- 1 Top 6 Distortion Guitar Pedals Reviewed
- 2 BOSS Audio DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal
- 3 Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal
- 4 Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion Pedal
- 5 MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion
- 6 Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion Pedal
- 7 Donner Morpher High Degree Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal
- 8 The Distortion Effect – What Is a Distortion Pedal Used For?
- 9 Distortion Pedal vs. Overdrive Pedal
- 10 What to Look for In a Best Distortion Guitar Pedal
- 11 Conclusion
A distortion pedal is just what you need if you’ve already got an overdrive pedal and you want that little extra kick to your music. Particularly advantageous for the metal guitarist, good distortion pedals are sure to create impressive and aggressive sounds when you push them to the max. Distortion pedals are not only great for adding a distortion effect to your music, but they can also be added to existing equipment set ups to enable you to have even more choice of effects and to build on your existing sounds.
This buying guide will take a look at some of the best distortion pedal reviews so that you can get a better picture of the products that are available out there. Whether you have a low or high budget and whether you know exactly what you want or if you have no idea, you will be able to find some useful information about choosing great distortion pedals in our buying guide.
- Pro Co RAT2
- Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff
- BOSS Audio DS1
- MXR M75 Super Badass
- Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff with Top Boost
- Donner Morpher
Top 6 Distortion Guitar Pedals Reviewed
BOSS Audio DS1 Distortion Guitar Pedal
The Boss DS-1 distortion pedal has been a popular choice amongst guitarists for over 30 years. Since the 1970s, guitarists around the globe have been choosing this distortion pedal to add to their music setup. If you’re a rocker, you’ll be pleased to know that this is one of the best pedals to provide those awesome distorted rock tones. You will be able to play all genres from indie to darker heavy metal numbers.
Although this pedal is really versatile, what users like is the way that it is also affordable. If you’ve never owned a distortion pedal before, this may be the best one to choose for your first pedal. Despite the low price tag, you can be sure of great quality tone from this best distortion guitar pedal.
There are three different controls on this guitar distortion pedal that you can use to alter the distortion effects from the pedal. These three control knobs are for the tone, level and distortion. Thanks to these 3 separate control dials, you will be able to create a multitude of sounds from subtle distortions to all out metal. Many players especially like the scooped midrange, which gives you the best and most distinct tones. If you’re wondering how great this pedal really is, all you have to do is listen to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by popular grunge band Nirvana, as the moody melody that you’ll hear on that track was created by the DS-1.
Boss really is a brand that you can rely on when it comes to great sounding effects pedals. Whether you play guitar or bass, you’ll certainly benefit from a Boss pedal. This is the brand of choice by many musicians including bands such as The Killers and Muse and has been chosen by guitarists such as Steve Val and Joe Satriani. The reason why professionals prefer Boss pedals such as the DS-1 is because they not only produce the best sounds, but they can also take the greatest usage too. You can use these pedals over and over again knowing that they are robust enough to withstand many gigs.
Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal
The RAT2 is one of a great range of distortion pedals from Pro Co that have gained major popularity due to the sounds that they produce. These pedals have become something of a benchmark for other distortion pedals to show what distortion effects should really be able to do.
The RAT2, just like with many of the other RAT models of distortion pedals has some special qualities that you’ll notice across the range. An instantly recognizable RAT chassis and enclosure houses all the electronics for the unit whilst the three control knobs give the user the ability to completely customize the sound. The distortion sound itself has a fuzzy effect to it and this is highly characteristic of the RAT distortion pedals too. The fuzziness of the sound is a fitting touch, especially as Pro Co developed from their early days of fixing Fuzz Faces before moving on to offer the RAT.
Improvements made to the RAT2, which was developed after the success of the RAT original distortion pedal, include a power indicator LED to let you know whether it is on or not and a battery compartment that is simple to access. You’ll also get the same great true bypass switching that you’d expect from Pro Co’s RAT and the much sought after filter control.
The RAT2 is everything that you need when you want to be heard. What’s more is that the versatility of the pedal offers you all the effects that you’ll require for the ultimate rock classics from subtle overdrive boosts to maximum fuzzy distortion.
Either a 9v battery or an AC power adapter can power this pedal. Whilst neither is included when you buy this pedal, you can always purchase either power option when you buy your pedal. The AC power provides you with continuous use, never having to worry about replacing the batteries whilst the battery powered option gives you the ability to cut down on power needs and to have greater portability.
Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion Pedal
Bring some life back to your performances with the help of the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff Distortion Pedal. This earthy sounding distortion pedal will not only bring you the quality that you can expect from it’s predecessor, the Big Muff Pi, but you can also enjoy the particularly punchy bass sounds and no loss of sound quality at the lower end of the register. In a nutshell, this is the Big Muff for bass players!
There are three knobs and a 3-position toggle switch integrated into this distortion pedal. This will enable you to get the most out of your performances.
A volume control is included so that you can set the level of volume that you want the distortion to play at. If you’ve got the toggle switched to DRY mode, you should be aware that there is no effect of the volume control on the sound of your bass.
You can use the tone control knob in order to control the treble and bass output of the switch. Overall however, the tone of the Bass Big Muff has been set to provide the best possible tone for your bass.
Of course, the sustain control knob will allow you to adjust the sustain and distortion that the pedal creates.
Finally, there is a 3-position switch that allows you to switch between Bass boost, Normal and Dry. This creates three completely different and unique sounds so that you can completely change the sound of your instrument if you wish. In order to get the most out of the bass frequency boost, you should ensure that you keep the tone knob to the higher part of the treble tones. The normal mode gives you sounds similar to that of the Big Muff Pi. The Dry mode allows you to mix the dry input signal from your bass with the distortion setting.
MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion
When you want to create a truly badass sound with your distortion pedal, nothing else comes close to the MXR M75 Super Badass® Distortion pedal. Manufactured by MXR, a leading team when it comes to amazing guitar gear, this super distortion pedal provides you with pure analog distortion in one easy to use pedal.
You’ll love the controls that come integrated with this pedal, which allow you to effortlessly and simply alter the distortion settings. With just the turn of a knob, you will be able to recreate the low gain overdrive sounds of the 70s or the scooped modern metal distortion with any distortion level you can imagine in the middle.
Thanks to the controls, once you’ve set up the right amount of distortion, you’ll be able to play with the bass, mid and treble controls until you’ve shaped your sound perfectly. This active EQ section is just what you need when you want to have full control over your sound as well as the accompanying distortion.
This is a pedal that features all the additional features that you would expect from a great distortion pedal, including true bypass switching. In addition to this, it is built to last with housing that features sturdy and solid metal construction and long wearing internal parts. You can be sure that whether you are using this pedal for practising at home with or if you will be travelling performing full gigs daily, the pedal will last you for ages.
This is the only pedal that you will need when you want to create great distortion and the analog operation means that there’s less to go wrong in comparison to electronic based circuits. You will make a huge impression and the easy to use pedal is certain to make your performances more fun.
Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion Pedal
For the greatest metal sounds, you should definitely check out the Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion Pedal. This is perhaps the best metal distortion pedal, which has been designed to give you that awesome, over the top distortion that is so deserving of metal music. This is a distortion pedal like nothing you’ve ever heard before. The crushing distortion that it offers is impressive and you can be sure that it will fit well with your sound as it is tailored to suit metal music.
A top boost controller is integrated to provide you with that metal bite. It does this by boosting narrow bands of high frequencies. Make sure that the Top Boost setting is activated in order to be able to use this effect.
Using the treble knob, you can provide up to a 10db cut so that you can really boost the treble. The mid control knob controls the middle frequencies and cuts out up to 15db. Finally, the bass control knob is able to cut up to 14db in the bass range.
A distortion knob is included and this controls the amount of gain that is added to the music. You can also increase or decrease the volume level with the volume control.
If you want to activate or disable the pedal’s effects, you can do so using the footswitch. It is built with strong metal and the chassis is strong, so you can be sure that even with the most heavy of uses, it will remain reliable for years to come.
If you want complete portability with this distortion pedal, you’ll be pleased to know that it runs on a 9v battery. The battery isn’t included but you can purchase them at most hardware stores. If you’d prefer to have consistent power without needing to worry about the battery, you could use an AC power adapter instead.
Donner Morpher High Degree Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal
If you’ve got one of those new tube amps that don’t seem to provide much gain or special effects, you may benefit from choosing the Donner Morpher High Degree Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal. By creating a distortion effect, this pedal can ensure that you’ll never need to purchase a more powerful amp ever again.
When you want to perform with distortion, you should be able to operate your distortion pedal with ease. The high degree of distortion ensures that you can create some heavy sounding metal tones and perform impressive solos. The strong expression of the pedal and the dynamic echo sound can give you the most natural sounding distortion effects around.
You can be sure that this pedal will last for as long as possible. The chassis is built form strong metal so that you can stomp on the distortion pedal as much as you like without causing damage. The metal is an allow aluminum so it is also lightweight and makes the pedal easy to transport form one gig to another.
You can enjoy great tone with this guitar distortion pedal thanks to the true bypass. It also features a power indicator to let you know if the pedal is turned on or not.
This Morpher distortion pedal is one of the top rated distortion pedals and it provides you with hi-gain style distortion whilst being built to a high standard. With standard input and output ports, you can be sure that there are enough ways of connecting your existing decides to this pedal.
The Distortion Effect – What Is a Distortion Pedal Used For?
A distortion pedal is used to add dramatic effects to a musician’s performance in order to provide enhancement and character to the sound. If you have an amplifier that comes with a gain control, you may be able to turn the amp all the way up to maximum volume and then change the gain setting to reflect the genre that you want to play, but this can be impractical. If you are practicing at home for example and you simply want to create a better sound, you should choose a distortion pedal instead of trying to play an amplifier at full volume when you have neighbors who may not appreciate that.
Distortion pedals can be made to be suite simple or more complicated, offering you more features. You should bear in mind however that many distortion pedals are made to suit one particular genre or instrument. If you are a bassist, you should look out for the distortion pedals that are created for bass, whilst the ones that are created for metal shouldn’t be used for country for example. If you choose the best match to your genre, you can be sure that you’ll get the sound that you’ve wanted.
Distortion Pedal vs. Overdrive Pedal
When you are trying to find that perfect tone from your guitar, you need to make sure that you’re getting one of the top distortion pedals. There are a whole host of pedals that you can choose from but the main two kinds are the distortion pedal and overdrive pedal. Lets take a look at these two pedals so that you can make the best decision.
Overdrive pedal – If you want to produce the kind of sound that you’d expect form a vintage sounding amp, you should choose an overdrive pedal. With an overdrive pedal, you’ll be able to create the great harmonics along with the deep overtones that come with overdriving an amplifier. Overdrive pedals were created in the advent of solid-state amps. These amps are reliable and high quality, but due to their electronic and accurate sounds, you just don’t get the same sounds that you’d experience with the vintage amps.
Distortion pedal – In comparison to overdrive pedals, using distortion pedals provides you with more gain. You can usually choose from different gain levels. In the higher gain levels, you’ll be able to experience breakup effects and some great sustain effects too. Distortion pedals often have a boost controller so that you can increase your volume when you are playing solos.
If you are a blues guitarist, you may prefer the sound that is produced by an overdrive pedal. A distortion pedal is better for guitarist who play metal or hard rock music. The more extreme sound effects from a distortion pedal suit the rock genre better.
What to Look for In a Best Distortion Guitar Pedal
Finding the right distortion pedal for your music is important. Distortion pedals add character and effect to your instrumental voice, so you need the right sounds to deliver the music that represents you. Getting the right distortion pedal will mean that you’ll enjoy your performances more and you’ll be able to create the sound that you want.
- Genre – You will need to think about which genres you are most likely to play. Thrash metal and country music will require completely different kinds of reverb for example. When you purchase your distortion pedal, it is important to know that most models of distortion pedal have been specially designed to work with a certain kind of genre. Although there are some pedals that are not specific to only one genre, most of them are better with some genres than others.
- Fuzz Pedals – If you want a classic sounding distortion sound, you can recreate music from the likes of Hendrix and the White Stripes. Before the days of fuzz pedals however, artists were creating fuzz distortion by defacing their amplifiers. Ike Turner is reported to have dropped his amplifier whilst walking to the recording studio, whilst others such as The Kinks used to take a knife and physically damage the speaker to create the sound.
- Overdrive – If you enjoy playing blues rock, you should definitely check out overdrive pedals. Stevie Ray Vaughan was a huge fan of these pedals. Overdrive refers to a smoother kind of sound distortion that sounds like the distortion produced by tube amps being turned up so loud that the tube almost shattered. Now, distortion pedals create the screaming overdrive sound that is so recognizable.
- Distortion – Where overdrive ends, distortion begins. Think Van Halen when you think of true distortion. Distortion pedals emulate the amps that have high gain and can produce huge walls of sound. When small amps just aren’t up to creating the kind of distortion that you’re looking for, a distortion pedal is a must.
When you have decided on a pedal that you think fits the bill, you should try to trial it first so that you can be sure that it’s exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re unable to get to a store locally that has the pedal for you to try out, you should check out other user’s reviews, watch videos of people performing with the pedal and see how the pedal performs for other people.
A distortion pedal is a must if you have a modern and small amplifier that is incapable of creating distortion on its own. As you can tell from these distortion pedal reviews, there are a few different choices available to you so that you can find the one that matches your needs the best.
Make sure that you choose the distortion pedal that has been designed for your particular genre if possible so that you can be sure that you’ll be able to do what you need to with it. Turning up the distortion is a great way of really making your instrument stand out.
You should consider all the points that we have suggested when you’re looking for the best distortion pedal for your needs. The best pedal for you will be able to do what you need it to as well as being able to offer you functionality for many years to come, which means ensuring that it is future proof with plenty of expansion options.