This isn't to say that you might want a dirt cheap distortion pedal, but you might not want to spend big money on one either.All I'm saying is that the cheap ones do exist, and they're more plentiful than many people realize.
For whatever reason, the market (both retail and resale) is flooded with a number of different distortion stompboxes. I suppose people buy a lot of them, then turn around and resell them so they can get something else.
I really don't know.
Somehow a lot of them end up on sites like Amazon, EBay and Craigslist going for a fraction of retail cost.
We're going to "curate" the cheapest, which will take into account the typical used cost and what you can expect to pay if you buy it new.
If you just want a distortion pedal and you're not terribly picky, this is where you'll find a good fit.
It's distortion pedals for your guitar at yard sale prices.
Forget you, Black Friday.
It retails for around $30, and only gets lower.
Retail is usually $45.
What does that do? Your guess is as good as mine, but it's cheap.
And if that's the case, this could be the perfect solution as it doesn't get much cheaper.
That low price makes the used market pretty cheap, sometimes dipping under $30.
If you do, think $10 or less.
For what it's worth, most of the reviews I've seen have actually been pretty positive.
You've got level and resonance controls (don't often see resonance on a distortion pedal but whatever).
The best part? It'll only cost you $25.
I should mention there are only two reviews on this one, so it's hard to say what you're getting. For $25ish it's low-risk and low-reward.
There are quite few resales available on Amazon starting around $20 and going up from there.
For whatever reason, this unit holds value pretty well.
Still, it's a small price to pay for a decent distortion pedal that consistently gets great reviews.
Are they worth it?The electronics of a distortion pedal are fairly simple, which is part of what contributes to the low cost. Yet it doesn't change the old adage that you get what you pay for.
What I've found to be characteristic of most cheap distortions is that they're lighter and more bluesy sounding than their more expensive counterparts. If you want a really deep, modern distortion with a lot of low end, the cheaper pedals probably aren't for you.
At the same time, if you're looking for a light distortion, many of these will do the job.
Particularly if you're into classic rock, blues or jazz, a lighter sounding distortion will probably be a better solution for you.
So are they worth it? That just depends on where you are as a musician and what sound you're looking for.
What if I want to spend big money?
Some of the nicer Boss pedals, like the ST-2 Power Stack or the DA-2 Adaptive Distortions are excellent pedals for around the $100 mark.
If you've got $300 to spend (and who doesn't?) you could go with something like the Hughes and Kettner Tube Factor which is a tube-based distortion and one of the best distortions on the market.
For a more versatile distortion modeler, try the Line 6 DL4 for around $250.
Anything to add?Do you know of a cheap distortion pedal that didn't make the list?
I'd love to hear about it.
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