Finding The Best Distortion Pedal
We explain which ones are the most prominent and sought after, and help you in finding the best distortion pedal for your style.
We decided not to include overdrives, fuzz, and boosters because they are designed for different purposes. We focused on Distortion Pedals that provide you with flexible gain without regard to amplifier drive. You can of course use the overdrive, fuzz and distortion interchangeably but that is another story in itself.
When looking for effects, the most important thing to keep in mind is that we all have different tastes. Your favorite distortion may appeal to you now, but it might not please everyone including your future self, when you outgrow your current distortion tone. So before buying your ideal distortion, or any pedal for that matter, it's best to first analyze your music style, preferences and goals, and test as many pedals as you can. The pedals listed below are selected to point you in the right direction, towards finding a satisfying and personalized distorted tone.
If you are looking for a transparent, dynamic and generic distortion, then much like so many guitar players and great artists, you can't go wrong with the Boss DS-1. It has three basic controls - Tone, Level and Dist which with will let out a bare bones distortion tone that will not overshadow your guitar's voice. The DS-1 comes in the familiar Boss single effect pedal shape with rugged metal exteriors. It is also one of the most affordable. Retail Price: $49 | Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff PI Distortion/Sustainer
Knowing that Hendrix stomped on a Big Muff PI helps in making it the pedal of choice for many players. It bears the same vintage distortion tone as the original '70s era Big Muff PI, with three basic controls - volume, tone and sustain. This pedal is known for providing harmonic distortion and violin-like sustain, ideal for cranking out sweet and meaty solos. The Tone knob is also commendable, allowing you to get tones that emphasize bass or treble.
Retail Price: $82 | Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com
Boss BD-2 Blues Driver Overdrive and Distortion Pedal
The Boss BD-2 arguably ranks high among the best distortion pedals, it has become a staple in many blues guitarists rigs. This pedal will give you the classic blues guitar tones, warm and mellow and responds well to nuances and volume changes. With the advent of pedal modifications, this pedal gained more popularity because of a Robert Keeley mod. The mod adds a Phat switch which increases the low end of single coil pickups.
Retail Price: $90.00 | Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com
Wampler Triple Wreck Distortion
This Best Distortion Pedals list would be incomplete without the Wampler Triple Wreck high gain distortion pedal. It is designed to provide you the highest gain possible, while giving you tone shaping controls via its 3 band EQ and its Cream-Crunch knob. Further flexibility is provided by its two voices - Vintage (thump) and Modern (sparkle). For even more extreme distortion tones, just step on the included boost switch.
Retail Price: $269.97 | Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com
Blackstar HT Series HT-DISTX Tube Distortion Pedal
If you require genuine tube distortion tone, then the Blackstar HT-DISTX Tube Distortion Pedal will deliver what you need. The HT-DISTX runs 2 cascaded ECC83 triode stages and gives you real high voltage circuitry (300V), producing true to tube distortion with great dynamics and feel. It comes with a 3 band EQ and a ISF tone shaping knob for ensuring your tone is personalized. It is housed in a sturdy casing, ready for some stomping.
Retail Price: $199.99 | Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com
DigiTech Screamin Blues Overdrive and Distortion Pedal
If you are looking for an affordable, flexible and dynamic distortion then the sole of your shoes will love the Screamin' Blues. At a very affordable price, it delivers a wide array of blues tones from mellow to chunky high gain and anything in between. It is set in a road worthy casing and is very easy to set up. It could have been better if it had a Mid EQ knob, but it still provides a nice biting distortion tone for blues enthusiasts.
Retail Price: $49.95 | Get the latest price & reviews at Amazon.com
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