Heavy music is not without an excellent distortion effect. It is necessary to choose this effect responsibly, otherwise the sound of your guitar will not look like a powerful aggressive roar, but like the grinding of rusty gears. In order not to get a cheap dirty sound the editorial staff of Guitars Rating gathered the best distortion pedals for metal in one collection especially for heavy music fans.
Blackstar LT Metal
The Blackstar LT Metal boasts stunning sensitivity, dynamics, and a tube-like tone. Blackstar engineers managed to combine high quality buffer bypass and silent switching capability, which is very important when switching pedalboard. Great for playing in a lowered string.
The blackstar lt metal distortion is a very versatile distortion. It is a great metal pedal, but also serves very well as a hard rock or classic rock pedal. The isf function and gain knobs allow you to dial in a lot of useful sounds. I keep this pedal and the orange blackstar lt distortion on my pedal board. Those two pedals cover all of my distortion needs. I play in a band that covers a wide range of styles. These two pedals cover everything for me. the blackstar metal pedal works well as a standalone pedal and functions well with boost and overdrive pedals as well. I highly recommend it. I doubt you’ll find a more solid pedal in this price range. The switch is noiseless as well.back to menu ↑
Mesa Boogie Throttle Box EQ
Mesa/Boogie products have always been known for their excellent equalizers and gates. This is also true for the Mesa/Boogie Throttle Box EQ pedal, in which the company not only combined a juicy overdrive with a great equalizer and gate, but also gave the device amazing versatility.
The pedal is well build, like a tank! The two channels are similar, with indications of an orange light in the centre for channel one and a red one for channel two. Channel two has more of what Channel one is, I found the harmonics are slightly different and it does come across more aggressive with greater focus on the upper range of frequency. The EQ helps put you in a whole new ball game, this pedal is as good as you are in sonic variety. There are loads of mids on tap and the mid cut is good to reduce that. It seems like a smoothing out on a light crunch doing neo classical. I found the pedal does work better when there is some sort of tube taking heat behind it. The bottom end of my 7 string is actually quite tight without the boost engaged and one should consider amps and cabs heavily when looking into that. Open backs tend to boom a lot which will require a tweak on the 5 band eq. Overall, happy with the purchase. Actually, I am really happy.back to menu ↑
The DOD Boneshaker is just made for extreme music directions. It is perfect for electric and bass guitars. The pedal is especially good when playing in lower strings.
This pedal was surprising. It doesn’t have as much gain as you might initially envision. It feels like it’s supposed to push a slightly broken-up amp into further territory. The EQ is impressive and allows for a lot of tweekability; the midrange section specifically allows for a variety of “cocked-wah” tones. It has a lot of available low end and is great for driving lower tuned guitars and bass. I had trouble getting clarity and “crunch” playing fast metal riffs but this pedal gives tons of oomph for powerful slower riffs and chords.back to menu ↑
Wampler Triple Wreck
The Wampler Triple Wreck distortion pedal with its Hard/Brutal switch is ready to saturate your music with the heaviest sound. The three-band EQ and gain make the Triple Wreck a versatile device that sounds good in any setting.
The gain structure is pretty thick and lush without getting too harsh until you dime it. The tweakability of the EQ section is fairly vast; I can get nice V-cut metal tones as well as sweet saturated rock tones with a turn of the knobs. I personally found that I prefer the “brutal” mode regardless of the way I have the pedal EQ’ed, for me it just has better dynamics and response. The boost does it’s job well, but to my ears, it gets a little muddy. All in all, this pedal is pretty awesome. The only negative for me, which isn’t a deal killer, is how much the Wampler sounds like my Mesa Throttle Box EQ. Out of curiosity I did a blind A/B with a friend, and I was able to replicate each of the pedals sounds with the other pedal. Granted, there were very subtle differences in dynamic range, but so close! The Mesa is actually a bit more adjustable. The Wampler plays nicely with other gain pedals which I like very much. Adding a bit of pre or post gain from a Tube Screamer for example, takes this pedal in to all kinds of different territory.back to menu ↑
Rivera Metal Shaman
Rivera equipment and accessories may not be the most popular products on the U.S. market, but Rivera gear is favored by many famous guitarists abroad. As for Rivera Metal Shaman, with its help you can achieve both vintage overdrive in the spirit of early Metallica, and more modern tone a la Alter Bridge. The name “Metal Shaman” is not an empty phrase.back to menu ↑
Lone Wolf Audio Left Hand Wrath
In search of the most evil sound musicians often pay attention to the legendary BOSS HM-2. The Japanese pedal is undoubtedly good, but time and competitors do not stand still. Taking HM-2 as a basis, the company Lone Wolf Audio released a distortion pedal Left Hand Wrath, entirely focused on metal in all its forms.back to menu ↑
MXR Fullbore Metal
Those who can’t decide which distortion pedal for metal should pay attention to MXR Fullbore Metal. The pedal is very flexible and versatile: it’s easy to turn up the tooth-crushing or slightly distorted sound for any kind of metal with Fullbore Metal.
What I like most about this pedal is it adds and enhances your sound and tone. Unlike alot of “metal ” and distortion effects it does not just override your guitar and amp. Plus I get nice nuances with utilizing different guitars,(i.e. a strat, paul, sg or es 335). It is nice alone but even better when ran with a dyna comp. Even though I run a rack mount fx and a boss gt6 thru a loop I just love the way this pedal makes my favorite eminence speakers pop. Currently I am utilizing a bogner 100w a bugera 130w and a tone works 60w. The sound and tone is impressive and creates everything imaginable. Plus I might add unlike other pedals it has no added noise. Recommended as for me it is one of my top 3 choices of all pedals I have tried or used.back to menu ↑
Stagg Blaxx BX-Metal
The Stagg BLAXX BX-METAL is one of the most budget-friendly but quality distortion players on the market. The small, but very angry BLAXX BX-METAL will easily produce the most aggressive sound for all types of metal. In addition, the pedal’s form factor will allow it to fit into almost any pedalboard.back to menu ↑
Mesa Boogie Throttle Box
The little brother of the Throttle Box EQ. Like the older version, the pedal has a huge amount of gain, which is enough to crank up the sound of any severity. Such versatility is not to be bypassed.
Pedal is everything you want if your looking for a modern scooped punchy rock/ metal sound. If you dial the mids out, you get a very smooth rythym sound and if you dial the mids all the way in, you’ll get that iconic classic rock sound. The low hi gain switch is super useful as well. Solid construction for use for the long haul. I own a be-od from Friedman as well and this is a different animal all together.back to menu ↑
OGRE Thunderclap Distortion
It might seem like the OGRE Thunderclap made our selection just for its looks and glowing skull eyes, but that’s not the case. Thunderclap sounds as cool as it looks: the device easily delivers extremely heavy sound, although it can’t boast the same cool sound at low gain. Nevertheless, don’t write Thunderclap off because of that – you will sound and look very convincing with this pedal.back to menu ↑
You won’t find a tougher distortion pedal in the Blackstar catalog than the HT-Metal. With this device, heavy music lovers can easily get the most meaty sound.
The gain and level knobs took a bit to get used to. The overall the distortion is brutal but very tweakable. I don’t use the pedal much anymore but I never had a problem with it.back to menu ↑
Boss DS-1X Distortion
The BOSS DS-1X is an updated version of the legendary DS-1, considered one of the most popular distortion pedals on the market. Compared to the original, the new model offers an even tighter sound and real-time processing that provides a perfect tone in every register.
The Boss DS-1 is considered one of the best gritty, classic distortion pedals. The Boss DS-1X takes all of that to the next level. The unique ability to adjust your highs and lows of that classic sound allows you to shape your distortion exactly how you want it! Although it is more expensive, if you want/like that classic distortion tone, this “1X” pedal is a must have.back to menu ↑
The best distortion pedals for metal: buying tips
From transparent gain pedals that retain the characteristics of your guitar and amp, to pedals that turn your kit into something completely unrecognizable, there’s a wide selection of distortion pedals on the market for everyone.
Metal fans will love the pronounced attack of a distortion pedal with built-in noise reduction, while those who play grunge or other lo-fi styles usually prefer the roughness of fuzzy distortion. If you’re adventurous, putting both types on an already overloaded amp can produce some pretty fantastic results.
When you’re trying to choose the best distortion pedal, the first thing to consider is its functionality. Perhaps you’re looking for something with multiple gain stages, almost like channels in an amplifier. In that case, there are plenty of options that will allow you to switch between the two gain sounds, and in some cases stack them up. Maybe you’re looking for something simple? Well, there are plenty of single-button distortion pedals available.
The next important factor is the overall shape of the distortion – and no, we don’t mean the shape of the actual device, but rather the sound of the distortion itself. If you’re looking for something more vintage, then Bogner and Friedman are great options for you. If you’re looking for a more modern sound, then the Mesa / Boogie Throttle Box and Kirk Hammett’s signature Dark Blood offer really outstanding modern amp sounds.