Choosing an Overdrive/Distortion Pedal for Your Orange Amp

As Senior Amp Tech for Orange USA I get a lot of questions regarding which Overdrive/Distortion pedals work best with our amps. As you may well know, our product line is quite diverse, yet each amp we make has a certain common characteristic midrange bark that I lovingly call “Orange Punch”.



While this tonal trait is part of what makes our amps special, it can be a challenge to find pedals that will work with  the amps natural tone and compliment it rather than bury it or fight it. Here are a few of my favorites that I have found to work especially well with all of our amps:


1) Fulltone OCD:  I cannot overstate how great this pedal sounds! From a subtle boost, to a natural overdrive, to full on high gain, it does it all and it does it without killing the natural sound of our amps. My favorite way to run it is with the drive between 10-11 o’clock and the volume pegged to goose the front end of my Retro 50 and make it cry for mercy. I also like to use it in the studio with the clean channel of our amps as a sort of third “in between” sound. The pedal has two modes of operation, high peak and low peak. High peak can give a little more bass and drive, as well as some extra upper midrange if you need to cut through a dense mix. Low peak is your sound only more, without tonal change. A great trick with this pedal is to run it at 18V, which gives it more headroom and a truly “amp-like” feel that responds to your pick attack and volume control just as our amps do naturally. I’ve tried just about every drive pedal out there and I always come back to this. It works, it’s bulletproof, and it’s relatively inexpensive given the quality and flexibility.



2) Maxon OD808:  This one is for Metal, plain and simple! I know what you are saying, “but that’s just a tubescreamer knock-off for the SRV clones out there” and you would be somewhat right. However the Maxon OD-808 has a couple of small circuit tweaks done to the original tube screamer circuit that sets this one apart from your standard TS-9 and TS-808. This pedal does have an EQ coloration, it shaves of a little bit of the sub low frequencies, and adds a nice midrange coloration and compression to the tone. When you combine that with our high gain amp channels, it tightens them up for some extra low-string clarity while also adding some weight to the high notes courtesy of that nice midrange. A ton of your favorite metal players use this pedal with high gain amps for this EQ curve, as opposed to adding a ton of gain from the pedal. The typical settings are drive at off to 10 o’clock with the blend all the way up and the tone set to taste. If you love metal give this one a shot.


3) Way Huge Swollen Pickle: This one is for the adventurous amongst you! It is not subtle, it can make your amp sound like an army of mosquitos or elephants depending on how you set it up. There is also some old school late 60’s/early 70’s fuzzed out goodness in there, think early Black Sabbath, Neil young, T. Rex etc. If you are like me and love the first two Smashing Pumpkins albums, then you need this pedal. It does have a lot of parameters, and can be somewhat of a challenge to dial in perfectly, but when you do you will be rewarded with some of the sickest fuzz tones out there.


4) Pigtronix Class A Boost: If your tastes run more towards the cleaner side of the spectrum, or you need something to just boost the volume of your amp, give this awesome pedal a try. When set up in front of your amp it gives you 30db of pure high headroom volume boost. It is very tonally neutral, giving you your pure guitar to amp tone while just making it LOUD!! It is also one of the only boost pedals designed to work at line levels. This makes it possible to use in the FX loop of our amps for a volume boost for solos. It’s also bonehead easy to use, a single volume control is all you get, set it and forget it!

I recommend you check out some YouTube clips of these pedals, but ultimately the best thing to do is to go to a music store and try them yourself. All of them work great with our amps, are reasonably priced, gig tough, and the manufacturers stand behind their products and offer tremendous support.

Until next time, keep it loud, keep it proud!

Jon Bailey

Senior Amp Tech


  1. todd
    todd says:

    I’ve really been liking the Paul Cochrane ‘Timmy’ with my Dual Terror lately. I’ve even been using it in place of my OCD–it pairs great!

    • Jon Bailey
      Jon Bailey says:

      Indeed Todd, the “Timmy” is known to stack well with other overdrives. Glad to know I can recommend it to our players.

    • Mike
      Mike says:

      I couldn’t agree more . . . I play both Orange and Fender amps and the Timmy gives the sound an extra kick. Love it.

  2. john
    john says:

    Hi, what do you think about the wampler plexidrive through a Rocker 30 Combo ?
    Is it nearly the same as the OCD fulltone ?


  3. Steven Mateja
    Steven Mateja says:

    Nice article. Thank you for posting.
    I have found the Fulltone Fat Boost 1 (FB1) to work well with my Orange Rockerverb 50 combo amp. The FB1 is a clean boost and I run it thru the effects loop on the amp to create a mock “lead”: channel.


    • Jon Bailey
      Jon Bailey says:

      I can’t say enough good things about ALL of the Fulltone pedals. I’ve always been a fan of how musical Mike’s drives and boosts are.

  4. Jason
    Jason says:

    I´m using an Orange Bass 25w with an ESP TA600 and a Metal Muff pedal from EHX and it sounds amazing. Great to play Cliff Burton with an almost identical sound.

  5. Gordon Kaswell
    Gordon Kaswell says:

    I bought a Crush CR12L for recording purposes in my home studio. The room is small, so I needed something that would sound good at low volume and the Orange does the trick. Not a lot of low end from such a small amp of course, but there’s enough, and the sound sits really well in the mix.

    I run my Strat (with a Jeff Beck Jr. humbucker in the middle position) into a DynaComp, then into the original Fulltone Fat Boost, then into a Deltalab RD-1 distortion, then into an MXR Carbon Copy delay, and finally into the amp. It really sounds great for Blues, Rock, Gilmour-ish textures, etc. (I’m not into metal.)

    None of these pedals is very expensive. (I got the Deltalab on close-out for about $25.) I’m not a fan of the OCD, but it all depends on the sound you like, and the rest of your rig.

    The approach that works best for me is to dial in the best tone you can with just the amp. That’s the cake. The pedals are the icing.

  6. Jim
    Jim says:

    The z.vex box of Rock vexter series ( just non hand painted really the sane circuit plus a 9VDC jack) is perfect on my rockerverb 50 Mk 1 stack . Sounds amazing for clean boost and Woodstock on drive ( it’s designed to sound like a dimed JTM-45 at full setting ) can’t disagree at $70 less the OCD is my second choice / supprised to hear my soul food is a complimentary pedal as well … My $0.02 :)

  7. Corey Pietrzak
    Corey Pietrzak says:

    I use and love a MojoHand Rook, has a switchable circuit and can do a TS-style mid-hump, Klon-style transparent gain or a more modern kinda-like-the-aggressive-end-of-an-OCD-but-not thing. The middle “like my amp but more” setting is my favorite. I have the Royale version with an EchoPlex boost circuit that in and of itself offers some great goosing of the pre-amp. Awesome company/people.

  8. Snazz
    Snazz says:

    One that works really well is the Crowther Audio Hotcake – I’ve used it with an AD30 and the TT. It’ll make yer Les Paul sound like a 747 and really give yer Strat some nuts !

  9. Todd Harig
    Todd Harig says:

    I really like my overdrive pedal from the little known company Jet City Amplification called the “Afterburner”. Really a great product–sounds awesome!

  10. Keith Hales
    Keith Hales says:

    I’m using a Carl Martin DC Drive with my Dual Terror.First rehearsal with new bass player….that sounds awesome he says. Next rehearsal with new drummer…..that sounds awesome he says. Can’t complain with those comments.


  11. Paul Larkin
    Paul Larkin says:

    The Fulltone Soul Bender is another great pedal to check out. I’m using it with my TH30 (clean) and it sounds amazing.

  12. Lee
    Lee says:

    Awesome article, I also use Carl Martin DC Drive for 1 year, at the first time when i have just bought it, it is really bad, but when I am habit with it, it is easy to control and then it help me create awesome sound.

  13. Conrad Kriel
    Conrad Kriel says:

    Hi Jon

    Great article !

    My dark terror plays REALLY nicely with the spark booster (full size ) it just enhances the great sound of the amp

    I see you suggest a way Huge swollen pickle for fuzz – would this still be your suggestion for the dark terror ?

    The Amp has a ton of gain (as you know) so I don’t need more gain just a good fuzz to work with this single channel amp – I love scott holidays (rival sons) fuzz tone on “open your eyes ”

    Any suggestions and amp settings would be much appreciated

  14. Kasey
    Kasey says:

    I am a professional musician and I have tried nearly every high-end overdrive pedal including the ones on this list with my Orange Rockerverb and NOTHING made me happy. Until I found the BEST pedal that pairs with my Rockerverb, by far… the Wampler Pinnacle. Orange amps notoriously do not take overdrive pedals well but the Wampler Pinnacle pairs with the clean channel perfectly.

  15. Frank
    Frank says:

    Im thinking of buying a Fulltone OCD but are there any version that is better than others? I think there is version 1, 2, 3 and 4 of this pedal.

    I have a Rockerverb MK3 50 head.

  16. Gabriel
    Gabriel says:

    Hola, muy buenas. Gracias a Jon Bailey y a todos ustedes por sus comentarios. En el país en el que resido, Argentina, no se consigue el OCD de Fulltone. He conseguido un clon económico que es el Mooer Hustle Drive, y funciona muy bien con mi FABULOUS AD30HTC a través de una caja de los años 80’s Marshall 4 x GH10″. Gracias nuevamente y QUE SEA ROCK! G.

    (Google translation: Hello good Morning. Thanks to Jon Bailey and all of you for your comments. In the country where I live, Argentina, the OCD of Fulltone is not obtained. I got an economic clone that is the Mooer Hustle Drive, and it works great with my FABULOUS AD30HTC through a box of the 80’s Marshall 4 x GH10. ” Thanks again and BE ROCK! G.)

  17. Joe Max Denty
    Joe Max Denty says:

    A rat(Mooer Black Secret) and a Black Arts Toneworks Quantum Mystic sound amazing over the drive channel of an OR100. Separately not together

  18. johathan
    johathan says:

    I own a rat, ocd, and a big muff…. all three sound amazing to begin with and I can’t wait to buy an orange@ Hopefully next month!

  19. Keith
    Keith says:

    I am a beginner and just bought a orange amp 20 RT. What is a good pedal you would suggest go along with this amp. Thanks

  20. Kareem
    Kareem says:

    I have the Orange Dark Terror and I absolutely love it. But at low volumes, the amp tends to sound quite dark/bassy and the shape control doesnt really cut the bass and sharpen the trebles as I want. How would you think the TS9 would help? Many people say, “its a high gain amp, so you need an overdrive pedal.” But for me, im just trying to shape the tone. What do you think? Should I get an OD like the TS9 or maybe an EQ or Boost?

    • Majurbludd
      Majurbludd says:

      I have a tubscreamer with the “brown mod” it doesnt do much for the dark terror. It does sound better but slightly.

  21. Alex Joseph
    Alex Joseph says:

    Hello Jon,
    I wish i had found this article earlier :( I got a Boss DS1 and have to say that the Orange 35 Crush which i have does not pair any good at all with this pedal. Any suggestions from the community?


    • Chris
      Chris says:

      A Rat is another good one as well and I completely agree with the Swollen Pickle. As the article says, takes some time, but you are rewarded. Couldn’t be more true.

    • TIM
      TIM says:

      Ive had exactly the same problem with this pedal. Been back and fourth to the shop thinking the pedal was faulty, turns out the amp (crush 35rt) just doesnt like it.

  22. Aonghus William MacCready
    Aonghus William MacCready says:

    I use a Joyo comp, Idiot Box Dungeon Master, Swollen Pickle, Boss SD1, and the Joyo OCD clone with an Ibanez ge10 on top of my Orange RV100 MKII’s dirt channel and it sounds like an explosion when I hit the open C chord!

  23. Buggi
    Buggi says:

    I have a Question. I recently joined a band thats playing black metal. The sound of this Music is very “high gain”. I have a Rockerverb 50 MKII and also the OCD Fulltone. I would like to use it, but I did not yet accomplish to dial in a suitable Sound. What Settings do you suggest? Fulltone into the clean channel of the Rockerverb? Or is there any other idea for a suitable pedal to archive a black metal tone?

    • Neil Mitchell
      Neil Mitchell says:

      Hey Buggi, Well, that’s a difficult and interesting question. Amp/pedal choice is a hugely subjective thing and there’s never a single right answer. Luckily there are a great many options these days and even more great reviews and comparisons. We have just published a technical Q&A blog with our Product Demonstrator, John Denzil Dines, which is available on the Blog section of our website. There’s a question in there about this very subject and it receives a very thorough answer. It should give you plenty to think about when selecting the right drive/boost pedal for your needs.

  24. Kris Remillard
    Kris Remillard says:

    I have a CR60 Pro. What overdrive pedals work well directly with the dirty channel? I have tried a few but most just make it sound really bad. On the other hand the same pedals sound great running through the clean channel. Is the clean channel my only option if I want to use my pedal board?

  25. christian kirov
    christian kirov says:

    I just got the Crush 35rt. I was thinking of getting the Fulltone but not really sure if I need one with this amp. What are your thoughts as I don’t play in a band and this is mainly for my house?

  26. Pierre
    Pierre says:

    I’ve got the Rocker 15 combo. I tried out the OCD Ge edition but couldn’t get much decent out of it, especially in the clean channel; it sounded muffled at any setting. In the gain channel, it worked well as a boost, but didn’t really benefit the tone much otherwise when combined with the amp OD. Maybe it’s just my experience with OD pedals; this was my first one. I really wanted to give it a chance, and I had wanted an EQ pedal anyhow (Rocker 15 clean channel is nice, but would still benefit from an EQ), so I finally paired it with the EQD Tone Job, which helped considerably in the clean channel, but didn’t give me much new for the OD side. Though I’m sure it’s a nice pedal, and I ran through many settings and combinations, I always came back to thinking that the OCD sounded, in the end, too similar to the Rocker 15 OD, but not quite as good (more dry, less bell chime). For the price of the Ge edition, I didn’t think it had enough value to keep. I’ll have to keep looking. Probably be best to wait until I can drag all my gear to the music store and try out different pedals in person…

  27. Kent
    Kent says:

    I have a Terror Stamp and not every pedal works with it well, I can attest. It’s on a pedalboard as my backup rig and struggled to find a pedal that could get me into 80s classic metal territory (LA sound – Dokken, Ratt, etc). Finally I tried an EHX Hot Wax dual OD with it and it nails the tone and feel I’m looking for. The “Hot” side adds some punch and gain to the Terror Stamp set for edge of break up for a great rhythm tone – tames the low end and boosts the high mids in just the right spot. The “Wax” side gets kicked in as a lead boost and adds extra gain, volume and midrange cut. The Hot Wax and Terror Stamp pretty much combine to make a 3 channel classic rock/metal amp. Into my two Fender BassBreaker cabs with Celestion Vtype speakers it sounds monsterous!

  28. Procash
    Procash says:

    I am using RV 100 MKiii with boss OD3 loving the sound. also, Vertex boost in front of od3 for more saturation and clean boost.