A lot of beginners often ask, “why would you need a distortion pedal?” There’s a misconception that all musicians with an electric guitar or an amp need a distortion pedal. Actually, a distortion pedal is not a requirement.
It is an add-on that could give your tone and your music more color and texture. That said, if you are happy with the sound you already make, then there is no need to purchase a pedal.
However, if you are someone who is looking to learn metal, then you might want to invest in a few pedals. Achieving a true metallic sound can be difficult with a guitar alone.
Even if you own a high-end guitar, sometimes it simply isn’t enough – especially if you are looking to replicate some classic metal music. Perhaps it’s the amp, the guitar itself, or something else… But whatever the case may be, a distortion pedal could be an easy fix.
A good distortion pedal should be capable of giving your tone a boost, producing a more metal sound. It should also give you more variety of tones so that you can add your desired texture to your music.
Picking the best out of the whole lot is challenging, but the good news is, we’ve rounded up the 10 Best Distortion Pedals for Metal. Check it out and you might find what you’re looking for.
10 Best Distortion Pedals For Metal
- BOSS DS-1 Distortion Pedal
- Behringer Ultra Metal UM300 Heavy Metal Distortion
- Donner Giant Metal Guitar Pedal Boost Distortion Effect
- Donner Morpher Distortion Pedal Solo Effect Guitar Pedal
- Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Distortion Guitar Pedal
- Rowin Analog Heavy Metal Distortion Pedal
- Donner Metal Head Guitar Effect Pedal
- Behringer OD300 2-Mode Overdrive/Distortion Instrument Effects Pedal
- Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion
- Joyo JF-01 Vintage Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedal
The BOSS DS-1 distortion pedal is literally the boss of all pedals. It is robust, easy to use, and is full of features that every guitarist would love. if you’re looking for the complete package, then this is the only distortion pedal you will ever need.
Its Tone, Level, and Distortion settings successfully provide a wide variety of sound to accommodate almost any musical style. What I love about the BOSS DS-1 is how clean and crisp the sound is. No matter if you are looking for some fuzz or a high squeal, the BOSS DS-1 delivers without sounding too harsh.
- Offers a wide variety of sounds
- Perfect for the musician who loves experimenting with new sounds
- Can also be used with a bass guitar with no problems
- Compatible with many music styles
- Low-end tones tend to disappear
The Behringer Ultimate Metal UM300 is often regarded as the best distortion pedal for heavy metal. With its multi-gain circuitry, you get super-thick and tube-like distortion and endless sustain – just the thing heavy metal rockers need to complete their sound.
Like other distortion pedals, the UM300 also comes with the usual Distortion and Level controls. It also has the High and Low controls that allow you to control the amount of the top-end and bottom.
But what impressed me most about this guitar is the mid-frequency control – now that’s something we don’t see very often among distortion pedals. This mid-frequency control allows you to select a midrange frequency ranging from 200 Hz to 5 kHz, and boost/cut by up to 15 dB.
In short, you get a whole palette of great-sounding metal tones.
- A super affordable distortion pedal with quality that is comparable to higher-end pedals
- Comes with a mid-frequency control that most distortion pedals don’t offer
- Produces a nice crunchy sound but is not too noisy
- Although sturdy enough
- It is made of plastic which could pose a problem for durability
- Gain or distort function may not be sensitive enough for some users
- The included instruction manual needs improvement
Looking for a more expressive metal sound? You need to check out the Donner Giant Metal Guitar Boost Distortion Effect. This modest-looking pedal may look too plain and simple on the outside, but wait until you hear what it can do.
With just three sound buttons and three mods, you can adjust your desired metal tone and you also get an abundance of rich metal sounds. And the best part of it all is that it was designed to be so easy, you can access all those tones with just those three buttons.
- A robust and well-built distortion pedal that has a good range of metal tones
- Able to produce a sound that is comparable to higher-end distortion pedals
- Straightforward and easy to understand
- Great for beginners who want to try their first distortion pedal
- Mid-levels are inconsistent
- Either non-existent or producing a low-quality sound
If an aggressive distortion isn’t exactly your cup of tea, then the Donner Morphed Distortion Pedal could be what you are looking for. It produces a smooth and softer distortion – just enough to get that distortion fix for your music.
Just like the other Donner distortion pedal mentioned above, this one is also a beginner-friendly pedal. If you are new to the metal genre and would like to achieve a fuller, louder sound then The Morpher could give you an easy fix.
- Provides a “Full Stack” sound effect for your amp
- Maintains original sound structure
- No panic frequency
- Dull bass
- Or obtrusive medium frequency
- The clip inside the pedal is built for better adaptability to distortion in all three modes
- Distortion is a bit harsh compared to other models
- Inconsistent quality
- It can be a little bit noisy occasionally
Are you a big fan of classic metal and would like to replicate the same metallic tone, a similar punch and screech just like your favorite bands? The Boss MT-2 can help you achieve your goals.
The quality of distortion from this pedal is incredible, thanks to its unique dual-gain circuitry. It also provides users with super-long sustain, heavy miss and lows – in short, the perfect companion for anyone who loves hard rock and metal.
But for me, it’s all about the three-band EQ with the mid-control. When it comes to distortion pedals, I’m all about the range of distortion textures – the wider the range, the better. And this distortion pedal delivers.
- A good-quality distortion pedal that produces a thick sound
- And provides a great tonal range
- Has amazing sustain and natural feedback
- Perfect for producing classic metal sounds like Metallica
- A lot pricier than other options in this list
If you are just starting out with metal distortion and do not want to spend a fortune on a pro pedal, the Rowin Analog Heavy Metal Distortion Pedal is a good choice to start with.
It has all the basics you might need with a standard distortion pedal for metal: volume and tone controls and a True Bypass. It’s simple, easy to use, and very straightforward, making it a great beginner’s option as well.
- Simple and straightforward
- Delivers all of your basic needs at a pocket-friendly price
- The “Boost” option sounds too harsh
Judging by its name, the Donner Metal Head Guitar Effect Pedal is obviously made for metal. But did you know that it is more commonly known as the smallest distortion pedal in the market today?
The nano-size might put off some people but personally, I think that it is great. It could potentially free up some space on one’s board and who doesn’t want more space?
But if you think that the mini size of the Metal Head meant minimizing its features, you’re in for a big surprise. This tiny pedal produces a mean metallic sound. In fact, it has all the components all the other regular-sized great-sounding distortion pedals have.
- Comes in a smaller size than the standard distortion pedal making it more portable
- And a good companion for the traveling musician
- Has the special and strong distortion effect
- And a True Bypass that provide a clear and transparent tone
- The size might be weird for some users
Most of the other distortion pedals mentioned above need to be plugged in with cables. If you’re looking for a pedal that runs on batteries, the Behringer OD300 is one of the better options out there today.
With this pedal, you can switch between overdrive or distortion, or even a combination of both effects. You can also control Dedicated Level, Tone, Drive, and Mode, allowing you more creative freedom to shape the sound you desire.
What I really love about this pedal is the fact that the overdrive and distortion can be controlled with just one pedal. Now you don’t need to buy separate ones to get the sound you want.
- A well-built distortion pedal that allows the user full control of its sound
- Comes with both overdrive and distortion controls
- Making it more economical than buying two separate ones
- Features an infinite amount of tones
- Thanks to the Distorted Level
- And Mode controls
- Batteries are great but may not last very long through heavy usage
This super solid and robust-looking distortion looks like it was made for metal music. And true to its shape and appearances, it does come with a lot of fun features that a true metalhead would love.
If you’re looking for a distortion pedal that gives you the best of all possible controls, this is what you need to be looking at.
The Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff has a high impedance buffered bypass, output volume, and master drive controls, and a three-band EQ: bass, mid, and treble – basically, it’s the kind of stuff every metal musician would need.
- Comes with a 9-volt battery and the option to have the 96DC-200BI power supply
- Features a unique Top Boost knob which allows you to dial in frequencies between 3.5 kHz and 4.3 kHz
- Features a unique Top Boost knob which allows you to dial in frequencies between 3.5 kHz and 4.3 kHz
The Joyo JF-01 may look like it’s all about fun and games with its green body and bright yellow knobs, but this pedal means serious business. Cosmetics aside, it has all the basics covered for a nice metal sound.
The Joyo JF-01 comes with a Quality Switch, Tone, Volume, and Drive controls. But what I love most about it is its stompbox-style DPDT switch for clean and quiet switching. It may be my choice of distortion pedal for a beginner who is just starting out with their first distortion pedal.
- A good-quality distortion pedal with lots of gain and tons of sustain
- Works great with single-coil pickups
- Producing a hard metallic tone
- True bypass works great
- Does not interfere with your original sound
- Material for its parts could be improved
10 Best Distortion Pedal For Metal
We love talking about Distortion Pedals over here at The Guitar Junky simply because there are the kinds of tools that bring out the creativity in a musician – and we are all about that creative freedom.
If you want to choose the best distortion pedal for metal, you’d want something that isn’t just robust and built with great quality craftsmanship. You’d want one that could produce your personal sound, just the way you like it.
Shopping for a distortion pedal is a lot of fun because you get to discover and listen to different types of effects. And who knows? You might be able to find something that is unique but compatible with your type of music.
So the first thing you should do to find the best distortion pedal for metal is to understand what kind of metal, or rather, what type of metal sound you are looking for. Once you’ve got that settled, go ahead and try out a lot of distortion pedals.
The next thing you want to look for in a distortion pedal is all technical. You need one that is not just durable, you need one that is stable, responsive and one that can produce your type of distortion in a clear way.
Distortion pedals are a lot of fun, and it’s difficult to just choose one especially if you’re the type who loves experimenting with sound. But for the sake of this roundup, we had to choose one winner, and that is the BOSS DS-1.
As we’ve said, we like distortion pedals that give users a lot to play around with, and this distortion pedal has it.
It is one of the more robust pedals that allow users to control distortion, level, and tone. Plus, it comes with all those attractive accessories in the bundle – who wouldn’t want to receive all that?