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Best Distortion Pedal 2022: 12 High-Gain Ways To Get Chugging!

Is it worth getting a distortion pedal? Which distortion pedal is best?

The best distortion pedal is an important piece of equipment for guitarists. Nearly everyone you know will find it difficult to picture a guitar lacking distortion. 

Every time we transform immaculate cleans into delectable dust, we still get a rush. Fortunately, the guitar pedal industry is in a golden era right now, with a variety of small boutique stompbox creators challenging industry heavyweights like TC Electronic, MXR, and Boss. 

As a result, there are more options than ever if you explore the top distortion pedal to assist you in reaching tonal bliss. Because there is nothing quite like the sound of an amp getting destroyed by a bent pedal when utilised properly, it has characterised a wide range of musical styles, including punk, hard rock, and Swedish death metal. Many musicians have fallen in love with this hard-clipping result, whether gigging musicians or bedroom warriors who dream of the resonance of a totally dimmed Peavey stack.

When used properly, there is nothing quite like the sound of an amp being utterly demolished by a distortion pedal. Question is though, is it really worth getting a distortion pedal? Or are there better guitar effects pedals out there? Read on to find out.

After something specific about the best distortion pedals? Or just curious about what are the best-selling distortion pedals? Use the menu below to get all the info you need SUPER fast…

The best distortion pedals @ a glance…

12 of the best distortion pedals for sale today…

Prepare yourself!

Putting a finger on the best distortion pedal is a bit of a minefield. We say so because these days, there’s SO much choice! Audio-makers from all over the world, be they household names like Boss or more backstreet niche companies like xxx, are all out to up your gain capabilities & give you what they think is the best distortion pedal out there.

All of which means that while tracking down the perfect pedal can be a bit of a bore, there’s a solid chance that it’s out there. Encouraging!! The real task just boils down to finding it. So, we’ll say no more & get straight into it – here’s our rundown of the best distortion pedals for sale today…

1: Boss DS-1 distortion pedal

2: Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe V2 distortion pedal

3: Behringer HD300 heavy distortion pedal

4: Dunlop Fuzz Face FFM2 Jimi Hendrix distortion

5: TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion effects pedal

6: Boss MT-2W Waza Metal Zone distortion

7: Fender Pugilist distortion guitar pedal

8: EarthQuaker Devices Acapulco Gold V2

9: Pro Co You Dirty Rat distortion effects pedal

10: Walrus Audio (LM308) Iron Horse V2 distortion pedal

For chugging, this distortion pedal is the best…

Not everyone buys a distortion pedal to master the chug, but for those who do, it’s a ‘must-know’ capability before buying. Believe us, we’re quite the chugging fanatics ourselves. Exactly why wehn we came across this pedal, we just had to give it a special mention.

Aside from having notoriously high gain, you can also get chugging pretty quickly once you’ve hooked it up. Hence why (in our opinion) it’s pretty much perfect; ticks all the boxes. So say hello to our pick for the best distortion pedal for chugging…

11: Wampler Dracarys high gain distortion pedal

Easily the best distortion pedal for beginners…

Okay – so not everyone reading up on distortion pedals is going to be a certified distortion nerd (guilty as charged). For some of you, this whole distortion lark may be completely new & talk of chugging have looking all bemused. And that’s exactly why we couldn’t leave this blog without sharing our beginner’s pick.

That distortion pedal which isn’t perhaps the most technically capable, but is a great place for any newbie to start, particularly if they’re on a tight budget. If this is you, then don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover what we deem to be the best distortion pedal for beginners…

12: Donner Dark Horizon Crunch distortion pedal

Enjoy this best distortion pedal & keen for more? Don’t miss out on all our latest Effects Pedal & Preamp Reviews + all our latest Stringed Instrument Talk. Recently, we also did a rundown of the Best Wah Pedal + another on the Best Looping Stations, which may also be a good read.

Or, if you’re here purely to learn more about distortion pedals, keep reading & we’ll answer even more of your burning questions…

The lowdown on distortion pedals & how to choose one…

Each distortion has a different tone and characteristics, like chorus, delay, or reverb pedals. The style of tune you wish to play will determine which distortion is best for you. The most practical raw element in heavy metal is distortion. 

The perfect distortion pedal provides a deep, dripping warping with a closed and steady bass end, according to players of many metal guitars. You’ll need a ton of gain if you’re playing at the extremities of metal. 

Still, you’ll also enjoy tone-shaping environments, like a variable mid-control. To make sure you can dial in the precise sound, you ought to be attended over the thundering bass and piercing drums. You could want a better open-sounding warping for the less severe musical genres, including punk and hard rock.

Tracking down the best selling distortion pedals is actually quite a task. Why?

Because there’s that darn many of them that to call one the bestseller would be a bit like picking your favourite child. Harsh to say the least. In which case, here’s a quick rundown of some of the most well-known contenders…

  • Fender Pugilist Distortion Pedal. 
  • TC Electronic Grand Magus. 
  • Earthquaker devises Acapulco Gold.
  • JHS 3 Series Distortion.
  • MXR M116 Fullbore Distortion.

Yes – it really is worth it!

The distortion pedal is a bare essential for electric guitarists & allows you to access the full range of tones that you’re probably used to hearing in the music you love. A distortion pedal is more aggressive than an overdrive since it fully warps your tone to produce a new sound. 

Unlike an overdrive, which only pushes your amp or attempts to replicate that sought cranked sound, distortion looks to create a new sound by modifying your existing signal. A distortion pedal will add a ton of extra dirt and grit to your tone &, depending on the setting you select, can produce some serious rocking crunch or full-on, earth-shattering, doom-laden distortion by saturating and seizing control of your signal.

Kurt did use a Proco Rat distortion pedal for his song Territorial Pissings on Nevermind. Another extremely well-liked distortion handle with a standout sound is this one. It gained much traction during the grunge era thanks to its bushy distortion. 

Interesting is the fact that Krist Novoselic’s primary distortion pedal was the Proco Rat. You might desire to get one up to get some beautiful hazy bass tones if you also play bass. Kurt favoured the Proco Rat over the BOSS DS-1 and DS-2, but that’s not to say you’ll think the same. Due to how it warps & changes your tone, distortion pedals do create a very ‘individual’ effect, so you may be getting ahead of yourself by calling either of these pedals to be the ‘best’ distortion pedal out there.

Fact is, you may discover that some songs sound better with the DS-2 and others with the Proco Rat. Like most things in music, it’s completely subjective & pretty much all comes back to personal preference.

The Boss DS-1 Distortion is one of the most straightforward and well-known pedals ever. The DS-1 has been used by artists ranging from Kurt Cobain to Steve Vai and is most renowned for its punchy, classic rock-style distortion. 

With only three specific configurable parameters—”tone,” “level,” and “dist”—you may fine-tune a dynamic spectrum of gain sounds. The treble/bass ratio and output parameters are typically controlled by “tone” and “level,” while “dist” controls the amount of gain. Little else needs to be said; sometimes, the most straightforward circuits work the best! 

Boss pedals are built like tanks; they seldom ever fail you, and we have more trust in them than any other pedal to consistently deliver.

Kurt Cobain used Endino’s Fender Twin Reverb and a Boss DS-1 Distortion for the album instead of his previous Randall solid-state head and 4×12 cab. As straightforward as it was successful, anyone can fairly recreate this set-up because the inexpensive Boss mostly caused Kurt’s distortion sound. 

The debut album by Nirvana, “Bleach,” which was famously recorded by Jack Endino for about $600, together with Mudhoney’s “Superfuzz & Big Muff,” contributed to the definition of the “Grunge” sound. It continues to be an influence for many guitarists that prefer gritty, straightforward rock music more than 27 years later!

Yes, Jimi Hendrix always had a soft spot for Vox wah pedals, BUT he also had a slight love affair with distortion too.

One of the most iconic distorted sounds that the performer is associated with is Fuzz Face. A distortion pedal by Dunlop that was behind pretty much Jimi’s entire sound throughout his career. Unlike other distortion pedals, the Fuzz Face is known for its rocky fuzzed-up way of distorting tones & pretty much gives you free reign over the level of static in your sound

So should you be hunting for the best distortion pedal to sound like Jimi Hendrix, then the Fuzz Face is pretty much the way to go. It’s all the grunge you need.

Nobody can tell you how to choose a distortion pedal, just as they can’t definitively tell you what the best ice cream flavour is, or the best shade of green to paint your living room. However, we do have a few tips…

  • Go for a quality brand – Now we’re not saying that quality brands are the be all & end all when it comes to choosing a distortion pedal – in the past we’ve comes across some really good cheap pedals, however brand can often be a good indicator of build quality & also give you a better idea of what type of musician a distortion pedal is targeted at. Speaking of which…
  • Understand your music – Understanding your music is a must when hunting down to right pedal, as distortion pretty much adds its own flavour to all instruments/ styles of music. Only then can you narrow down your options & truly find the best distortion pedal for you.
  • Versatility – Some pedals are just distortion, whereas others give you distortion + a whole bunch of other effects. In other words, if you’re after multiple effects, then certain pedals may work out as better value. Something worth baring in mind!

The Boss DS-1 Distortion is one of the most straightforward and well-known pedals ever. The DS-1 has been used by artists ranging from Kurt Cobain to Steve Vai and is most renowned for its punchy, classic rock-style distortion. 

With only three specific configurable parameters—”tone,” “level,” and “dist”—you may fine-tune a dynamic spectrum of gain sounds. The treble/bass ratio and output parameters are typically controlled by “tone” and “level,” while “dist” controls the amount of gain. Little else needs to be said; sometimes, the most straightforward circuits work the best! 

Boss pedals are built like tanks; they seldom ever fail you, and we have more trust in them than any other pedal to consistently deliver.