distortion pedals for guitars


10 Best Distortion Pedals


Are you always trying to push your guitar tones to new sonic levels? Well, a guitar distortion pedal is what you’ll be looking for to invigorate that sound. The best thing about guitar distortion pedals is that you can create just about any effect and customize the signal coming from your amplifier.

There’s a wide selection of distortion pedals. At least the market has made it such that it’s no longer easy to pick just one for all your needs. But whether you want to step up your bass tone or are looking to own a pedal that can work well with synths, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s a list of 10 of the Best distortion pedals for your every need.

10 Best Distortion Pedals

1. Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal


Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal

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Featuring a minimalistic design, the Boss DS-1 has been around for decades now. It continues to take center stage when it comes to the best distortion pedals for synths and keyboards. It can reproduce just about any dynamic you need in your music style. Most people love its sound coloration as it is more distinctive than other pedals in its class.

This pedal uses three knobs. The tone knob works great on keyboards as it lets you tailor in the EQ. It will not mask your tone such that it lets you control the overall sound as desired. It also adds a generous level of harmonic richness which helps you find the right gain. Now you can have a beautifully created rhythm sound. It works well with amps that are already on the dirt side as it brings in the brightening effect.

The popularity of the Boss DS-1 continues to rise more so because it is modifiable. Many people get to order some custom modifications like Keeley DS-Ultra Mod. For DIYers, it’s a must-have as it will cost you very little, and you can make very significant tweaks without tampering with the sound quality.


  • It has a rugged metal shell for longevity
  • It can reproduce sound from soft to hard
  • Performance great at all settings
  • It brings in a bright effect to dark tones


  • Few complaints about it sounding metallic or buzzy

2. Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal

Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal

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RAT distortion pedals are some of the dominant drives that have other brands looking to attain the same sound quality. The design is great, and the Pro Co RAT2 seeks to fulfill fuzz qualities that we’ve seen in other Pro Co pedals. This model comes with three control knobs. The distortion adjusts the gain level; the filter helps to create a darker tone by rolling off high-end frequencies, while the volume knob controls the overall volume.

Looking at sound and performance, you get a full crunch tone with a great distorted rock guitar tone. You won’t be touching the filter knob too much unless you want to achieve a mellow tone. It excels at almost anything; apart from the distortion and fuzz, it also covers the bases in overdrive and sustains. This pedal has a real classic sound that makes it super fun to play.

You get a metallic shell that is a little too bright. It glows in the dark with the luminescent control graphics. This makes it easy for you to see what you are doing when performing live in low-lit environments. It also has an LED indicator plus an easy-to-use battery compartment. For the vast range distortion and the extra crunch, we can say the Pro Co RAT2 is a steal.


  • It can be used as a primary distortion for rock rhythm tones
  • It is versatile as it is recommended as the best fuzz distortion pedal
  • It has a tool-less battery compartment
  • It is bright with excellent control graphics


  • Extended-range guitarists indicate it might muddy your tone

3. Fulltone Custom Shop OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive Pedal

Fulltone Custom Shop OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive Pedal

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Probably one of the best dirt boxes since its inception; the FULL OCD Drive Pedal is a force to reckon. It’s in a new and refurbished stompbox giving you more reason to meet your tonal distortion needs. It brings all the classical overtones that you’ll want when cranking it. This pedal has diverse tonal possibilities that sum up some of its uses. Apart from heavy overtones, it can also get you spanky cleans for a great tube amp.

You have three controls that include the Dive, Tone, and Volume functions. It also performs well with both high and low inputs. The High Peak setting gives you a delightful crunch while the Low Peak gets you a clean signal boost. You will love that it can boost sound up to 30dB using the volume knob. This pedal uses true bypass so it will always send your signal unaffected.

You get a compact design that comfortably fits on a crammed pedalboard. Its flexibility comes in the way you can boost volume without worrying it is going to muddy your tone. It has clean boosting capabilities that come with the fact that it has a buffer that is unaffected by the sonic effects of any successive pedals.


  • It has true bypass and enhanced bypass
  • It has excellent overdrive for electric guitars
  • Huge control knobs
  • 9V battery connection
  • Lovely sound quality


  • Some users have complaints about the power input location

4. Nano Big Muff Electro-Harmonix Guitar Distortion Effects Pedal

Nano Big Muff Electro-Harmonix Guitar Distortion Effects Pedal

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The legendary Big Muff finds its way in a much small and compact pedal. The Nano Big Muff is everything like the Classic NYC Big Muff Pi. The rich, aggressive tones have had celebrities like Jim Hendrix and Pink Floyd reaching for the stars in their rock-star careers. You have three flexible controls that are powerful enough for a perfect dial-in.

With the tone control, this pedal lets you explore an expansive tonal territory to help reach new sonic levels. It is flexible with just one main sound as it enables you to sustain effortlessly. It will be hard to choose from the larger models when you have the same Big Muff convenience in a much smaller version.

This pedal operates using 9V batteries with an option of using a DC power supply. It’s a good thing for such a compact pedal since most of them only use AC adapters. You will also like that it operates on true bypass. This should maintain your tone with no coloration whatsoever.


  • It has adjustable tone and sustain control
  • It is compact and rugged
  • Wide range of distortion
  • It comes with the 9V battery


  • It can suffer from background noise

5. TC Electronic Distortion Effects Dark Matter Pedal

TC Electronic Distortion Effects Dark Matter Pedal

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TC Electronic prides itself on being in the industry long enough to master the tweaks of what really matters. If you fancy a pedal that stays true to its base but covers a wide array of sounds, you have it in the Dark Matter Pedal. It has an analog circuitry which works to bring an incredibly dynamic front. This distortion pedal finds favor with guitarists who want to preserve a full sound that’s more memorable.

This pedal has both a classic and modern edge to it. Due to the low compression and lively response, it is designed to follow every turn you make. It covers cleans, crunches, warm blues, and even beautiful lead tones to satisfy even the most insatiable and picky guitarist. The effects of the TC Dark Matter are true bypass, and though they can get a slight pop, the issue is not that significant with this model.

This pedal features rugged construction, level and drive knobs, dual-band controls, and even a voicing switch. When it comes to headroom and dynamics, you’ll be able to achieve that high just by ramping up the voltage levels. You’ll like that it neither gets muddy nor covers up your tone. This is because it has lots of gain.


  • It suits different music genres
  • True bypass with no loss of tone
  • It uses batteries but can accommodate a power adapter
  • It’s a sturdy design in a small unit


  • It does not come with a DC adapter

6. MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion

MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion

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MXR models have to make it to the list of the most reliable distortion pedals. The Super Badass model is just as its name indicates. It will deliver superior distortion with a vast range of gain on demand. This way, you can shape your signature tone and drive your music level to a sweet spot. This pedal covers everything from the 70s to the modern metal world.

You have a pedal that is built for heavy distortion, but it somehow has a bit of crunch and overdrive for every taste in between. The three-band EQ is perhaps the best feature of this pedal. It lets you fix your bass guitar if it lacks a midrange punch while correcting the problems in your amplifier. It is all you’d ever ask for if you also want to boost or cut out frequencies.

The central control is the distortion function which is backed up by three other dials to help fine-tune your sound. These are the Bass, Treble, and Mid controls. The compact footprint on this robust stompbox is light so you can take it anywhere. This is very important if you have to carry the whole pedalboard for on-the-road performances.


  • It is built to be lightweight but robust
  • Controls are easy to use over a broad frequency spectrum
  • It has true bypass
  • It preserves natural sound being 100% analog


  • It is too loud for some people’s liking

7. BOSS-ODB-3 Bass Overdrive

BOSS-ODB-3 Bass Overdrive

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You’ll be surprised at how good the BOSS-ODB-3 sounds. At its budget-friendly price, you’ll like that it can make a fuzzy and aggressive bass sound. This pedal fits in lots of genres like modern techno and metal music. It covers both spectrums of the bass world as you can go from hard distortion to just a mild overdrive.

This bad boy delivers the correct blending and balance aspects that drive the music industry. It is easily controllable and straightforward to work with owing to the direct dialing knobs on the pedal. This product comes recommended for four and five-string guitarists. Other than that, it can work as a two-band equalizer.

We love that it is built to last, thanks to the hard metallic shell. Although it’s a compact size, it is a bit weighty meaning the components are engineered using high-quality materials. Just complete your pedalboard with the BOSS-ODB-3 model, and you’ll know what your music has been lacking all this time.


  • It is designed specifically for bass guitars
  • It has simple dialing in controls
  • It gets a gritty, punchy tone well
  • It offers excellent EQ


  • Some users are complaining about it being too fuzzy

8. Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Distortion Effects Pedal

Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food Distortion Effects Pedal

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Many people fear losing their tonal character when they add overdrive to their bass sound. But you don’t have to wrap your fingers around anything; at least not with the Electro-Harmonix Bass Soul Food. It boasts a natural overdrive and a clean boost. This aspect works great to retain the original character of your sound.

This pedal is an essential essence for bass guitarists as the controls are optimized for them. Everything from the signal path, treble control and gain stage all work great with bass guitarists. With the volume, treble, and drive controls, you will be able to bring that sound to the desired overdrive. Not to mention, it also has the blend function which harmonizes that beautiful tone.

You will be dealing with a flexible tone that has a wide array of clean boost and overdrive effects.  It has high touch sensitivity as well as selectable true or buffered bypass. For those with active instruments, you will love the switchable -10dBpad to complete your soul package. It is a pedal you don’t want to go without if you wish to maintain the integrity of your bass.


  • Comes at unbeatable price
  • It has natural, smooth, and versatile overdrive
  • It has four easy-to-use knobs
  • It has an internal selector for true or buffered bypass


  • Isolated complaint about it losing the lows



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Every classic guitar had the fuzz tone element to it. It’s no wonder many classics are still fresh in our minds, and it’s thanks to a pedal that can do it all. The BEHRINGER SUPER FUZZ SF300 is one of the most sought distortion pedals for electric guitarists. This is because it recreates what we used to hear in the 70s and 80s tunes.

With this pedal, you have three sound modes which include grunge, classic fuzz, and gain boost. They give you a different tonal foundation especially when you want to bring in the 2-band EQ, level, and dedicated gain controls. The level control helps to adjust the distortion level while the gain lets you crank it up. It is a practical model with a very decent sound.

This product is made to favor both newbies and intermediate guitarists. It is super easy to master, and it comes with an LED indicator for reading the status. It runs on a 9V battery or the Behringer DC power supply. The large ON/OFF button gives high signal integrity, especially in bypass mode.


  • It is incredibly versatile and affordable
  • It has only three distortion settings for simple operation
  • It has a fuzz flavor
  • The four dials provide fast tone-shaping options


  • It uses a plastic case which may break due to heavy stomping

10. Darkglass Electronics DAR-MTB3K Bass Distortion Effects Pedal

Darkglass Electronics DAR-MTB3K Bass Distortion Effects Pedal

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Dialing in and sculpting your perfect tone just became easier with the Darkglass DAR-MTB3K. It allows you tweak just about every sound so that you can get the best distortion effects. As a bass distortion pedal, we believe it’s going to do precisely that and much more. It carries lots of possibilities from setting the amount of saturation you’d like in an overdriven signal to blending the input signal with the overdriven signal.

All the tweaks can be made with the different knobs on the face of this pedal. This includes the LEVEL knob for the volume, DRIVE, BLEND, ATTACK, and GRUNT switches. Each knob and switch is easy to operate for easy dialing in. You’ll find it super easy finding the right combo as the symbols are easy to see. This comes in handy when you have a fully packed pedal board.

The Darkglass DAR-MTB3K is a high-quality product from one of the best distortion producers. It does not require batteries for usage so you’ll be dealing with a power adapter. But you’ll be getting the versatility of a bass pedal that can do it all.


  • It has true bypass
  • It has diversified uses
  • It’s easy to operate and master
  • It allows the making of different rich sounds


  • It is a bit pricey
  • It does not use batteries hence cannot be taken to places without power outlets

Final Thoughts

If you want to sound like a particular celebrity in your genre, choosing the type of distortion pedal they use will get you halfway there. The distortion pedals on our list are quite versatile in the genre and music styles. They are some of the best; used by legendary guitarists and rock stars. Don’t go looking elsewhere for you can find better sonic effects with the distortion pedals on our list. We hope you will make great music with one of these distortion pedals.