Electric Guitar Distortion Pedal, my favourite ones.

Hi Everyone,
the Electric Guitar Distortion Pedal, in this post we talk about the more or less modern history of the guitar. The distortion has practically marked the turning point for all the guitarists. Distortion is a very important and delicate effect and can often make a difference. A small premise is a must: the best distortion for guitar is the one that is most similar to your way of playing and your taste, so often the choice is purely personal.  Having said that, I can safely say that getting the distortion you want and knowing how to adjust the distortion better is an art. Learning this art is a must if your musical taste involves the use of this pedal. Below I will list those that I have tried personally but logically the criterion for deciding which one can be the definitive pedal is strictly personal.

The genesis of the Distortion

The Distortion is considered the first true effect for electric guitar. Initially it was an annoying effect due to the need to increase the volume of the amplifier to bring out the sound of the guitar compared to the other instruments. The amplifiers of the time could not manage the volume. they use to go into saturation tending to shear the waveforms of the sound emitted creating precisely a natural dispersion.
Over time the musicians began to search for this type of his on purpose because the squaring of the signal enriched the sound of harmonics and gave it a particular timbre.

The distortion is the direct descendant of the overdrive with which it shares a fairly similar basic operation.  In fact simulates the natural saturation effect of a preamplification stage in which a signal is input at too high a volume exasperating its effect, thus creating the classic sound of rock. Often some guitar amplifiers include one or more channels to amplify the sound, generally the first one called “clean” and the following ones are distorted with different levels of amplification. It is difficult to attribute the authorship of the use of a real distortion device.

Among the blues and rock’n’roll guitarists who experimented extensively with distorted guitar sounds, Elmore James and Chuck Berry must be mentioned. Later the distortion took hold globally a bit in almost all musical genres and starting from the seventies the distortion was massively entered in the groups of the time. The heavy metal genre is probably the musical genre in which the distortion is the most used effect. In order to make the melody more raw and rough but it is not uncommon to find it even in punk and hard rock.


Before proceeding with my reviews I wanted to spend
two words on this online downloadable tutorial that
includes all the various effects and not just the Distortion.
This tutorial is well-structured giving a general overview
on all the effects. I consider it a bit like a vademecum for those
who want to start venturing into the fantastic world of effects.
Just click on the image or here if you want to have more info about.




Electric Guitar Distortion Pedal, my preferite ones:

Suhr Riot MINI

Very simple and intuitive distortion pedal, with the three very classic Level, Tone and Gain parameters. In addition, it is equipped with a three-position mini switch which gives the possibility to change the pedal sound. The first on the left gives a very warm and full-bodied crunch sound, great for blues. The central one offers in addition a boost on the middle frequencies which greatly increases the sound, slightly increases the volume and gives a boost to the gain. On the right we’ve the best part, here the Riot unleash even more gain, up to exasperated levels with a sound remarkably compressed. The sustain is almost infinite and the timbre of the pedal changes radically, becoming more open and bright. The thing that struck me most is the gain control, which remains extremely versatile on all three positions.


  • Versatile high-gain distortion with the sound and response of a high-quality 100-watt tube amp
  • Controls for Dist, Level, Tone
  • Handset: Voice
  • Footswitch: Effect Bypass
  • Connections: Input (6.3 mm jack), mono / stereo output (6.3 mm jack), – 9 V DC power supply connector (coaxial jack 5.5 x 2.1 mm – negative pole inside)
  • Power consumption: 8 mA
  • True bypass
  • Best place where to buy : amazon.com

Dark Matter Distortion

The Dark Matter aims to offer the first flavors of Plexi. This is a British overdrive / distortion device that offers a natural and tube sound. This pedal has a true bypass circuit and quality components. On board there are four knobs and a selector, called Voice which allows you to modify the sound drastically. With a small amount of gain it is possible to get a timber suitable for the rhythm, increasing the value of the gain the sound becomes ideal for good solos. In addition to the gain knob there is that of the volume level and another (bass / treble) that allows you to equalize the sound. Finally, returning to the voice selector, you can choose between 2 different tonal options. The Dark Matter is a nice pedal that offers an open and clean sound.


  • Distortion
  • Control: Gain, level, bass, treble
  • 2 Different voice settings
  • True Bypass
  • Power supply: 9 V DC power supply or 9 V battery
  • Best place where to buy : amazon.com

Fulltone OCD v2

The Volume control allows to increase the db at the level of a booster while the Drive control which, depending on how it is set, can generate a slight overdrive, excellent dynamic distortion or high gain. The Tone potentiometer which allows to perfectly equalize the sound starting from a flat position at 12 o’clock. The small HP / LP switch positioned at the top has a different function from the previous version: if we select HP we will have a more British sound while LP tends to do not change the tone of the guitar and the amplifier you are using, this is recommended even if you use it as a booster. Hard rock and metal guitarists love his sound for the performances with powerful riffs.


  • The Fulltone “Obsessive Compulsive Drive V2” (OCD V2) replicates the dynamics and harmonics of a fully-wound tube amplifier with its typical output stage distortion
  • Very dynamic
  • Reacts strongly to the volume control of the guitar
  • Controls: Volume, Tone, Drive
  • Switch: Mini Toggle HP (High Peak) / LP (Low Peak), True Bypass / Enhanced Bypass (internal)
  • Foot switch: On / Off
  • True Bypass
  • Best place where to buy : amazon.com

MXR 78 Custom Badass Distortion

No name was ever more appropriate, the MXR M78 Custom Badass ’78 Distortion offers a classic vulgar distortion circuit accentuated especially in medium. The tone control adds a sharp sound to the top, while the crunch button increases the dynamic range and the contents of the harmonic distortion by giving two tones actually. It responds well to the dynamics of the game, this is a really good distortion pedal and it has a lot to offer, especially if you are a rock fan of the late 70s. Although the name can take you back to the past, it is a very contemporary and versatile pedal.



  • Analog distortion pedal for electric guitar
  • Controls for output, tone and distortion
  • Selector switch for crunch mode
  • 2 Status LED
  • Robust metal housing
  • Operation with 9V battery or Dunlop ECB-003 AC adapter (optional)
  • Made in the USA
  • Best place where to buy : amazon.com

The Entry Level

A separate note I have to do on the pedals of the BEHRINGER. At first glance they may seem very similar to a toy due to the fact that they are made of plastic and seem to break in the hand but connected to a decent amplification system the initial fear vanishes. The pedals behave well as the most titled, logically you cannot wait for perfection but are suitable for the purpose with a very accessible purchase price, here below the complete range of distortions:

Logically these are just my recommendations for the electric guitar distortion pedal based on my personal experience. The market nowadays offers a myriad of different offers for all tastes and pockets.

I hope you enjoyed this post too!

Rock on


12 thoughts on “Electric Guitar Distortion Pedal, my favourite ones.”

  1. I love music and the guitar is one of my favorite instruments to listen to. I don’t play but I wish I did.
    I’m really into the sound so these accessories would be very important.
    I don’t like too much bass or too much treble so a fine tuning in between would be awesome!
    I would like to learn how to play guitar. I always have wanted to.
    So if I was getting a guitar these would be the accessories to get too?
    I’m curious to know. Thank you!

    • Hi Rob,
      thanks for your comment. You are never too old to learn to play the guitar and there are courses dedicated to those who have abundantly exceeded the forty of which I will soon review. To answer your question if this type of pedal is suitable for you, the answer could be yes and no, it all depends on your musical tastes. The distortion pedal can be found in many musical styles but it is only one of the many effects on the market, I mentioned it briefly on another post (https://smartguitaraccessories.com/guitars-accessories/) and soon I will dedicate post and review also for these other effects. I hope this helped you and don’t hesitate to ask me anything else if you have any further doubts.
      Rock on! 

  2. When I was a young kid I remembered an uncle of mine loved playing guitars, including acoustic and electric, but he didn’t have the pedal options like these. I bet he would have loved them, especially the MXR 78! Like you said, the MXR 78 is for those who love rock from the 70s and that is exactly the genre he grew up in lol. Always playing old school songs! 

    I’m going to recommend the MXR 78 to him when I see him again. Thanks for writing this up.

    • Thanks Nate for the comment. I bet your uncle will surely love the MXR, in case he has any doubts I’m available.

  3. Hi Benny. What a fantastic website you have. I have a young son who has shown a high interest in the music industry. He particularly loves the electric guitar and is learning how to play it.He was talking to me about a distortion pad a few nights back. I must admit that I knew very little about them. Now that I know about your interesting site I will have to get him to have a look at it and he can go through those models that you listed.  The ‘MXR 78 Custom Badass Distortion’, sounds great to me, I just love the name. However, as he knows a lot more about them then I do I will let him make the decision.Thank you. Jim 

    • Hi Jim, thanks for the comment on the post, much appreciated. Indeed, the MXR is also my favorite, but your son must choose according to his musical tastes. This, for example, reflects the sound of the 70s and if he’s looking for something modern, the Suhr RIOT could do for him. If you or your son have any other questions or doubts, do not hesitate to contact me.
      Rock on

  4. I love musical instrument right from little though I was not gifted with skills in them but I learned through practise to maneuver my ways into playing guitar through the help of my uncle who plays well. Till now, he does still plays guitar and I would be more than willing to share with him this post. I particularly took interest in the MXR 78, I guess if I go back to guitar, I will need to get my self this too.

    • hi RoDarrick,
      Thanks for the comment, I really appreciated it. The distortion is a must for all those who play the chiatarra. MXR78 could certainly be the best choice for you. Let me know if you will buy it and your comments on it.

  5. Thanks for carefully listing out, showcasing, and reviewing these nice electric guitar distortion pedals, I have been trying to get full details on all available distortion pedals to no avail until I came across this easy to understand article on them. Thanks for fully showcasing them and making my decision process easy to actualize. I’m so grateful for this remarkable post. I hope to see more nice reviews from you as it is not just helpful to me but is adding enough value to my musical career.

    • hi Willy, 
      thanks for the comment, I really appreciate it. Of course there are dozens of distorsorin pedals on the market but these are my favorites. Let me know at the end which one you will choose and how you are. Rock on Benny

  6. Great article on Electric Guitar Distortion Pedal, as you have explained;Distortion is a very important and delicate effect and can often make a difference. The sound of guitar is always fascinating, a friend of mine taught me some years ago. Now it’s my child I want to train how to play the instrument professionally. I would prefer the Fulltone OCD v2, considering all the specifications with the Volume control allows to increase the db at the level of a booster while the Drive control which, depending on how it is set, can generate a slight overdrive, excellent dynamic distortion or high gain. It is superb.Thank you for sharing this informative write-up.

    • hi Abayomi,
      thanks for the comment, probably the Fulltone OCD v2 is the one that’s right for you. I’m sure your child with your teachings will soon become a rock star.
      Rock on 


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