6 of the Best Distortion Pedals for Every Crunch-Lovers!

By Monica | Gear

Jul 18
best distortion pedal

If you want to bolster the overall sounding of your guitar, then you should get the best distortion pedal. This particular stompbox will boost your signal with crazy and dirty tones. Of course, you cannot say that your amplifier can do this magic alone. We have never heard any seasoned players who said this.

For those who are into rock and heavy metal genres, the presence of distortion pedals is quite necessary. It would be difficult to create those sound that would stand out in the mix. The kind of music that a distortion pedal can create is something that you will love to invest.

You can see a lot of distortion pedals on the market today. However, in this article, we will only showcase the top rated distortion pedals for you. We carefully selected each of these pedals and tested them on different rigs. The fact that they are here is proof that they are worth your attention. Here are they!

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Recommended Picks for the Best Distortion Pedal

Well, we didn't just randomly pick several units of distortion pedals and placed them on this list. We have careful considerations whenever we gauge the quality of a particular distortion stompbox. Read the next section to know these factors.

How to Choose a Distortion Pedal

Sometimes, people just want to reinvent the sound quality of their rig through the use of different stompboxes. Because of these tendencies, people look for pedals that are rarely used. This is alright if you know how to gauge the capacity of this particular device. Otherwise, there's a good chance that you'll end up with a bad product.

You don't have to do the exploration by yourself. Instead, if you want to produce a certain sound, just follow the steps of those who have already made them. If you want it to sound like Guns and Roses, research for the pedals they used. There is no need for you to ride on the trend if you know what you are looking for.

Ask people who have been good with different guitar pedals. They can give the best recommendations for the type of setup that you want. Of course, the things that they would say to you are all nothing but opinions. The final cut will still be decided by you. Just weigh all the considerations and see which pedal can work for you.

Factors in Choosing

Factors in Choosing

Having a good distortion pedal can become a leverage on your part as a guitar player. If you want to pursue a career in this field, having the capability of producing excellent sound is a huge necessity. If you can create quality music, people would start to check out on you. The opposite will happen if you are playing bad.

Your guitar skills are crucial on this aspect. However, the overall sound quality would still depend on the quality of your rig. Aside from your guitar, your pedals play a major role.

Tone

Distortion pedals vary in the tone that they produce. A sound that is present on pedal A might not be available on pedal B. Therefore, it is pretty crucial that you would look for demo videos about how a particular distortion pedal sounds. Assess which one of these pedals perfectly suit your needs.

Moreover, take note that other factors affect the overall tone production of a distortion pedal. Such of these are the "Room," "Speakers," and "Amp" settings of a distortion pedal. These components improve the overall versatility of the pedal. But at the same time, you must check how these things work together.

Quality

Quality

The quality of a distortion pedal could reflect on its brand. We are not saying that less reputable distortion pedals don't have excellent design and functionality. Instead, we are just implying that pedals that received accolades from the community are easier to trust compared to some "unknowns."

When it comes to a pedal's quality, rigidity and durability are among the key features to look for. Can a particular pedal withstand constant usage? Will it last for a long time? These are some of the questions that would eventually lead you to the best distortion pedal for you.

Of course, always see if the pedal has a true bypass or buffered circuitry. At this point, we recommend that you should choose true bypass pedals because they can retain the original sound of your guitar.

Versatility

The versatility of a distortion pedal refers to its ability to produce effects that would work for different genres. If you are playing on a single field, having a uniform pedal is not a problem. But if you are constantly changing between various music types, you should get a pedal that comes with various tonal adjustments and configurations.


Best Distortion Pedal: A Full Round-Up

In this part, we will be highlighting the respective features and capabilities of each of the distortion pedals that we listed here. You can discover both the ups and downs of these devices by checking out their individual reviews. Specifically, we carefully tested these units so that we could fully assess their overall quality.

Of course, it would be great if you would check them one by one. In this way, you will get the pedal that would suit your playing style.

So what are you waiting for? Let's get started!

It is not a surprise anymore that the Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff topped this list. After all, it is among the sturdiest and most versatile distortion pedals that you can get on the market today. It can provide distortion effects that can crush your eardrums. But at the same time, it is not annoying to listen compared to its lesser counterparts.

The circuit of the Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff has been derived from the Big Muff Pi circuit. The latter has just been shrunk. But definitely, the creamy and awesome sustain of the Big Muff Pi circuit is still present on the Nano version. Moreover, it is notable that this device has a rugged construction that can withstand abuses.

The Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff is using a true bypass circuitry. Therefore, you can guarantee that the guitar sound won't be flavored at all. Considering its price, having the Nano is already a huge boost on your pedalboard. You can ascertain that its quality won't deter for a long time!


Pros:

  • Comes with DC power supply and 9-volt battery
  • Rugged and durable construction
  • True bypass circuitry
  • Clean distortion effects
  • Highly versatile

Cons:

  • No noticeable drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...


When it comes to responsiveness and power, you can really trust the MXR M75. This particular distortion pedal has a good reputation in the guitar community thanks to its authentic analog design. It can generate genuine vintage distortions without any artificial flavorings. After all, it is also a true bypass pedal.

The MXR M75 doesn't exhibit issues like latency and delays. Once you can connect this pedal in your signal chain, it will perform well and correctly. It won't give any nuisances in the mix, which is a good thing. Of course, the controls that you can get from this pedal are pretty impressive as well. It comes with an EQ control that allows you to modify the bass, treble, and mid of the tone.

Also, we personally love the simplicity of the MXR M75. It won't trouble even those who are new to pedals. Despite this, you can assure that this pedal has a durable and sturdy construction. Moreover, it is pretty compact, too. It can fit any pedalboard sizes.


Pros:

  • Versatile and highly responsive
  • It enables you to refine the quality of crunch of the distortion
  • True bypass circuitry
  • Authentic analog design
  • Durable housing and components

Cons:

  • No noticeable drawbacks

Let's take a look at this product...


You can rely on Boss when it comes to guitar pedals. Specifically, they are among the top producers of various stompboxes in the world today. For a distortion pedal, you should check out their DS-1. Although it has a simple interface, the quality of this pedal is really worthy of the limelight.

This particular effect pedal can produce great tones. They do not sound artificial and flavored. Moreover, the original sound of your guitar is still present in the mix because of its analog circuitry. We can say that it is not as versatile as compared to the MXR M75 and Nano. It has limited sound-sculpting controls, too. But overall, we can attest that it can create classic distortions smoothly!

The build of the Boss DS-1 is like a tank. The entire chassis and body are very durable and rugged. It won't break even if you use it constantly. Of course, it has a price that won't rip you off. Therefore, it is a good deal for someone who is looking for a high-quality pedal on an entry-level price range.


Pros:

  • Extremely solid construction
  • Compact and intuitive layout
  • True bypass circuitry
  • You can modify with third-party mods
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • The tone tends to be metallic (it is not ideal for multiple genres)

Let's take a look at this product...


Another great option of a distortion pedal is the Donner Morpher. It features a premium level of distortion which is ideal for metal and rock genres. The distortion it produces is pretty expressive, too, thanks to its impressive sustain. This pedal is great for lead and solo roles because of its powerful performance

Despite its compact design, the Donner Morpher remains to be sturdy and durable. Specifically, it has a body made from aluminum-alloy. Therefore, you can guarantee that it can withstand the detriments of constantly playing. Meanwhile, it comes with a LED indicator for its working status.

The Donner Morpher features a true bypass design for tonal transparency. The guitar's signal will remain the same throughout the mix. Perhaps the only drawback that you can attach to this pedal is its lack of versatility. It doesn't possess the necessary controls to modify the crunch of your distortion. But, it still remains a great distortion pedal.


Pros:

  • True bypass
  • Compact design (fits on any pedal board)
  • Analog circuitry
  • Expressive distortion effects
  • Durable and rugged body

Cons:

  • It is not as versatile as other options here
  • No power supply for its 9-volt battery

Let's take a look at this product...


The Joyo JF-03 is a great choice for those who are tight on budget. But despite its price, its quality is not lagging behind. The distortion that the Joyo JF-03 produces is a nostalgic representation to the 80s metal and rock bands. Of course, it is not undeniable that this unit is a replica of high-end models. Well, for us, they did an excellent job at mimicking these pedals.

Aside from the JF-02, the JF-03 of Joyo is considered as their best product. It has a decent construction and set of controls to shape your distortion. It is pretty responsive, too. Since it is using a true bypass circuit, it can preserve the original sound of your instrument. Specifically, the distortion of the JF-03 is quite similar to the crunch of Marshall. Therefore, it is a good choice for those who want to access wall-crushing effects!


Pros:

  • True bypass circuitry
  • Pretty responsive and versatile
  • Affordable
  • Powerful distortions without coloration
  • Rugged body and components

Cons:

  • It is a digital pedal (not a suitable choice for many guitar aficionados)
  • It can never produce subtle effects

Let's take a look at this product...


This is another MXR product that is worthy of your attention. The M104 Distortion + can create vintage distortion effects without being too harsh. Specifically, it connects the realm of fuzzy tones and overdrives to produce highly intricate distortion for your instrument. Meanwhile, it has a simple interface that allows you to dial the tones that you want to play.

This one comes with a footswitch that can toggle the Bypass mode and Effects mode easily. With this feature, you can improve your versatility in playing. Also, the Distortion knob will let you adjust the ratio between the guitar signal and effects. It is a good way to enhance the overall sounding of your instrument in the mix.


Pros:

  • Durable and solid metal body
  • Compact design
  • Simple interface
  • Can produce classic vintage distortions
  • Highly expressive effects

Cons:

  • It tends to produce "dark" tones (you must partner it with an EQ)

Let's take a look at this product...

Final Verdict

Overall, a distortion pedal is an essential stompbox to your pedalboard. If you are a geek of metal and rock genres, you will really need the crunch that this pedal gives off. You can have a stable solo if you have this device refining your guitar's sound. With just a simple toggling, you can turn a dull performance into an unforgettable one.

Among these units we featured, the Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff is considered as the best distortion pedal. There should be no mistake about it. With its striking tonal characteristic and genuine distortion, there is no wonder why guitarists keep on chasing it. Moreover, it has a body that can survive through the ages.

But of course, we still recommend that you should try all these pedals we listed here. Each of us has different preferences. Therefore, it is great if we can pick a pedal that would suit the needs of our rig!

If you have any questions, comments, and suggestions, feel free to ask us. We love to hear from you!

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About the Author

Hi everyone! Im Monica and I am an avid lover of guitars and everything in-between. My current profession is not really music-related. It is quite discouraging but I just don’t want to drop my zeal–especially not to guitars! I created GuitarTrance.Com so that I can keep up with my hobby. Of course, I want to engage with the community as well! Hope we can all get along!