best distortion pedal for 80s metal

AT LAST: The 7 Best Distortion Pedal For 80’s Metal!

Want to replicate an 80’s metal guitar tone?  Check out these best distortion pedal for 80’s metal option.

When buying a distortion pedal, there is much to think about. Typically, it is just easier to look at what is used by your favorite guitarists and go from there. However, you should know that some of the best distortion pedals are not suitable for all types of metal. Your specific genre will play a major role in deciding the pedal that best suits you.

Do You Need a Distortion Pedal to Play Metal?

The majority of amps provide an on board distortion channel that you can pick. Some individuals just do not like the on board distortion; therefore, so they buy a pedal to place in front of the amp to get the desired distortion sound. If you like the distortion provided by your amp, then there is absolutely no reason to get any best distortion pedals.

However, the best distortion pedal for metal will infuse your tone with some grit and depending on the option you select, it will either produce some supreme earth-shattering, doom-laden distortion or some serious rocking crunch by completely saturating and overtaking the signal. Typically, it hardly matters how soft or hard you play, you will get the same effect.

Usually, a distortion pedal is linked to heavy rock bands as they darken the output and can even give the signal a boost. Additionally, it compresses the signal enabling you to appreciate way more sustain that will ultimately break into feedback. If the high gain sounds of the solid state amplifier are your preference or the heavier, tighter and dirtier sound of the heavy metal world, you will enjoy using a distortion pedal.  Solid state players can also look at this best distortion pedals for solid state amps here.

How Do You Get Metal Distortion?

To achieve metal distortion, you will need to use a consistent amount of attack to hit the notes. Among the most vital skills of any good metal guitar player is how hard he or she can hit the strings consistently without the notes becoming obscured. A good exercise is to use consecutive eighth notes to palm mute and downtick the low E string; this should be done at a medium tempo for a full minute. While doing this, you should record yourself and listen if you are achieving consistency. When your upper limit is discovered and it can be controlled for extended periods, the other playing phases will become even clearer.

Another way to get American metal distortion and rock is by figuring out the amount of amp gain you will need. Sustain and saturation are provided by more high gain, while less gain will provide clarity, note separation and a tighter low-end attack. You can practice getting an immaculate metal guitar tone by taking your guitar in hand and proceeding to bring down your gain as low as possible while making sure that an aggressive sound is maintained.

Additionally, with guitar being a midrange instrument and the mids producing cut and definition, you should not scoop your mids. Any of these options for 80’s metal best distortion pedals below should work well for you – especially when paired with reverb and chorus. The same goes for modern metal too!  Check out these top metal guitar amplifier recommendations or these classic rock distortion pedals, metal compressors and best metal choruses too!

Our Recommendations:

TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal

This is our top recommendation for 1980’s high gain metal best distortion pedals!

TC Electronic are renowned for providing the market with some of the most efficient and practical guitar effects. As it relates to reasonably priced gain-rich distortions, this true bypass pedal is difficult to beat. This compact chassis is designed to take a beating, if required and it has loads of gain and all analog circuitry. The sound it produces can be labeled as a tube head that is being pushed to the edge of failure but without the dangers typically involved with doing anything like that. It is truly a reasonable masterpiece that is designed to keep up with our demands. This is as good as it gets if you want a versatile and budget-friendly distortion pedal.

Where the majority of brands in the industry attempt to recreate the vintage vibe, this pedal is all about the future. Basically, the goal seems to be packing a huge amount of performance into the tiniest chassis available. It is simple, small and ultimately rugged. Confidence is inspired by the chassis, making players believe they could easily be put through its paces on stage without any thought of failure. When it comes to the finish, there really is not much to look at; however, the manufacturer is renowned to pull off beauty with simplicity. Besides its logo, you are only left with a black background with plain white labels over it. However, this wasn’t intended to be stunning but a source of producing the best uncompromising high gain.

Check The Current Price On The TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion Effect Pedal

Boss DS-1

DS-1 is among the best and most popular and most misunderstood distortion guitar pedals ever made. A number of individuals expect to simply plug it into a signal chain and it will produce that thick distortion. However, this is just not how the pedal works. Rather than using chaotic distortion to crush your tone, like many of the contemporary models, this pedal is designed with spicing up your clean channel in mind. But it can also help with cleaning up the signal that is already passing through a more forceful distortion pedal. It can be a bit tricky to learn how to use the DS-1 and this is why a number of new users are disappointed. Once all of its intricacies are figured out though, this pedal could become your favorite. DS-1 is the kind of pedal you will keep on all the time. It is tremendously unique and one of the most reasonably priced best distortion pedals available at the moment.

The DS-1 is undoubtedly a certified classic that has flourished on the market for more than 30 years. It has remained in the manufacturing process in a category among the best-selling distortion pedals of all time. This pedal has helped musicians like Joe Satriani and Kurt Cobain add spice to their sounds which have stunned crowds all across the world. It is extremely durable and will stand the test of time, in spite of its tiny compact design, which is a specialty of its designer.

Check The Current Price On The Boss DS-1

Boss MT-2 Metal Zone

When it comes to the most highly sought after distortion pedals for 80’s metal, there is a model that is well-known across the globe. This is clearly none other than the exceptional Boss MT-2 Metal Zone. This classic gain box is both hated and loved by many. There is diversity in the world of heavy metal distortion pedals; however, the majority of guitarists typically relate a single model with this niche. It is a misunderstood distortion box that is frequently viewed as an option for newbies.

However, if some finesse is applied to it, this pedal elevates to a whole new level. Its design is simple but the manufacturer intended the Boss Metal Zone to be a versatile device that brings to the table a lot of gain. Its four-band EQ allows you to make changes to the performance in many ways.

Boss is among those brands that are firmly established in their ways. Typically, this does not apply to their circuitry; however, it certainly applies to the design of their pedal chassis. This pedal has the same body that has been seen many times in the past. This ultimate stomp pedal has the capacity to take a remarkable amount of abuse. Since all their gear is color coded, the MT-2 is among the most recognizable metal pedals currently available. You just can’t miss its sleek black finish with its bright orange markings and labels. A 9V battery or a DC adapter will keep it juiced up.

Check The Current Price On The Boss MT-2 Metal Zone

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi

A simple and yet quite effective pedal, the Big Muff Pi provides you with the opportunity to dial in a bit of grit and go up through to total ’70s classic fuzz. This classic pedal, which highly likely that you have heard it on recordings without realizing it, is built like a tank as well. There is no need to be concerned about pampering it. Where fuzz pedals are concerned, there is a model that is so popular that even individuals who dislike this type of distortion sounds are merely too curious to resist the urge to give it a try.

Having been around for decades, the EHX Big Muff Pi is now in a category among the elite pedals that could be found in a fictional all-star pedalboard. The level of impact this device has on the business can be decided by the fact that most modern fuzz pedals are directly or indirectly based on the circuitry of Big Muff Pi. It is not the first or the best fuzz pedal at the moment; however, it is still the big daddy of the game and reigns supreme over all of the other renowned fuzz pedals.

The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi is quite a big distortion pedal that cannot exactly be described as being a lightweight. The enclosure of the pedal is made out of a quality metal alloy, which has the capacity to withstand the type of beating that only a passionate rock stage sound can deliver, yet walk away from it being totally unscathed.

Check The Current Price On The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi

MXR M116 Fullbore Metal

This is among the oldest brands in the industry; however, that is not an indication that they are incapable of satisfying the needs of a modern guitarist. As it relates to metal music, this pedal is remarkable, especially for those who are looking to get a bang for their buck. Not only does it deliver that raw, sought after distortion, but it comes with all the necessary tools to bend that performance to satisfy your needs as well. It is quite simple on the outside but is fully analog and features true bypass and a built-in noise gate. Because of its versatility, this pedal can even be used with underpowered single coil guitars and this is amazing.

It is very tricky to nail down modern distortion pedals. There are a number of ridiculous pedal on the market that do nothing more than adding a ton of useless gain to your signal. However, the MXR M116 Fullbore Metal is far from being ridiculous. It looks tremendously raw, although it is available in that quite familiar MXR chassis. Rather than going with a black or orange color theme, the metal was left untreated and it has ended up that its rugged appearance goes remarkably with what the pedal represents. Overall, nothing is really attractive about its raw design. Where durability is concerned, this is the standard bulletproof design with the capacity to take any abuse that is dished out. That is certainly one of the things MXR distortion knows how to deliver. In addition, this pedal can be powered by a 9V battery or a DC adapter.

Check The Current Price On The MXR M116 Fullbore Metal

KHDK Dark Blood Distortion

Unlike the understated graphics used in some of the other KHDK pedals, this model stands out proudly with its remarkable red embossed motif on its otherwise glum black casing. It is also a brutal-sounding pedal that delivers an impressive sound.

The Dark Blood has a crunch to it that is deeply satisfying as it sounds aggressive and clear all throughout its impressive range of gain. This has the potential to be a remarkably transformative pedal if the drive channel on your amp is substandard or you if have a single channel clean amp. An onboard noise gate is included to keep background noise to a minimum; however, the Doom knob is the major selling point. It is designed to dial in a shocking landslide of bottom-end to produce a crushing tone. Its Hi/Lo switch allows for tweaking – the Hi setting amplifies the sustain and top-end for lead breaks, while the Lo setting enhances the grunt factor for rhythm. The treble control is also equipped with loads of range.

For metalheads, having all this power in a reasonably priced pedal is definitely a dream come true. Use Dark Blood with your rig and you will experience the ultimate ruthless metal attack. Additionally, when your tone gets sorted, nothing else will matter.

Check The Current Price On The KHDK Dark Blood Distortion

Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal

Nowadays, the distortion effect market is filled with great modern designs; however, there are also some vintage ones. This pedal has stood the test of time and is old school in every single way. Its enclosure brings back memories of the era when effects pedals were newly becoming a thing and the tone it produces is in a category of its own.

As a result, RAT2 has found its way onto the pedalboards of a number of popular musicians. Just by glancing at the control panel you will see that this pedal is easy to use. During the period in which it was designed, the name of the game was simplicity. Although it provides an impression of a fairly limited stompbox, when it comes to distortion, this pedal packs much range. It can easily be a more menacing metal tone or be adapted to a gentler rock sound. In addition to this, Pro Co RAT2 is among the most reasonably priced iconic distortion boxes currently available.

This pedal was designed to be used as a primary distortion and its sturdy gray casing is super strong. It has just three control knobs; however, each is highly responsive and sensitive. This enables you to dial in anything ranging from metal crunch to lighter drive. You should bear in mind that this pedal is most comfortable when in hard rock and massive rock tones.

Check The Current Price On The Pro Co RAT2 Distortion Pedal

Some Other Cool 80’s Distortion Options

  • DOD Metal Maniac
  • Rowin Holy Wars
  • Yamaha SHD-100
  • Donner Morpher
  • Ibanez Tubescreamer


It is simply a fat that the best distortion pedals provide a shortcut to a remarkable heavy metal tone. In addition to that, they are the ideal tool that can be used to figure out how to handle gain in general. They models that are listed above are in a category among the best. Pedals from different price ranges have been included to make sure that just about anyone can find a pedal despite his or her budget. If you are new to playing metal, any one of the distortion boxes highlighted above will provide you with that gain-heavy and classic tone that makes metal so amazing.

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