11 Best Distortion Pedals for Metal of 2024

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Distortion pedals are one of the most important components in a metal guitar tone. Without a decent distortion pedal, you'll struggle to get a truly monstrous sound from your guitar.

That said, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of distortion guitar pedals on the market, and not all of them have a sound that works for metal.

If you're looking for distortion pedals for metal, this is the guide for you. I'll share some of the my reviews of the best distortion guitar pedals to-date, and I'll give you a bunch of information to help you pick the right one for your needs.

As a start, I think the Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff is one of the best pedals for metal lovers out there.

This pedal features all the controls you need to really craft a unique metal distortion tone, including a 3-band EQ, a boost circuit, and independent distortion and level controls. It has a seriously massive sound!

Although there are many others out there that might be more to your tastes, so check out the rest of this guide!

Best Distortion Pedals for Metal

If you're looking to make a killer metal tone, these distortion pedals are the best on the market!

1. Basic Budget Metal – Behringer HM300 Heavy Metal Distortion Pedal

Behringer HM300 Heavy Metal Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Heavy Metal
  • Controls: Level, Distortion, Low boost/cut, mid boost/cut
  • Tone Control: Yes, low and mid

If you're looking for a basic, affordable, but decent metal distortion pedal, the HM300 from Behringer is a strong contender.

This gives you an authentic heavy metal tone with a minimal price tag. Sure, the tone isn't as rich, deep, or exciting as more expensive pedals, but it's a great starting point.

The controls give this pedal a nice amount of versatility, too, as it has knobs for the volume level and distortion gain, as well as separate low and mid eq controls.

The EQ controls let you shape the distortion tone nicely, so you can get the right balance between lows, mids, and highs.

It does have a bit of a thin sound overall, but for $30, it won't disappoint!

2. Budget With Variety – Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal Distortion Pedal

Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Ultra Metal Distortion
  • Controls: Level, Distortion, High boost/cut, low boost/ cut, mid-frequency, mid gain,
  • Tone Control: Yes, 3x with variable mid-band

In a similar spirit to the HM300, the UM300 is another budget metal distortion pedal from the faithful brand Behringer. With a slightly different sound and more complex controls, the UM300 provides a bit of a broader tonal range compared to the HM300.

The tone isn't quite the same as the HM300, so you could use both pedals on the same board if you wanted a budget rig. The UM300 has a few extra controls, giving you separate EQ gain bands for lows, mids, and highs.

The mid band features an additional frequency control, letting you target the exact area of the mid frequencies you want to cut or boost.

Again, the sound of this pedal isn't fantastic, but it isn't terrible for the price. If you want something with a bit more variety than the HM300 and have a bit more advanced knowledge about EQ, this is your best bet (in the budget range, at least)!

Behringer Drive Pedal 3-Pack - Distortion, Fuzz, and Overdrive with Power Supply

This pack is another good option if you want to bag yourself a bunch of Behringer pedals and all the extra cables and power supply you need!

This pack includes the Super Fuzz 300, the Heavy Metal 300, and the Vintage Tube Overdrive pedal. These all mimic other iconic pedals, like the Ibanez Tube Screamer and other models.

If you want to kit out your board on a budget, this pack is a great deal!

3. Basic But Beastly – TC Electronic Eyemaster Metal Distortion Pedal

TC Electronic Eyemaster Metal Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Metal Distortion ' Swedish Buzzsaw'
  • Controls: Gain, Volume
  • Tone Control: No

The TC Electronic Eyemaster is a simple but effective metal distortion. While it has minimal controls (a volume and gain knob), it still offers a wide range of tones and is super easy to use.

While it lacks any kind of EQ controls, it does have an EQ built into the circuit, meaning there really isn't any need for EQ. It's super versatile, and you can get a bunch of different tones from it just by using the two controls.

It's worth noting that this pedal has a 100% analog signal path, giving it a super crunchy, warm tone. This avoids the thin, harsh sound that can occur on cheaper digital pedals.

If you want a basic metal distortion pedal that has a killer sound and won't break the bank, the Eyemaster could be the perfect choice.

4. Honey I Scooped The Mids – TC Electronic Fangs Metal Distortion Pedal

TC Electronic Fangs Metal Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Metal Distortion
  • Controls: Gain, Volume, bass boost/cut, high boost/cut, raw/fat scoop
  • Tone Control: Yes, 2x

Another pedal from the TC Electronics roster, Fangs is a high gain, metal distortion pedal with a range of controls and tones.

Unlike the Eyemaster, the Fangs pedal includes bass and treble controls. These let you cut or boost either band, so you can decide which part of the tone is more prominent.

It also has a scoop switch, letting you choose between 'Raw' and 'Fat.' These give you some extra definition in the mids, letting you dial in a more unique guitar tone.

This offers great value for money and has a sweet and dynamic tone!

5. Fender's Metal – Fender Hammertone Metal Distortion Pedal

Fender Hammertone Metal Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Metal Distortion
  • Controls: Level, Gain, High, Low
  • Tone Control: Yes, 2x

While Fender is more known for tones on the cleaner end of the spectrum, that hasn't stopped them from imparting all their guitar knowledge into this beastly metal pedal.

This simple but effective pedal brings the crunch without punching your wallet.

It has four controls - gain and volume for finding the distortion balance, as well as low and high tone controls for shaping your distortion sound.

6. Monsterous Muff – Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff with Top Boost Distortion Pedal

Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff with Top Boost Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Heavy metal distortion fuzz
  • Controls: Vol, Top Boost knob and switch, high boost/cute, mid boost/cut, bass boost/cut, distortion
  • Tone Control: Yes, three-band eq

Electro-Harmonix is known for making some cool, unique pedals—all of which are of the best quality possible.

One of their most iconic pedals is the Big Muff fuzz pedal, which has been used on stages worldwide. This Metal Muff is an uglier, beefier sibling of the Big Muff and advances on the original circuit design to bring you something even more powerful and metal-friendly.

Besides the iconic Muff tone, this has a bunch of extra controls that give you more versatility and color, including a top boost level and independent EQ controls for the highs, mids, and lows.

Another handy function is the boost switch. This means you can engage an extra circuit to boost the distortion level - which is ideal for solos.

The standard Big Muff is one of my favorite pedals of all time, and this metallic version is the perfect option for any metal guitar player looking to beef up their tone.

7. Honey I Shrunk The Muff – Electro-Harmonix Nano Metal Muff Distortion Pedal

Electro-Harmonix Nano Metal Muff Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Micro Metal
  • Controls: Volume, gate, high boost/cut, mid boost/cut, bass boost/cut, distortion
  • Tone Control: Yes, three-band eq

As the name suggests, the Nano-Metal Muff from EHX is a miniature version of the classic Metal Muff pedal. This packs all the huge, nasty tone from the original into a smaller, more portable pedal case.

The tonal possibilities are largely similar to the full-size pedal, although there are a couple of differences - notably the lack of the boost circuit.

However, the boost circuit is replaced by something just as functional. This compact pedal has a built-in noise gate which helps to keep the high gain tones quiet when you're not playing the guitar.

Otherwise, there can be a build-up of static noise as the pedal amplifies the quiet noise present in all pickups, creating an irritating sound.

You can also find a bass distortion pedal version of the Metal Muff for use with a bass guitar.

If you love the sound of the Metal Muff but want a pedal with a smaller footprint, surely this is a dream.

8. Analog Ripper – Boss ML-2 Metal Core Distortion Pedal

Boss ML-2 Metal Core Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Metal Core/Nu Metal
  • Controls: Level, Distortion gain, low boost/cut, high boost/cut
  • Tone Control: Yes, pair

The ML-2 is Boss's entry into their metal distortion pedal series. This follows the design ethos of 'simple but effective' and provides a cracking metal tone with bare-bones controls.

It has all the typical features of metal pedals in this price range—a level and distortion control and low and high EQ controls.

This gives you a decent amount of tonal range without being overly complex. Like most of Boss's metal distortion pedals, it uses all-analog circuitry for the most authentic tone!

9. Ultimate Versatility – Boss MT-2W Waza Craft Metal Zone Distortion Pedal

Boss MT-2W Waza Craft Metal Zone Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Metal Zone Distortion
  • Controls: Level, Distortion, High boost/cut, low boost/ cut, mid-frequency, mid gain,
  • Tone Control: Yes, 3x with sweepable mids

The Boss MT-2W Waza Craft Metal Zone is a powerfully versatile distortion pedal that offers metal guitarists a wide range of tones.

This has a full range of EQ options, letting you really shape the way the distortion kicks in. While an initial glance gives you the impression there are only 4 knobs, this pedal actually has 6, as the two central knobs are double-ringed.

The main attraction of this pedal, in comparison to other Boss metal distortions, is that it has a super versatile EQ section, letting you get deep with tone shaping.

That said, the raw distortion sound of this pedal is super tasty.

10. A Beautiful Beast – Boss HM-2W Waza Craft Heavy Metal Distortion Pedal

Boss HM-2W Waza Craft Heavy Metal Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: Heavy Metal Distortion
  • Controls: Level, Distortion gain, low boost/cut, high boost/cut
  • Tone Control: Yes, pair

If you want something a little simpler but fatter than the MT-2W, the HM-2W is the perfect pedal.

This has a mighty tone and offers slightly simpler tone shaping - even so, the high and low controls still let you get a decent selection of sounds.

11. Premium Crunch – MXR M116 Fullbore Metal Distortion Pedal

MXR M116 Fullbore Metal Distortion Pedal

SPECS

  • Type: High gain metal distortion
  • Controls: Volume. gain, gate, scoop switch, low boost/cut, mid boost/cut, high boost/cut
  • Tone Control: Yes, three-band eq

MXR is known for making some killer pedals of all types, but their fuzz and distortion pedals are some of my favorites.

The MXR Fullbore Metal is a true beast of a distortion pedal and will really set fire to your guitar tone. With this, you get all the EQ shaping you need. It also comes with a scoop switch for shaping the mids and a gate for reducing noise interference.

All in all, this is one of the best-sounding and most well-equipped metal distortion pedals on the market. If you have the cash to spare, the MXR Fullbore is a true ripper!

Best Distortion Pedals for Metal Buyer's Guide

When you're choosing a new metal guitar distortion pedal, there are a bunch of different factors and variations you should consider.

Check through these features to look out for before buying a new pedal to help you find one that suits your needs!

Distortion Quality and Sound

One of the first things to consider is the type of distortion tone you are looking for. Every pedal design has a slight variation and uniqueness in its tone. Some are relatively light and sound like the crunch on a tube amp, while others are complete destruction, creating a massive fuzzy sound.

Choose a distortion pedal that has the kind of tone you'd like to use. This can be quite tricky to work out, but the best way is to listen to demos of pedals and pick out one that you like the sound of.

Consider distortion pedals that provide excellent note articulation, clarity, and tightness, ensuring that your playing remains defined and articulate, even at high-gain settings.

Versatility

A further consideration is the versatility of the pedal. Some distortion pedals can only produce a limited range of tones, while others have a broad range. This largely depends on the number of controls included on the pedal.

Higher versatility usually comes with a higher price tag, but often is it worth it. Although, if you only need a basic distortion option, then there are some decent, affordable choices out there.

Gain and Distortion Level

Two of the main controls on distortion pedals are the Gain and Distortion values. You can find a wide range of the different levels provided by distortion pedals. Some have shorter ranges, while others offer a huge depth in the amount of gain and distortion, they can offer.

The choice here comes down to how much range and depth you are looking for in your distortion pedal.

Tone Controls

A further important control is the inclusion of any kind of tone shaping. Most (but not all) distortion pedals come with at least a singular tone knob, which lets you change how bright or dark the produced distortion signal is.

If you want more control, then look for a distortion pedal that comes with a three-band eq - this will let you cut and boost the bass, mids, and highs independently of each other. These types of pedals can offer a huge amount of versatility and are a lot of fun to experiment with.

Feedback and Noise

Distortion pedals are some of the loudest, highest gain-type pedals out there. While this is awesome for cracking tones, it can cause feedback and noise issues.

Because distortion pedals rely on a high level of amplification and saturation, they can exaggerate issues in the signal chain. This can create a higher chance of feedback or amplify unwanted noise in signals.

For this reason, the best guitar pedals come with built-in feedback reduction and noise reduction circuits, which can be a lot of help in keeping your signal clean.

However, this can be quite rare in a pedal, so it might be worth investing in an additional noise or feedback-reduction pedal if you're having problems.

Build Quality

You can find distortion pedals with a range of build qualities. Typically more sturdy pedals are more expensive, and cheaper pedals tend to be made of weaker plastics. This isn't a huge consideration, as most pedals tend to be pretty strong.

But if you want something that will last for years, and can withstand the hard life of touring gear, then it's probably worth going for a high-quality pedal with a metallic casing.

Battery and Power Cables

The method used to power guitar pedals can also vary. Typically, most use either a 9V battery and/or a power cable. Although not all are the same.

Depending on the type of pedalboard setup and power rig you are running, you might want to choose a specific pedal that has the power type that works for you.

Size and Pedalboard Compatibility

Guitar pedals come in a huge range of shapes and sizes. You'll need to pick a pedal that you have room for on your pedal board (if you use one).

You might also want to consider the placement of cable connectors so they fit nicely on your board.

Budget

Like most types of gear, distortion pedals can be found at any end of the price spectrum, from cheap to eye-watering.

While more expensive distortion pedals tend to sound nicer and offer a wider range of features and versatility, there are some great affordable pedals out there. In fact, many players like the sound of cheaper pedals for their raw, punk tone.

Overall, the main thing to consider is the type of sound you want to achieve. Finding a tone that works for Oyu can take years, but thanks to YouTube and social media, it's pretty easy to preview the sound of a pedal before you buy it.

Listen to the types of guitar tones you like the sound of, and do some research into finding out what pedal your favorite guitarists used.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do metal guitarists use distortion pedals?

Metal guitarists often use distortion pedals; in fact, they are probably one of the most common types of pedals used in this genre.

Distortion pedals saturate the sound, creating fat, heavy tones that are associated with metal. They bring a level of power, crunch, and color to guitar tones you can't achieve with any other effects.

If you had to pick one pedal for making metal tones, distortion pedals are probably one of the best choices.

What pedals are good for heavy metal?

The best pedals for heavy metal music are distortion pedals, overdrive, wah pedals, and EQ pedals.

For modern metal, a combo of distortion and an overdrive pedal is a good place to start. You might even want to pick a pedal with a boost switch, as this lets you activate a higher gain mode when you need to pull off a ripping solo.

If you want an overdrive pedal, then I recommend something like the Ibanez tube screamer, but otherwise, check out the distortion pedals for metal listed above.

Do you need a distortion pedal to play metal?

You don't always need a distortion pedal to play metal, although it does help. Ultimately it depends on the type of metal you want to play.

Many styles of metal, like death metal, typically revolve around a distorted guitar tone, so you will often need a metal distortion pedal. That said, there is a lot of nu-metal that uses clean tones, meaning you don't actually need to use distortion.

Overall, I would say that there isn't any downside to owning some distortion pedals if you are a metal fan and want to play metal guitar. After all, distortion is a key component of the metal sound.

Conclusion

With all the above information, you should have no problem finding a killer distortion pedal for your setup. Spend some time checking out the sound of different pedals and work out what kind of features you would like to use.

Overall, I think the Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff could be the best distortion pedal for metal guitarists. It has a wicked tone and some really useful features, including a 3-band EQ and a boost switch. It also comes in the smaller Nano Metal Muff version, which is cheaper and smaller but offers the same sound.

Good luck on your hunt for a massive tone!

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