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best pedals for metal

Best pedals for metal: Give your guitar an edge

Unlike some genres, metal is a popular style worldwide. And being such, there are many subgenres within it. Certain kinds are more popular in different parts of the globe, but no matter the style metal guitarists all have one thing in common – they are serious about their gear! These are some of the best pedals for metal.

Best harmonizer pedal for metal: Eventide H9 Harmonizer

eventide h9 harmonizer
best harmonizer pedal for metal
Eventide H9 Harmonizer
Sporting nine algorithms from the Eventide Harmonizer, it can store up to 50. You can control it externally through MIDI or an iOS device.
Pros
Classic Eventide Harmonizer sounds in a small footprint pedal
Allows storage for 50 algorithms
MIDI control
iOS compatibility
Cons
Expensive

When the original Harmonizer units came out they revolutionized the guitar sounds of many hard rock and metal players. Eddie Van Halen, Mick Mars, Steve Vai the list goes on. The H9 fits all of those legendary sounds into a compact, pedalboard-friendly package. The standard version includes 9 algorithms, but there is a Max model that allows access to up to 50! It also has MIDI control and iOS app compatibility.

Best doubler pedal for metal: TC Electronic Mimiq Doubler

tc electronic mimiq doubler
Best doubler pedal for metal
TC Electronic Mimiq Doubler
Doubling guitar tracks makes them sound bigger, which is mandatory for metal music. This stereo pedal can do up to three doubles and you can control the tightness of the effect.
Pros
Realistic doubling sounds
Tracks signal accurately
Dry output
Stereo I/O
Cons
Not as good as real double tracking, but it’s the next best thing

This option is especially useful if you are the only guitarist in the band. You can adjust the tightness, wet and dry output, as well as the amount of doubles (1,2, or 3). It also comes in a mini version for those pedalboards that are extra cramped.

Best octave pedal for metal: Electro-Harmonix Micro POG

electro-harmonix micro pog
Best octave pedal for metal
Electro-Harmonix Micro POG
This unique octave pedal is a useful creative tool. With wet and dry outputs you can do harmonized leads or booming sub-octaves.
Pros
Unique octave sounds useful in multiple situations
Effect and dry outputs
Cons
Might not suit all styles of metal

Everyone loves what the POG can do. It might not be one of the first pedals that comes to mind when constructing your pedalboard to play metal, but it is a very useful tool. This is especially true if you are the only guitarist in your band. You can turn it on and instantly have harmonized leads or thunderous sub-octaves. Its simple control set and friendly price point only adds more value.

Best distortion pedal for metal: Mesa Boogie Throttle Box

mesa boogie throttle box
Best distortion pedal for metal
Mesa Boogie Throttle Box
Mesa Boogie is one of the premier names in metal tones. This small footprint pedal gives you larger than life sounds in a size that’s friendly on space.
Pros
Great Mesa Boogie high gain sounds
Mid cut gives scooped mid sound of the Mark V
Pairs well with separate EQ
Cons
This type of high gain isn’t the best choice for all metal styles

Throttle Box can do everything from high-low gain and everything in between. But no matter how you dial it in the Mesa Boogie sound is all over it. There is a mid-cut for achieving the scooped sounds of the Mark V. There is also a Throttle Box EQ available as a separate pedal.

Best overdrive pedal for metal: Ibanez TS808

ibanez ts808
Best overdrive pedal for metal
Ibanez TS808
The Tubescreamer is choice of some of the world’s top metal guitarists for boosting the input of their amp. It’s so versatile it can be used as a volume or gain boost for solos too.
Pros
Great for boosting the input of a tube amp
Stacks well with almost any other overdrive
Cons
Not enough gain to use it on its own for metal

I know, I know – it’s not a distortion. But, metal guitar players across the globe run this in front of their amp to add more sustain. It’s a simple, versatile choice that will come in handy in a variety of scenarios.

Best analog EQ pedal for metal: MXR 10-Band EQ

MXR 10-Band EQ
Best analog EQ pedal for metal
MXR 10-Band EQ
This is one of the most popular EQs in metal, and for good reason. Each band is in the ideal range for guitar, it’s got LED sliders, and input gain and output volume sliders.
Pros
10 EQ bands gives you total control over your frequencies
LED sliders make it easy to see your settings in the dark
Cons
Larger size might not fit on smaller pedalboards
Mono only

Regardless of the style you play, no guitarist can ever go wrong with this classic from MXR. The 10 bands gives you total coverage over the guitar’s frequency spectrum. And unlike some other EQs, it has input gain (because metal always needs more gain!) and output volume.

Best digital EQ pedal for metal: Source Audio Programmable EQ

source audio programmable eq pedal
Best digital EQ pedal for metal
Source Audio Programmable EQ
As metal moves more and more toward the digital realm, this programmable EQ gives you fluid options for what frequencies you want to focus on.
Pros
Programmable digital EQ
18dB of cut and boost
Works with guitar and bass
Cons
Not the best choice if you prefer analog EQs
Isn’t as easy to dial in as other models

Offering a step forward in what pedal equalizers can do, this pedal from Source Audio features state-of-the-art digital signal processing. There are seven frequency bands, each offering 18dB of cut/boost across four presets. This means there are a total of 28 bands that can easily be recalled with the footswitch on the pedal or with MIDI integration. And with 12dB of gain boost you can use it to drive your amp or boost your signal for lead parts, and with the Octave Extend function you can even use it with bass guitar.

Best stereo chorus pedal for metal: MXR M-134 Stereo Chorus

mxr stereo chorus
Best stereo chorus pedal for metal
MXR M-134 Stereo Chorus
The choice chorus of greats like Randy Rhoads, this mono in, stereo out chorus provides controls over the chorus effect as well as bass and treble.
Pros
Perfect chorus for stereo rigs
Effect and tone controls
Works well with bass
Cons
Mono input only
Larger enclosure

Chorus is generally the most popular choice of modulation pedal for metal guitarists. This stereo chorus offers plenty of controls to dial it in and has been used by many metal greats, like Randy Rhoads. The only downside is that the input is mono. But it’s a great way to widen your sound with two amps.

Best chorus petal for metal: EVH 5150 Chorus

evh 5150 chorus
Best chorus petal for metal
EVH 5150 Chorus
The chorus in the EVH pedal lineup provides input and output switches to get the perfect gain staging. Three simple controls dial things in, but it’s only stereo on the output.
Pros
Switches to set input and output levels for ideal gain staging
Easy to dial in
Cons
Stereo only on output

Does it get more metal than EVH? This chorus has multiple features that make it perfect for heavy styles. It has switches to set the output and input levels. This helps you set the perfect gain staging no matter how your rig is designed. Three simple controls over tone, volume, and intensity make it easy to set your sound.

Best digital delay pedal for metal: BOSS DD-8

boss dd-8
Best digital delay pedal for metal
BOSS DD-8
The BOSS DD-8 is the newest in the lineup and provides true stereo I/O across a range of settings. It can be trigger with an external expression pedal or by using the tap tempo feature on the footswitch.
Pros
True stereo I/O
Digital and analog sounds
Versatile range of delay settings and times
Cons
Not true analog

Metal is a genre that tends to prefer clean, digital delays. But if you happen to need an analog sound the DD-8 can do both. It has a rich feature set of settings, including some that are pretty…progressive. It also has stereo I/O so you can use it in a dual amp setup or to split your signal to another pedalboard (for the more progressive metal guitarists among us). Like with all things BOSS it covers a lot of sonic ground at an affordable price point.

Best analog delay pedal for metal: Ibanez Analog Delay Mini

ibanez mini analog delay
Best analog delay pedal for metal
Ibanez Analog Delay Mini
If you want warm, chewy analog delay in a small package this is one of the best choices. It’s a little limited in the delay times though.
Pros
Warm analog delay
Mini pedal fits in almost anywhere
Cons
Mono only
Some players might not like the small size
Limited delay times

Digital delays generally find their way into metal rigs more so than their analog brothers. But if a warmer sound is what you’re looking for the ADMINI is a solid choice. It has 20-600ms of delay time and true-bypass switching. It is mono only though.

Best reverb pedal for metal: Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11

electro-harmonix oceans 11
Best reverb pedal for metal
Electro-Harmonix Oceans 11
Across 11 unique and useful presets you can add depth and dimension to your guitar sound. The only downside is that it’s mono only.
Pros
11 presets
Infinite input for sustaining sounds
Versatile range of reverb sounds
Cons
Mono only

A lot of the guitar sounds in metal are fairly dry. But if you’re looking for a good reverb pedal you can’t really beat the versatility of the Oceans 11. Across the 11 presets are sounds ranging from standard to unique. The only downside is that it only operates in mono. When it comes to reverbs, the Oceans 11 is one of the best pedals for metal.

Best pitch shifter pedal for metal: Digitech Whammy 5

digitech whammy 5
Best pitch shifter pedal for metal
Digitech Whammy 5
The Whammy carved its reputation as the leader in guitar pedal pitch shifters. With 10 settings for Harmony and Whammy effects, you control everything in real-time with the treadle.
Pros
True bypass switching
Treadle lets you operate effect in real time
20 effects across Harmony and Whammy categories
Cons
Enclosure is large

The Digitech Whammy has long been the king of the guitar pedal pitch shifters. The circuit has come a long way over each iteration. The Whammy 5 can be played on chords or single notes and offers 20 different effects types across Harmony and Whammy categories. It’s also one of the most affordable harmonizer guitar pedals on the market.

FAQ
Is a Tube Screamer good for metal?

Yes. A lot of metal guitarists use a Tube Screamer not for overdrive, but to drive the input of their amp. This gives more sustain, and if you want additional gain you can tailor it as you need to.

A circuit like this is used by a lot of popular artists like Zakk Wylde, Randy Rhoads and bands like Killswitch Engage, All That Remains, and countless more.

What pedals are used in metal?

Every guitar player has their favorite pedals to use, but generally you’ll find distortions, overdrives, delays, and modulation pedals.

What pedals do metal bassists use?

This can vary based on the style of metal they’re playing. You can’t go wrong with a good overdrive to get some grind, and a chorus pedal to thicken up the sound.

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