For most electric guitar players, deciding on what will provide their distorted sound is one of the most important choices they’ll make. While that sound can often be provided by an amplifier or built-in rack mounted effects, many guitarists still choose to use a floor pedal to achieve this effect.
Choosing that pedal might be a more daunting task than ever before, as we’ve got a seemingly endless selection to choose from. While style and genre can help us narrow our choices down, there’s still an incredible variety in terms of price and function that we’ve got to sift through.
If you ignore the distortion pedals that are geared towards certain styles, like the Boss Metal Core, which is obviously crafted for metal and heavy rock guitarists, there are pedals that have held their value over the years and transcended multiple styles.
We’ll target those more dynamic distortion pedals in this top five list.
1. Boss MD-2 Mega Distortion
Every pedal in the boss lineup comes with a five year warranty and is extremely sturdy. The MD-2 distortion, though it has a fairly modern grind to it, can be customized to suit just about any musical style. Combining high versatility with great tone and a friendly price tag makes this one of the best value boss distortions.
2. Hughes and Kettner Tube Factor Overdrive
Hughes & Kettner has been around for a long time, and is the industry standard when it comes to tube overdrives. The warmth of their tube factor pedal is second to none and can be utilized in just about any genre. The only downside to this pedal is the high price, though it’s worth it, considering you get what you pay for.
3. Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
The tube screamer has been used for decades by all manner of guitar players, ranging in styles from punk rock and blues all the way to modern heavy metal. It’s cheaper than the Hughes & Kettner options, though delivers the same warm sound of a tub amp.
There are a few different versions of the tube screamer, as well as some reissues and updates of the original pedal, though the TS9 remains a favorite of pros and amateurs alike.
4. Electro-Harmonix Classics USA Big Muff PI Distortion
The Big Muff distortion from Electro-Harmonix is a grungy American style distortion that has withstood the test of time, having been utilized across several different genres and sub genres of rock and roll.
Like the Ibanez tube screamer, there are plenty of updated versions and alternatives to choose from. However they all draw on the same sound, so it’ll come down to a matter of price and personal preference.
5. Dunlop Fuzz Face
Jimi Hendrix helped to make the fuzz sound popular, as his high levels of distortion had been relatively unheard before his time. The Fuzz Face was his distortion pedal of choice, and continues to be a popular option long after Hendrix’s death. While the fuzz sound is slightly more conducive to classic rock, it has found a home in the circles of punk, blues and even heavier modern rock. The classic fuzz face is still available, as well as a version of the pedal modeled after Hendrix’s style.
Mood Media creates in-store media, complete with customized music for businesses. Taylor Henderson is a freelance writer specializing in marketing services.