Looking for a new overdrive, distortion or fuzz pedal to dirty up your tone? Browse through our dirt pedal reviews below. If you would like some recommendations, see the “Top Rated” list on the right sidebar. If you’re not familiar with the differences between the various styles of dirt pedals, check our article Overdrive vs. Distortion vs. Fuzz where we break it all down and explain what each type of pedal does to your signal.
The EHX Double Muff is an easy-to-use overdrive/fuzz pedal that gives you two classic ’69 plug-in Muff Fuzz effects in one box. For controls, it has two knobs marked as Muff 1 and Muff 2, a fingerswitch to toggle between the single and double modes, and a footswitch. In single mode, the Muff 1 knob controls both volume and overdrive. In double mode, the Muff 2 knob has a leading role while the Muff 1 knob controls the volume. It features true bypass and has a sturdy metal housing, making it great to take on the road.
The Boss DS-2 Turbo Distortion pedal is so user-friendly that you don’t even need the manual. It contains three main controls: Level, Tone, and Distortion, and an additional “Turbo” knob that functions as a switch between Turbo Mode I and Turbo Mode II. The pedal features twin Turbo modes, which means that you practically get two distortion sounds in a single box. Turbo Mode I produces light and mellow, but powerful distortion because of the turbo circuit. Even when the sound is extremely distorted, the distortion circuits prevent the emission of a high-pitched sound. Turbo Mode II produces an explosive sound and, besides riffs, is great for solos. The possibility to switch between a turbo and normal mode by connecting the Boss FS-5L footswitch to the Remote Jack is really useful for this pedal.
The reissued version of the original Guv’nor overdrive effects pedal, the Marshall GV-2 Guv’nor Plus, is a versatile distortion stompbox whose captivating design will immediately attract you. One cannot remain indifferent to the retro beauty of its shiny sturdy metal housing. There are golden control knobs for gain, deep, bass, mid, treble, and volume. It is very user-friendly and it requires no effort to press on/off switch. The Guv’nor Plus employs a passive bypass switching circuit. In the beginning I used a power supply but soon after switched to a battery. A long battery life is what makes the pedal highly reliable at concerts. It is powered by 9-volt battery or 9VDC power adapter. With the chassis hard as a rock, the pedal has a high level of stage survivability, which is another feature that adds to its reliability.
One of the true joys of playing guitar is the never-ending quest for the perfect tone. The Lovepedal COT 50, or “Church of Tone,” is one of those gems you find along the way that truly stands out like few other pedals. It’s one of those pedals that you can just kind of leave on all the time and it makes everything sound better… much better. The premise behind the COT 50 was to conjure up the sound of a late 60s plexi in an overdrive pedal.
I found the Crunchy Shell Distortion to be less bassy than the other OD/distortion pedals I had laying around. Playing the Crunchy Shell over a backing track, it cut through the mix really well and never became muddy. Turning down the tone knob and toggling the Hard/Soft switch to Soft certainly darkened the tone a bit, but I still found the Crunchy Shell to be aggressive enough to cut through the mix. Although this would not be my go-to pedal for warm tones, the Crunch Shell isn’t a one-trick pony either. The gain knob gives the Crunchy Shell a range from slightly breaking-up overdrive to heavy metal distortion.
I have to be honest that I didn’t want to like this pedal. In fact, it sat on my desk for a couple of months with a few other pedals I’ve been meaning to demo. One day I was building a new pedal board, however, and decided to plug it in for a quick test. I was blown away at how thick it sounded. The other distortion/overdrive pedals on my board at the time were a Keeley modded Blues Driver and a Mesa Boogie V1 Bottle Rocket. I kept switching between them to make sure I wasn’t crazy, but the Ultimate Drive was beefier than the other two, while perhaps not quite as dynamic as the tube-driven Bottle Rocket, or as sparkly as the Blues Driver, which has the ability to clean up almost completely. That said, I found myself leaving the Ultimate Drive on and having a lot of fun with it.
The Boss BD-2 Blues Driver is a relatively inexpensive distortion pedal featuring high quality Boss construction. It is much tamer than its orange cousin the DS-1, but it can put out a fair amount of distortion with the gain knob cranked up. The BD-2 is designed to be more of an overdrive pedal. It cleans up nearly all the way when the gain knob is turned all the way down, and it offers a range of subtle distortion.
The Fulltone Fat-Boost 3 is a good quality boost pedal with a two tone controls and some light on-board overdrive. This pedal has a few idiosyncratic design features, some of which are more endearing than others. The Fat-Boost 3’s thick metal chassis is held shut by four thumbscrews, allowing easy access to the battery compartment and circuit board. Overdrive is accessible using a knob with eleven detents. Also, the bass and treble controls are miniature pots with itty-bitty knobs.