Not so much a lesson in technique or style as tone chasing…

As much as I love a cranked up vintage or modern amplifier, that’s not often practical and I’ve come to almost prefer just using a basic, clean tone, plus some pedals to get me where I want to be.

In this video, I’ll show you how I approach using multiple overdrive pedals for various levels of gain for rhythm or lead playing, on either a Strat or Les Paul style guitar.

My Rat is modified by Modest Mike at and I highly recommend his mod. I prefer it even to the other modded Rats I’ve tried over the years (which is a lot of them.)

BUT, don’t feel like you need modded or special pedals to do this. A stock Blues Driver, Tube Screamer, and Rat will all do you just fine and I used stock pedals for years before these mods became so common.

    21 replies to "Stacking Overdrives For Levels Of Gain"

    • Thomas Guitarman

      THE OLDER Rats are quite different than the new ones

    • Mark

      I put a board together having watched one of your previous videos on this subject Griff. Got an Avid Eleven rack off Ebay and various pedals you use – main departure being a Boss RT-20 for a take on the Leslie sound. I also use attenuators – a Powerbrake on the Marshall and a Power Soak made by Carl’s Custom Guitars (in the US) which I had fitted to a Peavey Delta Blues combo. These do let you turn the amp up to let the valves cook a little whilst keeping some manners on the volume. Just a thought to get that break up. Thanks for all your help and information over the years. Regards from UK.

    • Gary Hewitt

      Thank you Griff. This was very helpful information. I have a Rat and I was unable to get sounds I liked out of it. It just sat unused. No more. I thought the tone you had was fantastic. Thank you again.

    • Gary Hewitt

      Thank you Griff. This was very helpful information. I have had a Rat and I was unable to get sounds I liked out of it. It just sat unused. No more. I thought the tone you had was fantastic. Thank you again.

    • Ed Rogan

      Griff – great video. Learned a ton.

      By the way, I know this seems counter intuitive, but the JHS Screamer 3 Series is actually based on the Rumble MOD pedal, not the TS. Josh confirmed that in another video I saw recently. FYI.

    • Dave

      I have the tube screamer in front of the blues driver using a fender mustang amp. selecting the twin reverb modeling position I can get good tone just with the blues driver and if I want more OD I kick in the tube screamer. My problem is I do solo gigs and include vocals which means another amp for vocals. The only amp I have found that works just OK is the cube street. Wondering if there are other options out there??

    • Marty H.

      Hay, Where is a good place to find used peddles to try out? I thought that I was the only guy using a Crate and not being quite happy with the sound. I have a G80 and it is plenty loud, but just don’t sound like anybody that I know.

    • JB Bornstein

      What does “Rat” mean??

    • Ian Nicholls

      Thanks Griff. A lot of good advice there.

      • Alan Scrase

        Hi Griff, thanks for yet another informative video. I’ve be experimenting with drive pedals lately and have found putting a BD2 before a Seymour Duncan twin tube classic a very interesting and wide ranging combination. For my blues band I find it works well with my Gibson Les Paul and CS356 as well as my Tele with no need for a boost pedal but you’ve inspired me to experiment further. Thanks!

    • Bob K

      I have a Squier strat and while I know it won’t sound like Griff’s Fender, the low notes are just too low for my liking so I keep the selector switch all the way back…but notice that Griff keeps his all the way forward.

      I have a rock distortion pedal and a boss blues driver…they do sound good when both are on. Still….not really getting the tone I want. Just sounds too “murky”, if that makes sense.

    • Wayne OBrien (Tennessee)

      That’s what I like about my Vox ac15c2 2×12 combo amp, it has master volume just for volume but, it has another volume knob that controls gain so I don’t have to crank it up to the point of bleeding ears. Along with that, I use a jhs at (andy timmons) drive v2 pedal that has some really tasty over-drive and a separate boost section.


      what kind of strings do you prefer to play?

      • Griff Hamlin

        Ernie Ball Regular Slinky (.010.)

    • Rick Johnson (Waco)

      Did you quit using a Plexi? Just curious.

      • Griff Hamlin

        I still have it, and use it periodically. It’s one of those amps that I love to play, but when it comes right down to it I tend to grab my Silver Jubilee simply because it’s a little easier to dial in on stage. The plexi can be a bit finicky and there are many different approaches to it.

    • Paul Kingston

      This is one of the reasons I like small amps like the Fender Champ. You can them to begin breaking up/compress at fairly low volumes and then add some overdrive. My favorite tone would be a dimed Twin Reverb but my dog would leave home, the windows would break and the cops would show up.

      • Griff Hamlin

        I have a couple of small ones like that, but sometimes even down at 1-5watts it’s a bit too loud for family members at home 🙂

    • Christopher Place

      I have a Wampler Ecstasy that I use with a Keeley phat mod, both are amazing pedals. The Wampler is used for just a hint of overdrive that cleans up really nice when i roll the guitar volume down. I kick in the Phat Mod when I want a heavier sound. I use an MXR Micro Amp at the end of my chain for a volume boost for soloing. Funny thing I also have a pedal modded by Modest Mike, its an MXR Dynacomp, turned a cheap pedal into very usable effect is great for country and funk and when cranked it has a really cool overdrive tone, kinda SRV’ish.

    • James carr

      This is fascinating. I’ve a modded ts9 from analogman but trying to dial in the right amount of gain in my crate v16 so that the ts9 doesn’t sound like junk drives me crazy. The ts9 into the amp clean sounds terrible.

      • Christopher Place

        I’ve had similar experiences with Crate products. Had a V50 years ago, I could never seen to dial in great tones, finally sold it and bought a Peavy Classic 30 and even though I’m not really an EL84 guy, it was a much better amp for about the same money. Of course I’m not a big fan of Tube Screamers either and don’t get me wrong, I hear other guys use them and they sound great, I just can’t seem to get a desirable tone from them. I much prefer a Boss Blues drivers tone, I also like the Fulltone OCD really well.

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