Distortion pedals have become an important part of a musician armory. They are as important as oregano and spice in a pizza, you can eat your pizza without them, but they add spice to your food. Similarly, distortion pedal adds spice in your tone. They come in a variety of tastes and flavors to make your tone better.
Distortion pedal was discovered because of an accident when tube amps were turned up too loud. At first, they were disliked by many but slowly gained its popularity over the years, and today they became one of the most desired pedals.
Most distortion pedals have few basic controls like volume, tone knobs, gain boost. There is an endless combination of distortion pedals which can produce rich, creamy, soft, and melodious sustain to rough, jagged, and piercing breakup tones. Sometimes they are even combined with other pedals such as overdrive and compression. Below are few of the best distortion pedals which we have highlighted in a sea of pedals.
Table of Contents
- Best distortion pedals list
- 1. BOSS Audio DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal
- 2. Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi Guitar Effects Pedal
- 3. EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Fuzz Guitar Distortion Effects Pedal
- 4. Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal
- 5. MXR M104 Distortion +
- 6. TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal
- 7. MXR M75 Super Badass® Distortion
- 8. Wampler Triple Wreck Modern Rectified Distortion Pedal
- 9. Joyo JF-03 Crunch Distortion Guitar Pedal
- 10. Donner Giant Metal Guitar Pedal
Best distortion pedals list
1. BOSS Audio DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal
DS1 distortion was first introduced 1978, more than 35 years ago. Many legendary musicians have used this pedal while traveling or in a studio. Since its debut, it has remained one of the most sought after distortion pedal.
It packs a lot of punch in a small form factor, not just the best but also one of the most affordable distortion guitar pedal in the market. It is also one of the best sounding pedals in the market. One can hardly pick anything negative about this distortion pedal.
There are three knobs at the top of the pedal – tone, level and distortion. This is a simple no nonsense kind of pedal, using this is fairly straight forward. Overall, this is undisputed king of affordable paddles.
2. Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi Guitar Effects Pedal
This pedal has been around for decades, it provides fuzz like distortion that’s a rare and unique quality of a pedal. The pedal is very easy to set up and use. It has 3 knobs at the top for volume, tone and sustain. Volume to set the output, tone knob provides a range of sounds and sustain knob to adjust the distortion and sustain. It can be powered by 9 volt battery which is included with this pedal or with power adapter.
Big Muff is known to make great big noise. Tone Versatility is amongst the best in distortion pedals, you can do anything from Low, growling mayhem, mid-saturated cream or buzzing scooped scream. Big muff is little bigger in size and made with thin sheet of metal for added durability and reliability. If you are looking for a bit of fuzz and a bit of distortion pedal then Big Muff is just right for you.
3. EarthQuaker Devices Hoof Fuzz Guitar Distortion Effects Pedal
This is a flagship device from EarthQuaker. EarthQuaker had a really modest start in pedal world but in very short span of time it has emerged as one of the favourite brand for pedal lovers. A reason to love them is the fact that every pedal made by them is handmade, that just shows the effort and detail put in by the manufacturer.
This device is based on on character of the classic green Russian muff. It is enhanced and remodeled version of Hoof Fuzz pedal. It offers variety of new features over its predecessor, though it’s a little pricey than Hoof Fuzz pedal but both the pedal are special in their own. Controls includes tone, shift, level and fuzz knobs are on its face.
4. Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal
This pedal from Pro Co is built like a tank, rough and nearly indestructible. The thing that set it apart from other distortion pedals is its cutting tones. Design wise it squared and a little old fashion. This is a kind of pedal that comes to our mind when we think of amazing distorted rock guitar tone.
Also Read – Best Acoustic Electric Guitar Reviews
There are three knobs at the top of the pedal – distortion, filter and volume. Distortion controls the overall gain level, filter knobs helps in producing darker tones and volume knob controls the overall volume level of the pedal. It also has true bypass feature and an LED light indicator.
5. MXR M104 Distortion +
This is a great little yellow box. If you like traditional and simple distortion pedal then you will definitely admire this distortion pedal. It is very basic pedal with just two knobs output and distortion, a LED light for status and an on/off button.
With output knob you can control the volume or level and distortion knob is a self explainer. Though this has just two knobs but it sound quality is high class it is especially great for hard rock and heavy metal. This is probably the best heavy rock distortion pedal in the market. The built is fairly decent and compact. You don’t need to carry an additional pedal as a backup because you can rely on this distortion pedal.
6. TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal
This is one the cheapest distortion pedal in this list. But don’t judge this product based on its low price because in terms of performance it can put many high end pedal to shame. This is a crunchy “Marshall-in-a-box” type of pedal, though the name “Dark Matter” sounds a bit evil.
It comes with true bypass feature which essentially means no loss of tone. There are four knobs at the top – gain, level, bass and treble. These knobs give you total control of your sound. It can be powered by 9V ac adapter or 9V battery. We don’t find any problem with it built and the fact that it has very small footprint makes it easy to carry around.
7. MXR M75 Super Badass® Distortion
This is another MXR product in our the list. While last one had minimum controls this one comes with lot of additional features. It has a total of 5 knobs, a LED status light and a true bypass switch, five knobs includes – output, distortion, bass, mid, and treble.
The most loved feature of this distortion pedal is fact that it provides decades of distortions from early ’70s low gain overdrive to modern metal distortion and every other in between, a feature that has been missing in many old distortion pedals. Another thing to mention is its ease of controls. The pedal can be easily customized according to your taste.
8. Wampler Triple Wreck Modern Rectified Distortion Pedal
This is a beast of a distortion pedal. It provides variety of different features and wide range of controls for your sound. It is one of the most complete distortion pedals you can buy but it also comes with a hefty price tag. Many people called it an amp in a box.
There are total of 6 knobs – volume, gain, boost contour, treble, mids and bass. It also has gain structure control, bypass and boost switches. All this features make it very versatile. The most liked feature of this distortion pedal is the fact that it has a sound for everyone.
9. Joyo JF-03 Crunch Distortion Guitar Pedal
After the most expensive pedal in our list, here comes the least expensive pedal in our list. This product is shipped from china so it might take 7-15 days to reach your doorstep, apart from this it has create quiet a name for itself in online communities.
Though it is quiet cheap but it uses quality component in it pedal. It’s durably and sound quality is excellent for its price. It is said to replicates Full-Stack Marshall crunch. Design is very simple and traditional. Controls include – gain, volume and tone.
It also has got great reviews on amazon.com by the user. It has 4/5 stars with more than 65% of them has given it 5/5 stars. This shows the quality and performance of the pedal.
10. Donner Giant Metal Guitar Pedal
The last pedal to make in our list of best distortion pedal is Donner Giant Metal Guitar Pedal. It is also one of the cheapest pedals in our list. It is mostly a basic model with some useful features like true bypass wiring for transparent tone, Three Modals, led light indicator and few knobs for better control.
The pedal is compact and very minimal in design. The metal tone is good and overall it is very easy to use. Design vice it is rectangular in shape with 3 knobs on its face. While distortion knob is big and at the centre of the pedal, volume knob and tone knob are at the top and either side of distortion knob. It is made with Aluminum-alloy for durability.