5 Best Distortion Pedals for Beginners
Are you new at guitar playing? Then know that a distortion pedal is a basic component for any serious guitar player. Apart from helping you fine tune your sounds it helps you control the tones.
Whether you want to play music casually or be a rock star this is a must have.
But how will you know which one to pick? The ideal pedal should be beginner friendly with intuitive operations. This means the best distortion pedal for beginners should be both easy to understand and use. Also, a pedal that’s versatile is the one you want. It must be able to work on a variety of sounds, from rock to metal and everything in between.
As a beginner you really don’t have to go for the most expensive pedal on the market. There are plenty of products which come at reasonable prices but work just as well as high end ones. After all, expensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best product.
We put together a few recommendations for you below which are worth considering. They all have two things in common—affordability and impressive functionality. Keep reading as we unpack the best distortion pedal for beginners.
Donner Morpher Distortion Pedal
If you’re looking for a quality unit that provides high gain distortion you might like this one. A beginner who wants an effective distortion pedal without breaking the bank will find this model ideal.
This unit will significantly improve the tone of your small musical instruments. It’ll make a fresh tube AMP sound louder and fuller—reminiscent of the “Full stack” sound effect. The best part is it does this while still maintaining the original sound dynamics.
This pedal provides you with three distinct sounds under these modes: classic, tight and natural. Not only does it allow a high degree of distortion of metal, it also adjusts the sound from stable to solo. In addition, it provides a strong and articulate expression with echo sound.
The general build is quite solid, so it’ll last you long. It’s made of whole aluminum classic alloy which makes it both stable and strong. The only part we’re concerned about is the housing material around the DCIN. It’s made of plastic which makes the durability questionable.
Another attribute you’ll like is the true bypass feature which allows for a transparent tone. You can keep track of its working state thanks to the LED indicator.
This model will work well for beginners thanks to its very impressive dynamics. The sound will stay considerably articulate even with high outputs. You won’t experience any dull bass with this instrument. Also, picking this unit means there’ll be no obtrusive medium or panic frequency.
Note however for optimal performance you must avoid using it in high temperatures or humidity. Subzero conditions aren’t advised either and you must keep it away from direct sunlight.
Disassembling the pedal by yourself isn’t advisable. If there are any issues rather take it to the professionals to avoid further or permanent damage
- Comes at an affordable price
- Sturdy build
- Attractive packaging
- Offers different sounds
- Classic mode sounds “muted”
Boss DS 1 Distortion Pedal
For those guitarists who prefer their sound loud and distorted this is the best distortion pedal for beginners. It’s more suited for altering the rock and metal tone—particularly if you‘re more into the high pitch treble sound. If you want the deeper crunchy driven sound this won’t work for you.
The three Leveland knobs located on the face make it pretty simple to operate. After adjusting these distortion knobs be prepared to hear rock sounds and tones you’ve never heard before.
It’s constructed using extremely tough material which guarantees longevity. Plus, because it weighs only 1.1lb you can tell its super lightweight. However, this in no way compromises on its quality and performance.
A lot of the sound it produces is determined by your guitar and amp. However, this pedal allows you to taper the sound or turn down the distortion for a moderate audio experience.
You might experience problems with it when recording direct into DAW. This makes it produce a rather scratchy sound. To avoid this, you have to roll off some treble in post equalizer or just on your amp.
It features analog circuits for enhanced performance. You can use it during a gig and it’ll work well—for the most part. Occasionally it produces some palm muted guitar notes making it sound a bit fuzzy. However, more often than not, most people won’t notice it. Also, it could use a bit more gain, but it still sounds good regardless.
You can use it with either the 9V battery provided or purchase a power cord. And the black color means it’s likely to blend with most of your musical instruments.
- Produces great sound
- Easy to use
- Intuitive dialing settings
- Sharp edges
- Short battery life
TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal
This pedal will produce a sound that’ll satisfy even the pickiest guitarist. If you’re more into the hard rock music from the 70s and 80s then this is your pedal.
Though it works on a variety of music there’re a couple of limitations. Firstly, we wouldn’t recommend it on its own if you want to play Metallica songs. It’s more of a driven Marshall sound than a high gain for metal. However, if you use it with a good equalizer then it can pull off a metal sound.
Also, it’s specifically designed for guitar frequencies so it’s not ideal for playing bass guitar—unless you have a good amp.
Unlike most pedals which provide three sounds this one comes with four namely the gain, level, bass and treble. This way you can fully control your distortion sounds according to your preference. You can use it on songs that require slight to large rhythm distortions.
Note however that you’ll need some degree of expertise to get the right distortion level. For the best sound, you need to adjust the knob to level eight. Anything above nine and the sound becomes slightly hissy.
The true bypass feature will ensure zero loss of tone despite the various sound alterations. Another impressive feature is the voicing switch which allows for a shift in the bass response.
Most reviews have noted it’s very bassy even when the bass is off. As a result, getting a clean tone might be slightly difficult. Also, though it’s a good distortion pedal it doesn’t produce the best tone.
Overall, we think it’s perfect for leads and mid gain but not for very heavy distortion.
- Ideal for a variety of music
- Beautiful tones at low gain settings
- Solid and reliable design
- Not too loud
- Doesn’t come with power cord
- Not ideal for metal sound
- Doesn’t have as much gain
- Sloppy distortion
Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal
For a novice guitarist, a device that allows you to experiment with different sounds is what you need. This pedal is well known for its versatility so it’s compatible with a number of sounds. It works as a fuzz, distortion or overdrive depending on how you dial in the knobs.
It’s the best distortion pedal for beginners looking to excel at soaring leads and arena rock rhythm tones. It’ll work even better if you have a powerful amp with lots of headroom. Here’s why: This pedal will hit that spot where the tube amp will go from clean to overdrive.
If, however, you already love your amp’s distortion, you can always use this pedal as a boost. It’ll work well particularly for the extra solos to give that extra kick where needed.
The filter knob allows for variety in your tones, so you can use this pedal with different bands.
It’s a quality unit which is very well made plus it’ll last long. The Rat’s distortion is also smoother than most pedals and can play most codes with clarity.
One of its downsides is though you can use it for bass, you’ll lose some low-end frequencies. Also, some will find the pedal clunky and it might not fit on your typical one spot or 9V adapter. However, you can still use it on a regular pedal board. Just make sure you use an A/B switch to transition between the rig and the pedal board.
A beginner will appreciate this pedal because it allows you to experiment with it. Out of the box it won’t sound as spectacular but with time—after practice—it sounds great.
- Works smoothly
- Offers wide range of distortion options
- Doesn’t need an adapter to function
- Great string separation
- Solid build
- Easy to use
- Crisp sound
- Slightly bulky
- Won’t fit on standard pedal boards
MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion
Here we have a pedal designed by the award winning MXR Super Badass team. Its versatility is one of its huge draw cards. Because of its highly responsive control, the pedal covers a wide sound spectrum. Whether it’s early 70s overdrive to modern metal distortion, this is your go-to distortion pedal. It performs an excellent overdrive in low gain and the best non-metal sound in high gain.
This pedal allows you to transition through a lot of sounds depending on your preference. You can use the first half of available distortion for pop and rock sounds. For the heavier sounds or metal, you can move on to the second half.
This pedal is ideal for beginners because it’s very simple to figure out and operate. It allows you to finely adjust your sound thanks to the three controls: bass, mid and treble. It comes with a true bypass feature which ensures zero loss of tone regardless of the distortion.
You can carry it around your musical road trips with ease thanks to the sturdy housing. MXR is known for its quality products. This is evident by the durable components which make up the housing unit, so you’re guaranteed durability.
The pedal features a sleek silver color making it quite stylish as well.
It has 100% analog for enhanced sound clarity. If you’re into the extra loud sounds, you’ll like this pedal which is pretty loud. It has plenty of power so the higher you play the noisier it gets. You can consider using a noise gate or decimator to tone it down.
It works well with the Tube screamer by producing a very organic distortion. Also, the EQ is very flexible, it works well with both combos and stacks.
- Loud and clear sound
- Highly versatile
- Solid metal construction
- Easy to use
- Flexible equalizer
- Very adjustable
- Might be extremely noisy
The reviews are in and it’s now up to you to decide which one is the best distortion pedal for beginners for your application. We believe the pedal which works on a variety of music will be to your advantage. This way you can experiment with different kind of sounds.
However, before you purchase make sure you have an idea of the sound you want. This will determine whether you buy one with low or mid gain. For instance: A pedal with high gain will be best suited for metal.
The pedal you pick will make the difference between a clear distinct sound and a fuzzy one. Ultimately you want one that has a smooth equalizer as it will make it easier to control the sounds.
The dial knobs on the pedal are equally important. If they’re too finicky, then it’ll take you time to get the ideal sound. Make sure you buy the one where the mid knobs are easy to customize. This way you can easily adjust it to the sound you want: be it punchy or aggressive. So, which one will you pick? We did it our part, the rest is up to you.