Best Distortion Pedals

Review & Comparison, Last Update August 28, 2017
Choosing the right pedal for guitar is essential, as your choice may actually either open up new possibilities for you or discourage your guitar playing due to poor quality tones. Hopefully, in our review, you will find a distortion pedal suitable for the genre of music you play. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Control
Power
Input/Output
Dimensions
Warranty
 
PROS

The pedal is equipped with true bypass for a better sound, which provides a better signal from the pickup to the amplifier.

CONS

Minimalistic design.

OUR VERDICT

This pedal is characterized with many options for setting up the sound; however, it's worth noting that it's primarily good for playing classic hard rock or thrash-metal sound.

detailed parameters
Control

Knobs:
- Gain
- Volume
- Bass
- Mid
- Treble

Footswitch:
- effect on/off

Power

Power supply: 9-volt adapter (negative polarity, the BOSS-style connector)

Battery: 9 Volts (crown type)

Input/Output

Input: ¼" TS connector, impedance 390 kΩ,

Output: ¼" TS connector, impedance 3.4 kΩ

Dimensions

~4.5 x 6 x 2.8 in

Warranty

30 days amazon warranty

PROS

The pedal is equipped with two channels due to which you can accent any moment, if necessary, such as solo just with one tap of a footswitch.

CONS

To setup a slight distortion is impossible.

OUR VERDICT

This pedal will be useful in the arsenal of des, thrash, industrial or metal core guitarist both for rhythmic and solo parts.

detailed parameters
Control

Knobs:
- Gain
- Volume
- Bass
- Mid
- Treble
- Top Boost (top middle adjustment)

Footswitch:
- effect on/off,
- additional Boost effect on/off
Power

Power supply: 9-volt adapter (negative polarity, the BOSS-style connector)

Battery: 9 Volts (crown type)

Input/Output

Input: ¼" TS connector, impedance 1000 kΩ,

Output: ¼" TS connector, impedance 0.6 kΩ

Dimensions

2.5 x 4.7 x 5.7 in

Warranty

1 year

PROS

The battery compartment is located under the switch pedal and it is easily replaced without screwdrivers and other tools.

CONS

Few sound options.

OUR VERDICT

If you are looking for a distortion to emphasize your solo parts, the BOSS DS-1 model is more than ideal. It will be quite appropriate to make the part rhythm heavier in such styles as punk or grunge.

detailed parameters
Control

Knobs:
- Gain
- Volume
- Tone

Pedal:
- effect on/off


Power

Power supply: 9-volt adapter (negative polarity, the BOSS-style connector)

Battery: 9 Volts (crown type)

Input/Output

Input: ¼" TS connector, impedance 470 kΩ,

Output: ¼" TS connector, impedance 1 kΩ

Dimensions

~2.4 x 2.9 x 5.1 in

Warranty

5 years

PROS

Unlike most of similar devices, the knob rotates clockwise on this pedal to avoid unnecessary high frequencies. This results in a more convenient adjustment of the sound because all the regulators rotate in the same direction.

CONS

Non-standard power supply connector.

OUR VERDICT

No doubt the RAT2 pedal will be a good choice for use both in the classic rock music and in a more experimental one due to the wide sounding range.

detailed parameters
Control

Knobs:
- Gain
- Volume
- Tone

Footswitch:
- effect on/off
Power

Power supply: 9-volt adapter (negative polarity)

Battery: 9 Volts (crown type)

Input/Output

Input: ¼" TS connector, impedance 1000 kΩ,

Output: ¼" TS connector, impedance 1 kΩ

Dimensions

~4.7 in x 4.3 in x 3.1 in

Warranty

5 years

PROS

There are two regulators on the pedal to control the middle frequencies - to add volume in this range and to shift the center frequency between 200 Hz and 5 kHz.

CONS

Plastic case.

OUR VERDICT

If you want to get an analog distortion at a favorable price, this pedal will perfectly satisfy your needs and its wide adjustment possibilities make it possible to set up the distortion sound for any style.

detailed parameters
Control

Knobs:
- Gain
- Volume
- Bass
- Mid
- Mid Freq
- Treble

Pedal:
- effect on/off
Power

Power supply: 9-volt adapter (negative polarity, the BOSS-style connector)

Battery: 9 Volts (crown type)

Input/Output

Input: ¼" TS connector, impedance 500 kΩ,

Output: ¼" TS connector, impedance 1 kΩ

Dimensions

~2.1 x 2.7 x 4.8 in

Warranty

3 years

What is a Distortion Pedal?

It is very difficult to imagine the modern guitar music without various effects and distortions because they make it much brighter, more expressive and often drive. Today manufacturers produce a huge number of pedals and processors to give electric guitars, bass guitars, keyboards and even vocal a more varied color in sound. But at the same time, if you look into a pedalboard of any musician, there definitely will be a distortion pedal.

This is not surprising because the resulting effect of distortion is the most popular and distinctive. One might as well say that distortion is a hallmark of rock music and all its subgenres. In this review, we propose you the 5 best distortion pedals among which you will definitely find that one suitable for your style

MXR M75

The whole evolution of rock sounding in a pedal

Who would not dream of such a pedal-distortion that could cover the entire range in its settings starting from the light overdrive of the 1970s and ending with a violent heavy distortion used by modern metal bands? The MXR M75 copes with it not just good but also at a professional level.

First of all, this pedal attracts attention with the extended frequency control. There are three knobs for accurate adjustment of the low, middle and high frequencies. When you play using a qualitative guitar amplifier the sound is very dense with excellent low notes. It does not “hiss” but it is 100% natural as befits an analogue accessory.

It is also worth noting that this distortion is equipped with a true bypass that provides a better signal from the pickup to the amplifier and positively affects the sound quality.

Generally, as we have already noted, you can achieve both light blue distortion and much more brutal distortion using the MXR M75 due to the wide possibilities of setting up the equalizer and gain. However, each pedal can be identified by certain modes and settings whereby it sounds better and brightly stands out from the competitors. Regarding this accessory, if you unscrew the gain and low tones for 3 hours, the high tones for 12, and the middle notes for 9, you get a very convincing distortion in our opinion, which is perfect to play traditional thrash metal. However, we are sure that if you spend time and experiment with the settings you will find the desired sound. At the same time, you should not forget that the sound coloring can be quite different when you use different equipment.

Review of MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


MXR M75
MXR M75
 

Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff

The sound that knocks you down

The electro harmonix metal muff pedal is as good as you can get to set a crowd off with your breathtaking play combined with a hard sound. It reproduces such a dense distortion that it simply knocks you down.

However, its main uniqueness is that it is equipped with two channels. Quite often guitarists think about how to buy two pedals. The first pedal would perform the classical distortion and the second one would be used to further emphasize certain points in the music, if necessary. This is particularly important when a musician wants to add more gain during the solo or in the leading part. For this purpose, there is a second channel with a separately adjustable frequency level in the electro harmonix metal muff. Accordingly, there are two footswitches on it for the bypass and the boost, and each of them has a separate LED that shows operating modes.

It is worth noting that it is impossible to set up the distortion like a crunch effect in this pedal. It immediately produces a rather hard sound at the minimum turning the gain knob. Not everyone will like it but you can get lighter sounding if you slightly turn down the volume on your guitar.

In general, this is an excellent pedal that is definitely appropriate when used in heavy music styles.

Review of Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff
Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff
 

Boss DS-1

For the solo kings

Some pedals have a fairly long history that is measured in decades, and one of them is just the DS-1 from BOSS Company. Certainly, modern models have some insignificant differences from the original.

The accessory is equipped with three regulators responsible for the gain, level of the output signal and the timbre. Adjustment of the timbre is based on minimalism: the high frequencies are cut off when turning the knob to the left, the low frequencies are cut when turning to the right and the frequencies are balanced in the middle position. It should also be noted that this pedal is hardly suitable for rhythm parts in heavy styles because you could not really get its dense groove sounding. Not for nothing is the DS-1 used by such masters as Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, it sounds just great during solo parts. Even if you set the gain to the maximum during the solo, it sounds almost without “hiss”, but if you cut down the high frequencies then it disappears leaving the required sharpness of sounding. All in all, despite easy setup and low price, the DS-1 allows you to get a really high-quality guitar sound.

Review of Boss DS-1 Distortion Guitar Pedal

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Boss DS-1
Boss DS-1
 

Pro Co RAT2

The pedal in favor of the underground

First of all, we would like to note that the distortion of the RAT2 differs from the Pro Co with its diverse and quite individual sounding. Setting the required sound is achieved by adjusting such parameters as Filter and Distortion. The filter knob usually turns in the opposite direction to cut off unnecessary high frequencies when the gain is added on a pedal. But the knob is set in parallel to the RAT2 so that all three knobs are turned clockwise. The sound is quite interesting if you analyze it in details. The RAT2 distortion fits perfectly into such styles as grunge, art rock or whatever underground trends. For example, if you set the filter knob to the far left position, the pedal starts to noticeably “hiss”, which will help you achieve dirty garage sounding. If you set distortion between 7-8 hours, you get nice natural blues sounds while you can play light rock-and-roll riffs between 9-10 hours. And between 10-12 hours and further you can get a real rock distortion, but sound colors are quite different even in these intervals. At about 12 hours it resembles fuzz, but if you set it for 2-3 hours, you can play an extremely heavy rhythm part.

We can conclude from the above that the RAT2 will be more than a successful purchase if you are going to play classic or experimental rock.

Review of Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Pro Co RAT2
Pro Co RAT2
 

Behringer Heavy Metal

Find your sound and your style

The rock music would never have been so, if not for the distortion. Much depends on the quality of this effect, and the UM300 from the world-famous Behringer Company is one of the surest ways to get it. The electronics of this pedal has a unique pre-amplification circuit that provides it with unique analog tube sounding. We also want to draw your attention to the most beautiful and long sustain as a feature of this model.

The pedal is equipped with the volume, gain and frequency regulators to set up the required parameters. And the absolute advantage is that the high, low and middle frequencies can be set separately, which makes it possible to achieve the most desired sounding. Thus, there are two knobs to set up the middle frequencies.

Due to the wide adjustment possibilities, the UM300 can be used in almost any music styles ranging from the lightest styles to more heavy and progressive directions.

Review of Behringer Heavy Metal Distortion Effects Pedal

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Behringer Heavy Metal
Behringer Heavy Metal
 

Infographics

Comparison of Distortion Pedals

Sources:

1. Guitar Pedal Buying GuideSweetwater. 

2. Guitar and Bass Effects Buying GuideMusician's Friend.  December 16, 2013.

3. Distortion Pedal Buying GuideeBay. March 3, 2016.

4. Guitar Pedal Buying Guide, Sweetwater.

5. Guitar and Bass Effects Buying Guide, The HUB. December 16, 2013.


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Publish Date: 2017-06-22 15:56:20