Best Distortion Pedal – The 5 Top Choices in 2021
A guitar player is quite greedy when it comes to those sweet tones. Of course, the more you learn this instrument, the more you will realize that there are a lot of fields to explore. Among these epiphanies is that you need the best distortion pedal.
It is true that getting the desired tone is not just about the pedal. Instead, it should involve the total harmony of your guitar, strings, amps, and other accessories you are using. Once these amenities are around, there is a good chance that you can discover new sounds day by day!
However, the cheapest way to revolutionize the tone of your guitar is getting a variety of pedals.
Moreover, it is also the easiest route to transform the overall quality of your sound. A minimum amount of fifty bucks could already give you a plethora of choices. Spend a little more, and you can have access to exquisite guitar pedals on the market.
For the meantime, you might want to check out the best distortion pedals that are available today. After all, this should be among the first pedal variants that you have to invest. Here are they:
5 Best Distortion Pedals Reviews
There is an unwritten rule that every guitar player should have a Boss pedal. This brand is pretty prevalent, especially in the guitar industry. They have been in the business for quite some time, which resulted to various imitations. However, Boss remain to be a stellar manufacturer.
For example, their BOSS Audio DS1 is among the most ubiquitous guitar pedals today. First, you will love this pedal because of its constant performance. Despite several reconstructions, the DS1 still possess the same distortion qualities.
Second, getting this one is always worth your money. After all, most BOSS pedals have prices residing on the entry level.
The design of this product is pretty straightforward. All of the knobs for Distortion, Tone, and Level have excellent arrangements. Once you can experiment with it, you will be able to configure your amp the way you want it.
This one runs on a pair of 9-volt batteries. However, it also comes with the AC adapter as well for a continuous performance.
- User-friendly interface.
- Construction is pretty tough.
- Can create multiple tones from your guitar.
- Ideal for rock and metal genre.
- Price is friendly for the pocket.
- The volume can get too noisy.
- Some occasional hiss can be heard.
If you are looking for a tested-and-proven distortion pedal, then you have to settle with Pro Co RAT 2. This one can produce powerful and punchy distortions.
Almost any veteran rock players know the grit of this pedal. Therefore, it is not something that you can just remove in your list.
The RAT2 has a stout box that can withstand thousands of usage. Even if you use the pedal every night in your gigs, it won't even complain. As many are jesting, the RAT2 is meant to be abused.
This distortion pedal also comes with another version. Specifically, it is a newer model that has glow-in-the-dark indicators on the knob and LED markings. In short, it is RAT2 that you can benefit you if you are a nocturnal player.
Once you can hear the distortion that the RAT2 can produce, you will just get addicted to it. The default grind is pretty low, which is pretty satisfying on the ears already. However, this device still needs a complementary tightening and brightening. Therefore, a booster may come handy.
- Sturdy and rugged design.
- Comes with a night variant.
- Perfect for rock genre with its dirty grinds.
- Ideal for regular usage.
- Analog circuitry is a plus.
- Not the most versatile option for distortion pedals.
- It doesn't come with a power supply.
- It uses an old model jack (does not fit with 9-volt power supplies).
Guitar players should know Earthquaker devices. Many professionals always see the pedals they produce to be excellent and guitar-smashing. All of their music accessories possess premium quality.
The parts are carefully picked, too. Aside from the Hoof Fuzz, you can also opt for their Disaster Transport Jr, Arrows Booster, and Monarch Overdrive.
Since the manufacturing of the Monarch Overdrive is put to a stop, the next best distortion pedal you can choose from this brand is the Hoof Fuzz. Many already attested to the quality of this EQD product. Some even claim that is better than the Monarch!
The same as the first two products we featured, the EQD Hoof Fuzz has a simple interface. The knobs for the controls are big and easy to configure. Aside from the usual Tone, Fuzz, and Level functions, the Hoof Fuzz also comes with the Shift.
This particular feature is the one responsible to the versatility of a pedal. Specifically, it lets you control the mids of your guitar. Most of the modern metal sounds today are byproducts of lifted mids.
The features of this guitar pedal are definitely worth your attention, especially on the quality of its fuzz distortion. Yes, it is true that is a little pricier than ordinary pedals. However, we can guarantee you that the cost is truly worth it.
- The sustains are harmonic and very natural.
- Tone quality is distinct and clear.
- Diminishes muddy bass.
- You can change the frequency response, thanks to its Shift feature.
- Features an all-analog circuitry.
- Not a good distortion pedal for blues rock.
- The switching needs a little rework.
Aside from Boss, Electro-Harmonix is also popular. If a guitar player is not using a Boss pedal, there is a good chance that he/ she is using an Electro-Harmonix product. Because of this, many considers EHX as the "boutique" among all the pedal manufacturers.
Usually, most of their pedals came from the United States. They also have a lot of models, so the selection for this brand is quite decent, too.
Among their distortion pedals, the Big Muff Pi has the most solid rapport. It is so prominent that many manufacturers tried to copy it. In fact, there is a Sovtek Russian and Black Russian iterations for this particular distortion pedal.
The Wren and Cuff pedal is a mimicry of the BiG Muff, too. Therefore, you can guarantee that this product is as solid as you think it is.
If this is your first time to try the Big Muff, then you should try this version first. The EHX Big Muff Pi is the latest model of the American Pi series (distortion pedals, not the tv show). Technically, this one is a sustainer or fuzzy in nature.
But when it comes to the performance, it just gives the quality distortions that you are looking for.
It comes with a simple setup too, just like the BOSS DS1. Configuring and learning this distortion pedal is quite easy, even for starters. If you want another brand aside from BOSS, then you should go with the Big Muff of EHX!
- The sustain is pretty powerful and punchy.
- Distortion quality is superb.
- Features a true bypass technology.
- Comes with batteries and DC-100 power supply.
- Simple setup and configuration.
- Big footprint (consumes too much space).
- It is quite noisy if you don't equalize the tone.
Pink is the new color of rock! Well, that is how the Behringer Ultra Metal UM300 defines it. With its chic appearance, nobody even guessed that it could produce extreme and rugged distortions. After we tested it, we easily that are perfect for heavy and death metal genres!
The Behringer Ultra Metal UM300 possesses multi-gain circuitry. As a result, this particular pedal can give you relentless sustains.
Moreover, such kind of scheme allows this unit to produce very thick distortions. Unlike most of the pedals in the distortion category, the UM300 is among the few that is built for distortion. No fuzz. No overdrives. Just pure distortion.
Meanwhile, this distortion pedal has a 3-band EQ for better control in the shaping of sound. The interface is pretty straightforward, too, which is an ideal feature for novices. It also got ergonomic LED indicators for the effect and battery level.
Another thing that you should love about the UM300 is its sturdy design. It can withstand extended usage without losing any quality. Since this product is conceived in Germany, you can guarantee that it will last long!
- Premium design and construction.
- Possess sufficient controls for limitless sound configuration.
- Signal integrity is in bypass mode.
- Purely made for distortion.
- Can run on 9-volt batteries or DC power supply.
- Can consume batteries pretty quickly.
- Its pink color scheme is not for everyone.
The Best Distortion Pedal Buying Guide
Apparently, choosing the ideal distortion pedal for you is quite important. As a guitar player, you have a particular tone or "voice" that you want to sing out. Of course, your guitar is not the only prerequisite for this voice to be heard.
If you choose a low-quality distortion pedal, it can cause effects to your overall playstyle. In the end, it might cause you dissatisfaction and bad taste.
To choose the right distortion pedal, you should always be aware of the type of the genres you usually play. Will you use it for a country melody or thrash metal? Or are you planning on exploring on something else? Almost all of the guitar pedals you can see today are already designed for a particular genre.
Primarily, a distortion pedal is for the rock genre. In fact, it is one of the foundations of the rock and roll era. As a guitarist, you know that the said genre comes in various tones and permutations. Furthermore, in this type of musical genre, the grind of the guitar is always the icon.
The latter can alter the sound by increasing gains at specific spots and points. Just as its name suggest, an overdrive somehow pushes the amp to its limit. However, it does such in a very natural way.
Meanwhile, it is also notable that fuzz boxes and distortion pedals change the input signal from the guitar. As a result, both of these effects pedals can both give a hard-edged tone. This kind of sound is already a trademark of the modern.
But there is a particular area on which these two pedals part ways. A distortion pedal removes the bass prior the start of the clip. The removed bass is later added to the circuit.
On the other hand, a fuzz pedal primarily relies on increasing bass and powerful transistors. Both of these effects pedals alter the signal before the amp can do.
If you are looking for a Van Halen type of sound, then you should go for a distortion pedal. Among the rock genre pedals, distortion has the more potent effect. It can simply generate compelling sounds that small amps cannot do.
If you have a modern guitar, then having a distortion pedal can give a new spectrum of sound!
In buying a distortion pedal, make sure that you have an extra cable. The default cable of the pedal will connect the latter to your guitar. The additional cable will connect the pedal to your amp. Specifically, you will need cables of around 5 feet in length.
They can work well in any setup. You don't want to pick longer cables because they can cause tone loss.
A distortion pedal is a necessity for any guitar players who want to take the rock n' roll road. Of course, this type of effects pedal is also a good warmer for those who want to enhance their skills in playing metals.
If you want to put a punch and power to your music, then you certainly need a distortion pedal. The churning and grinding sound that a distortion pedal can produce can totally give a makeover to your playstyles.
Meanwhile, we declare the BOSS Audio DS1 as the best distortion pedal on the market today. From the brand to the performance, everything from DS1 is pure quality. Once you have this, you can already transform your dull sounds into smashing and electrifying screams!
Moreover, it wouldn't hurt you if you will try our other recommended pedals as well. Who knows? You might find something that suits your taste perfectly.