Best Distortion Pedals For Metal

Top 10 Best Distortion Pedals For Metal (September 2022)

The Best Distortion Pedals For Metal (September 2022)

Welcome to Best Guitar Equipment. We have guides to help you find the best distortion pedals for your guitar. The right distortion pedal can give you that heavy, aggressive sound that separates metal from other genres. From high-output overdrive to signature grunge, we've covered a variety of distortion effects pedals designed for all styles of music.

If you're tired of being underwhelmed by your distorted sound, it's time to upgrade your distortion pedal. Whether you want classic tube-style fuzz or an expressive distortion tone, we have the right pedal for you.

When looking for the best distortion pedal for metal, it's best to first understand what a distortion pedal is. The distortion pedal is one of the most commonly used pedal genres on the planet. They come in all shapes and sizes and each one offers something a little different to the next. The best distortion pedals for metal are some of the most important pedals you can have on your pedal board. They are a very personal choice, in respects to which ones you choose to use.

The guitar pedal market is saturated with tons of options. Finding the one that is best for you can be a pain, especially if you are new to the game. That's where we come in. We're here to help you find the perfect distortion pedal for your budget We have put together a list of all the top distortion pedals for for metal, so you are sure to find one for your needs.

This buyers guide contains information on all of the pros and cons of each pedal, plus links so you can see prices. It's our way of ensuring that you have all the information that you need before making your purchase.

The Best Distortion Pedals For Metal Buyers Guide (September 2022)

  • 1. JHS Sweet Tea V3
  • 2. Fender Pugilist
  • 3. Boss MT-2 Metal Zone
  • 4. MXR M75 Super Badass
  • 5. BOSS MD-2 Mega Distortion
  • 6. MXR M78 Custom Badass '78
  • 7. TC Electronic Dark Matter
  • 8. Mooer Black Secret
  • 9. BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal
  • 10. Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal
JHS Sweet Tea V3 Image

JHS Sweet Tea V3

  • ✔ Two Pedals In One
  • ✔ Choose Which Direction The Circuit Flows
  • ✔ A Versatile Overdrive & Distortion Pedal
  • ✔ Made In The USA

The JHS Sweet Tea V3 overdrive & distortion pedal is a versatile overdrive/distortion pedal that covers everything from light breakup, blues, rock, heavy grind to more.

JHS Sweet Tea V3 - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

JHS Sweet Tea V3 is a very well-known pedal. It's built with quality components to ensure dependable and long-lasting performances. From smooth bluesy overdrive tones to aggressive high gain sounds, Sweet Tea V3 can do it all with ease. This is a best selling product that's known for its durability, even after years of hard use. It delivers creamy, yet subtle, tones. Featuring three channels (clean, crunch, and lead), this pedal is well designed and easy to use. The design of the Sweet Tea V3 is based on the popular Sweet Tea OD-1 from JHS Effects.

It's an overdrive pedal with amazing tone that can range from a clean boost to a full-on distortion. Its legendary sound comes from a three stage clipping circuit that is tuned for perfect harmonics. A great pedal for anyone into classic, vintage tone. Whether you play country, blues, rock, or metal music, it'll add some great crunch to your amp at a low volume.

In short, the JHS Sweet Tea V3 is a 2-in-1 overdrive/distortion pedal that packs a punch. It's built rugged and has a sound all its own.


Fender Pugilist Image

Fender Pugilist

  • ✔ Dual Gain Engines
  • ✔ LED Backlit Knobs
  • ✔ Beautiful Gold Color
  • ✔ Magnetic Battery Door

Fiery sounding and flexible, The Fender Pugilist Distortion guitar effects pedal is ready to add some heavyweight gain to your rig.

Fender Pugilist - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now
  • Dual gain engines
  • Discrete tone controls per channel
  • LED backlit knobs
  • Fender Amp Jewel LED
  • Magnetically latched hinged 9V battery door
  • Lightweight durable anodized aluminum construction

Fiery sounding and flexible, The pugilist distortion is ready to add some heavyweight gain to your rig. This original design features dual gain engines-with independent tone controls for each-letting you select multiple variations of distortion, ensuring this pedal will play well with any rig. Series/blend switch lets you stack channels for thick, cascading distortion, while the bass boost switch fattens up your tone. The blend control mixes the two channels to get the best of both worlds, crafting a sound just for you.

  1. Dual gain engines-with independent tone controls for each-make it easy for you to dial in your sound. A Series/Blend switch lets you stack engines for brutal tone.
  2. The Pugilist Distortion's Blend control mixes your dry and effected signals to taste, bringing out your pick attack to create complex, articulate tone with lively transients.
  3. The versatile per-channel tone controls not only let you shape your sound exactly, they also make it easy to use this pedal with any amp-even one with a Bright switch.
  4. LED-illuminated knobs show your control settings at a glance-even on dark stages.
  5. The exclusive, 'patent applied for', magnetically latched 9V battery door makes it quick and easy to swap batteries.
  6. Every Fender effects pedal is crafted from lightweight, durable anodized aluminum-they'll easily withstand the rigors of touring.

Beyond its wide-ranging overdrive and distortion, every aspect of the Fender Pugilist Distortion pedal is tailored for live performers. LED-backlit knobs show you your settings at a glance, even on a dark stage. Battery changes are fast and easy thanks to the innovative battery compartment design.

So what's the verdict? Fender’s new line of effects impresses for each pedal’s utilitarian functionality, distinct sounds, useful and innovative new features (particularly the magnetized battery compartment door) and most of all for their exceptionally affordable prices.


Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Image

Boss MT-2 Metal Zone

  • ✔ Solid, Strong Build Quality
  • ✔ Amazing Metal Distortion Sound
  • ✔ Hugely Popular Pedal
  • ✔ True Bypass

The MT-2 Metal Zone distortion effects pedal is one of BOSS' most popular pedals. This stompbox provides some of the most insane distortion tones with huge mids and lows and an ultra-saturated sound.

Boss MT-2 Metal Zone - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now
  • The pedal for a proper metal sound
  • Sustainer/EQ/Overdrive pedal in pedal form
  • Level, EQ low/high and distortion adjustable
  • Compact, highly robust construction
  • Battery and mains operation possible
  • Incredible-sounding distortion pedal with unique dual-gain circuitry
  • Provides super-long sustain and heavy mids and lows like a stack of overdriven amps
  • Three-band EQ with semi-parametric Mid control offers a wide range of extreme distortion textures
  • A must-have pedal for any hard rock or metal guitarist
  • BOSS 5-year warranty

One of the most popular pedals in Boss’s arsenal the Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Distortion Pedal is a must-have for any serious metal or hard rock player. With distortion resembling the guttural growl of Cerberus this pedal offers roaring distortion with massive mids and lows and ultra- saturated sound.

Metal Zone Foot Pedal The BOSS Metal Zone is another distortion pedal for guitarists who need the sound of a stack turned up to max volume. 2 Gain levels guarantee sufficient distortion and sustain until the last day; its rich bass and powerful mids can make noise like a 4x12 and the 3-band tone control, including quasi-parametric mid control, ensures plenty of flexibility. What more could the disciples of heavy metal need?

To keep up with the most severe metal playing the Boss Metal Zone MT-2 Pedal has been built to last with an aluminium die cast body and sturdy control knobs; backed by a 5-year warranty (when you register the pedal with Boss). The pedals compact design and light weight make it the perfect pedal for carrying between gigs.


MXR M75 Super Badass Image

MXR M75 Super Badass

  • ✔ 100% Analog
  • ✔ True Bypass Switching
  • ✔ Features Output, Distortion, Bass, Mid & Treble Control Knobs
  • ✔ Beautiful Silver Metal Finish

The MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion guitar effects pedal puts decades of 100% analog distortion at your feet. With its highly responsive Distortion control, the Super Badass covers a full spectrum

MXR M75 Super Badass - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now
  • Highly responsive full spectrum distortion
  • Bass, Mid & Treble controls
  • 100% Analog
  • Status LED
  • True bypass
  • Sturdy metal housing

After guitarists play MXR’s new Super Badass Distortion, they’ll find it hard to think of any other words to describe this phenomenal pedal. It may be the best distortion pedal ever in the company’s long and illustrious history.

The Super Badass Distortion puts decades of 100% analog distortion at your feet. With its highly responsive Distortion control, the Super Badass covers a full spectrum, from early ’70s low gain overdrive to modern “scooped” metal distortion and every shade of dirt in between. Once you’ve dialed in your desired amount of crunch, you can use the Bass, Mid, and Treble controls to finely sculpt your sound. The Super Badass Distortion features true bypass switching and comes ready for the road with the sturdy housing and durable components that MXR is known for.

With its versatile EQ section and responsive, dynamic gain circuit, the MXR Super Badass is possibly the best distortion pedal that MXR has ever offered.


BOSS MD-2 Mega Distortion Image

BOSS MD-2 Mega Distortion

  • ✔ Dual-Stage Distortion Circuit
  • ✔ Ideal For That Metal Sound
  • ✔ Strong Metal Casing
  • ✔ BOSS 5 Year Warranty

The BOSS MD-2 Mega Distortion guitar effects pedal takes the bottom-heavy distortion sounds heard in today's new-school metal and pushes it to the extreme.

BOSS MD-2 Mega Distortion - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now
  • Produces extreme, low-end distortion for modern metal and hard rock
  • Gain Boost circuit creates huge distortion and sustain regardless of level
  • New Bottom control for bottom-heavy distortion matched to 7-string guitars
  • Tone control adjusts balance between high and low frequencies
  • BOSS 5-year warrant

The MD-2 Mega distortion takes the bottom-heavy distortion sounds heard in today's new-school metal and pushes it to the extreme. The secret is a special dual-stage distortion circuit with an added gain boost-plus new Bottom and Tone controls--for crushing distortion with massive low end. Take your distortion into the future with the MD-2.

The Boss MD-2 Mega Distortion Pedal takes the principles of usual distortion by clipping the inputs signal and adding inharmonic overtones to create the classic warm grit that you would expect. Building on this the Boss MD2 Mega Distortion Pedal offers a dual-stage distortion circuit; adding a Gain Boost control knob to give you extra crushing distortion and incredible sustain, similar to the way distortion was first achieved by over-driving a tube amp. The inclusion of Bottom and Tone controls make it easy to put extra emphasis on the low-end and adjust the balance between high and low frequencies. The sound that the Boss MD-2 is capable of offering makes it the perfect piece of kit for modern metal and hard rock.

This pedal is great for rock and metal and has plenty of good tones. Take a look for yourself.


MXR M78 Custom Badass '78 Image

MXR M78 Custom Badass '78

  • ✔ Analog Distortion Pedal
  • ✔ Sturdy Metal Chassis
  • ✔ True Bypass Switching
  • ✔ Made In The USA

The MXR M78 Custom Badass '78 Distortion guitar effects pedal is the result of MXR taking a classic distortion circuit and hot-rodded it to deliver over-the-top, soaring leads and rich, saturated rhythms.

MXR M78 Custom Badass '78 - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now
  • Analog distortion pedal for electric guitar
  • Controls for output, tone and distortion
  • Selector switch for crunch mode
  • 2 Status LED
  • Robust metal housing
  • Operation with 9V battery or Dunlop ECB-003 AC adapter (optional)
  • Made in the USA

The MXR Custom Badass ’78 Distortion is a factory-modded pedal that roars with huge amp stack tones and old school tube amp-like distortion.

MXR took a classic distortion circuit and hot-rodded it to the next level for over-the-top soaring leads and rich, saturated rhythms. With only three knobs, dialing in Badass tone is a cinch. The CRUNCH button allows you to choose between two different modes of diode and LED clipping, boosting the harmonic content of the distortion.

The ’78 Distortion's wide open amp-like sound sounds great whether it's in front of a clean, a slightly dirty, or a full on overdriven amp. Under the hood, this high performance machine features top notch circuitry and hardware meant for a lifetime of use.

If you've got an ear for incredible distortion tones, then the MXR Custom Badass '78 Distortion pedal is for you!


TC Electronic Dark Matter Image

TC Electronic Dark Matter

  • ✔ Feature Gain, Level, Bass and Treble Control Knobs
  • ✔ True Bypass Switching
  • ✔ Nice Color Scheme
  • ✔ Great Pedal For 'Metal' Players

The TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion guitar effects pedal is the kind of pedal that you wanna go play for half an hour and end up spending half a day with.

TC Electronic Dark Matter - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now
  • Phenomenal distortion pedal with an extreme dynamic range gives you highly musical distortion covering a wide soundspectrum
  • Vintage-voiced distortion from analog circuits offers a full sound with lively response that can be instantly adjusted to a huge range of tones
  • Two-band EQ with active bass and treble knobs lets you really shape your sound
  • Voicing switch allows you to toggle between extra bass for a more modern sound or filling your tone with retro vibes
  • True bypass allows for optimum clarity and zero high-end loss when the pedal is off
  • Four-knob interface for extensive tonal tweaking while remaining highly intuitive to let you focus on playing

Dark Matter is the kind of pedal that you wanna go play for half an hour and end up spending half a day with. It’s musical, covers a super-wide range of sounds but stays true to its base, an all analog-drive circuit that reminisces plexi sounds with both a classic and modern edge.

Hard to imagine now, but there was a time before digital. If you think about it, many of the best distortion sounds stem from that era. Why? Well, it’s the analog circuits, they sound great and got a little more to give when you really punish them – it simply sounds more real, fuller and better. That’s the sound we love: dangerous, on the edge yet thoroughly musical. The sound that begs you to play harder, louder, faster and more.

Distortion is great, but control is key. No one wants the ice-pick to the ears or a mushy bass-laden goo. Dark Matter delivers with bass and treble knobs, perfect for dialing in sounds precisely and lightning fast.

Dark Matter distortion adds extra versatility via a voicing switch that either adds bass for a more modern sound or fills your tone with retro vibes for an old school vintage throwback that oozes classic rock on steroids.

Simply put, the Dark Matter Distortion pedal aims to give you that powerful, super-musical roar of an early plexus - A sound that will satisfy even the pickiest players out there. Well worth considering if you're looking for that '80's metal' sound.


Mooer Black Secret Image

Mooer Black Secret

  • ✔ Mode Switch Toggles Between Vintage & Turbo Distortion
  • ✔ Vintage - Smooth, Warm Distortion Sound
  • ✔ Turbo - Over Twice The Max Output Of Vintage, Monstrous Distortion
  • ✔ Small Sized Metal Chassis - Easy To Fit On Your Pedalboard

The Mooer Black Secret distortion guitar effects pedal captures the classic "Rat" tone made famous in the '70s and '80s.

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  • 2 Working Modes:Vintage/Turbo
  • Vintage: A warm, smooth, vintage distortion sound
  • Turbo: More than twice the maximum output of the vintage mode, more powerful distortion sound
  • Full metal shell
  • Pedalboard friendly
  • True bypass
  • Requires 9V DC power supply (not included)
  • Dimensions (LxWxH): 93.5 x 42 x 52 mm
  • Weight: 160 g

The Black Secret Distortion pedal captures the classic "Rat" tone made famous in the '70s and '80s. The pedal features two modes: Vintage and Turbo. Both modes are very different with vintage delivering a raspy thinner distortion that doesn't over power your tone. The Turbo mode on the other hand really thickens up the tone giving you a beefier modern sound.
Like the other micro pedals in the Mooer family, this pedal will fit on any pedal board with ease. Its full metal casing makes it durable and road ready, and like most great effects pedals it has true bypass.

If you like the original RAT pedal then you'll love this budget distortion pedal. It's taken it's inspiration from the RAT tones perfectly. Build quality is good, sound is good, price is good. What more is there to say. Give it a chance, you won't regret it!


BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal Image

BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal

  • ✔ Been Around For Over 40 Years
  • ✔ Features Tone, Level & Distortion Control Knobs
  • ✔ Go To Pedal For Anyone Looking For A Classic Tone
  • ✔ Made To Last Strong Metal Chassis

The BOSS DS-1 Distortion pedal is a true icon in the world of metal guitar effects. Introduced in 1978, BOSS’s first distortion pedal delivered hard-edged attack and smooth sustain that’s been a staple for decades.

BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now
  • Legendary distortion used by guitarists everywhere since 1978
  • Classic tones for all types of music
  • Hard-edged attack remains clear even at maximum distortion settings, ideal for heavy rhythms and cutting solos
  • Works great as a booster at low distortion settings
  • Unique tone control offers a wide range of sound shaping
  • Doesn’t mask the unique sound characteristics of different guitars, pickups, and styles
  • Turning down the guitar’s volume cleans up the tone without introducing muddiness
  • BOSS five-year warranty

For 40 years, the Boss DS-1 has appeared on pedal boards, in studios and on records drenching songs in lush distortion. It is instantly recognisable pedal used by everyone from beginners to absolute professionals. The Boss DS-1 is still to this day relied upon by guitarists in need of a versatile pedal that can provide smooth, creamy crunch, hard edge distortion and everything in between, all with low noise. This has fuelled the signature sounds of guitar legends all over the world and is still an extremely popular pedal in the music world.

The DS-1 Distortion is a true icon in the world of guitar effects. Introduced in 1978, BOSS’s first distortion pedal defined a bold new sound, delivering hard-edged attack and smooth sustain that’s been a staple of players for generations. The DS-1 is the top-selling BOSS compact pedal ever, and its original, unchanged design continues to inspire the creation of great music everywhere. The classic DS-1 tone is behind the signature sounds of numerous rock legends, and is ready to fuel your own signature sound today.

Before the DS-1, most distortion pedals produced harsh, buzzy tones and muddy sound at high gain settings. In 1978, BOSS engineers changed all that by developing a unique distortion circuit for the DS-1 that produces tight, hard-edged gain with rich harmonics while retaining the unique characteristics of different guitars and playing techniques. Hard rock, metal, and punk styles began to flourish in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and the DS-1’s tone had a defining influence on these genres. That trend has endured through multiple generations, and players around the world continue to seek out the classic DS-1 sound.

Unlike typical tone controls that only cut highs, the DS-1’s tone circuit features an innovative design that offers far more range. Turning the knob clockwise increases highs and decreases lows, while going counter-clockwise has the opposite effect. This lets you dial in everything from tight, cutting rhythm sounds to smooth, fat lead voices. The tone control is particularly effective for maintaining low-end definition when using the DS-1 as a booster with vintage-style amps, which often sound muddy when driven with other distortion pedals.

From its modest three-knob interface, many different sound colors can be coaxed from the DS-1. Its pioneering two-stage circuit incorporates both transistor and op-amp gain stages. This approach is critical to the DS-1’s characteristic low-frequency fullness, which is loved by guitarists that play heavy music genres. The distortion knob offers an extremely wide range, from a mild boost for driving amps and pedals to full-throttle gain for monster rock riffs.


Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal Image

Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal

  • ✔ High Quality Components - Built To Compete With The Big Boys
  • ✔ Great for Heavy Rock & Metal Distortion
  • ✔ Features Distortion, High, Mid, Level, Low & Mid Frequency Control Knobs
  • ✔ Electronic On/Off Switch For High Signal Integrity In Bypass Mode

The Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal gives you the most extreme, sought-after hard rock and heavy metal sounds with super-thick, tube-like distortion.

Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal - Read Review See The Latest Price On Amazon Now

The UM300 Ultra Metal features a unique circuit that emulates the legendary sound of the most brutal pedals. You can dial in the perfect amount with the Drive control, and add more by cranking up the Gain control. The UM300 Ultra Metal is compatible with virtually any amp or instrument setup.

The UM300 Ultra Metal recreates the sound of distortion boxes that are used in the studio and on stages the world over. A classic distortion pedal built to recreate the thick, high-gain, in-your-face sound of some of the world's most coveted lead and rhythm sounds. With its super responsive gain and master controls, the Ultra Metal is capable of conjuring up everything from breath-taking leads to crunchy rhythm tones.

The UM300 Ultra Metal is a heavy duty distortion pedal that gives your guitar the ultimate in high gain distortion. It has the guts to handle a full-on metal onslaught. From searing lead tones to crunchy rhythm riffs, the UM300 Ultra Metal is your one-stop shop. It is a powerful, versatile, and competitively priced metal distortion pedal. It offers everything guitarists love about the classic sound of heavy rock music, with extended headroom, increased output, and a killer dynamic range.


More Information Regarding Distortion Pedals For Metal (2022)

What Is A Distortion Pedal?

A distortion pedal will color your tone and push your amp to give it a unique sound. The characteristics of which will depend on the pedal you use and the components within the pedal itself.

The best distortion pedals for metal usually have 2 control knobs. These are 'level' & 'gain'. These straight forward controls give you what you need to adapt the sound to your liking. However, the main thing to note here is that the higher the gain the dirtier your tone will become. Generating more feedback and harmonics the higher you go.

The best distortion pedals for metal are best used on a clean tone. They can be part of an effects pedal chain but remember the cleaner the tone the better the distortion effect will be.

Choosing the cheapest distortion pedal you can find, just for the sake of having one isn't a great strategy. Some cheap distortion pedals can sound tinny and lack the warmth and depth of other more premium pedals. We've done our best to avoid these tinny amateur pedals and only recommend those that have a nice sound.

Why Do I Need A Distortion Pedal For Metal?

You've got a guitar, an amp & a decent clean sound. The problem is your amp is missing that sweet distortion sound that will blow your audience away. You might already have a specific type of distortion but you’re missing a 70’s classic tone.

Each distortion pedal has its one unique attributes, component setup & appeal. Someone who wants a more transparent gain boost will choose a completely different pedal than someone who wants to kick in a variety of distortions to make their tone sound entirely different.

Distortion pedals can be used in a number of different ways. They can support an already overdriven channel. Or they can provide 100% of the gain into a completely clean amp. The best distortion pedals for metal can be placed anywhere in the effects pedal chain however they are popular at the start of the chain with many guitarists.

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