Best Distortion Pedal

UPDATED OCTOBER 2018​

A good distortion pedal can make your electric instrument sound more powerful and give your notes a slight edge. With our shopping guide, you can get some help finding the best distortion pedal.         

BEST DISTORTION
PEDAL 2018

BOTTOM LINE

You can get all the tones that you want with this pedal, which works with both guitars and keyboards. Boss provides you with a number of accessories that will work with the cable too.

PROS

Designed for musicians of all types, this affordable pedal provides effects that are suitable for both soft jazz and hard rock. The bundle comes with guitar picks and other accessories such as a 10-foot long pro cable.

CONS

You may need to adjust the settings multiple times to get the effect that you want. Some shoppers wanted the battery to last longer.

BOTTOM LINE

Best for serious and professional musicians, this distortion pedal gives you total control over the sounds that you produce. It allows you to play clearer and grittier notes.

PROS

The classic and basic design of this distortion pedal appeals to those who play rock music. It features five knobs for making your adjustments and offers a true bypass option.

CONS

This pedal is much louder than others and may require that you turn down the volume. Some shoppers felt it produced a muddy or cheap sound.

BOTTOM LINE

Electro-Harmonix designed this model to feature big sounds in a small package. The pedal features a durable enclosure and a sustain knob that will maintain your favorite settings.

PROS

The rugged enclosure used on this model will last for years when used at any type of show or performance. It works with the included battery or with an optional power adapter.

CONS

This pedal may produce some hissing or other noises when connected to your amp. A few shoppers had problems when changing the battery too.

BOTTOM LINE

The FATRAT offers all the amazing sounds that you want and has a simple box design that lets you stack it on top of other objects. This pedal will work with a number of different chips too.

PROS

With a stackable design, the FATRAT will sit right on top of your amp or directly on the floor. It will work with different amps and different types of power sources for use anywhere.

CONS

Some customers noted that the quality of newer pedals doesn’t match the quality of older ones. A few players wished that the battery wires didn’t take up so much space.

BOTTOM LINE

For classic rock, few pedals can compare to the DS-2 Turbo from Boss. While priced around the same as the DS-1, this model has a turbo feature and will work with foot pedals.

PROS

Similar to the pedals used by professional guitarists in the past, the Turbo is perfect for playing classic rock. It has a built-in feature that lets you use it with a foot pedal.

CONS

A few shoppers found that this pedal sounded worse than other effects pedals did. We also saw customers who wished that it had a slightly cleaner sound.

Shopping Guide for the Best Distortion Pedal

When you buy your first electric guitar and sit down to play, you might find yourself disappointed with the notes produced. This can happen because the guitar doesn’t produce the wailing sounds that you wanted to make. The best distortion pedal for 2018 can completely change the way you play and the notes that you produce. Some of the top guitar players of all time used these pedals both on stage and when working in the recording studio. You can easily find the top distortion pedal of 2018 that will help you sound like a pro whenever you play.

Also called a distortion effect pedal, this type of device easily attaches to your guitar in the same way an amp does. You can adjust the verb and other features to get the gritty sound that you want and to add an edge to your music. Our team searched dozens of websites and consulted with a number of experts to find the best of the best. In addition to giving you information on the top pedals and detailed product reviews, we also created an advanced shopping guide that any musician can use. Our shopping guide will help you find a distortion pedal that works with any type of instrument.

Shopping Guide for the Best Distortion Pedal

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Selection Criteria

Musicians looking for new pedals typically go with the most expensive or the cheapest. Those who opt for the cheapest models are usually musicians who have less money and those who play for fun rather than profit. Musicians who buy the most expensive pedals often include those who play professionally and get money for their work. Some shoppers make purchases without looking at anything beyond price and buy pedals that don’t work for them.

Once we decided to make a shopping guide for distortion pedals, we set to work finding the top five products and the best features for our readers. We spent hours scouring the web and consulting with real musicians to find out why they bought distortion pedals and what they thought about when buying those items.

After creating a list that included dozens of pedals, we examined each one up close to find the best five options. We used Amazon to ensure that our readers could easily buy those pedals online and looked at the reviews posted by shoppers on that site. You can read descriptions of each of the top five pedals and check out our shopping guide before using our links to purchase the best one.

Selection Criteria

Features We Looked at When Choosing the Best Distortion Pedals

  • Sounds and notes produced
  • Customer reviews and ratings
  • Any interference produced
  • Cost of the pedal
  • Customer service issues

What is a Distortion Pedal?

It’s really important that you know what a distortion pedal does before you buy. You may find that you prefer working with another type such as a fuzz pedal. A distortion pedal essentially distorts the notes that you play. Instead of providing crisp and clear sounds, it gives those notes a fuzzier tone that helps you create blues music that any musician would love.

If you ever used an amp before, you know that certain notes can lack the power that you want. The amp can make some notes sound clearer and make other notes sound fairly wimpy or rough. Depending on how loudly you play, you can even damage the amp. When you use a distortion pedal with your amp, you get all the notes and tones that you desire.

Fuzz pedals produce even more distortion and can make it hard for you to hear the different notes that you produce. Distortion pedals do a good job of changing the notes and making each one sound rougher while also ensuring that you can hear every single one. Even if you just like jamming with friends or playing songs with your family, you’ll find a few different ways to use a distortion pedal.

What is a Distortion Pedal

Other Types of Music Pedals

  • Fuzz pedal
  • Delay pedal
  • Flanger pedal
  • Chorus pedal

If you assume that distortion pedals cost hundreds of dollars, you should really take a look at the Boss DS-1, which we found was the best of the best. Retailing for far less than other pedals, it comes with accessories that anyone can use. You also get instructions that show you how to hook up the pedal. This model will work with most guitars and also with keyboards. Though you can use it with a battery, that battery won’t last as long as you want. You’ll find another bundle available that comes with an adapter that powers the pedal too.

Best of the Best Boss DS-1 Distortion Bundle
Boss DS-1 Distortion Bundle

This bundle comes with a 10-foot long cord that connects the pedal to your instrument and lets you play without sitting right on top of it. You also get a soft cloth for cleaning the pedal and your instrument and a few guitar picks. This pedal has simple markings on the front that help you identify both the input and the output. Three knobs on the top allow you to adjust the tone and distortion as well as the level. There is also a light that comes on when you set up the pedal. Boss gives you a five-year warranty on this set too.

Choosing the Right Power Source

When you decide to buy a distortion pedal, you might focus on the price or the way it looks without thinking about how you will actually use it. Knowing how you will use that pedal is important because this can give you an idea of which power source you should choose. You can typically use an independent battery source that relies on an AC adapter or a 9V battery.

Some players prefer using a standard battery because they think it is more convenient. When you play on stage or in front of a group of people, you can connect the battery to the pedal in a few minutes or less and move around the stage without tripping over any cables. The main problem with these batteries is that you have no way of knowing when it will run out of power. This can result in you standing in the middle of a stage with a pedal that won’t work.

AC adapters let you play for hours without running out of juice. As long as you have access to an outlet, you can use your pedal. We recommend looking for distortion pedals that are compatible with both 9V batteries and AC adapters. Even if you need to purchase the adapter separately, you’ll have one on hand for your upcoming gigs.

How Much Do Distortion Pedal AC Adapters Cost?

Most AC adapters designed for use with musical pedals are compatible with all types. If you buy one for your distortion pedal, it will also work with a fuzz or an overdrive pedal. You can get the adapter by itself for as little as $20. You may need to spend a little extra on a cable that runs from the pedal to the adapter though.

Choosing the Right Power Source

Do You Need Presets?

One benefit to using a distortion pedal is that you can change the amount of distortion as you move from rougher or harder songs to softer tracks. Depending on how much experience you have though, you may find that you prefer a model that comes with some presets. These pedals, which usually have a digital design, come with settings already established. This means that you can plug in your guitar or keyboard and start playing almost right away. You can switch between those settings as you switch between songs or play different types of music.

Those presets also allow you to make some adjustments of your own. Let’s say that you like the way the pedal makes your guitar sounds but that you wish there are a little more treble and a little less bass. After making those adjustments, you can then save those changes on the pedal. If you want to use the same settings later, you can hit a button and immediately access the preset that you customized.

The only real issue with preset pedals is that you may want to do more customizing. Most of these pedals only give you a limited number of options. If you want to play like Hendrix or another superstar, you’ll want a base pedal that doesn’t feature presets.

Guitarists Who Use Pedals

You may just feel like a badass and like your favorite rock star when you hook up the M75 Super Badass to your guitar. MXR mimicked the designed preferred by classic rock guitarists over the years and created a pedal that pros will love. As one of the most versatile pedals on the market, it allows you to produce every note and sound on the spectrum. You can get the gritty notes usually associated with blues music and the blaring notes that go along with hard rock. We also recommend this pedal for those who want to play softer rock.

Best for Pros MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion Pedal
MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion Pedal

This pedal features both input and output markings on the front and jacks on each side. You’ll also find five knobs that let you change the bass, mid and treble settings. When you want to add more grit, you can use the distortion knob on the upper right-hand corner. This is a truly analog distortion pedal that doesn’t feature any of the digital effects and features that newer players prefer. If you want a classic look and sign, this is the pedal for you. The M75 even has a true bypass feature that helps you mimic classic and modern rock stars.

Analog vs. Digital

Do you remember those days when you invited friends over to play a few video games? You probably also remember turning the television to a different channel or using rabbit ears to improve the signal that came across the screen. Those who remember the good old days often prefer distortion pedals with an analog design. Analog pedals provide you with a clear sound that some refer to as a purer sound. You can use one to get the natural notes that you want when jamming with friends or playing a hard rock tune. Old school and traditionalists usually prefer these models, but some guitarists much prefer digital models.

Digital models work with the entire spectrum and can provide a more modern quality that you won’t get with an analog pedal. Some players also like digital pedals because they can use them with different instruments and because the pedal can produce different effects. You might get one that functions as both a distortion and a fuzz pedal. The main problem with digital models is that they can produce a tone that sounds artificial or fake. If you want to enjoy the pure sound of music, you may want an analog model.

Analog vs. Digital

Pros:

  • Fairly affordable
  • Produces a number of different effects

Cons:

  • May produce a fake or artificial sound
  • Will not work well with analog instruments

True Bypass

When you connect an instrument to a pedal, any music that you play will go through that pedal. You can use the illustrations below to see how this works. With a traditional system, the signal moves from your guitar to your pedal. The pedal will distort and charge the signal before sending it through to your amp. This results in music that sounds muddy or watered down. The signal can degrade so much that you have a hard time hearing the notes or playing a specific song too. One way to avoid this problem is with a pedal that features a true bypass system.

With a true bypass system, the pedal will still feature the same internal parts but will not send the signal over or through those parts. When you play a note, it moves directly from your instrument through the pedal and across to your amp. Some models have a button that allows you to turn the bypass feature on and off. You can leave it off when practicing and rehearsing for an upcoming show and turn it back on before you play live. Pedals with a true bypass feature provide clearer and purer sounds without any feedback or static.

A common problem that musicians have with some of the more popular pedals is that those models just take up too much space. Electro-Harmonix designed the Nano Big Muff to take up less space, which makes it a convenient option for those who perform live. You can easily toss this pedal in your bag and take it to all your shows. The manufacturer took their most popular pedal and made it a little smaller. It features a volume knob on the front for quickly turning the sound up and down and a tone knob that gives you control over the bass. You can turn this knob to increase and decrease both the treble and the bass.

Best Compact Model Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff Guitar Distortion Effects Pedal
Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff Guitar Distortion Effects Pedal

One of the top features that we like is the sustain knob. You no longer need to spend a few minutes setting up the pedal each time that you use it. Once you finish playing, you can simply turn the pedal off. The next time you turn it on, it will retain your settings. Its sustain knob also lets you sustain and maintain your notes and settings during an extended jam session. Electro-Harmonix gives you the option of using this distortion pedal with a battery or an adapter that you can purchase separately.

What to Look at in Pedal Knobs

All distortion pedals on the market feature a series of knobs. You will need to turn the knob in a clockwise direction to turn on a feature and in a counter-clockwise direction to turn off the feature. When choosing a distortion pedal, there are a few things you should look at in regards to those knobs.

  • Clicking sound: As you play, you cannot always look down to see the pedal. If you choose one that produces a soft clicking sound and/or sensation, you’ll know instantly when you turned that feature on and off.
  • Placement: You should look at the placement of those knobs and where they sit on the pedal. Some players prefer knobs that are closer together and sit near the top of the pedal, while others like having more space between the knobs. If the knobs are further apart, you can avoid accidentally adjusting one of the settings.
  • Number: We also recommend looking at the number of knobs on that pedal too. You want to make sure that each knob corresponds to all the features and settings that you use, including the bass and tone. Most distortion pedals have a knob that acts as a volume control too.

Do You Need an Output Knob?

A small number of distortion pedals feature an output knob located right next to the output itself. As you turn the knob, you’ll change the way the signal moves through the pedal. This can increase the volume and the clarity of that signal.

What to Look at in Pedal Knobs

How Does a Distortion Pedal Work?

Though we already talked about what a distortion pedal is and what it does, you may want to know how this type of pedal works too. The basic concept is fairly simple. When you connect the pedal to an amp and your guitar or another musical instrument, you use cables that allow signals to move from one area to another. The signal moves from the instrument to the pedal and then to the amp, which increases the volume and bass of those notes. When you use just an amp, the full signal moves from the instrument to the amp and then to your ear. With a distortion pedal, those signals change before they reach your ear.

The pedal has components inside that actually clip the signal. This process removes a portion from both the top of the sound wave and the bottom of that wave. The signals and notes that you hear have a softened quality that can be quite nice. Though distortion first appeared in music produced during the 1950s, it wasn’t until the 1960s that distortion pedals first landed on the market. Modern designs still use some of the same features found on those early pedals.

How Does a Distortion Pedal Work

Did You Know?

Many credit Jimi Hendrix with introducing the world to music produced with distortion pedals. The Kinks also used these pedals in some of their songs.

The FATRAT from Pro Co Sound often appears on lists of the best distortion pedals in the world. One reason for its popularity is its compact and box design. You can actually stack this pedal right on top of your amp or use it on the floor and still have all the space that you need to move freely. Instead of putting the input and output on the sides like other manufacturers do, Pro Co Sound moved them to the top of the pedal. This gives you even more space and will keep those cables from getting in your way.

Best for Clipping Pro Co Sound FATRAT Distortion Pedal
Pro Co Sound FATRAT Distortion Pedal

Designed for players who use clipping methods, the FATRAT will work with clipping circuits designed by different companies. You can also use it with chips from other manufacturers too. That allows you to customize this pedal and make sure that it will work for you. Two switches on the top let you adjust the settings and then instantly move back to the pedal’s stock settings. You can also use three knobs on the pedal to adjust the volume or to create a more filtered sound. This pedal also has a button that lets you add more or less distortion as you play.

How Does Clipping Work?

Clipping is a term that refers to changes made to the signal as it moves through the pedal. This process actually briefly pauses the signal before sending it through to your amp, which creates the bolder and richer tones that you want. It’s important that you know whether the pedal does any clipping because this will tell you more about the sounds that you can produce.

When it comes to distortion pedals, clipping actually distorts the notes as you play at a lower volume. Whether you like hard rock or jazz, you can turn down the volume on the pedal and your amp and still get the crisp but slightly rough notes that you need. If you buy an overdrive pedal, the clipping will require that you turn up the volume on those devices. As you turn the volume up, the pedal will produce even more distortion and create music that sounds almost angry.

We highly recommend that you look at what the manufacturer states about the clipping used by a pedal. You want to make sure that this process will produce richer and more vibrant sounds without requiring that you turn the amp up so loudly that it might blow.

Signs of a Broken or Faulty Guitar Amp

  • There is a burning odor in the air around the amp
  • You cannot hear any sounds after plugging in the amp
  • The sounds produced sound slightly distorted
  • You hear a popping sound when you plug in an instrument
  • The amp produces a crackling or hissing sound
How Does Clipping Work

What to Consider in a Pedal Case

Manufacturers use the terms case and enclosure to describe the exterior of their distortion pedals. This case is what protects the internal parts and ensures that the knobs work with the pedal’s settings. Some of the things you should look at in terms of this case include:

  • Metal thickness: Though most cases use some type of metal such as stainless steel, the thickness of that metal can vary between manufacturers. You typically want a case that uses a thicker form of metal, which will keep it from bending and stop dents from forming as you travel.
  • Screws: When you purchase a distortion pedal, you might not think about the screws located around the outside of the case. It’s really important that you check out those screws for yourself though because some are quite small. You’ll have a hard time removing those small screws to work on the pedal. Some reviewers claimed that certain pedals had screws that stripped easily when they went to change the battery.
  • Battery compartment: We recommend taking a close look at the battery compartment too, especially if you plan on changing the battery supplied by the manufacturer. A few reviews we came across claimed that these compartments were too small and that they had issues with the wires inside.
What to Consider in a Pedal Case

What Types of Music Can You Play with a Distortion Pedal?

  • Classic rock
  • Hard rock
  • Rap
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Heavy metal

Boss makes some of the best effects pedals around, which is why we added two products from the company to our list of the top distortion pedals. While the DS-1 ranks as the best of the best, the DS-2 is the best model for the money. It features an enclosure made from a bright shade of orange that you can easily see when playing at home or on a dark stage in a venue. That housing protects all the interior parts and ensures that the pedal will keep working after exposure to water. It has both an input and an output on the side as well as a remote feature. This is one of the only pedals we found that is compatible with a remote jack. You can use that feature to connect it to a floor pedal.

Best for the Money Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion Pedal
Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion Pedal

The top reason so many shoppers love this model is because of its turbo boost feature. This lets you get the great distortion that you want without missing any notes. Many lead guitarists use this feature when performing live. Boss also gives you knobs for adjusting the distortion, level and tone. Each knob has markings that show you the maximum levels available.

Distortion Pedals and Musical Genres

One important thing you should consider when picking a distortion pedal is whether that pedal will work with your favorite genres of music. Even if you claim that you love all music equally, you’ll have a few genres that you prefer. You might love the pounding bass lines and screeching vocals associated with hard rock and heavy metal or the dulcet and soothing tones of classical music. Distortion pedals are really best for louder forms of music such as hard rock. Disturbed and Metallica are a few examples of bands that produce hard rock. You can also use a distortion pedal when playing your favorite classic rock songs such as a few hits from The Rolling Stones.

When shopping online, you cannot try out the pedals the way you can in a neighborhood music store. You’ll need to depend more on the information from the manufacturer and the reviews that customers wrote. As you look at product reviews and descriptions, make sure that you look for those that highlight the specific type of music that you play. Though distortion pedals work with all types of hard and loud music, you’ll likely find some that produce more distortion than others.

Warning

Even if you need to save money, never buy an effects pedal that uses a plastic housing or case. That case can break when you travel to a live show or when you use it at home.

Distortion Pedals and Musical Genres

Distortion Level

An important thing to keep in mind when looking at distortion pedals is the level of distortion produced. Most of the products that we saw and those that are on our list are standard distortion pedals. You’ll also find models called fuzz and overdrive pedals. We briefly discussed how overdrive and distortion pedals compare in a previous section. Overdrive pedals typically provide more drive and have a higher distortion level. You can also use these pedals at a range of volumes and still get some good sounds. Fuzz pedals produce a lower type of distortion that can make songs sound slightly fuzzy.

The distortion level of each pedal can also vary based on its price. High-end models will cost more but have a higher maximum level and a larger range. You can twist a knob on the pedal to get more or less distortion as you play. Cheaper models typically have a smaller range and may not produce as much distortion as you desire. Those in the mid-range are good for both amateurs and professional players because they have a good range and a nice level of distortion. You can use those pedals to produce both fuzzy sounds and to get even more distortion.

Before buying a new distortion pedal, consider doing a search for that pedal on YouTube. Not only can you watch video reviews of that pedal, but you can also see people playing music with it. Those videos let you see how it performs before you spend any of your money.

Distortion Level

Design

A number of famous musicians learned how to play musical instruments while blind or learned how to keep playing after losing their sight. Though you might think it’s impossible to play your own guitar at the same time that you keep your head and eyes up, the right distortion pedal will make this possible. You have the option of choosing one with a simple and basic design or one that has a number of more features and knobs. If you play live and want to keep your eyes on the crowd, you should choose one with a more basic design. You can reach down to flip a switch or adjust a feature while still paying attention to those watching you.

Distortion pedals with a more complex design are best for those with more experience and those working in a recording studio. You can set up all the features and adjust the bass and treble as well as the distortion level before you begin playing. The design can include features such as the number of buttons located on the top of the pedal and both the location of the input and the output and their proximity to each other. Expert musicians sometimes prefer using one pedal when rehearsing and a different pedal when performing live.

Design

Design Features to Consider

  • Size of knobs
  • Markings that correspond to each knob
  • Location and number of switches

Gain vs. Tone

Two important terms that you should know and understand are tone and gain. Gain refers to the intensity of each note produced. Musicians like using distortion pedals because these products make their songs sound grittier and dirtier. Those with a higher gain will produce notes that sound grittier than you ever expected. The gain of a pedal can relate to the type of music it works best with too. If you buy one designed for blues music, you can expect the pedal to have more gain. This is because blues music is much deeper and soulful. Pedals designed for use with hard rock or heavy metal may have less gain.

You also need to consider the tone and how the pedal lets you change and manipulate notes. Let’s say that you want to play low bass notes when recording a blues song. You can adjust the settings to produce rich and full bass notes that still have some reverb and distortion. When you switch to another genre, you can make a few adjustments and jump right back into things. You’ll want to make sure that the pedal allows you to reach all the tones that and notes that you like playing.

Expert Tip

Before buying and hooking up a distortion pedal, make sure that it will work with your amp. You should check the gain on the amp and compare it to the gain on the pedal.

Gain vs. Tone - WITH TEXT

What Matters the Most When Buying a Distortion Pedal?

  • Price: No matter what features are the most important to you, you’ll put price first. We found distortion pedals that retail from around $50 to more than $150 because we wanted to meet the budgets of all our readers. You can use our section on the average prices of distortion pedals to see how much you should pay too.
  • Housing/case design: Since we already included a section on what to look for in a pedal case, we won’t go back over that info again. You should buy a distortion pedal with a durable housing that can stand up to your playing. If you like rocking out with friends, you’ll want one with a thicker case that can stand up to more abuse.
  • Controls: You should consider the controls on the pedal too, both what controls are available and how each one looks. Some players prefer larger knobs and wider pedals, while others prefer smaller pedals with tiny knobs.
  • Personal preferences: Regardless of what features we talk about or the information that we supplied, it all comes down to your personal preferences. You might want a pedal with a compact design that you can use on top of your amp or one that has larger knobs that you can access when playing in a seated position.
What Matters the Most When Buying a Distortion Pedal

Benefits of Buying Effects Pedals Online

While you can purchase effects pedals from local shops, you can find even more pedals available online. Some of the benefits of purchasing your next distortion pedal online include:

  • Larger selection: Your neighborhood store will only have a small selection of effects pedals available. Those stores typically only stock products from the top companies. When you shop online, you’ll find a larger number of pedals available and products from smaller brands.
  • Find answers: If you ever bought anything off Amazon before, you probably noticed the question and answer area listed on each product’s page. As long as you have an account, you can ask any questions that you have and get responses from shoppers who bought and used that same pedal.
  • Fast shipping: If your local guitar store does not have the pedal that you want to buy in stock, it can order it in for you. This process can take a full week or more. Amazon and other sites offer fast shipping and will get that new pedal to you in a few days or less.
  • Save money: The biggest benefit to buying a guitar pedal online is that you can save quite a bit of money. Many of the pedals we saw sell for 10% or more off of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
Benefits of Buying Effects Pedals Online

How to Read Customer Reviews

One of the best ways to learn more about the distortion pedals that you have an interest in is with a look at some of the customer reviews that you see online. We put a lot of weight on those reviews when deciding which of the top products to include on our list of the best distortion pedals for 2018. Not only did we factor in the average star rating of each pedal but also the percentage of negative reviews to the percentage of positive reviews on each product. You should look at both our reviews and product descriptions as well as online reviews.

The most important thing to look at is the longer reviews that you might see. Anyone can go online and assign a star rating to a product and write a single sentence. It takes more time to sit down and write a paragraph or more. When you focus on those longer reviews, you’ll find the best pedals that both amateurs and pros love. You should also look at reviews that mention your favorite genre of music and the music that you play. The best distortion pedal for you will work with that genre and provide all the features that you love.

Signs of Fake Reviews

Though Amazon and other sites made it harder for people to write fake reviews, you may still come across some of these reviews when shopping for a distortion pedal. It’s important that you know which of those reviews are fake. Fake reviews can come from companies themselves as well as competing companies. Some of the top signs that a review is a fake include:

  • The reviewer only writes extremely positive or extremely negative reviews
  • It focuses too much on one specific feature of the pedal
  • The language in the review seems off or strange
  • You read reviews from customers who only rate products made by one specific company
How to Read Customer Reviews

What to Consider When Trying Out a Distortion Pedal

  • Play the way you want: Many beginners try out guitar pedals in their local stores without thinking about how they will play at home. If you always sit down on your couch and wear headphones while playing, you should try that distortion pedal while in the same position and while wearing headphones.
  • Listen carefully: When blasting out a hard rock song, you might find yourself so caught up in your playing that you don’t think about how the music actually sounds. As you use the pedal for the first time, try closing your eyes and focusing on the music for a few minutes. This lets you hear any feedback or static that can affect your tunes.
  • Opening notes: You may want to listen to the opening notes too. Some distortion pedals take a few minutes to heat up. The pedal might produce less distortion or produce some feedback until the signal starts moving through more smoothly.
  • Distortion levels: Now is the chance to try out the different distortion levels also. You can mess around with the settings and features as you play to see if the pedal produces all the distortion that you want in addition to the treble and bass that harder types of rock need.
What to Consider When Trying Out a Distortion Pedal

Expert Tip

You can visit a neighborhood shop and try out a distortion pedal before buying the same pedal online. If you don’t want to waste time, you can also order a pedal that comes with a good warranty. If the pedal doesn’t fit all your needs, you can return the pedal for a full refund. Some sellers and manufacturers will charge a restock fee or require that you pay for the return shipping.

How to Connect Your New Distortion Pedal

How to Connect Your New Distortion Pedal
  • Connect the guitar: After making sure that you turn everything off and that there isn’t any power running to any of your devices, you can connect your guitar. You will take a cord and run it from the port on your guitar to the input on the pedal.
  • Add the amp: You will then take the second cable and connect it to your amp. Make sure that you insert the opposite end of this cord into the output jack that you should see on the side of the pedal. Some pedals will have this jack on the top.
  • Power the amp: Before you begin experimenting with the pedal, you should plug in the amp and turn it on. This gives you the chance to check the settings on the amp and to make sure that it receives a signal from the pedal.
  • Customize your settings: Once you have everything connected, you can customize the settings on your distortion pedal. We recommend turning each knob all the way down or to the lowest setting possible. You can then perform a few licks and make adjustments until you get the sound that you want. If the pedal has a sustain knob or button, you can use it to maintain those settings as you play.

Tips on Using a Distortion Pedal

  • Adjust the volume: If you discover that you don’t get all the distortion that you want from a pedal, you should try adjusting the volume. Don’t make the mistake of merely changing the volume on just the pedal though because you may need to crank up the volume on your amp too.
  • Find the best spot: The best spot for your pedal depends on whether you play while seated or standing and the length of your cables. No matter how you play, you should make sure that you place the pedal in a safe location. This location should be close enough that you can easily make adjustments but far enough away that you won’t accidentally step on it.
  • Start out low and slow: Many distortion pedals have just three knobs on the front. The first few times that you play, you can start out with low and slow settings. This requires that you set the first knob at the number three setting, the second knob at the number four setting and the last knob at a number five setting. Once you feel more comfortable, you can adjust those levels up and down.
  • Use more than one: You may want to try experimenting with more than one effects pedal too. Many guitarists use two distortion pedals or two or more pedals that produce different effects connected to the same instrument.

Common Reasons Your Distortion Pedal Doesn't Sound Right

It costs more to purchase a fluid dynamic or a double ball bearing fan. You’ll also spend more to maintain that fan and replace it in the future.

Tips on Using a Distortion Pedal

What is the Average Price for a Pair of Bass Headphones?

The best way to see how much a pair of bass headphones will cost is with a look at the product’s Amazon product page. We included links to those pages for each of the top five pairs on our list. You can also use the chart below to see which products are more expensive than others.

When it comes to cost, the most expensive pairs are those designed for the pros. The JVC headphones retail for more than $600. While this might seem expensive to you, the cost is actually less than what other pro models cost.

If you really want to save money, you might go for a pair of earphones instead of headphones. Bass earphones are smaller in size and have tiny pads that you actually place inside your ears. Those pads send the bass notes directly into your ear canals. You can get a pair of bass earphones for as little as $10 or $20.

Traditional bass headphones have an on-ear or an over-ear design that forms a seal to keep those notes inside your ears. Most of these headphones retail for around $50 to $100. You will find other models that cost much more though, including pairs in the $200 or $500 range.

Our Top Picks and Your Cost

What is the Average Price for a Distortion Pedal

Frequently Asked Questions

A: Some manufacturers now make effects pedals that work with an app you can download to your phone. Though many of these products are only compatible with Apple devices, some will work with Android products too. Once you download that app and sync it to your pedal, you can use the app to turn the pedal on and off and to change the settings.

A: Though you may come across some pedals that claim to work as both distortion and overdrive products, the two terms actually refer to different things. Overdrive is much more powerful than distortion and does not distort or changes the tones as much. You’ll generally want to choose between either a distortion or an overdrive pedal. Those that claim to do both will usually do one or the other better.

A: You should pay attention when reading product descriptions to make sure that the pedal comes with everything that you need. Guitarists need a minimum of two cords or cables. You’ll use one to connect your guitar to the pedal and one to connect the pedal to an amp. Some companies sell pedals that do not come with any cables or just one cord.

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