Picture of Overdrive Pedal

An overdrive guitar pedal is kind of like a less harsh distortion pedal. Technically speaking, whereas a distortion pedal clips an amplified waveform at a particular height, the overdrive pedal actually rounds the top of the clipped wave. While this still makes it a bit fuzzy when you crank up the gain, it sounds less extreme than a distortion or fuzz pedal. What is cool about this pedal is that it adds a little extra warmth to your signal when you are strumming gently, but when you really strum hard, the audio spikes up into crunchy distortion territory. While this is generally a very subtle effect, it is actually quite robust in terms of the different types of sounds that you can get out of it. It is great for adding a little something extra to any effects chain.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials
You will need:

(x1) 2N3904 NPN transistor (Radioshack #276-2016)
(x1) 0.1uF capacitor (Radioshack #55047557)
(x1) 0.047uF capacitor (Radioshack #55047555)
(x2) 0.01uF capacitor (Radioshack #55047551)
(x1) 100K logarithmic potentiometer (Radioshack #271-1722)
(x1) 100K linear potentiometer (Radioshack #271-092)
(x1) 10K linear potentiometer (Radioshack #271-1715)
(x1) 2.2M ohm resistor (Radioshack #55049482)
(x1) 33K ohm resistor (Radioshack #55049446)
(x1) 22 ohm resistor (Radioshack #271-1339)
(x1) 3.3K ohm resistor (Radioshack #271-1328)
(x1) 680 ohm resistor (Radioshack #55048032)
(x1) PC Board (Radioshack #276-150)
(x1) 9V battery snap (Radioshack #270-324)
(x1) 9V battery (Radioshack #23-853)
(x3) Knobs (Radioshack #274-415)
(x2) Stereo audio jacks (Radioshack #274-312)
(x1) Foot switch
(x1) BB project enclosure
(x1) 5" x 4" x 1/8" rubber sheet
(x1) 5" x 4" x 1/8" cork sheet
1-40 of 51Next »
Jrmo143 days ago

I'm a bit green in terms of electronics, what type of diode should I use?

Very clean overdrive pedal design. I think that the only thing that I would add is possibly a small led just so you can quickly see if it is on or off. Love the color too!

AdanR123 days ago

What if i want to remove the TONE potentiometer, could this work? Thabks!

Djenne AdanR110 days ago

I think it could work; you could put a resistor there with a value somewhere between 0 - 10kOhm, and I think 10kOhm will give you the max. amount of tone and 0 the min. amount. However, I'm just starting with electronics, but this is how I understand it.

Djenne10 days ago

Since in the parts list there's two 100K pots listed, one linear one logarithmic, but in the schematic there's one 100K and one 50K pot listed, I was wondering which of those is logarithmic and which is linear? And what is the result if I use a logarithmic where a linear pot is listed, or the other way around?

syberdiver2 months ago

Verry Nice! I will build it soon :-)

cyrisis7 months ago

I followed the schematic to the last. But I'm facing the 'clipping' issue. When attack is increased even a little the 2N3904 goes into clipping mode and more than half of my sustain is lost and this happens with my Gain Pot (50k) being at ZERO position. If I increase Gain even a little, the sound becomes utterly torn appart and its beyond what distortion pedal would sound like. Also when I connect it in series with a hand built distortion pedal, the bass frequencies get filtered (Guitar >Dist > OD > Amp). If I alter the position (Guitar > OD > Dist > Amp) the sound becomes a little better but its still not what your pedal sounds like. The pedal alone just sound very lost to me :( I'll upload the image of what I've made up. Any tweeks that I can do it make it like yours?

cyrisis cyrisis7 months ago

Sorry I forgot the add, the Vol. also needs to be kept upto 50% and tone doesn't work change anything at all :( I've traced the schematic with my build and its perfectly same. Diodes however were random from my old components box. But as I've read the comments, diodes should effect the tone type and not the over clipping of transistor. What I mean is that my pedal has no clarity at all :( I've checked ground connects if there was a shortage or not. The build seems to be fine except i can't identify any sound at all. I live in Pakistan and its difficult to find components. is it the quality of components that is effecting?

Antoine D7 months ago

Hi, I would like to know if it's a 50k potentiometer or 100k ? Cause the schematic shows you need a 50k and the list of objetcs shows you need a 100k... Wich pot used ?

iobee8 months ago
love this :) thanks for sharing this..
ckts9 months ago

Put this pedal together and it sounds awesome (especially with other effects). Updating the parts list with what is on the schematic would be nice too. There are a LOT of inconsistencies such as a different pot value, different resistor value (22 ohm and 22k), missing diodes and LED's etc. Overall, it's a rewarding experience for somebody who is brand new to building their own pedals such as myself.

drskyskull9 months ago

Just put this together -- well, a breadboarded version so far -- and it works well and sounds pretty cool! Be sure to pick up the two LEDs and the 1N4148 diodes, which are not in the parts list.

Thanks Randofo!

DastardlySexy11 months ago

I love how neat and clean everything is, but I do have a concern with the parts list/schematic- it seems like you have parts in the schematic that aren't listed on the list (those extra two diodes, for example), and there's a label for a second transistor but no transistor there (the 1N4148)? Maybe I'm missing something, but I'd love to give this project a swing. Very tight Instructable, friend!

Maggoo11 months ago

looks good, cosmetically. I find it odd that you went to the trouble of a produced video that didn't showcase the sound of the pedal (or, uh, it wasn't distorted sounding).

rjohanson1 year ago

Can you tell me more accurate how you connected stereo jacks, my pedal dont work and I think that I have problem with stereo jacks. Can you send me some pic. about step 14.

WadeRS1 year ago
the schematic doesn't seem to be there anymore?
randofo (author)  WadeRS1 year ago

It is still in Step 2

Hey randy! I am currently making this od pedal and I was looking at the picture of your circuit board and it seems like a lot extra soldering is done on the other side, is it possible to get a clear picture of that? And also it seems that there are two extra resistors on your board that's not listed on the schematic??
randofo (author)  kimjames2291 year ago
I didn't have a 2.2m resistor on hand, so I used two 1M resistors and a 200K resistor in series.

Honestly, the speed at which I might get another picture posted is not going to be very fast. Most of the connections on the underside are largely ground connections. I'd just go by the schematic.

I need the pictures from above and below too! It has been a while since the last time I translated a diagram into a perf board so that could really help me. Please!

Overall price??
How much did this cost overall??
Devansh141 year ago
hi, nice instructable. Really loved it. But I have a question. How did you gt that perfect white background for pictures in your instructables. I am also going to post m first instructable and I think that this could really help me.
randofo (author)  Devansh141 year ago
a combination of shooting them on a white backdrop with a nice set of photo strobes and Photoshop post-processing.
What kind of diodes do you use? I mean parameters
randofo (author)  spaczkowski1 year ago
I used 1N4148 diodes and some random 5mm LEDs I had lying around. You can try different pairs of just about any diode. It really comes down to what sounds good to you.
What are the LEDs rated at? What do they do in the circuit besides illuminate?
randofo (author)  davephilpott1 year ago
I don't know the rating. They don't illuminate. They clip the sound similar to other diode pairs. However, they produce a slightly different sound than silicon diodes.
My science teacher made a few, but he's found a cheap way to etch the medal to cool designs.
steveo13571 year ago
also where did you get the foot switch?
You can also look on eBay - I bought a 3PDT switch for $6 shipped.
(the only difference with 3PDT and DPDT that I know of is that 3PDT allow for "true bypass" when the pedal is switched off)
ok thanks :)
randofo (author)  steveo13571 year ago
This is a cool little circuit but do you know where this came from? I have forgotten who the group was but it was a pop group whose loudspeakers had a tear in one of the cones. They did not have the money or time to replace/repair this as it happened just before the gig. Their audience liked this new sound so much that they dared not repair this and this was then made electronically with tubes ( Early'60 's) New popular sound due to poverty we may add.
The Kinks.
scd1 year ago
How sensitive is this circuit to the supply voltage? Would it run OK on +5V rather than +9V? Thanks :)
booga0071 year ago
Nice instructable. Your video sound and looks like a Fundable video :)
What sound track did you use behind you?
Nice work and clean enclosure design, but a few respectful suggestions ...
-> Actually getting to hear what this sounds like, including contrasting panning between the two diode types, would be helpful before spending time building it.
-> Include the switch and the stereo-jacks in the schematic, noting it almost appears as if you are exploiting the shorting of ground to one side (via non-stereo plug) as a power switch?
As a hobbyist, lack of these wiring details in the schematic makes double-checking the connections against the photos very difficult.
ditto on the demo video of the completed build, would be really helpful. Overall very impressive looking build and well done instructable!
Sleep E1 year ago
A couple of things. I would really like to hear the sound and range of sound of the pedal, to help me decide if it is worth my time investment. Also, it appears that you are a very skilled video producer. A build video, or at least a wiring diagram would help those of us who have yet to be schooled in reading a schematic. Excellent clean job, be proud!
1-40 of 51Next »