Dean Markley Overlord


I really wanted to hate this thing, for a couple of reasons. A: it’s got stupid layout with 230VAC straight from the wall passing right between input and output jack, less than an inch from each of them. Small 12V transformer is on the opposite side of the chassis from mains input, so you’ve got mains voltage going through the whole chassis and then 12VAC going back the same way. B: when I saw it’s mains powered I expected that tube is run at high voltages. Not really, mains input is stepped down to 12V which is used to power the heaters and rectified for plates of the tube. Also, tube is put at the end of the signal chain, like a buffer or something, so most of the sound comes from the 4558 IC.

  • 4558 based overdrive/distortion with tube output
  • Buffered bypass
  • 3 band tone stack
  • Drive and Volume controls
  • Powered from the mains
How does it sound?

So I thought it’s going to be noise of epic proportions and not so good distorted sounds. Before even trying it out I stared planning what to build inside once I gut it out. The problem is, this thing doesn’t suck at all 🙂 For some reason it doesn’t hum more than other OD/Dist pedals out there. Also, it doesn’t sound bad at all. Lower drive settings give nice mild overdrive sound, which turns to crunchy rhythm tone as you’re getting close to noon position. After that, it increases sustain and saturation which makes it nice for leads. Volume control has enough range to make it into a boost pedal when drive is set lower.

Looking at internals and schematic, it seems to be the same thing as Tube Works Real Tube and similar to other starved plate tube overdrive pedals. A proof tube doesn’t do all that much is that sound doesn’t change as dramatically as it does when you swap the tube in a tube amp. I tried 12AX7, 12AT7 and 12AU7 and drive level was about the same with all three. I liked the 12AU7 the most though, it appeared to be a bit fuller than the others, but not night and day difference.

4 Responses to “Dean Markley Overlord”
  1. Guillaume says:

    I own this pedal since….. pf i don’t remenber un fact.
    I wonder if it’s possible to change the drive pot to obtain
    a lower drive ? Do you have an idea of the value of the pot needed ?
    Thanks to you

  2. Rick says:

    I put a 12BH7 in Mine. Has a Smoother Overdrive.

  3. Bjorn says:


    I have had an Overlord for years. I had a love/hate relation with it. It is a weird pedal.
    Ive put in a 12AU7 as well and allready liked it suddenly a lot more. Did you try it with feeding it in a boss compressor/sustainer pedal, with level at 2 o’clock, sustain at 12 and attack to your liking, but make it produce that little click attack sound. Now the Overlord sounds totally AWESOME.

    But could you maybe shed some light on how the eq works, it is a bit weird to me. Is the eq before the overdrive, or after? Turning hi, mid, or bass, affects the sound in an unpredictable way. Is this because of the compressing effect of distortion?
    (i dont mean the boss compressor)
    Never mind that it sounds quitte superbe once it is set right.

    Thanks for your time, i hope you can tell me more

    Kind regards Bjorn

  4. Chris says:

    I wonder if anyone could help ,I have the dean markley overlord pedal but when I plug it in and turn the pedal on the volume drops and there is full overdrive but at a very low volume .When turned off the volume I am running the amp at is normal .
    When the amp is on there is normal volume but when the pedal is turned on the volume drops and there is overdrive but so quiet it is unusable .

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    The idea behind this site is to share my experience with Do It Yourself approach to guitars, amplifiers and pedals. Whether you want to save a couple of bucks by performing a mod or upgrade yourself instead of paying a tech, or want to build your own piece of gear from scratch, I'm sure you will find something interesting here. Also, this is the home of DIY Layout Creator, a free piece of software for drawing circuit layouts and schematics, written with DIY enthusiasts in mind.