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9 of the Best Horizontal Medium Enclosure High Gain Metal Distortion Pedals

Brown Sound DistortionDistortionDual-DriveEmpress EffectsGoosoniqueworxGworXHorizon DevicesMarshall Style DistortionMetal DistortionMI EffectsMP Custom FXMulti-DriveMXRSuhrThermionWeehbo+-
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This article follows on from the recent Vertical aspect medium enclosure roundup where I indicated a number of potential acquisition targets. Here we have the same enclosure size but width-ways in orientation - with a key differentiator being the number of pedals here with dual footswitches - where all but two either have a second Channel or additional Boost option.


There are two permanent fixtures of my pedal-chain here - the Empress Heavy and MI Effects Megalith Delta which have occupied slots #23 & #25 for a number of years now. I also have the Suhr Eclipse Galaxy edition for sometime rotation - but it’s not going to replace my 2 favourites any time soon.


I feel I may acquire an MP Custom Gainiac Plus someday soon, and/or a Goosoniqueworx Kult (discontinued) or Horizon Devices Apex PreAmp. There’s nothing wrong with the MXR EVH 5150, Thermion Gasoline or Weehbo Morbid Drive either - I just have some of these right now that I might prefer somewhat more. As always - price and availability are key acquisition factors and will determine which others of these enter the collection. I always tend to prioritise rarities too - as you never know if/when those might come around again. I’ve passed on at least a couple of Goosoniqueworx Kult’s - but these appear so rarely nowadays, I will likely pounce next time!


Pedals are listed alphabetically by brand:

Empress Effects Heavy Dual Channel High Gain Distortion - £299


When I first got this pedal I wasn't wholly convinced - it seemed somewhat fussier to dial in than my already beloved Empress Multidrive, and I struggled with the common Hi and Low controls for a while. Yet once you tune into this pedal it truly is one of the greatest high gain pedals out there with an amazing degree of variety and versatility. The Weight knobs here are sort of key in defining Gain Structure - Mass / Tightness / Sag - and setting those differently with everything else the same will give you significant variations alone. I still secretly hope there will be a V2 some day with independent Hi and Low knobs per channel - and that will make this pedal even more incredible. As it is, it's already one of my favourites and in to imminent danger of being usurped - it sits quite nicely now alongside the MI Effects Megalith Delta, REVV G2, and Redbeard Red Mist MKIV in the current pedal-chain iteration - I have other pedals that I occasionally accommodate in the chain too - like the Pushking Ironfinger - my current favourite 4 though will take something really special to unseat any of them.

Goosoniqueworx / GworX Kult - discontinued - c£260 lightly used via


I sort of foolishly passed up on a couple of these a while back - I just had other priorities at the time and/or no budget available - but I kind of regret it as these turn up so rarely nowadays. Pedal engineer 'Ravi Tha Goose' used to make these, but seems to have been on hiatus for a while now - so it's a matter of catching a used one when it appears on Ebay or Reverb. I have seen a couple over the last few years and let them slide by. Ravi also had the almost equally high gain 7thvn - while for some reason I always preferred the sound of the Kult. You get 8 controls here - 6 knobs - Volume | Presence | Treble | Mid | Bass | Gain - and 2 toggle-switches for Feedback and 1-preEQ-2 EQ shift. These are still pretty great if you can get your hands on one in reasonable condition and at the right price.

Horizon Devices Apex PreAmp - £299


I've been considering this one for a while - to add to my rotation. Obviously Misha Mansoor's MXR offshoot Horizon Devices - this is a really chunky modern high gain distortion with laser-focused tightness and onboard variable noise gate to go with its 3-Band EQ. This is a great sounding pedal - possibly not with quite as much tone versatility as some of these others, but its core sound is pretty darn decent regardless.

MI Effects Megalith Delta High Gain Distortion + Boost - £221


As mentioned above, this is another of my all time favourites and a near permanent fixture in my pedal-chain - on slot #25. The 3-way EQ Shift toggle-switch and Contour dial give this an incredible versatility over and above the 3-band EQ, and this is known for its thick bottom-end - while the Boost element could do with being more tuneable! I've had this set various different ways, and any which way I seem to set it I still love it, and it retains its place - possibly in some ways more than the Empress Heavy - even though that is overall more versatile!

MP Custom FX Gainiac Plus - £90


This pedal comes highly recommended by Henning Pauly (EytschPi42), and you really can't beat it in the value-for-money stakes. This is not an all out-and-out high gain machine, it has a more extended range than that - but does go very high gain too. It has a sort of raw rough and readiness to its sound which I really rather like. At this price it's surely only a matter of time before it enters my collection. We get Gain | Bass | Mid | Treble | Volume controls, alongside dual footswitches - the second of which toggles between Lo and Hi Gain Modes. Worth a look-in for sure!

MXR EVH 5150 Overdrive - £198


This is one of my favourite medium enclosure Brown Sound style pedals alongside the Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe. I've had such a difficult time of deciding which of those two I prefer that I have acquired neither to date. This one combines 3-Band EQ with variable Gate and Boost knobs, while the Pinnacle Deluxe has a separate Boost footswitch with Boost Level control, and Vintage/Modern Gain Structure and Boost/Gain Boost Mode switches. Both sound great and each has something to recommend it. I actually probably prefer the vertical orientation of the Pinnacle DLX with the dual footswitches - while I would most likely be very happy with either.

Suhr Eclipse Dual Channel High Gain Distortion - £259


This was the 3rd Suhr pedal I acquired after the full-size Riot Distortion and mini Shiba Drive Reloaded - and this sort of covers both those extremes across two equal 3-Band EQ Chanels that you can set up anyway you want to - including in that Suhr Riot ball-park of high gain distortion. This does not range quite as high gain as some of these others, but should be satisfactory for most - there's certainly a high degree of variety and versatility on tap here - this is the only pedal in this selection with full independent 3-Band EQ on both channels.

Thermion Gasoline High Gain Distortion - £179


I featured this Spanish brand in my country overview of the same, and this is one of several world-class pedals in that range. Providing an extended feature set of 7 knobs - Gain | Volume | Deep | Bass | Mid | Treble | Presence, and then 3-way mode toggle for Modern/Raw/Vintage gain structure. This is a super versatile pedal - and could benefit further from a second channel switcher footswitch for Low and High Gain modes for ultimate deployment. Even without the second footswitch this is a fantastic proposition - and really fairly priced.

Weehbo Morbid Drive High Gain Distortion - £205


A really cool 2-Channel High Gain Distortion with a 3-way Low to High Mid Frequency selector alongside knobs for Level | Depth | Treble | Middle | Bass | Gain. I have the Bastard Drive from the same company, but have still to fully make up my mind on this offering - which I do like, but am yet to decree whether it's one for the collection over and above these others featured here.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

On final review here, I'm still very happy with my two permanent fixtures - the Empress Heavy and MI Effects Megalith Delta, and even though I don't use the Suhr Eclipse nearly as much - it still gets a fairly regular rotation in the chain.


As I kind of thought this would go my most likely next acquisition will come from the Goosoniqueworx Kult, Horizon Effects Apex PreAmp and MP Custom Gainiac Plus. I have mentioned before that I would probably take the Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe over the MXR 5150 EVH Overdrive and that still stands true - while I currently consider the Thermion Gasoline and Weehbo Morbid Drive as nice-to-haves rather than essentials.


For your own preference these all actually sound somewhat different, and have different pros and cons - and you may well go in a different direction to me. I feel that the 3 I already have give me the best balance of what I need and what I like, and I probably only need to supplement with one or two more here - which as always depends on price and availability as well as other new arrivals.


My preferred form factor for most pedal types will always be the compact enclosure size followed by the Vertical Medium and Square Medium enclosure - and then this format. This format makes best sense when there are dual footswitches which is mostly the case here. When I compare with the recent Vertical Medium enclosure article - I would possibly consider the Andy James Revenant pedal in preference to further additions from this selection.


I have the Boss OD-200 en-route to me (actually arrived now), so I will be weighing up its pros and cons against all these selections too - feature-wise it obviously outpaces all of them, I need to see now how well it stacks up against these in creating my favourite tones. I already have an extensive collection of distortion and high gain pedals and will be weighing each up against the OD-200.


When the Elektron Analog Drive came out with its 8 separate analog circuits - I fairly leapt at that, but they weren't voiced particularly closely to my own favourite flavours. And while that pedal is still great (way too large though) it did not really succeed in recreating or replacing any of my preferred favourite tones. It will be interesting to see just how close the OD-200 comes to those of these I have, and if it can genuinely oust and replace those to some significant degree! Or else other unique varieties of tones via its parallel and serial stacking of 12 Drive types with 15 boost modes!

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
Guitar Pedal X
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