Revealed: The 5 Best Distortion Effects Pedals Of All Time

You voted for your favourites, and here are the results   24-Mar-13

We asked you to vote for the best distortion effects pedal of all time, and after leaving the voting open for two weeks, we now have the results and we can reveal the top five.

Options on the poll were nominated by our readers, and the contenders included the ProCo Rat, the Fulltone OCD, the Suhr Riot, the Wampler Sovereign, the Boss DS-1, the TC Electronic Rottweiler, the Electro-Harmonix English Muff'n and the OKKO Dominator.

The early frontrunners in the poll were Boss and Wampler. It was the Japanese distortion veterans against the new American kids on the block, but there were a number of companies hot on their tails, and within a few days, the poll was wide open.

So it's time to reveal the results, the greatest distortion pedals of all time, as voted for you by you... a motley bunch of pedal geeks.

In at number five...

5. The Fulltone OCD V3

Fulltone have perfected the OCD over a number of years, not just a distortion pedal, but an amplifier emulator. Designed to sound, play and feel like an amplifier, with harmonics that chime like a bell.

It has a tiny footprint on your pedal board, and comes at the very reasonable price of $159, it's no wonder you voted it as the fifth best of all time. It's a fantastic pedal.

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21 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Louie    Said...

No way. You left out the great purple plexi 800 by lovepedal, the JHS Angry Charlie, the Brown pig by Piggiefx, and the JHS All american (rat clone). That's only 4. I guess the Wampler Triple wreck.

26-Mar-13 06:48 PM

GTRman    Said...

How about a Plexi cranked to 10. That is my favorite. For pedals I must say Catalinbread "Dirty Little Secret" because it sounds like a Plexi cranked to 10.

27-Mar-13 09:55 AM

Amped Bot    Said...

It was a readers' poll guys... They weren't chosen by us :)

27-Mar-13 02:00 PM

Ruggles    Said...

Where's the TS-808 tube screamer? If it wasn't for that pedal, pretty much none of the ones on this list would exist. I haven't even heard of or seen a couple of these ones.

24-May-13 07:13 PM

Simon    Said...

Ethos Overdrive. Good night and GOODBYE

17-Aug-13 08:21 AM

KodyXXVII    Said...

First of all, I must say that the Wampler Triple Wreck is indeed ONE of the best distortion pedals, in the world, hands down. Depending on what you're wanting to use it for, is the key to which distortion pedal is better than another. For all you classic rock musicians, the tube screamers and overdrives will be the reigning kings...but for modern distortion needs, the Triple Wreck does both actually...Anyway, second on my list would be the Amptweaker Tightmetal Pro. It was designed by an amp engineer, it's basically the only distortion pedal in the world, that I've heard of anyway, that can act as a stand alone preamp! That means you can plug it straight into a poweramp and have massive tone. Or you could just plug it straight into the return on your effects loop and not plug anything into the front input! It works, and it's perfectly safe for your tube amp. It also sounds just as good if not better plugged into the front of your amp like a regular pedal, but also the best feature about it is that is has 3 EFFECTS LOOPS IN THE PEDAL! So 8 inputs and outputs total! One loop stays on all the time, if you so choose to include a delay or reverb into a certain setting on the pedal, the other loop is a boost loop that is only activated with the pedal's boost mode, and the third loop is a sidetrack that you can do whatever you want with. One more, third on my list would be the Mad Professor Little Green Wonder. It is most comparable to the Fulltone OCD, but having owned both, let me tell you from experience that the Little Green Wonder is much richer, more responsive, more massive, more versatile (and more expensive!) pedal altogether. Seriously, it was made to stack with other overdrive/distortion pedals, it was made to serve as a chunky boost when the gain knob is all the way down and the level is all the way up. Turn the gain up a a little bit and you have a full fledged massive distortion pedal that responds delicately to your pick attack.

13-Nov-13 04:36 PM

Bon    Said...

Toneboys TBOD-100, sounds and plays like a vintage Marshall amp, hands down the best.

16-Nov-13 09:12 AM

Jesse Delaney    Said...

meh. Everyone's leaving their 'my fave dirt box is X pedal' comments.

Rat and DS-1 earn their spot. I would replace Rat with the Bixonic Expandora, which is a Rat with better touch sensitivity, and a cult following.

Tubescreamer is a soft clipping overdrive, so that's out. I would have included the Kingsley high gainers which are only now really developing a cult following.

Marshall Guv'nor needed to be there as it is the Grandfather of so many boutique dirt boxes out there.

Which leaves 2 (Expandora, DS-1, Marshall Guvnor).

I think you have to include the Fulltone OCD, an improved version of the Voodoo Labs Mosfet distortion. The hype surrounding this on the forums when it hit has never been replicated.

Leaving 1 left. For me it's the Kingsley Minstrel as a stand alone box, but I prefer the Jouster as it handles all shades with 2 stomps.

Maxon Distortion Master is criminally ignored - fantastic pedal.

Let's leave #1 open for each player to decide :)

That leaves 2 more. I

22-Nov-13 04:57 AM

Guitar Jr    Said...

Im using the Wampler Dual Fusion Overdrive/Boost pedal and it is amazing. It is essentially a Wampler Paisley Drive on one side and a Wampler Euphoria on the other side. What is awesome is that you can stack the OD/Boost either way to get incredible array of tones. Im sure the Triple Wreck is Wampler's pedal for heavy metal and grunge tones.

27-Feb-14 07:05 PM

Craig Runk    Said...

Hmmmm. These pedals aren't even comparable. If yo're searching for the ultimate distortion pedal, look no further than the Blackstar HT Metal pedal. This baby is a pre-amp in a box, complete with 12AX7 tube and three channels of everything from pushed clean, through classic OD and distortion to over-the-top metal insanity. No hype, the REAL DEAL.

07-May-14 02:30 PM

Erik    Said...

TS-808? Ethos Overdrive? Guys, those are Overdrive pedals, not distortion! Enough commenting with Overdrive pedal recommendations. Yes, some OD's have high enough gain for a low gain, bright distortion but they tend to be muddy, scratchy and unpredictable as an overdriven tweed. Distortion has different characteristics and are different than OD's style.

20-Aug-14 01:15 PM

Erik    Said...

TS-808? Ethos Overdrive? Guys, those are Overdrive pedals, not distortion! Enough commenting with Overdrive pedal recommendations. Yes, some OD's have high enough gain for a low gain, bright distortion but they tend to be muddy, scratchy and unpredictable as an overdriven tweed. Distortion has different characteristics and are different than OD's style.

20-Aug-14 01:16 PM

Talmadge    Said...

jhs sweet tea....I have bought every pedal under the sun. .this is all you need period.

10-Dec-14 12:59 AM


jhs sweet tea pedal does anything you need...I have bought every pedal under the sun and this is the one period.

10-Dec-14 01:02 AM

Lafa    Said...

Ds-1? Really?

26-Jan-15 04:06 PM

frendan    Said...

Louis, no one left out shit u fucker. it was a vote. always has to be that guy who goes `omg u forgot

13-Feb-15 06:28 AM

Paul Eoghan    Said...

I'm in the Alternative band 'The Unthinkable'...I find that the Suhr Riot is perfect for a contempory type distortion it sits just right behind the vocals....but if I want to step out front the TWA Fly Boys FB-05 Metal Distortion blows the socks off them sounds like several Marshall stacks full out played into by a Les Paul...even if you don't have a Les Paul it does this. I was checking it out and my jaw bass player had come up behind me and said "that thing is amazing'...SOLD...I wasn't looking for and was convinced that I didn't need another distortion pedal. If I lost all my pedals...I would have to get one of these is just that amazing. ...and for those that think I'm some young kid that doesn't hav a clue....I'm 68...and have been playing pro since the 60's and have own most of the classics starting with an original 'fuzz Tone' sold with the Gibson name on it. I played In London for 30 years. Saw the best as they were coming up.

28-Mar-15 06:51 AM

Mr. Poopy Pants Project    Said...

68 and still rockin? Hats off to ya old timer, I thought I was the old guy here at 52. :) It's very cool you haven't abandoned it like so many of our peers.

Was going to mention the hands down most popular and longest reigning dist box around when I first started playing back in the 70s was the MXR (christ, I can't remember the actual model name, they had only the one for years!). There weren't alot of low priced effects pedals for years, nothing like it is now, only bank breakingly pricey rack mounted stuff.

12-Jul-15 12:34 PM

Eoghan    Said...

The OCD does a stunningly perfect copy of a 60's Marshall (Plexi)...just leave the switch down and bring in just a minimum of highs. I lived in London back then and had the real deal so I know. I believe it is the best pedal ever made...simply because it set out to one thing... and they did it perfectly. For chord work and riffs....perfect. For leads...get something else ( I have 7 distortion pedals)...this is an overdrive. If you play in a band that uses distortion to accompany the will have the thing on for 90% of the gig. So think twice before you put this aside or put it on the back burner and get the other guys distortion first because it has such a great sound for your solo. Take it from me...69 years old and fronting a trio with a smoking young female bass player and a drummer so new the paints wet. ....playing to the a much younger Indie Alternative audience...not living in the past...but having every hip pedal made from the first Gibson Maestro Fuzz Tone...replaced with the first Big Muff...then MXR...then Boss...and Ibanez etc. sounds amazing on my custom shop Strat...and even better on my Les Paul.

18-Aug-15 09:09 PM


Worst list of all time? This one.

12-Nov-15 03:44 PM

YuRallToneDeaf    Said...

The OCD does a stunning pile of crap sound. Blah blah, I had original Marshalls, blah blah BLAH. So what, you tone deaf weasels. Nobody playing out with chops uses that pedal. It is the biggest over-hyped pile of garbage on the planet. V1, V2, V3, V123848477 ... he can keep trying, they ALL suck.

12-Nov-15 03:48 PM

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