if you run it at 18 volts, so it won’t turn to mush as can sometimes happen with a Muff or Rat.

We’re also fond of the Red Witch Famulus because its two parallel drive circuits enable you to crank one and keep the other nice and clean to ensure the dynamics of your playing still come through.

Check out more of our recommended overdrive pedals here.

Send in all your burning guitar questions via Facebook or to editors@guitar.com, and we’ll try to answer as best as we can!

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