4 Outstanding Distortion Pedals All Metal Guitarists Need

Talk to any guitarist about distortion pedals and each one will tell you something different and a unique opinion based on their experiences. While some may be put off by the idea of these little gizmos, other instrumentalists will swear by them, named them one of their most essential pieces of equipment.

However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, if a distortion pedal is providing you with the sound you’re trying to create, then this is for you. With this in mind, if you’re a metal guitar and you’re looking for the right distortion pedal, you may already find yourself overwhelmed with what’s on offer.

Today, to help you make the right purchasing decision, we’re exploring four of the best distortion pedals out there on the making, allowing you to find the best one to suit exactly the sound you’re looking for from your guitar.

Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion with Top Boost Guitar Effects Pedal

Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion with Top Boost Guitar Effects Pedal

To kickstart our list of the very best metal distortion pedals that are available on the market today, we’ve chosen this beast of a pedal with promises to give you full control over your guitar’s sound, allowing you to play the way you want to play.

Unlike most pedals, especially the smaller models, this leading pedal is proud of its six main distortion knobs and dials. These allow you to control all kinds of elements of your sound, including overall volume, your EQ setting including the treble, mids, bass and, of course, the distortion effect.
For guitars who want to take their style and sound to the next level, there’s also a Top Boost function (allowing you to boost between 3.5 and 4.3kHz) which operates independently, a general boost switch and, as you would expect from a leading brand, a Buffered Bypass option.

While there are some reports that turning your distortion setting over 12 can produce a hissing sound, it’s very rare that you’ll be using this setting and it also depends on your amp as to what the final sound will be produced.

With your purchase, you’ll always find a 9-Volt replaceable battery included, and while there’s no AC adapter, there is a 96DC power supply cable, allowing you to enjoy the complete freedom of being able to play and distort everywhere you go. If you’re looking for a pedal that can provide you with some serious bite to the sounds you’re producing, there may not be any reason to look further than this.

PROS
  • 6 features and functions to create the sound you’re looking for
  • ‘Top Boost’ feature for extra sound effects and volume control
  • High-quality metal build for long-lasting durability
CONS
  • Slight ‘hissing’ sound when distorting over 12
  • No AC adapter for power supply plugin

MXR M116 Fullbore Metal Distortion

MXR M116 Fullbore Metal Distortion

Next up, we’re chosen the MXR M116. MXR has been in the music production industry since the early 70s, so it goes without saying that you can feel safe in the knowledge that you’re buying a product that’s backed by nearly half a century of experience, and this pedal is no exception.

As a metal guitarist, you’ll instantly love the style of this beautifully, roughed-up style pedal, and it’s sure to become one of the favorite pieces of equipment. Setup is easy thanks to the parallel input/output sockets which are located neatly on the side of the device with the guitar input on the front.

This ensures everything is easily accessible at all times, a critical feature when you’re a part of a high-octane performance while minimizing the risk of a wire or cable being pulled. However, while there no power supply included with the purchase, meaning you need to purchase one 9V battery for use, you can purchase another branded power-supply which will work seamlessly.

As you’d expect, there are six main features you can control and distort, from the standard highs, mids and low tones, as well as a frequency and gain option so you can easily find that exact sound that you’re looking for, or you can embark on your very own journey of sonic exploration to find something new!

What the M116, however, really excels in is the super-high gain frequency settings. These are made easily available through the three-band EQ settings, although some guitarists still believe these sounds are too low for their liking.

However, this range of features means you can create extremely tight or fast notes, or experiment with the Gate and Scoop functions for an even more unique and dramatic sound.

PROS
  • Unique Gate and Scoop functions for a more individual sound
  • Easy setup and expert cable positioning
  • Three-band EQ for a completely customized distortion effect
CONS
  • Requires 1 9V battery (no included power supply cable)
  • Produces a slightly lower sound than some people expect

Blackstar HT-Metal Guitar Effects Pedal

Blackstar HT-Metal Guitar Effects Pedal

If you’re looking for something really hardcore that will blow your socks off, and the socks of your audience and listeners, then nothing will come close to what the Blackstar HT-Metal guitar effects deal can provide for you.

Despite being one of the pricier models on this list, the Blackstar is a premium answer to any metal guitarist’s distortion dreams. This particular model is designed using a classic and genuine value design, giving you easy control over your settings and customization preferences.

The overall build of the model is outstanding, with all the knobs, dials and the external casing having been made from the highest quality materials, ensuring this is a distortion pedal you’ll be enjoying for many years to come.

What’s more, the entire model operates at an incredible 300V HT, meaning you know that you’re backed by some extreme power. In addition to the classic three-band EQ settings that you can change and play with as you please, you’ll also find your typical Gain and Tone settings with extreme options.

The fact that there’s also and Clean, Overdrive and Super High Gain Lead Mode means that you, as the guitarist, has absolutely full control over the sound you’re creating, whether you’re jamming at home, practicing with your band, performing live or recording in the studio.

Playing around in the comfort of your own home? No worries, you don’t need studio speakers to hear your sound since this distortion effects pedal comes with its own emulated speaker output, allowing you to listen and jam, regardless of the time or place.

With your purchase, you’ll also be able to enjoy the benefits on an included power cable meaning there’s no need for batteries when you’re rocking out!

PROS
  • Comes with power supply, no need for batteries
  • ¼ jack for headphone compatibility
  • Tried and trusted brand throughout the music industry
CONS
  • Considered a premium option due to high price
  • None!

Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Distortion Guitar Pedal

Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Distortion Guitar Pedal

Finally, coming in at number four, we’ve chosen the Boss MT-2, a midrange distortion pedal that comes with a ton of features and customizable settings that will satisfy both beginners and experts alike, while still ranging suitable for nearly all budgets.

With a main focus on the mids section of your guitar sounds, this distortion pedal will allow you to effortlessly create super-long and ultimately sustained mid tones and the same quality of lows that you’d find with a stack of overdriven amp, giving unlimited control over the sounds that you’re producing, whether you’re at home or live on stage.

All in all, it’s safe to say that this little MT-2 model can provide you with everything you need to find the exact sounds that you’re looking for. Despite being made from a plastic casing, the longevity of the product is still outstanding, and weighing in at only 15 ounces, this little distortion pedal is highly portable and lightweight, meaning it’s effortless to take with you wherever you go or perform.

While this model may be considerably smaller than the other distortion pedals on this list and, in fact, the market, that doesn’t stop it being any less full of features, although you’ll need to buy an affordable power supply cable or batteries since it doesn’t come with the purchase.

With the two-band EQ settings, you’ll still have the ability to adjust your high, mids and low sections, although it may require a bit of a learning curve to figure out how, and you’ll also get to adjust your levels and distortion rates separately, ensuring that you have everything you need to create the metal sounds you’ve been looking for.

PROS
  • A popular model for over 15 years
  • Compatible with multiple jacks and headphones
  • A broad spectrum of effects to create
CONS
  • Requires 1x 9V battery or separately purchased power supply
  • May not be able to achieve same high-quality effects as a premium model

The Takeaway

As you can see, it doesn’t matter what kind of budget you’re on or what kind of sound you’re looking to produce; there are a ton of options out there to choose, it’s just a matter of finding a distortion pedal to best suit your needs.

Make sure you shop around and do your research, and you can be sure you’ll find the sound you’ve been looking for in no time at all!

Leave a Comment