Are you searching for the best distortion pedal for classic rock? Do you want to create innovative tunes? If yes, consider distortion pedals made by popular brands. A little bit of diligence should help out. However, a ton of legwork is involved in figuring out the best distortion pedals for your specifics needs. Plus, you may need to invest enough time on your research. If that sounds too much, check the below brands. However, before doing that, let’s figure out what the classic rock guitar tone stomp box is best.
What is the classic rock distortion guitar tone?
Most of the guitar enthusiasts might have heard about classic rock distortion tones thanks to the use of this type of pedal. They love them and want to make similar tones. However, many of the players don’t know what they actually mean. This is even more correct in the case of amateur guitarists and folks who wish to make a career in music. As a fanatic or guitarist, you should know what the classic distortion is. That should clear your doubts and help you make amazing distorted tones.
Essentially, it’s more aggressive tones to over-driven guitar sound that simulates an over-driven amp. The sound of rock and roll is basically the sound of a distorted guitar. So, what it’s and how it’s done? How the best guitarists create this sound with their instruments?
Distortion is a form of audio signal processing used for altering the sound of an amplified electric musical instrument by increasing their gain to produce a fuzzy, gritty, or growling tones. Distortion sound is mostly used with an electric guitar. However, you can also create distorted sounds with a bass guitar.
Originally, the guitarists playing electric blues or classic rock made an over-driven sound by turning up their guitar amplifiers (vacuum-tube powered) to high volumes. That caused the signal to distort. Many guitarists still use the over-driven tube amps for rockabilly and blues.
However, various other ways have been developed for making distortion sounds. Distortion effect pedals are the most prominent options to make distortion tones today. Let’s check the most popular distortion pedals for classy rock bands.
Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer
The Ibanez TS9 is one of those classic rock guitar pedal effects that have gained mythical and classic status. It’s a green stompbox with three small knobs. Guitar players such as Kirk Hammett and Stevie ray Vaughan have relied on this instrument to sound best. The tube screamer is crafted in the same manufacturing unit with the same originality to deliver the same sound effects.
Featuring the same circuitry that made the model so popular, the pedal is characterized by its drive, tone, and level controls that give accessibility to warm, amp-like overdrive that’s touch-sensitive and ready to rip. The drive controls the amount of gain, whereas the tone adjusts the tonal character. On the flip side, control levels help you control the signal output. When blended properly, you get to make unique, mind-blowing distortion effects.
The Ibanez TS9 pedal is among the most revered distortion type pedals in the history of rock guitar. It’s crunchy and warm. On its own, it could form a foundation of the sound for blues, country, and guitars. It also works with metal guitars, lightening and thickening their sounds and adding a little more gain. Just plug it in, crank it up, and you’ll hear what the fuss is all about.
Marketed as a top distortion pedal, the Boss DS-1 includes some of the most striking features that you can’t find in other models with superior build quality and regular sized form factor. The pedal looks unique even in a crowded market, thanks to its shiny orange color. It can drive the attention of any enthusiast with just its glimpse. Although popular, it’s still one of the most affordable pedals out there for classic rock.
Configuring the pedal is a breeze. It’s simple and easy to understand. All you should do is plug the 9V power supply into the pedal and the power source, and you’re set to creating amazing sounds. The Boss DS-1 is popular for its three inclusions that attune the sounds. The top part of the model features three knobs – tone, level, and distortion. Adjusting the knobs lets you fine-tune the sounds as you wish.
As far as sound is concerned, this best innovative pedal offers one of the quintessential distorted tones. It creates warm and gritty sounds preferred by many popular guitarists. What makes this pedal unique is you can press it into action on an already distorted sound. By doing so, you can change the tone of your guitar and boost its volume/distortion to an ideal level for a well-balanced solo.
MXR EVH Overdrive
The MXR design team collaborated with Eddie Van Halen to offer a complete range of powerful saturation, hyper-driven tones right at your disposal that is perfect or classic rock. The resulting EVH 5150 overdrive pedal connects with hand-adjusted multi-stage mosfets along with a full component of controls. Such a mix of components and adjustments deliver exceptional sonic flexibility and over-driven tube-like tones through a range of cabinet speakers and amps.
Whether you perform in a studio or on the stage, the EVH overdrive controls dial-up the whole spectrum. You can make sounds ranging from Eddie’s groundbreaking tones to high gain. Gain controls and output set the distortion levels and volume. On the other hand, the 3-band passive stack EQ options section shapes up the sound to your specific taste.
Its boost toggle switch can kick the overdrive into high gear with compression and extra gain. The added gain and compression from the boost function adds a slight yet perceptible bump. It doesn’t feel like a boost in the familiar sense. Rather, it feels more like an additional texture. Although the pedal comes with a slightly higher price, its features and best perks make it worth every penny you shell out.
Full Tone OCD
You get classic rock OD tones in a compact pedal with the no-fuss operation. Along with standard drive, volume, and tone controls, the OCD’s high peak/low peak switch takes the model from a clean boost to a maniac, sustain distortion box. The Full Tone OCD packs classy tones that will drive your audience crazy. From heavy crunch filled with overtones to spanky cleans, the pedal produces the sounds of a great tube amp as well as the same response and sensitivity to your playing style.
Some noteworthy updates to this innovative pedal include the output buffer, which keeps it from being affected by the effects that came after it. Plus, the sound remains coherent and consistent irrespective of the placement in today’s more complicated signal chains, pedal-boards, and loopers. Additionally, the buffer has a positive effect on sound quality.
Its reduced loading on the pedal’s hard-clipping stage allows more sustain of the overtones and the sound. That results in better interaction with both single-coils and humbuckers. The internal switch can choose between true bypass and enhanced bypass switching with no popping sound in either of the modes. Despite the existence of so many guitar pedals, most guitarists consider the Full Tone OCD pedal one of the best and finest distortion pedals for classic rock players.
MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion
The MXR M75 isn’t about throwing its weight in the guitar distortion pedal game. This more refined and remodeled version comes integrated with EQ controls, noise gates, mid scoops, and boost switches that allows you to dial in your classic rock sound easily. Essentially, the pedal features a conceived balance of overdrive and the modern-metal mega-tonnage with a dynamic, touch-sensitive boost circuit and a 3-band EQ.
In terms of design sensibility, these pedals haven’t changed a lot. Yet, you get a unique piece – an ideal blend of the compact footprint and robust armor. With a reduced weight, the pedal feels lighter. Players who take a full pedal-board appreciate the lightweight. Despite being compact, the model features a durable built to withstand heavy-duty usage and time.
It lives up to its name due to the authoritative overdrive and salvage distortion. The best thing about it is its EQ controls. They make the pedal equally at home with humbuckers or single-coils, high-headroom or high gain amps, metal leads or the roots-rock crunch. If you’re out to buy the best classic rock distortion pedal that covers all the bases, chances are you may find it worth your time and attention.
It’s a total distortion pedal not just designed for emulating a particular amp. Rather, the model can dish the dirt in a wide range of flavors. The advanced gain structure section changes the distortion’s character via a gain knob. A bright/even switch allows you to set the tonal preferences, whereas a boost switch allows for more gain.
In addition to this, this pedal has the mid behavior knob and the tone, focusing on the area of the mid-range and dialing in the highs you want to emphasize. Consequently, you can dial in a real upper mid-range presence that cuts right through. The tonal options set the Sovereign apart from others. The bright/even switch and the two knobs allow so much flexibility that you could focus your sounds and gain tones perfectly. It’s specifically perfect if you prefer to squeeze out harmonics while you play the lead in classic rock.
The Wampler Sovereign is the most versatile distortion pedal on the market. Designed to offer your sound the clarity and punch missing from many distortion pedals, Wampler’s Sovereign brings you a wide range of tones through your amp. Whether you’re just getting started or wish to take your sound creation tenure to new heights, the Wampler Sovereign makes an ideal choice.
The Big Muff Pi
It’s a classic pedal many enthusiasts hear it when recording or listening. The Big Muff PI is the best distortion pedals for classic rock that lets you dial in a little bit of grit, getting you through the 70s fuzz. Perhaps, the best part of this pedal is it features a tank-built. It can stand up to time, weather, and constant usage without posing any issues.
All you should do is keep the model in good condition to enjoy its usage for a long time. The Big Muff PI has been shaping and inspiring the rock guitar sounds for decades. Players of all levels love this model for its sound quality and varied features. You can make creamy rich sustain that gives the illusion of a violin.
The pedal includes three knobs – each one has a particular use. The volume knob lets you set the output, whereas the sustain knob adjusts distortion and sustain. On the other side, the tone knob provides a range of sounds from high treble to deep bass response (bass and treble controls). The Big Muff PI pedals are an ideal choice for those who want one with better control over sounds.
Pro Co RAT2
If you’re looking for a hidden gem in the distortion pedals market, look no further than the Pro Co RAT2 if you are a classic rock player. The pedal provides your guitar with a dose of tube-like crush made for rock and roll. The model uses basic controls for creating sounds. Still, it offers you plenty of sonic variety and enough room to experiment with different styles.
Designed to be used as a primary distortion, this innovative pedal arrives in a sturdy grey casing that’s as strong as a tank. You get only three control knobs, but each of them is extremely responsive and sensitive. They allow you to dial in anything from metal crunch to lighter drive. However, the pedal versatility is more comfortable in hard rock and massive rock ones. So, keep that in mind while playing around.
The controls are equally handy and let you perform better on stages as well as studios alike. The beauty of this pedal lies in its flexibility. If you blend all the classic factors, the Pro Co RAT2 is one of the best distortion pedals for players. Above all, the device comes at a budget-friendly price, making it a perfect pedal companion for classic rock amateur as well as professional guitarists.
A Few Other Recommendations:
Here are a few additional pedal choices to check out to help you choose one:
Distortion sounds have become the highlights of guitar instruments when looking for that holy grail dirt box to help you mimic sounds like Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, and others. Amateur as well as experienced professionals prefer to make such sounds to enhance their capabilities. However, the key lies in buying the top pedal for classic rock. Just be sure to check popular brands listed above. With a list of renowned brands by your side, picking an ideal distortion pedal to add to your signal chain becomes easy without dedicating too much time. One of these footswitch options will hopefully become your best friend!