4 Best Distortion Pedals for Metal (our top picks)

Best Distortion Pedal for Metal: Top 4 Picks

Empress Effects Heavy Distortion: 96.5

  • Dual channels
  • Tons of tweaking
  • Noise gate is FANTASTIC

Amptweaker TightMetal JR Distortion Pedal: ​​95.7

  • Tone is comparable to Mesa tube amps
  • Onboard noise gate is great
  • Lots of thickness and percussive gain

Wampler Dracarys Distortion Pedal: 93.6

  • Sounds great out of the box
  • Switch is quiet
  • Tone is great for lead and rhythm metal

Ramble FX Twin Bender Fuzz/Distortion: 92.1

  • Super-aggressive fuzz sound
  • Adjustable impedance
  • Selectable transistors

1. Empress Effects Heavy Distortion Pedal

We tested the Empress Heavy with a Fender Telecaster, PRS CE 24, a Mesa Rectoverb combo amp, and a slew of digital amp models in Garageband and Amplitube 4.
A good look at the Empress Heavy’s stacked control scheme. The two knobs in the middle (hi and low) are universal, while the four knobs and two switches on either side control their own channel.
  • TONE: 98
  • EQ/CONTROL: 98
  • BUILD/STRENGTH: 92
  • COST/VALUE: 88
  • Dual channels
  • Tons of control
  • Analog
  • Tone quality is excellent
  • Noise gate is one of the best in the business
  • Expensive

2. Amptweaker TightMetal JR Distortion Pedal

  • TONE: 97
  • EQ/CONTROL: 90
  • BUILD/STRENGTH: 92
  • COST/VALUE: 90
  • Tone quality is tough to beat
  • Noise gate is second only to the Heavy
  • True bypass
  • Tight control gets some great sounds
  • Not much, unless you mind the price. Still way cheaper than the Empress Heavy.

3. Wampler Dracarys Metal Distortion Pedal

The Dracarys handles higher frequencies really well. It’s one of the few distortions we’ve tested that sounded good with the treble knob cranked.
  • TONE: 94
  • EQ/CONTROL: 82
  • BUILD/STRENGTH: 100
  • COST/VALUE: 84
  • Three-band EQ
  • True bypass and “soft” engage switch
  • Perfectly tuned metal tones
  • Tight/Open switch provides added versatility
  • No onboard noise gate
  • Strange volume discrepancy between open and tight modes
  • Expensive

4. Ramble FX Twin Bender Fuzz Pedal

The Ramble FX Twin Bender is an exquisitely well-designed, metal-ready fuzz pedal.
  • TONE: 95
  • EQ/CONTROL: 86
  • BUILD/STRENGTH: 95
  • COST/VALUE: 85
  • Two different selectable transistors
  • Fuzz tone with metal intensity is a great combo
  • True bypass
  • Adjustable impedance levels
  • A little pricey, but not by much
  • Less traditional EQ control

Why You Should Trust Our Reviews

For testing these distortion pedals, we used a Mesa Single Rectifier combo’s clean channel.

Identifying Value

Rating cross referenced with price. Further to the right and lower is better. This chart is a big part of the reasons we like the Amptweaker TightMetal JR so much. The value is excellent.

Concluding and Additional Questions

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