Best Distortion Pedal Reviews 2023

Choosing the right distortion pedal can be a pain. We know this because we understand how picky musicians can be. There are so many options out there, both of models and brands. To make this process easier for you, we conducted in-depth research and found five top brands that make some of the best distortion pedals. These companies offer a wide range of great effect pedals. To help make your choice easier, we chose one model from each brand for review. We believe that looking at this selection will help you understand what each one offers. You can then decide to either purchase one from them, or check out the other products offered by these brands.
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Style Tones
Our Top Choice
MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion
Dunlop Manufacturing Inc., owner of the MXR brand, is a top manufacturer of quality accessories for musical instruments. Musicians worldwide have come to rely on it for performance.
Solidly built. Extensive control options. Easy to use. Great natural sound. Versatile. Flexible EQ. True bypass.
Not an amp-in-a-box pedal.
4.5 x 6 x 2.8 inches/13 oz.
Battery/Adapter (9V DC)
Best Value
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal
Boss is synonymous with effect pedals. The fact that there is hardly any guitarist who does not own at least one Boss effect is significant endorsement.
Sturdily built. Easy to use. Affordable. Good controls. Durable. Excellent sustain. Perfect for blues and rock.
It has no true bypass.
6 x 4 x 3 inches/1 lb.
1 9V battery/AC adapter (DC 9V)
Blues and rock
Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion
Electro-Harmonix has helped sculpt the sound on many of the world's most popular recordings with its legendary effects. With almost 50 years’ experience, it continues to deliver quality products.
Sturdily built. Durable. Easy to use. Great sustain. Ample controls. Amazing tonal range. Great for metal music.
Appears to drain batteries quickly.
7 x 6.2 x 3 inches/1.8 lbs.
1 9V battery/AC adapter (DC 9V)
Heavy metal
TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Pedal
TC Electronics is committed to finding out exactly what musicians and audiences need, and offering products that meet those needs. No wonder many have come to rely on this brand.
Sturdily built. Compact design. Excellent materials. True bypass. Good controls. Versatile. Good range of tones. Affordable.
Not the best for high gain distortion.
5 x 3 x 4 inches/1.4 lbs.
1 9V battery
Behringer Super Fuzz Distortion Pedal
When you think quality but affordable musical and sound equipment, think Behringer. This brand has established itself as one that will offer the best quality at affordable prices.
Solid construction. Three-mode tone option. Good control options. Sounds great. Wide range of sounds. Highly versatile. Affordable.
It is made of plastic.
Fuzz distortion
2.8 x 2.1 x 4.8 inches/12 oz.
1 9V battery/AC adaptor (DC 9V)

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Watch Our Distortion Pedal Review

What is the Best Distortion Pedal?

After reading to this point, you clearly know that distortion pedals have varying features. You alone can determine which is best for you. With what you have read in mind, look for products with features that you think are ideal for you as we begin to review our selection.
Our Top Choice
The MXR Super Badass Distortion is a pedal that can fit into a wide range of music genres. With its wide range of distortion tones, you can easily set it to achieve a desired sound. Need something for bass? Try the MXR M85 Bass Distortion.

MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion Pedal with Full Spectrum Distortion

When a company starts as a small family-run establishment and grows into a leading international brand, as Dunlop Manufacturing, Inc. has, it is a sure sign that it's doing something right. As a manufacturer of electronic effects and other accessories for musical instruments, this brand has made a name for itself by offering musicians the best of tools, including the highly acclaimed Tortex picks and Cry Baby wah. Today, with the MXR line under this brand, you can expect nothing but great things.

The MXR Super Badass Distortion is an analog distortion pedal that offers a full range of distortion tones. With this effect pedal, you can choose the exact type of distortion tone you want, be it the low gain type distortion associated with the 1970s or the metallic distortion type common in today's music. With this level of versatility, you can conveniently use this distortion pedal for a wide range of music genres.

Some of its other features include:
  • Full analog effect – Achieves a traditional distortion tone
  • Responsive control – Allows precise setting
  • Frequency control – Balance your frequency ranges to your liking – bass, mid, high
  • True bypass – Easily choose between natural or effect sound
  • Sturdy metal construction – Built to take the stomping on and off stage
Best Value
The unique circuitry of the Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive brings that natural tube amp overdrive sound within the reach of the everyday guitarist. You can also control the amount of overdrive by varying your picking intensity. Need more than just distortion? Get the Boss OS-2 Overdrive\/Distortion.

Boss Super Overdrive Distortion Pedal with Warm, Tube Drive Sounds

Boss Audio System is easily one of the most popular brands known to musicians. When it comes to effect and stomp boxes, it excels. In less than 30 years of operation, it has succeeded in establishing authority in this highly critical industry. How did it achieve this? Simply by offering products that are innovative, high-performance, top-quality and, best of all, affordable. This will explain why most guitarists have a Boss effect in their collections.

The Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive is a must-have for any serious guitarist. It employs unique circuitry that replicates that tube amp sound that many guitarists would kill for. As if that is not enough, it is designed in such a way that you don't just control the amount of overdrive with a knob, but also with the level of attack you put into your picking. This is your dream of overdriving with an authentic tube amp coming true. This pedal's other great features include:
  • Compact design – Fits easily into your pedal board
  • Smooth and warm overdrive sound – Emulating natural overdrive sound
  • Overdrive knob – Choose how much effect you want
  • Tone knob – Dial to choose your preferred tonal shade
  • Level knob – Control your level
  • Five-year warranty – You know you can count on this brand’s products
The Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion features a 3-band EQ that provides a palette for metal-loving guitarists to paint the sounds they want. With this pedal, you're only limited by your creativity. Need more than just distortion? Get the Electro-Harmonix Soul Food Distortion\/Fuzz\/Overdrive Pedal for more effects.

Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion with Top Boost

Electro-Harmonix turned the guitar world on its head when it messed with the status quo. Guitar players in the past had to play with amps that ensured they could not get distorted sounds. This was the ideal until the likes of Electro-Harmonix came on the scene. Electro-Harmonix has been influencing the sound of music with legendary effects that include Memory Man, POG, Big Muff and others. It's no surprise that you are likely to hear the sound of an Electro-Harmonix effect on many of the world's most popular music projects.

The Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion offers metal music lovers a powerful effect with awesome and intuitive controls. This effect does not just tear down the house; it has a three-band EQ that lets users mold the sound to perfection, or at least the user’s definition of it. With the precision of the EQ, you can create the exact sound you need at any time. This is not a one-sound distortion pedal, but one with character that you can make your own.

Other great features of this pedal include:
  • Volume control knob – Controls output levels
  • Distortion control knob – Controls amount of distortion
  • Top boost control knob – Controls the amount of boost to frequencies between 3.5 and 4.5 KHz
  • Top boost switch – Enables or disables top boost
  • Bypass switch – Enables or bypasses effect
  • Nine-volt battery – Included for battery-powered option
The TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Pedal was built to please the most selective of guitarists. With its special voice selector feature, you can switch quickly and easily from a retro sound to a more aggressive modern tone. If you would like to add an overdrive pedal, go for the TC Electronic MojoMojo Overdrive Pedal.

TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal

TC Electronics operates on a simple philosophy – it consults people who use its products, to find out exactly what their needs are. This interaction gives the company insight into what each party really wants, so it can meet those exact needs. For this brand, it’s all about elevating your sound and your enjoyment of it.

The TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Pedal offers guitarists the best of two worlds. Every guitarist knows that there is a difference between the sound of distortion effects used by legendary guitarists of the past, and the modern sound. With the voice selector feature on this pedal, you get to choose which voicing you prefer. It can take you back to the days of the legends, or bring you to the realities of today's distortion sound. The choice is always yours to make.

This pedal's features also include:
  • Sturdy metal construction – Ensures durability
  • Two-band EQ – Provides ability to create your tonal balance of choice
  • Gain control knob – Decide how much volume you want
  • Level control knob – Decide how much distortion you want
  • Nine-volt battery power – For increased mobility
  • Convenient battery access – For quick battery change
  • Compact design – For an easy fit into your pedalboard
  • True bypass – For a clean switch from pedal to amp
The Behringer Super Fuzz SF300 is a guitarist’s delight. It offers a three-mode switch that lets you choose from Fuzz1, Fuzz2 or Gain boost to sculpt your sound with precision, achieving any sound you want. Need an overdrive and distortion combo? Check out the Behringer Overdrive\/Distortion OD300.

Behringer Super Fuzz SF300 3-Mode Fuzz Distortion Effects Pedal

Behringer came into the musical equipment industry in 1989 with one mission: to offer equipment previously priced beyond the reach of the average musician, at more affordable prices. The impact it has made in less than 30 years is obvious from the number of products it has on offer and how widely these products are used by musicians of all levels. It has succeeded in its mission and continues to offer its equipment at very affordable prices.

The Behringer Super Fuzz SF300 offers a combination of distortion modes that allow you to sound just the way you want. The three-mode feature allows you switch to any of the available modes. Fuzz 1 is the classic fuzz sound, Fuzz 2 switches the sound from classic fuzz to grunge, and Boost drives the gain through the roof for a more powerful distortion effect. These are just the three possible foundations that this pedal offers, upon which you can then build your sound and explore your creativity.

It also includes:
  • Two-band EQ – Sculpt your sound to your taste
  • Gain knob – Set how loud you want it
  • Level knob – Set the amount of distortion needed
  • LED indicator – Indicates power on/off and battery status
  • Sturdy construction – For durability
  • Nine-volt battery power – For increased mobility
  • On/off switch – To switch between bypass and active mode
  • Three-year warranty

How Do I Choose the Best Distortion Pedal?

When Keith Richards - one of the founding members of the legendary rock band, The Rolling Stones - used the fuzz distortion effect in "I Can't Get No Satisfaction," a new sound that captured the imagination of the music world was born.
Since then, the distortion effect has grown to become an almost inseparable accessory for many guitarists, regardless of their music genre. On seeing distortion pedals and how easy it now is to use this effect, many will not know that earlier musicians had to perform some minor electronic feat just to achieve this effect.

Today, guitarists have an array of effects available, with the distortion pedal being one of the more important ones. For many guitarists, the only accessory that may compete with the distortion effect is the guitar tuner.

What started as a reserve of the electric guitar is now easily used with even the bass guitar. By understanding the importance of this accessory, we will, in this guide, help you find the best distortion pedal for your needs. We will list certain features that you should consider to help you decide which distortion pedal is best for you.
For a distortion pedal, what you will pay will likely be determined by the brand, build, number of effects and other features. Generally, we found that with between $25 to $100, you can get a good quality distortion pedal. Certainly, the more features you want, the more you will have to pay. There are more expensive pedals than what we have in this range, if you decide to go for much higher quality. There are also cheap distortion pedals that cost less than what we have listed. It is important to understand that these cheap products are likely not to deliver any value at all, so it will be safer to invest a bit more and get something that will deliver good value.
To choose the right distortion pedal for you, you need to take some time to consider some factors. Doing so will help you make a better choice. Some of the features to consider include:
  • Genre of music
  • Type
  • Construction
  • Controls
  • Size
  • Number of effects
  • Additional features
Let’s take a closer look at these.
Construction and Design
"Distortion" is actually a broad term that covers a range of sounds. The sounds generally covered by that single term are fuzz, overdrive and distortion. These are all distortion effects of varying degrees, with distortion being the highest, or "dirtiest," as guitarists will say. The type of distortion you will pick will be closely related to the type of music you play. People who play hard rock and metal will be found with the dirtiest of all. These genres usually use very high-gain distortions. This is different from what a blues or soft rock player will use; they will use milder distortions. Before picking a distortion pedal, be sure to determine its suitability for the kind of music you play or want to play.

Another thing to consider is construction. Another name for the distortion pedal (and other pedals) is the stomp box, for obvious reasons. (In the heat of a live gig, guitarists have been known to stomp very enthusiastically on their effect pedals). Choose a box that will withstand your style of play. If you are a gentle player, you may go for one made from durable plastic. If, however, you stomp with a lot of enthusiasm and heavy boots, it’s only sensible that you choose one made of metal.

Your choice can also be affected by the number of effects the pedal has. Some pedals only have the high-octane distortion sound, while some others can offer different shades of distortion. You will usually find some pedals offering a combo of overdrive and distortion effects. If you play a wide range of music genres, you may want to get this kind of pedal, as it offers more versatility.
Performance and Ease of Use
The controls offered by an effect pedal can affect your use of it. The number of controls can mean more precision in setting the sound to your taste. It could also mean more confusion. It all depends on your experience and how easy it is to use the controls. Check the controls that come with the pedal you want to get, and be sure they offer you the kind of convenience you want.

Another thing that can enhance your use of an effect pedal is the additional features. Some features, such as LED lights that let you know when the device is on or when the battery is low, and switches that let you choose from different distortion types, can make it more convenient to use. Sometimes, these extra features can mean spending a bit more money. You need to decide if those extra features are vital to you or not.

Finally, your distortion pedal is likely going to be one of many pedals on your pedal board. You may need to consider the size of the effect pedal you are getting to determine if it will fit into your current effects setup. Consider all these factors and others that may be particularly important to you, and you will be sure to find the right distortion pedal for you.

Get the Best Distortion Pedal of 2023!

You have come to the end of this review and guide. We hope you now know exactly what you want. There’s now only one more thing to do, and that is to place your order right away.

Our Top Choice
MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion
Best Value
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive Pedal
Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion
TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Pedal
Behringer Super Fuzz Distortion Pedal