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12 Degrees of Saturation : 2020 Key Distortion Categories Edition

12 Degrees of SaturationAmptweakerAMT EffectsAnarchy AudioBearfoot FXBig Ear PedalsBig Tone Music BreweryBlackhawk AmplificationBossBrown Sound DistortionBYOCCarcharias EffectsCatalinbreadCoda EffectsDanelectroDecibelicsDigiTechDistortionDOD EffectsDr ScientistDriveDrunk BeaverDual-DriveDunwich AmplificationEarthbound AudioEarthQuaker DevicesFeaturedFree Fall DiverFriedman EffectsFunction F(X)Fuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionJackson AudioJAM PedalsJohn K Vintage GuitarsKeeley EngineeringLawrence Petross DesignLoop Hole PedalsMarshall Style DistortionMenatoneMetal DistortionMI EffectsMidValleyFXMooerMulti-DriveMXROneControlOpAmp FuzzPelican NoiseworksPepers' PedalsRat Style FuzzRedbeard EffectsReuss EffectsREVV AmplificationSinvertekSuhrThorpyFXVFE PedalsVox Style DistortionWamplerXIX Tech FXXotic Effects+-
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This edition comes rather hot on the heels of the recent 12 Degrees of Overdrive version as many readers’ inquiries questioned a couple of missing categories there - which I explained would rather figure within the Distortion contingent which is present here in all its glory!


As always, these is some considerable amount of grey science at play here - best typified by the Big Muff and Rat circuits - which are both very much distortions as well as fuzz varieties. I have 3 x 12 categories to play with in all - and then some fuzzy logic on a couple of the groupings. Such that Rat fits better within this listing for me, while Big Muff will be in the main listed under the forthcoming Fuzz Edition - even though some of the Fuzzstortion pedals lean towards or derive from Muff circuits.


As always you will get some deliberate omissions along with one or two oversights, and two of the casualties this time around are my much loved Expandora, HiWatt, and Mostortion categories. There’s obviously a tonne of different possible categories, but part of the fun is on imposing limitations and forcing yourself to make some hard decisions.


As before, a lot of research and follow-up work went into this exercise and I’m mostly convinced that it’s about as good as it can be. Obviously these are my specific preferences and favourites as such - you may prefer other varieties - which is all good and well. If you feel something has been unfairly or inappropriately left out or wrongly attributed - then by all means inform me such that I can prove or hone my rationale!


I own several varieties in each of the 12 listed categories, and many more from my collection that are not featured on this occasion - where I chose instead to shine a light on some other new and exciting prospect or option. I determined that the running order of categories was about right - note also that as before these are approximate degrees of incremental saturation as such - while different pedals have different overlaps and some could sit across a number of categories really.


I hope you take this listing as the previous one was intended too - as much a referencing and benchmarking exercise to help guide you down the best-fit path of pedal acquisition. Some of these pedals are rare, limited or discontinued - as is ever the case!


The stats are actually very similar to what the breakdown was for the overdrives - which were 73 all-told, across 51 Brands and 14 Countries. Boss / Japan are particular strong here as many of the distortion categories are rather synonymous with certain Boss pedals.


Overall though USA is way ahead of everyone in the total numbers came - although Wampler and Menatone don't figure quite as dominantly here. That was down to some very tough split decisions where I decided in favour of other alternatives. As always though - all choices are valid!

  • 74 Pedals Featured
  • 47 Brands
  • 13 Counries

Actually a very similar country run-down - with largely the same players - while Denmark,Israel, Poland, and Russia are new here.

  • > [Brands:Pedals]
  • USA [28:41]
  • Japan [3:8]
  • Canada [2:4]
  • China [2:4]
  • Russia [2:4]
  • UK [2:4]
  • Australia [2:2]
  • New Zealand [1:2]
  • Denmark [1:1]
  • France [1:1]
  • Israel [1:1]
  • Poland [1:1]
  • Spain [1:1]

Boss very obviously takes the most pedals featured prize - while AMT, DigiTech/DOD, LPD Pedals and REVV do rather well out of this listing! :

  • Boss 6 (Vox + DS-1 + JCMBrown + M-Zone + HM-2) [Japan]
  • - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  • AMT Effects 3 (Rockerverb + Die/Rec) [Russia]
  • DOD / DigiTech HardWire 3 (250/MXR+ + M-Zone + [USA]
  • Mooer 3 (DS-1 + M-Zone + Die/Rec) [China]
  • LPD Pedals 3 (Vox + Plexi + JCM Brown) [USA]
  • REVV 3 (Plexi + HM-2 + Die/Rec) [Canada]
  • VFE 3 (DS-1 + 250/MXR+ + Rat) [USA]
  • - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  • BYOC 2 (DS-1 + 250/MXR+) [USA]
  • Catalinbread 2 (Vox + Rockerverb) [USA]
  • Keeley Electronics 2 (DS-1 + HM-2) [USA]
  • Menatone 2 (Vox + Plexo [USA]
  • MidValleyFX 2 (Fuzzstortion + Die/Rec) [USA]
  • Pepers' Pedals 2 (T/Matamp + HM-2) [New Zealand]
  • Redbeard Effects 2 (Fuzzstortion + Rockerverb) [UK]
  • Suhr 2 (Vox + JCMBrown) [USA]
  • ThorpyFX 2 (Plexi + Rat) [UK]
  • Wampler 2 (Rockerverb) [USA]
  • - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
  • Amptweaker 1 (Die/Rec) [USA]
  • Anarchy Audio 1 (M-Zone) [Australia]
  • Bearfoot FX 1 (Vox [USA]
  • Big Ear Pedals 1 (Rat( [USA]
  • Big Tone Music Brewery 1 (250/MXR+) [USA]
  • Blackhawk Amplification 1 (Fuzzstortion) [USA]
  • Carcharias Effects 1 (T/Matamp) [Israel]
  • Coda Effects 1 (T/Matamp) [France]
  • Danelectro 1 (T/Matamp) [USA]
  • Decibelics 1 (HM-2) [Spain]
  • Dr Scientist 1 (Fuzzstortion) [Canada]
  • Drunk Beaver 1 (DS-1) [Poland]
  • Dunwich Amps 1 (HM-2) [USA]
  • Earthbound Audio 1 (Fuzzstortion) [USA]
  • EarthQuaker Devices 1 (T/Matamp) [USA]
  • Free Fall Diver 1 (Fuzzstortion) [Japan]
  • Friedman 1 (Plexi) [USA]
  • Function F(x) 1 (Rat) [USA]
  • Jackson Audio 1 (JCMBrown) [USA]
  • JAM Pedals 1 (Rat) [USA]
  • John K Vintage 1 (T/Matamp)[USA]
  • Loop Hole Pedas 1 (250/MXR+) [USA]
  • MI Effects 1 (JCMBrown) [Australia]
  • MXR 1 (DS-1) [USA]
  • OneControl 1 (Rockerverb) [Japan]
  • Pelican Noiseworks 1 (250/MXR+) [USA]
  • Reuss Effects 1 (Rat) [Denmark]
  • Sinvertek 1 (JCMBrown) [China]
  • XIX Tech 1 (HM-2) [Russia]
  • Xotic Effects 1 (Plexi) [USA

12 Degrees of Saturation Methodology Recap

The initial foray into 12 Degrees of Saturation was very much based on the gradual scaling up of gain, aggressiveness, texture and saturation across different pedal families and types therein - where typically those characteristics scaled up across the I to XII categories. The step-up though is often not quite so linear, and each category and pedal's overlap can vary to quite significant degree. It also often depends upon typical or ideal deployment and relative positioning as to which category slots in where. It's very much a grey fuzzy logic methodology - with plenty of room for further evolution, extrapolation and interpretation.


There will always be some level of dispute as to what I've aligned, ascribed, and attributed where - as well as what has been included and what has been left out. The selection and applications is very obviously engineered towards my own preferences - where I have significantly larger individual roundups for most categories already on this site - including the recent 28 strong pedal overviews for both Rat-style and JCM800 / Brown Sound style pedals - so there is plenty of further detail and many more actual options listed on this site.


There is something quite special about having to operate under certain constraints - meaning you have to select 5-7 max preferred pedals for each category. That does not mean those left out are necessarily inferior in any way - they're just not my top current favourites on this exact occasion. That is obviously another side to all of this - as opinions do evolve and change over time - and it's not always the same favourites at the top of the pile - or at least not in the same order.


This is always a process of distillation, evolution and refinement - and depending on when you stick a pin in it as such - you might have slightly different results each time. I encourage you to focus on the possibilities of what has been included - and what each one of those represents versus fretting about what might have been left out!


1 : Boosted Vox


This is basically my Brian May tone - which started off with the Catalinbread Galileo a way back - where I felt that could really do with more level and gain - while the tones generated were for sure at a high level. The Bearfoot FX Emerald Green Distortion Machine came next - and was probably on principal duty for the longest time of these yet. I had always intended on getting a Menatone TBIAC though - I was just waiting for it to be released in Vertical format - and of course Brian Mena obliged me early on this year - by releasing his flagship trifecta in Vertical Enclosures - including the Fish Factory, King of the Britains, and of course Top Boost in a Can.


In the listing I also own the Boss BC-2 Combo Drive and Suhr Shiba Reloaded Mini - the latter of which is not really intended to be a Vox style distortion as far as I'm aware - but does the job very well - which places it just ahead of the Mooer 004 Day Tripper Micro Preamp.


The only major debate was really over the 5th compact pedal slot - which I awarded to Lawrence Petross's limited and now sold out Lustre Overdrive in the end over the Catalinbread CB30, Greer Amps Royal Velvet, and Westminster Effects Geneva - which are all rather decent too. No shortage really of good alternatives - but I'm really loving my Menatone Vertical Top Boost in a Can - and expect that to sit at the top for me for quite some time.


Here are the featured candidates :

  • Menatone Vertical TBIAC 2020
  • Bearfoot FX Emerald Green Distortion Machine (discontinued)
  • Catalinbread Galileo
  • LPD Pedals Lustre Treble-Boosted Vox Overdrive (limited)
  • Boss BC-2 Combo Drive (discontinued)
  • Suhr Shiba Drive Reloaded Mini

Note that we're still waiting for new demo videos to materialise for the Menatone Trifecta - so we use a slightly older horizontal variety one!

2 : Boss DS-1


This is probably the most famous of the eponymous 'Distortion' style pedals - and funnily the one pedal I own the most variations of - which I think is 6 or 7 or more so far - including original and anniversary editions and several modded versions - Keeley, JHS, and Evil Pumkin editions included - also the DS-1X variety. Of all of those it's the Keeley Ultra Mod edition which I like the most, and which takes pride of place here ahead of the very recently acquired Drunk Beaver Multi-Mods MIJ Clone! I also just recently picked up a VFE Dark Horse - where I had been chasing the enclosure style as pictured for a few years now - but never glimpsed one of those V3's in the wild - there are of course a number of plainer V2's out there. I picked up a slightly more modern custom version which I pretty much like equally to the V3 - certainly a really cool edition, while my intentions were up until then to pin down one like the featured example.


I have often confused the MXR 78 Custom Badass as being a Marshall style of distortion vs specifically DS-1 - and while of course you can get into vaguely that sort of territory - it's obviously a straight up DS-1 derivative, as is the slightly more versatile Keeley DS-9, and BYOC Orange Distortion. There was also no question that I would include the Mooer Ultra Drive MKII here - which is of course Mooer's take on my favourite Keeley Ultra Mod DS-1 - it's decent for sure, but not quite as good as its Blues Mood take equivalent for the Keeley-Modded BS-2 Blues Driver.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • Boss DS-1 Keeley Ultra Mod (discontinued)
  • Drunk Beaver Distortion DS-1 Multi-Mods Clone (rare)
  • VFE Dark Horse (discontinued)
  • Keeley DS-9 Distortion
  • MXR Custom Badass ’78 Distortion
  • BYOC Orange Distortion
  • Mooer Ultra Drive MKII Mini

3 : DOD250 / MXR Distortion+ / MXR Micro Amp


Josh Scott and many other experienced pedal experts usually include this trio together as their circuit are really rather similar - as is exemplified by the VFE Distortion 3 here - which purports to convey the subtleties of each. The most famous candidate though is the original 'Grey Box' DOD250 which currently fetches rather unseemly prices on the second-hand market. It sounds pretty much identical to the earliest of the Yellow Box follow-up iterations, while some sense subtly better note separation / definition / articulation in the original.


I personally prefer the versatility and variability of the other compact pedals featured here - including the Loophole Pedals Grey Matter, Pelican Noiseworks 50/50 Ryan Burke special, VFE D3, and BTMP Grey Box. While if your pockets run deep enough there are still some reasons for chasing down an original in good condition. There's not a lot of options for a Mini variety - with the BYOC Li'l Grey OD being one of the very few candidates I came across.


Note that there are several discontinued pedals which are also pretty solid takes on this variety, including the EQD White Light, Greer Amps 390 Vintage OD Preamp, and also the still widely available SolidGoldFX Zeta MKII Overdrive - so plenty for you to get your teeth stuck into here!


Preferred featured candidates :

  • DOD Overdrive Preamp 250 Original Grey (discontinued)
  • Loophole Pedals Grey Matter Dual Overdrive/PreAmp
  • Pelican NoiseWorks 50/50 Double OD (discontinued)
  • VFE Distortion 3 (discontinued)
  • Big Tone Music Brewery EQ'd Vintage Series Grey Box Overdrive (discontinued)
  • BYOC Li'l Grey OD

4 : Marshall Plexi


This is certainly a category that I'm not short on options for - both from my own sizeable collection and the world at large. All pedals featured here are from my collection - apart from the LPD Pedals Seventy4 which has been on my wishlist for the longest time - will probably try and secure one of those early next year or whenever Lawrence next has an offer on.


My absolute current favourite is Brian Mena's new Vertical King of the Britains - with its 8 controls and second Boost footswitch - just a wonderfully versatile MIAB. I also have a lot of love for the REVV G2, ThorpyFX Gunshot, Friedman Dirty Shirley and Mini Xotic Effects SL Drive - in Alchemy Audio Modded edition.


The only difficult choice really was for the mini drive - whether to stick with my long-time favourite SL Drive, or go for Brian Wampler's new Mini Plexi-Drive which is also excellent. In the end - it was old faithful that won out here! You will find lots of articles on this site listing out numerous other decent alternatives - including old classics like the Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret and Lovepedal Purple Plexi, and newer classics like Amptweaker's TightRock Jr, and Keeley's El Rey Dorado.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • Menatone Vertical King of the Britains 2020 (still to be officially released)
  • REVV G2 Overdrive
  • LPD Pedals Seventy4
  • ThorpyFX Gunshot
  • Friedman Dirty Shirley Overdrive
  • Xotic Effects SL Drive Alchemy Mod

5 : ProCo Rat


As mentioned in the intro, I consider the Rat to be both a Fuzz pedal and a Distortion - while I feel it probably lives better in this category. I have more than 20 varieties of this particular pedal type and am very well versed with all the different OpAmp nuances and variations including the metal can variants.


You could say there are two broad categories of Rat - vintage/authentic and unconventional/differentiated and I have an appreciation for both as can be seen in this selection. My 3 long-term favourites are listed out at the top - Alpha Dog, Rattler and Warthog, with the LM308-based Reuss Effects Germanium Dirt being something of an outlier.


The Big Ear WoodCutter and Pettyjohn Electronics ROUS are more conventional Rats and the 2 which I still need to land. I have settled on the Dave 'Pickdropper' Friesema Function F(x) as my mini variety of choice - while I personally have the BYOC Li'l Mouse and Mooer Black Secret in that Mini Enclosure category. I will no doubt pick up a Function F(x) variety eventually too!


Preferred featured candidates :

  • VFE Alpha Dog V2 (discontinued)
  • JAM Pedals Rattler
  • ThorpyFX Warthog
  • Big Ear Woodcutter
  • Pettyjohn Electronics ROUS
  • Reuss Germanium Dirt
  • Function F(x) Skeleton Rat Micro

6 : Model T / Matamp / OR120 / Uni-Drive / 70's Preamp


This ended up as one of my sort of 'compendium' categories - which gathers together actually relatively similar sounding raw and beefy 70's style preamps - typically based on the earliest Bass Amps. The Category includes Sunn Model T, Matamp/OR120, and Uni-Vox Uni-Drive varieties.


I have long intended to get an EQD Acapulco Gold, but went first for a Sizzorfite Studio clone of that with some additional controls - I will for sure add the Acapulco Gold in the near future. The two I have here are the Coda Effects Black Hole and Danelectro The Breakdown. I also quite like the look of the Australian Mozztronics OR-1 ORANG-e OR120 - which I may well scoop up too.


There's a whole slew of discontinued pedals in this category - including the two Matamp types featured, alongside Butterfly Effects Green Meanie, EQD Monarch and Friday Pedal Club PD100 Matamp Green. If space is not an issue - I would also recommend my good friend Giulio's Kuro Custom T120 - probably the best sounding Matamp Preamp currently out there. I'm just waiting for him to figure out a more compact version of that which I can make use of within my own particular foibles and preferences.


The featured Mini Pedal is the only one I could find for this category - which I find strange - as I would have thought there would be quite a few more mini clones of the Acapulco Gold - while the seemingly single viable option is Daniel Carcharias's Mini Glass Jaw Fuzz.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • EarthQuaker Devices Acapulco Gold (Model-T)
  • Coda Effects Black Hole Doom Machine (Model-T)
  • Danelectro The Breakdown Boost (Uni-Drive)
  • JohnK Custom Green Bass Preamp Pedal (Matamp) (discontinued)
  • Pepers' Pedals Green Bastard (Matamp) (discontinued)
  • Carcharias Effects Glass Jaw Fuzz Mini (Model-T)

7 : Fuzzstortion


This has long been one of my favourite categories and actually consists of a number of different core varieties including very high gain Big Muff, Super Fuzz and Fuzz Face variants even along with several other outliers. I've listed my first choice here as the fantastic Dr Scientist Frazz Dazzler - which is very much the archetypal Fuzzstortion Pedal - where I actually deploy it mostly as a sort of high gain style Rat.


The Redbeard Effects Honey Badger Sub-Octave Fuzz is also a high gain monster - and has been rooted to my pedal-chain since its release. The other pedals here are all on my priority acquisitions list - including the Blackhawk Balrog V3, Earthbound Audio Super Collider, and MidValleyFX's new Ignitor High Gain Fuzz. And while I and Andrew McNicholas may have had some differences of opinion in the past - he still has a wonderful way with high gain fuzz and distortion tones.


For the Mini variety the decision was really between the Fortin Fuzz Mini or the impossible to get hold of Japanese Free Fall Diver 'Huge'. If anyone can help me get hold of one of those I would be ver so grateful. I've not found anyone yet willing to ship one out of Japan. And while I could use the Tenso service - I have had problems with that in the past, so I'd rather find some more direct means of extraction if at all possible.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • Dr Scientist Frazz Dazzler
  • Redbeard Effects Honey Badger Sub-Octave Fuzz
  • Blackhawk Amps Balrog V3
  • Earthbound Audio SuperCollider Fuzzstortion
  • MidValleyFX High Gain Octave Fuzz
  • Free Fall Diver Huge Fuzz Mini (rare)

8 : Orange Rockerverb


I've only actually become fully switched onto the delights of the Rockerverb tonality in more recent times - and largely because of the band Skindred and lead guitarist Mikey Demus. I did however have the rare Wampler Crush The Button before the Redbeard Red Mist materialised - but the Red Mist in particular has fast become one of my favourite high gain distortions. It's just beautifully naturally balanced and yet modern and tightly controlled - without being anyway harsh. And much like its Honey Badger sibling, the Red Mist has been rooted to my pedal-chain since it was launched.


The featured selection sees also Wampler's discontinued CataPulp variety - which I believe was a slightly more refined version of the limited edition Crush. Some prefer the CataPulp take - while I and many others prefer the slightly brasher take of the Wampler Crush - of which only 100 were made - for a guitar shop of the same name in the Netherlands.


This selection also sees the first of Russia's AMT Electronics Legend Amps Series II - in the guise of the O2 variety. We also feature the discontinued Catalinbread Supercharged Overdrive variety. While the only obvious choice for Mini pedal is the OneControl Fluorescent Orange.


Historically most of the Orange-style preamp have tended to be for the earlier OR120 Matamp style variety, while there only seem to be a handful of viable RockerVerb candidates. Do let me know if you come across other worthy candidates.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • RedBeard Effects Red Mist MKIV Distortion
  • Wampler Crush the Button Distortion (discontinued)
  • Wampler CataPulp Overdrive (discontinued)
  • AMT Electronics Legend Amps Series II O2
  • Catalinbread Supercharged Overdrive (discontinued)
  • OneControl Fluorescent Orange Amp In A Box Mini

9 : Marshall JCM800 / 5150 / EVH Brown Sound


I've obviously just recently concluded a very sizeable JCM800 / EVH Distortion roundup of this category so you can refer to that for the extended selection of candidates. I own around 20 pedals within this category myself and all those featured here are from my collection. Actually strictly speaking I don't exactly own the Jackson Audio Asabi - but rather it's fleeting El Guapo predecessor. I will probably wait for a few more of the Asabi's Distortion Modules to become available before acquiring one of those - while Brad Jackson remains somewhat elusive and unresponsive on that subject - as to what is coming down the line.


My current favourite is of course the Asabi/El Guapo as noted elsewhere on this site - and where the MI Effects Super Crunch Box was my principal EVH pedal for the longest time. I have the earlier dark grey version fo the LPD Pedals Eighty7 - otherwise the above pictured lineup in its entirety. There are plenty of really fantastic alternatives besides all these in any case.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • Jackson Audio Asabi
  • MI Effects Super Crunch Box V2
  • Sinvertek N5+
  • Boss JB-2 Angry Driver
  • LPD Pedals Eighty7
  • Suhr Riot Mini

10 : Boss MT-2 Metal Zone


The Million+ selling Metal Zone is still very dear to my heart - and mostly in Keeley Twilight Mod edition or Custom-Mode on the recent Waza Craft edition. I was actually looking for further parametric EQ metal pedals to fill the line-up - but came up short after the DigiTech Hardwire TL-2 and DOD Boneshaker.


I had already earlier referenced the Mooer 001 Gas Station Micro Preamp as being the most suitable mini candidate (actually based on the Diezel Hagen), while I felt that there were aspects of Anarchy Audio's Reignmaker that also fitted the bill - despite both those varieties only having 3-Band EQ rather than Parametric Mids of those others.


I've always been able to dial in great tones with the Metal Zone - while as Biffy Clyro's Simon Neil affirms - you have to be very careful with dialling that pedal in - tiny micro-movements of those knobs can change everything. I'm guessing there are too many ham-fisted players out there that gave this pedal a bad rep because of its innate tone-shaping sensitivity. With some due diligence though spectacular tones are easily achievable! And both Twilight and Waza editions are significantly better behaved than the original.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • Boss MT-2 Metal Zone Keeley Twilight Mod (discontinued)
  • Boss MT-2W Metal Zone Waza Craft
  • Digitech Hardwire TL-2 Metal Distortion (discontinued)
  • DOD Boneshaker Parametric Distortion
  • Anarchy Audio Reignmaker High Gain Distortion
  • Mooer 001 Gas Station Micro Preamp

11 : Boss HM-2 Heavy Metal


I have much featured the long-discontinued HM-2 on this site with most of its obvious alternatives. I've also found that you can dial things in pretty close with more modern feature-rich pedals like the Keeley Filaments and REVV G3. Other than that I list Pepers' Pedals HM-Too Many Clones and the Dunwich Amps Tyrant as two of the better-known alternatives - where the XIX Tech HMD-1 still remains as my favourite compact clone.


Considering just how many clones there are of the HM-2 it's still somewhat bewildering that Boss won't consider reviving this pedal in any format - where an MT-2W style HM-2W would be so well received. In the meantime if you want that authentic experience there are few better direct clones than the diminutive Decibelics Angry Swede V2 - which is actually still an extended range variety to a degree - courtesy of its new Blend control - yet not quite as extended-range as some of these others I've referenced here.


My Boss insiders keep telling me that there are no plans to revive the HM-2 while the pressure is growing from the marketplace - and there's actually a signatures petition doing the rounds now - so will interesting to see if that has any impact.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • Boss HM-2 (discontinued)
  • XIX Tech HMD-1
  • REVV G3
  • Keeley Filaments High Gain Distortion
  • Pepers' Pedals HM-Too Many Clones
  • Dunwich Amps Tyrant (discontinued)
  • Decibelics Angry Swede 2 Mini

12 : Xtreme / Rectifier / Diezel - Super High Gain Distortion


At the top of the distortion pile for me is those full-force deep and searing metal amps - the Dual and Triple Rectifier MESA/Boogies, and the Diezel VH4 / Herbert / Hagen and their ilk. Of course these are the pedal versions of those metal monster amps - allowing you to get full speaker-ripping take-you-to Valhalla distortion at the right levels of volume.


This selection allows me to preview the new look of the Amptweaker pedal series - since James Brown sold his pedal company to Alpha Distribution and went to work for Fender's EVH Division. I'm not sure how I feel about the new look - the new boxes are no way near the distinct and iconic stature of their predecessors with those top-mounted knob protector bars - so the jury's still slightly out.


In any case I have only 3 of the pedals in that pictured lineup - with the MidValleyFX Peaks 2 only relatively recently ordered - I've long liked the sound of that pedal. First in line though is the REVV G4 - which I have found to deliver excellent Rectifier and Diezel style tones. I also have the AMT Electronics R2 Rectifier type which I so like - that I'm considering getting the D2 (Diezel) and O2 (Rockerverb) examples too.


I've long meant to get the Amptweaker TightMetal of some description - probably still leaning towards the Junior version - while there are also a few Mooer Micro Preamps on my wishlist - including the 011 Cali Dual (Rectifier) variety featured here, and the 001 Gas Station Diezel Hagen variety featured in the Metal Zone category. Actually the Mooer Rage Machine is also a pretty decent shout for either of those categories.


Preferred featured candidates :

  • REVV G4
  • MidValleyFX Peaks V2 High Gain Distortion (DualRec)
  • Amptweaker Tight Metal Jr
  • AMT Electronics Legend Amps Series II D2
  • AMT Electronics Legend Amps Series II R2
  • Mooer Cali Dual 011 Micro Preamp

Final Thoughts

Obviously a lot of work and effort has gone into this series of articles - and I hope they are appreciated for the reference framework they provide. They're really just a structured way to investigate and journey through myriad pedal categories and groups.


I always consider these part of a larger iterative process that is being evolved and refined all the time - and will eventually yield some significant insights and stepping-stones. These things can sure take it out of you - and you consistently worry that you've not made the optimal selections - and have overlooked some critical component or angle. In any case that just spurs me to further hone and improve these sorts of things - as this is very much a continuous learning experience for me too.


I'm always interested in hearing my readers input - in particular if any of you think I've overlooked or omitted something of significance - or wrongly attributed a pedal to a category - which can easily happen.


This is really just a compass for your gain pedal journey / exploration - you get to pick your own route - and you don't have to stick to the map and the well-trodden pathways. There are always personal foibles and idiosyncrasies to be along the way with this subject matter - and no two peopled will agree on the same selection of 5 or 10 pedals - we all have slightly different values and criteria.


Some of you will be delighted to hear that I'm already working on the Fuzz Edition - where I'm still chopping and changing some of the categories and featured pedals - it's not settled down quite yet - actually it is now - bur wasn't for the first couple of iteration of hits draft. While most of the long-list work is complete - although as per the Overdrive edition - I am struggling to find a few Mini Fuzz equivalents for a couple of categories - I really don't wish to publish something with a blank slot - but if I don't dig up something soon - that is likely to happen - you'll have to tune into that article to see how close I got! The Fuzz Edition should got live within a week or two of this one - pending all the usually pedal-release priorities.


On this particular occasion - for the Distortion Edition - most categories had multiple potential candidates and I could have featured 28 or more pedals for some of these segments - in fact like I have actually done in other parts of the site - fro some of these very categories - relevant articles are related as usual!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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