Distortion pedals are a great way to make playing the guitar even more fun. They add a different sonic texture or a different color to the current tone you’re using. In this article, you’ll be reading about some of the best distortion pedals that are available on a good budget.
See our complete series where we compare the best guitar pedals for the money.
The Top 5 Best Distortion Pedals We Discuss In This Article:
How to Choose a Distortion Pedal
There are a number of ways to go about looking for new gear such as overdrive products online. You may want to first evaluate your own personal tastes. See, different styles of music require different levels of gain. Do you love to play crunchy heavy metal riffs? You’ll want something that has a lot of bite to it with high gain capabilities. Or perhaps you just want a slight touch for some leads you want to lay down during your next jazz ensemble performance. It’s important to be self-aware of your play style or the types of music you expect to play in order to gauge what kind of equipment is available. While they all serve the same function of distorting your instrument’s tone, many of them will be tweaked to have different tones or overdrive capabilities. Context is always key.
Then, of course, you’ll want to try some out. If you’re buying online, however, maybe it’s best you go onto a site such as YouTube where you can hear different examples of people playing through the product. In addition to playing, they’ll usually tell you what styles it is exceptional for while talking about the pros and cons of each. There are a lot of DIY people on YouTube with their own independent channel such as this where the player will demonstrate the different ways to play through the product.
This is an excellent variation of the old advice known as “try before you buy”, without you having to go and try the products at the store. Of course, it always helps to do that as well. There’s nothing like gauging how you like a piece of equipment by playing it and getting the “feel” of it as you play through one with an instrument of your choice. It’s a very intuitive process that pays off in the long run.
Why Use distortion anyway?
A piece of equipment like this is one of the most common products in the world of electric stringed instruments. It can add a different dynamic to the context of the music you’re playing. If you’re playing a lead part that requires more volume and more “bite” to the tone, then they great for that. It creates separation from the band or backing track and allows the guitar using the overdrive features to stand out. It’s also a great way to add context and color to the right musical setting. That’s what makes the guitar such a beautiful instrument. It’s either great on its own without any effects or you can use effects such as gain to add a different sonic texture to the song to make it more appropriate in that setting. Are you going to use a non-distorted sound while playing a heavy blues or rock song? It wouldn’t work. It doesn’t have the same type of emotional impact that a sound with more gain would have. That’s why having some of the best distortion pedals at your disposal is such a huge advantage.
What to look Out for
There are a number of different things that go into looking for the best distortion pedal for you. What kinds of knobs can be found on this product? There are usually a few key essential ones that can always be found on them. The first and most obvious one should be a gain knob. This control just how much distortion you want coming from your item. Some people want it higher, others want it lower for a quick boost. It all depends on how you use it. There is also a tone knob which is implying how much tone you want to use from the product itself. It can seriously modify your amp’s sound, or just add to the quick boost as mentioned earlier.
Using your distortion pedal
One of the most common ways to use them is to add gain to an instrument’s tone in order to play leads. How much gain you want can be adjusted on the device or the amp. Many amps will come with a naturally distorted channel, but may not provide the tone needed for the solo, which is where this kind of equipment comes in. It can distort a clean channel or be used to augment the primary distorted channel on the amp. These are done for the purposes of a lead.
The best distortion pedals in 2019
Boss DS-1 Distortion Pedal
Ibanez TS-9 Tube Screamer
Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi w/Tone Wicker
TC Electronic MojoMojo Overdrive
This pedal has a nice, warm tone that is excellent for leads, especially in the jazz-fusion setting. A very compact piece of gear, it is very easy to transport and carry around from gig to gig (or studio to studio). The biggest feature of this, however, is the fact that it has true bypass. When something has true bypass, it means that it has bypassed the amp’s settings and can completely make its way through the signal chain without the amplifier’s tone coloring the products’.
With it’s bypass, it becomes even easier to tweak the equipment’s overall tone using the tone knobs that it provides. Like an amplifier, this item has knobs that adjust the treble and bass properties while including a tone knob for color purposes. It also has a drive knob for adjusting the overall gain over the device.
It also has a voice switch that can either thicken the sound, or make it sound thinner. This could work well especially if you’re trying to augment the basic sound of the instrument like the thickness of a Les Paul or the thin, punchy tone of a Stratocaster or Telecaster The only downside is that the while the control and bypass are excellent, this piece of gear does not provide the sustain you may want from many other distortion pedals.