Distortion pedals are a tricky subject for a few reasons. First, distortion as an effect is a spectrum, and there’s no clear definition of what’s the right ‘amount’ of distortion. Depending on needs and personal taste, it can vary from warm a fuzz sound to super-heavy sound, and still be called the same – a distortion.
Second, playing different guitars through the same exact distortion pedal does not produce equal results. Furthermore, stuff like your amp, and even your pick, or the way you play, and your strings, all make an impact on the sound.
Therefore, as far as guitar effect pedals are concerned, and if we’re talking about people who are not seasoned guitar players, there’s one crucial factor that should impact someone’s choice.
That factor is versatility. The ability of the pedal to adapt, and to be able to cover most of the so-called distortion spectrum.
Based on that, in my opinion, the most important factor, I think that the best distortion pedal out there is – MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion.
MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion
Okay, but why is it best?
As I said, the main thinking that I followed was – what is the most versatile pedal out there? And, to be honest, the first pedal that came to mind was the Boss DS-2. It’s because I have that pedal on my own pedalboard as of now (I love it to death), and it’s one of the most popular distortions out there. And maybe in the 90s, I would choose the DS-2, but things have changed.
There’s now an increasing number of small companies that make pedals that are just miles above the pedals of the old times. The technology has improved, components are better, and people are making them out of pure love for the sound.
I think that the MXR as a brand is right there between the “cold” corporate made for profit, and this new-age “made out of love”. At least it feels like that to me.
So, it’s about the same price as the DS-2 – which is probably the best-known distortion pedal there is – it sounds better, and it’s more versatile. If you think of it from that perspective, and you take the price into consideration, it just has to be the best distortion pedal out there.
To see the current price of the pedal, check MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion on Amazon.
Alright, how do I use the pedal?
Anyone who picks the pedal will probably figure out all the functions within a few minutes. So, no worries there, it’s pretty simple to use.
The top left knob marked as “Output” simply just controls the output volume, and the one the right marked “Distortion” controls the amount of gain. The bottom three knobs are basically your 3 band equalizer. You use these to “alter” the sound, so to say, to make whatever you want of it.
Anything else I should know?
Well, yes, if you’re a beginner and this is your first pedal. In that case, make sure you buy an additional cable. You’ll need one cable that goes from the amp to the pedal, and second, that goes from the pedal to your guitar.
Also, it’s probably best to use the pedal with a power adapter, instead of with a battery (you’ll end up saving money in the long run). At the time of writing this, there this M75 bundle on Amazon that has both the adapter and the additional cable for the price of the pedal itself.
That’s great Dan, thanks. I’m gonna go buy it.
Okay, you should. Anything else?
Actually, is there any other Distortion Pedals to consider?
I mean, yes. I would maybe consider Pro Co RAT2, but only if you know specifically what you’re going for. It’s not as versatile as the M75, but it has a great sound.
For old-school guitarists, who want more of an overdrive/fuzz sound, as opposed to modern distortion, I would maybe recommend the Fulltone OCD.
But, it’s probably best not the go there. There are probably tens of amazing pedals, just as good as M75, but at some point, you just get overwhelmed if you don’t pull the trigger.
MXR M75 is great. It will last you a long time, and you’ll be happy with it.
Okay then. Give me one of those M75s then.
Yeah, I’m just a dude writing this at my office. If you wanna buy the pedal, I would recommend visiting a local guitar shop and trying it out first. If you’re lazy like me, you can shop on Reverb.com or Amazon. Here’s a link to just the pedal – MXR M75 Super Badass Distortion, and here’s a link to the bundle with cables and power adapter.
Anyways, I hope I made your choice at least a little bit easier. In case you end up getting an M75, I hope you’re happy with it and that it serves you well.