There’s a lot you can with just an electric guitar and an amp, but there is going to come a time in a musician’s development where they are going to want to try out new sounds. The easiest way to do this is get distortion pedals that will allow you to change your music in an almost unlimited number of ways. The tricky part is finding one that will give you a killer sound with out breaking the bank.
With that in mind, here are the top five distortion effects for under a hundred bucks:
This is pretty much your beginning level distortion pedal. It’s very cheap, essentially indestructible, and can give you anything from a light distortion to full on heavy metal growling. It’s also super simple to use with three, count them three, knobs: tone, level and distortion. This was the pedal used by Kurt Cobain to record Nevermind, and if you’re looking for a no frills pedal that will stand up to lots of use, you can’t go wrong with the Boss DS – 1.
Line 6 Uber Metal
This actually just nudges on to the list, not because of quality, which is great, but because of price. The Line 6 Uber Metal has a suggested price of about $180, but you can almost always find them on sale for half of that. This is a more advanced distortion pedal than the Boss DS – 1, with a lot more flexibility. It’s built in high gain levels include Metal, Insane and Pulverize, which should give you some idea what the pedal is capable of. It’s a little pricey, but this tough little pedal gives you a lot for the money put into it.
Electro Harmonix XO Metal Muff
This is one of the best sounding distortion pedals, and if you want a more refined sound, this is probably the way to go. You can get anything from a warm distortion that just enhances your guitar playing to ridiculous super distortion that makes you sound heavier than heavy metal. This pedal also has a high gain boost switch, which means that you don’t have to switch pick-ups when you go high for your solos.
Digi Tech XMM Metal Master
A very tough, very gnarly distortion pedal. This thing will give you an almost endless range of distortion types, and it has a morphing ability that allows you to flow seamlessly from distortion type to another, which will vastly expand the range of sounds that you’ve got. It also offers a clean signal out as an option and it’s virtually noise free, which gives you a cleaner sound.
Cool Cat Metal II
This is a very cheap distortion pedal, pricewise, but it gets the job done. For about thirty bucks, you get a tough distortion pedal with the basic distortion effects. You don’t get the bells and whistles you would from the more expensive models, but it gives a great clean sound and has a true bypass, so when you switch it off there is no loss in quality. Good for beginners and people who only need a distortion pedal for a limited number of things.