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 Keeley Fuzz Head is a Fuzz Face style distortion pedal housed in a small red enclosure. Some impressive tones can be coaxed out of the Fuzz Head using its simple array of enigmatically named controls. The two major external knobs, labeled “Fuzz” and “Head,” are dirty and clean gain controls, respectively. There is also a miniature switch that toggles silicon diodes in and out of the circuit.
The Fuzz Factory is ZVEX EFFECTS’s flagship pedal. This unique little box makes sounds ranging from ripping Velcro to screaming self-oscillation, and whatever lies in between. It is not a subtle pedal. Rather, it is a temperamental noisemaker that can become an inspiring playground of over-the-top distortion with a little practice.
MXR’s M-133 Micro Amp is a very simple, very clean boost pedal with a small footprint. Like most other MXR compact pedals, it is housed in a sturdy metal chassis and is constructed using materials and practices that satisfy baseline needs for professional use. It sports only a single gain knob and one on/off foot switch. Like its cousin the Phase 90, one of the Micro Amp’s most attractive features is its ease of use. This is a pedal designed to do only one thing: amplify.
The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer has been an extremely popular distortion for many years. For many guitarists it finds just the right balance between price and build quality, while providing pleasing overdrive style distortion that is easy to dial in. Many makers offer pedals that copy or expand upon the TS9’s circuit, but few can match the economy of scale available from Ibanez.
The Boss DS-1 is a very common distortion pedal. It is housed in a standard Boss compact chassis and features basic controls. For some reason Boss does not stick to a standard layout for controls across models, but the DS-1 is easy to use once you know what all the knobs do. This pedal produces a range of tones from moderate to heavy distortion, depending on the position of the distortion knob.
The Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi has been used for years by guitarists for its warm, harmonically rich distortion. It comes in an enormous and fairly sturdy metal housing with good quality external components. Its sound could be described as an extension of its massive physical presence. It has a loud, sometimes overbearing tone with both strong presence and wide spectrum.
The Fulltone Plimsoul is an extremely versatile distortion pedal in a surprisingly small enclosure. Its fancily named controls allow a mixture of smooth overdrive and heavier distortion with extremes available at either end. The lighter distortion is controlled by the sustain knob, and the heavy distortion can be mixed in using the miniature stage 2 knob, which is rotated a little off center by design. The enclosure is compact, durable, and attractive.
The Fulltone Full-Drive 2 MOSFET is an amazingly versatile overdrive and boost pedal. It is housed in a double-wide enclosure, but easily sports enough features to justify its use of real estate. At its core, it is a beautiful Tube Screamer style distortion circuit with more extra features built on top of it than you can shake a stick at.