Our Favorite Distortion Pedals

Whatever is the music genre that you prefer, if you're a guitar player, there's a high chance you'll be using some type of distortion. Now, the effect that we've all come to like over the past decades is actually intentional boost of the signal using operational amplifiers and then deliberately "clipping" it using transistors or diodes. As a result, you get that (you've guessed it) distorted tone. There are three main types of distortion – overdrive, classic distortion, and fuzz. But each of these has so many different variants, and almost every distortion pedal model creates its own unique tone.

So what's the best distortion out there? This is a fairly common discussion, and as soon as you get into it, you'll realize that there's no consensus on the matter. To put it simply, the best distortion is the one that suits your needs the most. And this goes for guitar players of all genres and backgrounds. No matter what you're into, you'll always have your own preference.

This is why we decided to make our very own list of our favorite distortions. Needless to say, the process was not easy as there are so many great pedals to choose from. Without further ado, here's what we came up with.

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi (Fuzz)

This classic distortion pedal goes way back to 1969. Although it had many different versions over the years, the essence of the tone remains the same. Sitting somewhere between the extreme-clipping fuzz and regular distortion, it found use in so many different musical styles over the decades. It's not unusual to see it in the rights of both soft rock and stoner metal players.

When it comes to Electro-Harmonix's Big Muff Pi, we're most excited about the classic version. This one is a replica of one of the early versions from the 1970s. But you just can't go wrong whichever version you choose these days.

Wampler Sovereignn (Distortion)

Although not as old and as big as some other manufacturers on the market, Wampler has some really great pedals to offer. Their Sovereign distortion is just one of the examples of how amazing they are. Aside from the basic controls for volume, tone, and drive, there's some further tone-shaping that can be done using its mid contour knob. This way, you can get anything from scooped up to chugging mid-heavy tones that can easily cut through the mix.

In addition, it also has two additional switches. One of these allows you to use it either as standard distortion or a clean boost. The other one lets you choose between modern and vintage voicings. It's pretty versatile for such a compact pedal.

Ibanez Tube Screamer TS9 (Overdrive)

The legendary Ibanez Tube Screamer is unavoidable on any list of the best pedals. The old TS9 version is still in production to this day, almost unchanged compared to the old version from the 1980s. It's simple to use, it's not expensive, and it does wonders if you pair it with a vintage-oriented tube amp. In addition, it can also be used to further boost and add a different color to your main distortion.

TC Electronic MojoMojo (Overdrive)

It might be weird that we decided to include TC Electronic's MojoMojo on this list. Although a cheap entry-level pedal, its tone qualities are surprisingly good. In some way, its traits and functions remind us of the Tube Screamer. However, it has a 2-band EQ instead of just a tone knob and it has a voicing switch that changes the type of overdrive. Surprisingly versatile for such a simple and affordable pedal.

Klon Centaur (Overdrive)

Yes, Klon Centaur has only been hand-made during a limited period in the 1990s. Nonetheless, barely any pedal these days can even come close to it. With estimated 8,000 pieces ever made, these pedals can reach some mind-blowing prices on the market of used gear. Is it worth it? Well, let's just say that we really love its tone, especially how it sounds in combination with tube-driven amplifiers.

Although there have been many copies over the years, the original circuitry is somewhat shrouded in mystery. Every single piece has its circuit board covered in epoxy resin. No matter how hard everyone tried, no one was able to completely replicate its tone.

Analog Man King of Tone (Overdrive)

King of Tone is a modern equivalent of the Klon Centaur. In order to buy one, you'll need to get to the waiting list before actually getting one of these and plugging it into your amp. It's a hand-made pedal with a few customizable traits. But the essence of this smooth and creamy tone can be heard in any of the versions. It's a "2-in-1" kind of deal with a two-stage distortion. It's not only versatile, but it can make tones unlike any pedal on the market.

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