Here’s a review of 6 of the best guitar pedals that are designed to be used by Metal guitarists.
Boss Metal Zone MT-2 Distortion Pedal
This is one of the most popular pedals receiving high ratings from many users and guitar magazines and websites. As with all Boss pedals it well designed and constructed to withstand the rigors of gigging and life on the road with its metal casing and footswitch. Boss pedals also feature the ease of changing the battery by popping the spring loaded top off by unscrewing the pin at the front of the pedal.
The pedal features a high gain heavily saturated sound which offer big-bottom and long sustained lead tones making it perfect for all types of metal whether it be heavy, thrash, death, speed etc. It is powered by dual-gain circuitry which is used to produce the sound that metal players prefer.
The Metal Zone features six controls – Level, Distortion (Gain) and two controls with two knobs each with highs, lows and semi-parametric mids. These options enable you to vary your sound and tone quite a lot thought this is all within that high gain, traditional metal distortion sound. If you want a pedal for a blues or classic rock sound look elsewhere.
For Metallica, Megadeth, and your ordinary average thrash metal sounds this is the pedal for you.
Digitech Metal Master
Like Boss guitar pedals Digitech guitar pedals come in a standard all metal case making them durable for gigging and general rock (or in this case metal) band abuse. Digitech pedals also feature the ease of changing the battery by popping the spring loaded top off with the end of your guitar lead.
The Digitech Metal Master distortion pedal has the following controls – level, low, high and Morph. The Morph control offers 3 different distortion types – a smooth lead tone, a scooped midrange sound and finally a midrange heavy sound. Adjacent sounds can be mixed together with the lead distortion mixed with scooped distortion or mixing scooped distortion 2 with the heavy midrange distortion.
Apart for the standard guitar input and amp output this guitar pedal offers a second speaker emulated direct output that is designed to be used for recording direct to a mixer / soundcard or through to a PA.
Like the Boss Metal Zone MT-2 this pedal has heaps of gain making it the perfect tool for creating a grinding brutal metal tone. However compared to the Metal Zone it lacks a gain control so players can’t turn down the gain slightly if they desire more clarity for rhythm playing.
The Metal Master usually sounds best with “Morph” set somewhere in the midranged scooped distortion setting and the eq allowed for a range of tonal variation however a mid tone knob would be a welcome addition.
Overall this guitar pedal produces sounds that will keep most metal players happy.
Digitech Death Metal
This other Digitech metal distortion pedal features the following controls level, low, mid and high. The difference between Digitech’s Metal Master and the Death Metal is that Metal Master has more tone options. However for Metal this guitar pedal will do the job nicely most players.
The sound of the Death Metal pedal as you would expect is extremely heavy. If you’re looking for sound like the bands Metallica, Pantera, Slayer, Children Of Bodom, In Flames, Lamb Of God, Iced Earth etc. this pedal can create this distortion.
The Weapon Digitech XAS-DD
Another popular Digitech metal distortion pedal is “The Weapon”. This pedal offers 7 different tones and is an “artist” pedal from Dan Donegan from the band Disturbed.
The 7 sounds are 2 x “Stupify” (distortion and sitar effect), 2 x “Mistress” (distortion and radio-style distortion), “Voices”, “Bound”, “Rise”, “Intoxication”. Part form different distortion sounds they include a Auto-Wah, Phaser and Octave Pitch Shifter. With all these various effect in the one guitar pedal its really good value.
One good aspect about many digital effects like The Weapon from Digitech is the lack of noise the produce. It’s a very quiet pedal with the exception of the first setting which emulates an analog sound of a high gain tube amp being with the addition of a heavy distortion pedal.
The distortion sounds range from a smooth sound which is great for soloing and a Judas Priest sound that is good for 80’s metal riffing.
The Crusher is a heavy sounding distortion pedal that is suitable for metal from BBE. It has Bass, Mid, Treble EQ controls and a gain and volume control in a well constructed metal enclosure.
Sound wise this guitar distortion pedal is able to produce a range of sounds from blues to heavy metal, and responds well to volume changes from the guitar itself.
Having a 3 band EQ enables you to sculpt a range of tones to suit most tastes however the pedal doesn’t offer a high output unless the Gain knob is cranked which can makes it not the best for boosting a clean signal. While not as brutal as some of the other pedals reviewed here the BBE Crusher does a good job in driving an already overdriven amp.
Very similar to metal distortion pedals on offer from Digitech the DOD FX86 Death Metal pedal has a similar sound and controls to the Digitech Death Metal pedal. Like with a lot of DOD pedals the controls have silly or funny labels with RIP (volume), Guts (low), Pain (mid) and Scream (high).
Although it creates a large amount of distortion soloing with the pedal still allows it cut through with convincing clarity. Overall the sound is aggressive and thick with tones of sustain.
This pedal is a contender when placed up against the Digitech Death Metal pedal.