Looking for the best distortion pedal? Below is a list of some of the best sounding distortion pedals available on the market at a good value. Whether you’re looking for some plain ‘ol dirt, a little crunch or pure melt your face gain, we’ve got what you’re looking for.

Best Distortion Pedal List

PicturePedalPriceRatingReview
PicturePedalPriceRatingReview
Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal$$4.8Click Here for Review
Vox Joe Satriani Satchurator Distortion Pedal$$4.7Click Here for Review
EHX Metal Muff Distortion Pedal$$4.6Click Here for Review
MXR M104 Distortion+ Distortion Pedal$$4.5Click Here for Review
Wampler Triple Wreck Distortion Pedal$$$$4Click Here for Review

Price Guide:
$ – Under $50
$$ – $50-$135
$$$ – $135-$200
$$$$ – Over $200

What is a Distortion Pedal?

Distortion happens whenever a naturally occurring sound wave is altered. This alteration can happen for a number of reasons, such as overworked speakers, hot tubes in an amp, or a digital modification of the sound wave. When distortion occurs, the curved peaks of the affected wave become flattened, or “clipped”, which produces a harsh, gritty sound.

In the world of electric guitars, pedals labeled “distortion”, “overdrive”, and “fuzz” all effectively do the same thing to varying degrees: clip the dry input signal. Overdrive pedals use “soft clipping” which gently rounds off the sound wave’s peaks to keep most of the original “warmth” intact. Fuzz pedals are on the opposite end of the distortion spectrum: they change the gentle sine waves of the signal into nearly square waves, resulting in crunchy, digital tones.

Distortion pedals usually fall in the middle of the affecting range. They utilize “hard clipping” that produces a harsher tone than an overdrive, but not as crushed as a fuzzbox. The more versatile distortion pedals will usually have EQ settings to tweak the high and low ends of the tone, giving more customizable options than your average overdrive pedal. And while a distortion pedal is designed to change your tone, it doesn’t make the sound waves into the digitized, nearly-straight lines that a fuzz pedal would do.

The best distortion pedals will give you a wide range of distorted effects to play with, from the warm bluesy nature of an overdrive pedal to the techno-grit chunkiness of a fuzzbox. It will also not muddy your tone should you choose not to engage the effect all the time. In a distortion pedal, true bypass and equalizer capabilities are invaluable for the musician who loves to change up their tone mid-gig. For the guitarist who loves metal, grunge, and dirty rock all the time, the simpler distortion pedals are the way to go.

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