Silktone Overdrive+ review: A unique drive sound in a world of clones

The Californian builder has become a darling of the boutique scene, but can the company’s first drive pedal make its designer eat his own words?

Silktone Overdrive+, photo by Adam Gasson

Silktone Overdrive+. Image: Adam Gasson

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Review Overview

Our rating


Our verdict

Hugely versatile range of drive tones
Unique sonic character
No independent gain and volume controls for the boost

It’s rare to find something genuinely different and new in the saturated world of drive pedals, but this is another instant classic from Charles Henry.

$269/£279, silktone.org

Whether it’s making “bewilderingly versatile” fuzz pedals, one of the finest amps money can buy, or mini-heads that look like mid-century furniture, it seems that Silktone’s Charles Henry can’t put a foot wrong when it comes to designing products that the guitar world falls head over heels for.

So it’s with no small amount of hype that, at the tail end of last year, Silktone unveiled the Overdrive+ – the brand’s first drive pedal, and one that piqued my interest because of Henry’s confession about overdrive pedals on the brand’s website.

“The best drive pedal is one that drives you to the store to get P-90s and a real amp,” he unabashedly states, while admitting that the Overdrive+ is his attempt to “make one that made me eat my own words”. Intrigued? I certainly am, let’s dive in…

Silktone Overdrive+, photo by Adam Gasson
Silktone Overdrive+. Image: Adam Gasson

What is the Silktone Overdrive+ ?

Constructed in the same wide-body enclosure as the Silktone Fuzz, the Overdrive+ features three knobs, three mini switches and two footswitches. The textured finish is available in two subtly different shades of grey dubbed ‘Concrete’ or ‘Dark’ – offering just two shades of grey might seem like the setup for a joke, but at least they’ve not spent too many times experimenting with the other 48 shades… ahem.

On the right-hand side of the pedal you’ll find a true-bypass footswitch that activates the main drive circuit, and you get a standard three-knob tone shaping arrangement of volume, tone and gain to go with it. There are also mini-switches for a bass cut and a clipping mode selector, offering either a rawer-sounding asymmetrical clip or smoother symmetrical gain clipping.

On the left-hand side of the pedal there’s a footswitch for a non-independent lead gain boost – the only parameter options for this are another mini-switch with options of Raw or Strangle. Intriguing indeed…

Raw/Strangle mini-switch on the Silktone Overdrive+, photo by Adam Gasson
Raw/Strangle mini-switch on the Silktone Overdrive+. Image: Adam Gasson

How does the Silktone Overdrive+ sound?

With my trusty old ES-335 plugged into my Deluxe Reverb set clean, kicking the Overdrive+ reveals a superbly midrange-rich amp-like tonality. Not only does the Overdrive+ have tons of available output level on tap, but the gain control has a stratospherically wide yet usable gain range!

Set low with soft symmetrical clipping, the Overdrive+ is perfect as an always-on sweetening pedal. Turning up the gain and switching to asymmetrical clipping reveals a raw cooking tweed amp-like overdrive with plenty of explosive gain, ideal for heavy Foo Fighters-esque hard riffing with its tight attack and excellent string separation with an authentic garage rock midrange quality.

Winding the gain segues the overdrive into harmonically rich hard-clipped distortion before tipping its hat to Muff-like fuzz at higher gain control settings, where the handy bass cut keeps things from ever getting too flabby.

Stepping on the second footswitch brings in an additional gain and output boost, which despite having no gain control itself, seems perfectly suited as a lead boost. Tonally rich in second-order harmonics with sustain for weeks, strangle mod’s almost treble booster midrange is perfect for edge-of-the-seat Slash lead tones even at home volumes.

As was the case with the ‘Raw Silk’ mode on the Silktone Amp, the ‘Raw’ option doesn’t colour your tone as much, but instead makes everything sound huge and alive – it’s an addictively dangerous sounding drive tone. The Raw name is well chosen, and I find myself quickly becoming rather besotted with it.

Control knobs on the Silktone Overdrive+, photo by Adam Gasson
Control knobs on the Silktone Overdrive+. Image: Adam Gasson

Is the Silktone Overdrive+ worth buying?

This is a hugely versatile pedal that covers a deceptively vast range of drive tones given its simple control layout, but it’s no mere clone – it has its own unique voice and wonderfully responsive amp-like feel.

Silktone deserves high praise for not just tweaking or adapting a classic circuit, but for creating something that’s genuinely unique and versatile. The price may be steep, but a versatile overdrive is an investment and you get a lot of scope for your money here. It’s a fair price for something that’s different to the crowd. You need one on your pedalboard.

Silktone Overdrive+ Alternatives

You probably don’t need me to tell you that the overdrive pedal market is saturated to almost comical levels in 2024, so there are honestly more options here than you could squeeze into 10 reviews let alone one. If you’re after something similarly boutique and versatile, Hudson ElectronicsBroadcast AP II ($399/£269) is well worth checking out, as is the J Rockett HRM V2 ($229/£239) – the latter offers a wonderfully responsive take on a Dumble-style amp-in-a-box. If your budget is a little more modest but you still want bags of boutique drive tone, the MXR Duke Of Tone ($149/£179) is a ridiculously good deal.


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