In this article, we’re going to help you better discover the best metal distortion pedals on the market. So if you’re in need of one, you’ve come to the perfect place.
In fact, to better help you, check out the guide below which shows off some of the top metal distortion pedals on the market.
Mxr M116 Fullbore Metal Distortion Effect Pedal
|$||Internal Gate Trigger|
Electro-Harmonix Nano Pocket Metal Muff Distortion
|$||3-Band EQ: bass, mid and treble|
Boss Ds-1X Distortion Guitar Effects Pedal
|$||Clear string-to-string definition|
|Pro Co Rat 2||$||Works well with arena rock rhythm tones|
Revv Amplification G3 Distortion Effects Pedal
|$$||3 selectable "aggression" settings|
Abasi Pathos Distortion Effects Pedal
|$$||Musically-tuned EQ shelves and mid control|
|Amptweaker Tight Metal Jr||$||Gain, Tone, Volume controls|
Tc Electronic 2016 Dark Matter Effect Pedal
|$||True bypass - Zero loss of tone|
Heavy Metal Music and Distortion Pedals
Heavy metal music is one of the best displays of what the guitar can do. Metal pushes the limits of the instrument from serious shredding, to drop tuning chugging it’s a genre that a lot of guitar players love with good reason.
It’s sub-genres rub the gambit of sludge, thrash, djent, speed and the list goes on and on. Every style has its own unique characteristics but the one thing they all have in common is that quintessential heavy distortion that the amp alone cannot fully achieve. That brings us to the topic of this article, what is the best metal distortion pedal?
These pedals are what we use when we need to bring to the sound that extra fuzz and crunch without having to run and adjust the amp every time we want to change the tone and feel. When choosing a pedal, you’ll want to play through them or check online for demos of what is available out there. There are a lot of great options to choose from so I’ll go into some detail here about what makes these ten pedals stand out, and why I like each one.
Customization in the sound is something I look for in my gear. I want to be as free as I can to make my own sound as well as being able to emulate some of my favorite sounds from my favorite bands and most brutal riffs. A pedal should be user friendly, rugged and strike a nice balance of simplicity and customizability. So here they are in no particular order.
#1 Amptweaker Tight Metal Jr.
The first pedal on this list is the Amptweaker Tight Metal Jr. I love how nice and compact this pedal (it’s only 2.7”W) so it won’t take up a bunch of room on your pedalboard. And when you start adding all the effects you need, space becomes a premium.
One of my favorite things about this pedal is the built-in Noise Gate which will remove a lot of the excess white noise that you get when you turn up the gain, most noticeably on guitars with single coil pickups. A noise gate pedal alone would cost you $100 so to have it built-in is a major win. I like the quick EQ switch with the Thrash, Normal and Smooth settings.
Sometimes pedals with a full-EQ will turn some players off, this pedal finds a nice middle ground. Another great feature of this pedal is the true bypass, even when you turn the pedal off a lot of pedals will still affect the clean tone the true bypass eliminates that.
Another great feature of the noise gate is it shuts off when you switch the pedal off so, your clean tone is completely unaffected when the pedal is turned off. Amptweaker has a multitude of pedals and this is my favorite. The Tight Metal Jr gives you sounds that you can get from their Fat Metal and Tight Metal models, it’s almost like two pedals in one which is hard to beat.
#2 MXR Fullbore Metal Distortion
The MXR Fullbore Metal from Dunlop is another great option that will allow you to get that custom guitar sound you are looking for. I love the rugged industrial look of this pedal. This pedal has 3 EQ controls High, Mid and Low which means you can really lock in the sound you want. This pedal has a built-in switchable Noise Gate which is extra special on this pedal because it can pump out insane levels of gain.
The Fullbore also is also equipped with a scoop switch when you just want to go crazy. Scoop drops out the mids which is a more popular thing to do to the EQ for metal guitar players. If you are interested in a more detailed description of what scooping is and what it does check out this article. Another great thing about this pedal is the price, a lot of pedals you will be paying $120 or more, this pedal comes in right at $99.99.
#3 BOSS DS-1X
Boss is a standard name when it comes to effect pedals and they’ve been around forever. Their most popular pedal, the aptly named Metal Zone pedal is almost a rite of passage for budding shredders. But for me the DS-1X is supreme. This pedal doesn’t have the built-in noise gate as some of the other pedals although the hum is surprising low. One of my favorite things about this pedal versatile it is. This pedal isn’t limited to a chunky metal style, so it allows a lot of freedom in the sound.
The DS-1X also has some of the most defined tones of any of these pedals, even at high distortion. One of the dangers of distortion pedals is losing that definition as the gain is increased and with this pedal you don’t have that.
#4 Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff
The Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff is the next entry on this list. EH’s Muff series of pedals continue to grow in popularity for good reason. The quality of these pedals is second to none and the level of customizability is a lot of fun. The top boost really gives the sound a nice bite, which you can control with the knob but also with the footswitch.
When added to the Treble, Mid and Bass EQ controls it’s really a 4th EQ knob. The Metal Muff seems best suited for your more grunge minded guitarists. It does a great job emulating the sounds of the 90’s made famous by bands like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden.
#5 Hotone Djent
This pedal is for all of the djen fiends out there. This pedal has a 3-way toggle switch in the middle that actually has some nice versatility and a true bypass footswitch. You can get a nice classic metal sound out of this pedal but it shines the most getting that prog and djent sound. This pedal will punch you right in the face with it’s low end tone and definition.
Which is perfect for 7 and 8 string guitar players. I like the aesthetics of the giant volume knob on the top of the pedal with a blue led light behind it gives it a futuristic feel and just looks fantastic. This is a great addition to any pedalboard and will serve you well in all your face melting endeavors. One downside to this pedal is you need a noise gate, especially to get that percussive djent sound.
#6 TC Electronic Dark Matter
The Dark Matter distortion pedal from TC Electronic is another excellent option in the market of distortion pedals. The Dark Matter is an excellent value, the EQ knobs are very responsible which isn’t always the case on the cheaper pedals you can get out there. It’s as if some pedals will affect the sound with the slightest adjustment to the knob, while others are not as responsive sometimes drastically.
This pedal has all analog circuitry, which makes it great for getting a more vintage style of distortion. But, with the flip of the voice switch between the gain and level knobs the Dark Matter really shows the wide range of sounds this bad boy can produce. If you’re looking for big and bold low end the Dark Matter on its own, doesn’t really hold it together.
This pedal does a great job though bringing up the mid levels. It’s small and compact like most of these pedals on this list and is also the most affordable.
#7 Pro Co Rat 2
I wanted to add this pedal to the list because it truly has a classic sound. The Pro Co Rat 2, reminds me of growing up listening to acts like Motley Crue and Guns ‘n Roses. This pedal does a great job recreating that classic hard rock and hair metal sound. By now I’m sure you’ve detected a bit of a theme with most of these pedals, this pedal too has the magic word—versatile.
This pedal is a great metal distortion pedal and it’s a great “hard rock” distortion pedal. Anytime you want to add a little fuzz to your sound this pedal is great for that. This pedal does a great job in bumping up the treble. Most of these pedals are strong in the low end, but not all are strong on the opposite side. The Rat 2 is the pedal I would suggest you look into if you are going to be spending a lot of your time playing in the upper register.
#8 Revv G3 Distortion
The Revv G3 pedal can do so much, it can achieve booming low ends without sounding too muddy and at the same time provide screaming high end tones. The 3 aggression modes really enable the player explore the EQ to find the sound they want. This pedal isn’t cheap, but I can honestly say it’s worth every penny.
The tone knobs are very responsive and no matter how high you crank the gain on this pedal the integrity of the sound stays the same. The thing you’ll hear the most about this pedal is that it functions more like an amp than a pedal, and they are right. There is no overbearing fuzz but a tight and crisp crunch, which makes this pedal a favorite of metal and rock guitar players around the world.
#9 MI Audio Super Crunch Box Distortion V2
The MI Audio Super Crunch Box is another pedal that you’ll hear comparisons to more of an amp than a pedal. 3 band EQ enables the player to really dial in the ideal tone, and this pedal has insane amounts of gain and the 3 Comp settings on the top switch lets you tweak the gain even more.
The 2nd switch is what MI Audio calls the Mode switch also has 3 settings that will change the contours of the overall tone. The Presence knob gives you even more control over those high end frequencies. So it’s difficult to go wrong with a pedal that will do so much, and allows so much control and fine tuning to the sound than you can normally expect from just a pedal.
#10 Abasi Concepts Pathos Distortion
The final pedal on this list is the Abasi Concepts Pathos Distortion pedal. This is the signature pedal from Animals As Leaders guitar player Tosin Abasi. This is a perfect pedal for the prog metal player. This pedal is designed to mimic the sound of a tube amplifier and it really captures that feel. This pedal really sounds great whether it’s to add some drive to the clean setting on your amp or really expanding on the dirty setting.
Here is the man himself Tosin Abasi showing the kind of distortion and tone you can get from this pedal. 3 band EQ and the “smooth” and “edge” settings give this pedal a lot of flexibility in what this pedal can achieve.
These pedals offer a lot of choices, and can be a major tool to help you find that tone you have been looking for. Happy hunting!
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