Best Distortion Guitar Pedals Under $80 (Ultimate Guide)

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Are you looking for the best distortion guitar pedals under $80? In this ultimate guide, we review the top 10 pedals that will give you the perfect tone for your rock, metal, or punk music. Whether you want a classic crunch, a modern high-gain, or a versatile fuzz, we have the pedal for you. Find out the features, pros, cons, and sound samples of each pedal in our comprehensive blog post.

 

1. Donner Morpher Distortion            

VERSATILE TUBE-LIKE

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2. TC Electronic Grand Magus Distortion

PUNCHY VINTAGE EMULATION

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3. Boss DS-1 Distortion                

ICONIC SMOOTH SUSTAIN

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4. Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal

EXTREME THICK DISTORTION

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5. Mooer Black Secret                    

AGGRESSIVE VERSATILE TONE

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6. Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Overdrive

FLEXIBLE OVERDRIVE OPTION

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1. Donner Morpher Distortion

VERSATILE TUBE-LIKE

Three adjustable tone and gain.True bypass switch preserves signal.
Durable, compact, and stylish.Great value for the price.
Picture by Donner

Picture by Alesis

PROS

  • If you’re in search of a distortion pedal that can deliver that classic 80s metal sound, look no further than the Donner Morpher Distortion. This pedal is a budget-friendly clone of the iconic Suhr Riot, offering some standout features that set it apart. Here are four key advantages of the Donner Morpher Distortion:

    1. It offers three distinct modes — Natural, Tight, and Classic. These modes allow you to fine-tune the tone and gain of the distortion to match your personal preference and musical style. The Natural mode provides a warm and organic sound, Tight mode delivers a punchy and focused output, while Classic mode delivers a crunchy and vintage sound.

    2. Equipped with a true bypass switch, this pedal preserves your signal integrity when not in use. This ensures that you won’t experience any tone loss or volume reduction when disengaging the pedal. Moreover, by increasing the level knob and reducing the gain knob, it can function as a boost pedal.

    3. The pedal boasts a sturdy and durable aluminum-alloy construction, making it capable of withstanding the demanding nature of live performances and touring. Additionally, its compact and lightweight design ensures it won’t take up excessive space on your pedalboard. Its cherry color finish adds an attractive and stylish aesthetic.

    4. Offering exceptional value for its price, the Donner Morpher Distortion can be yours for under $40. This is a remarkable deal compared to other high-gain distortion pedals on the market. Despite its affordability, this pedal will provide a similar sound to the Suhr Riot, a pedal that costs over $200.

    These are just a few of the benefits that the Donner Morpher Distortion pedal has to offer. To hear its sound and witness its versatility, consider watching some demos on YouTube or reading reviews on Tonebox.com. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by the quality of sound produced by this pedal. Without a doubt, the Donner Morpher Distortion is one of the top distortion pedals available for under $80.

CONS

  • The Donner Morpher Distortion is a wallet-friendly solution for enthusiasts who desire to replicate the iconic 80’s metal sound. Encased in robust aluminum, equipped with a genuine bypass switch, and offering three versatile modes, it certainly delivers on performance. Nevertheless, it is essential to consider a couple of drawbacks prior to making a purchase.
  • Firstly, the pedal is a tribute to the renowned Suhr Riot, lacking originality and innovation. For certain guitarists, the idea of imitating another pedal may not resonate, particularly if they are fans of the original. The Suhr Riot possesses its own distinct tone and character, which the Donner Morpher Distortion attempts to emulate but may not fully capture.
  • Secondly, it is noteworthy that the pedal exclusively supports AC power, necessitating a 9V adapter. This can be inconvenient when a nearby outlet is unavailable or when you require portability. Battery power, present in numerous distortion pedals, provides increased flexibility and ease of transportation. In contrast, the Donner Morpher Distortion obliges you to have an additional cable and power source, hampering your choices and creating a cluttered pedalboard.

2. TC Electronic Grand Magus Distortion

PUNCHY VINTAGE EMULATION

Natural tube sag and compression.Brightness and smoothness are adjustable.
True bypass switch preserves signal.Compact and sturdy metal enclosure.
Picture by TC

PROS

    • If you are in search of a distortion pedal that offers a wide range of gain and tone options, while delivering organic, tube-like tones, the TC Electronic Grand Magus Distortion is worth considering. This pedal sets itself apart from others by building upon the classic ProCo Rat circuit and introducing improvements and unique features. Here are four noteworthy pros of the Grand Magus Distortion:

      1. With its natural tube sag and compression, this pedal adds warmth and dynamics to your sound. It reacts to your playing and touch, granting you more control and expression.
      2. The filter control serves as a hi-cut, allowing you to adjust the brightness and smoothness of your distortion. Whether you desire crisp and cutting tones or dark and mellow sounds, everything is dialable.
      3. The true bypass switch preserves your signal integrity when the pedal is not engaged. Your tone and clarity remain unaffected when you disengage the pedal.
      4. Encased in a sturdy metal enclosure, this compact pedal is roadworthy and can withstand demanding tours. Furthermore, it can be powered by a 9V battery or a standard 9V DC power supply, providing increased flexibility and convenience.

      The TC Electronic Grand Magus Distortion excels in rock, metal, grunge, and various other genres. It can provide the powerful punch and raw ferocity of a tube amp, as well as the subtle crunch and edge of an overdrive. Among distortion pedals priced under $80, it remains one of the best options on the market today.

CONS

  • The TC Electronic Grand Magus Distortion is an affordable pedal at just $49 that aims to replicate the sound of traditional tube amps. However, before purchasing it, there are a few drawbacks to consider.
  • Firstly, the pedal can be quite noisy, especially at higher gain settings, which may not suit those seeking a clean and quiet signal. Implementing a noise gate or buffer could help minimize hiss and hum.
  • Secondly, compared to other distortion pedals, the Grand Magus Distortion has a limited tonal range. While it has a high-cut filter control, it lacks a low-cut or mid control, which may limit precise sound shaping. The pedal might be too muddy or too harsh for certain music styles. It’s important to note these disadvantages but keep in mind that the pedal is still capable of delivering excellent rock and metal tones with an authentic feel. It is also durable and user-friendly. For a straightforward and inexpensive distortion pedal, the Grand Magus Distortion could be an excellent choice. However, if you desire greater versatility and sound control, exploring other options in the market may be worthwhile.

3. Boss DS-1 Distortion

ICONIC SMOOTH SUSTAIN

Three-knob design, $50, five-year warranty.Wide range of distortion sounds.
Durable, metal footswitch, long-lastingAffordable, widely available distortion pedal.
Picture by Boss

PROS

  • If you are in search of a distortion pedal that can deliver exceptional sound quality, versatility, durability, and affordability, then the Boss DS-1 Distortion is the perfect choice. With its inception in 1978, this pedal has been widely embraced by renowned guitarists like Kurt Cobain, Steve Vai, and Joe Satriani. Here are four compelling advantages of the Boss DS-1 Distortion, making it a top-notch pedal available at a budget-friendly price of under $80.

    Firstly, its design boasts simplicity and intuitiveness. With just three knobs – Tone, Distortion, and Level – you can easily tweak these parameters to achieve your desired sound. The Tone knob manipulates the high and low frequencies of the distortion, whereas the Distortion knob allows you to control the intensity and quantity of the distortion. The Level knob, on the other hand, sets the pedal’s output volume.

    Secondly, the Boss DS-1 Distortion offers a broad range of distortion sounds. From gentle overdrive to heavy distortion, this pedal can cater to various genres such as blues, rock, metal, and grunge. Additionally, it responds exceptionally well to adjustments made on your guitar’s volume and tone controls, granting you greater dynamic control over your sound.

    Moreover, the pedal’s construction demonstrates its durability. Made with resilient metal, it features a robust footswitch capable of enduring years of rigorous usage. The battery compartment is easily accessible, and it supports a standard 9V power input compatible with most power supplies. Furthermore, the pedal incorporates a buffered bypass enabling the preservation of your signal quality when it is not in use.

    Lastly, the Boss DS-1 Distortion is highly accessible and reasonably priced. Priced around $50, it offers commendable value for a versatile and trustworthy distortion pedal. One can easily find it in numerous music stores as well as online retailers. Furthermore, Boss provides a commendable five-year warranty for this pedal, showcasing their trust and confidence in the product’s performance.

    Unquestionably, the Boss DS-1 Distortion stands as a timeless classic that has endured the test of time and secured a prominent position on many guitarists’ pedalboards. If you require a distortion pedal that flawlessly adapts to any genre and style, the Boss DS-1 Distortion is an absolute must-have.

CONS

  • The Boss DS-1 Distortion is an iconic pedal favored by famous guitarists, but there are a couple of drawbacks to consider before purchasing.
  • Firstly, when the DS-1 is set to high gain with the tone knob turned up, it can generate a harsh and fizzy sound. This thin and brittle tone may not suit certain genres or musical styles, making it unsuitable for those seeking a smoother and warmer distortion.
  • Secondly, the DS-1 has a basic circuit with limited tonal variety and flexibility. It only features three knobs for level, tone, and distortion, lacking additional modes or features for sound customization. Despite these disadvantages, the DS-1 remains a reliable choice for beginners and budget-conscious players, as well as fans of classic rock and grunge tones. One can also modify the DS-1 to enhance its sound and performance. While the DS-1 is undoubtedly a legendary pedal in the realm of guitar effects, it may not cater to every individual’s distortion pedal needs.

4. Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal

EXTREME THICK DISTORTION

3-band EQ with sweepable mids.Rich, tight distortion with harmonics.
Durable and compact design.Affordable price, high-quality performance.
Picture by Behringer

PROS

  • The Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal is the perfect distortion pedal if you’re seeking the most extreme and sought-after hard rock or heavy metal sounds. Priced under $80, it delivers super-thick, tube-like distortion along with endless sustain. Here are four key advantages of the pedal:

    Firstly, it features a 3-band EQ with sweepable mids, allowing you to effortlessly shape your tone with precision. By boosting or cutting the low, mid, and high frequencies, as well as adjusting the mid frequency range, you can achieve classic or modern metal sounds, including scooped mids.

    Secondly, it boasts a multi-gain circuitry which produces a rich and tight distortion with an abundance of harmonics and dynamics. The Distortion knob lets you adjust the level of distortion while the Level knob controls the output volume, offering a wide range of distortion levels from mild crunch to extreme saturation.

    Thirdly, the pedal’s durable and compact design makes it ideal for pedalboards and built to withstand heavy use. Despite being made of plastic, it feels solid and sturdy. Additionally, it features a bright blue LED indicator confirming whether the pedal is on or off, and a true bypass switch preserving signal integrity when the pedal is inactive.

    Lastly, with a price tag of only $29 at Sweetwater, the UM300 Ultra Metal offers exceptional value for money. Compared to similar pedals on the market, you receive an outstanding sound quality and performance at a significantly lower cost.

    In conclusion, the Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal caters to every metalhead’s needs. Its versatility allows for effortless production of a variety of metal tones, all while offering a solid build and an affordable price. If you desire the ultimate metal sound, the Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal is undoubtedly worth considering.

CONS

  • Looking for a distortion pedal that delivers extreme hard rock or heavy metal sounds? The Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal might be tempting with its affordable price compared to the popular Boss Metal Zone clone. However, there are a few drawbacks to consider.
  • Firstly, the plastic build makes it less durable than metal pedals, with the knobs and switches prone to breaking over time. If you’re a gigging musician or heavy user, investing in a sturdier pedal might be wise.
  • Secondly, the pedal has a high noise level, especially when the distortion is cranked up, resulting in unwanted feedback and hum. Consider using a noise gate to achieve a cleaner sound. Before purchasing, weigh the pros and cons of the Behringer UM300 Ultra Metal and explore alternative options for better quality and reliability. For a comprehensive guide, check out our blog post: Best Distortion Guitar Pedals Under $80.

5. Mooer Black Secret

AGGRESSIVE VERSATILE TONE

Range of distortion tones: wide.Small, sturdy distortion pedal.
True bypass, no signal interference.Affordable option compared to others.
Picture by Mooer

PROS

  • If you are in the market for a distortion pedal that can replicate the iconic ProCo RAT sound in a more compact and affordable design, the Mooer Black Secret is worth considering. This micro pedal faithfully reproduces the legendary RAT circuit and includes two modes, allowing you to seamlessly switch between vintage and turbo versions. Here are four key advantages of the Mooer Black Secret that make it an excellent choice for your pedalboard:

    Firstly, it delivers exceptional sound quality. The Mooer Black Secret offers a wide range of distortion tones, from warm and velvety to aggressive and biting. It caters to various genres, including blues, rock, and metal. With the filter knob, you can control the amount of high-end cut, while the volume and distortion knobs enable precise adjustment of your sound’s level and gain. The vintage mode provides the original RAT sound, whereas the turbo mode increases output and adds low-end impact.

    Secondly, its small and durable construction is commendable. Measuring a mere 5.2 x 4.2 x 9.4 cm and weighing only 160 grams, the Mooer Black Secret fits effortlessly onto any pedalboard, even space-challenged ones. Constructed with sturdy metal, it boasts durability and resistance to damage. The side-mounted jacks save additional space and prevent accidental unplugging.

    Thirdly, the Mooer Black Secret features true bypass switching, ensuring no signal alteration when turned off. This preserves your guitar’s tone and clarity while avoiding unwanted noise or distortion caused by the pedal. Additionally, the option of using a 9V adapter eliminates the need for batteries.

    Lastly, its affordability is a standout feature. Retailing at approximately $35-50, the Mooer Black Secret is a fraction of the price of a ProCo RAT 2 or comparable models. Despite its low cost, it delivers impressive sound quality and reliable performance. To better understand its value, you can compare prices and read reviews on Tonepedia or Amazon.

    These reasons contribute to why we consider the Mooer Black Secret one of the finest distortion pedals priced below $80. If you wish to experience its sound firsthand, you can watch demonstration videos on YouTube or Looria. Alternatively, you can experiment with the pedal on Tonepedia, where you can compare it with other options and tailor the settings to suit your preferences. We trust that this blog post has provided helpful and informative insights. Happy shredding!

CONS

  • The Mooer Black Secret is a distortion pedal with two modes: Vintage and Turbo. Vintage mode replicates the classic Pro Co RAT sound, while Turbo mode adds more gain and punch. It includes three knobs, allowing you to adjust volume, tone, and gain. Priced under $80, it’s one of the best distortion pedals available. However, there are a couple of downsides to consider.
  • Firstly, its small size and lightweight nature make it prone to sliding or moving on your pedalboard. Secondly, the pedal’s high gain and volume can sometimes produce excessive feedback and hiss. Nevertheless, these drawbacks may not be deal-breakers as some players might enjoy these features. Overall, the Mooer Black Secret is a versatile and affordable distortion pedal suitable for various music styles.

6. Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Overdrive

FLEXIBLE OVERDRIVE OPTION

Versatile gain control with modes.Simple tone control shapes sound.
True bypass circuit preserves signal.Sturdy, compact metal enclosure.
Picture by Joyo

PROS

  • If you’re in the market for a distortion pedal that offers a wide array of tones, ranging from smooth overdrive to crunchy distortion, then consider checking out the Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Drive. This pedal is a budget-friendly clone of the renowned Fulltone OCD, delivering similar results but at a fraction of the cost. Here are four reasons why the Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Drive stands out as one of the top distortion pedals priced under $80:

    1. With its versatile gain control, you can easily find your desired level of distortion, ranging from subtle to extreme. Moreover, you can switch between high and low modes to customize the frequency response and pedal headroom.
    2. The simple yet effective tone control allows you to shape the sound of your distortion to match your preferences. From warm and dark tones to bright and clear sounds, this pedal enables you to tailor your guitar and amp combination or create a contrast with your clean tone.
    3. The true bypass circuit ensures that when the pedal is not in use, your signal integrity is preserved. You won’t experience any tone loss or noise interference from the pedal when it’s switched off.
    4. The sturdy and compact metal enclosure provides durability for gigging and touring. Additionally, the pedal comes with a 9V battery, or you can choose to power it using an AC adapter.

    The Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Drive is an excellent option for anyone seeking an affordable and versatile distortion pedal that can handle a variety of genres. Whether you enjoy playing blues, rock, metal, or anything in between, this pedal allows you to discover your ideal sound. For demonstrations and comparisons with other pedals, you can listen to its sound on our Tonepedia demo player.

CONS

  • If you’re in the market for a distortion pedal with a wide range of tones, from mild overdrive to heavy crunch, consider the Joyo JF-02 Ultimate Drive. This affordable clone of the renowned Fulltone OCD offers three knobs (gain, tone, and level) and a high/low switch to shape your sound. However, there are a few drawbacks to keep in mind. Some users have reported durability issues, such as the pedal breaking or becoming loose after only a few months. Additionally, the JF-02 lacks originality, sounding different from the original OCD and producing a harsh and fizzy tone in high mode. Despite these shortcomings, the pedal’s low price, versatility, and true-bypass feature make it worth considering. To make an informed decision, try it out and read more reviews and comparisons online.

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