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Best Distortion Pedal For Stratocaster Reviews

The Fender Stratocaster is a very popular guitar, and many different styles of music are played on it, including relatively heavy ones. So the pedals for these guitars must have the ability to sound equally good on light overdrive as on fairly heavy distortion. I suggest you check out the best distortion pedals for Stratocaster, which will help you get exactly the sounds you want from this guitar in Metal and Rock.

Our pick
Behringer VT999
Behringer VT999
Best distortion pedals for blues
This Behringer VT999 has an Integrated and switchable Noise gate with an adjustable Threshold that keeps your sound noise-free and got a classic tube overdrive pedal based on a hand-selected 12AX7 vacuum tube. Read the full review.

Distortion pedal for Stratocaster comparison table

Name Controls Connectors Power Supply Review
Behringer VT999 best overall pedal switch, tone, level, dist, EQ mid freq, EQ high freq, EQ low freq input jack: 1/4-inch, output jack: 1/4-inch, DC IN jack battery (9V), DC adaptor (9V) Review
Boss DS-1 budget pedal switch, tone, level, dist input jack: 1/4-inch, output jack: 1/4-inch, DC IN jack Alkaline battery (9V, 6LR61) or Carbon-zinc battery (9V, 6F22), AC adaptor Review
Pro Co RAT2 pedal switch, filter, volume, distortion input jack: 1/4-inch, output jack: 1/4-inch, DC IN jack battery (9V), DC adaptor (9V) Review

Best distortion pedals for Stratocaster reviews

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Behringer VT999 – best overall

There are many serious companies among the world leaders in designing and manufacturing professional audio equipment and musical instruments. And the German Behringer is one of them. In my Behringer VT999 review, I will tell you about a very interesting model, which is a tube overdrive/distortion pedal, and it is called Vintage Tube Monster. The only things I find vintage about this pedal are the design and the fact that it is a tube pedal. But I assure you, it can surprise you with its features and sound. It is a very good device, especially considering its relatively low price.

Build and design

Behringer VT999

The Behringer VT999 is bulky. And, looking ahead, that's the only downside I found for myself. It measures 2.4" x 8.7" x 6.7" and weighs 3.02 lbs. So it's not the kind of thing you can carry around all the time, but you can keep it stationary in your studio. Anyway, the pedal is assembled very sturdy and comfortable. The metal body on the bottom has a lamp replacement cover. The pots and switch are very smooth and silent but sensitive. The slightest touch can throw off all the settings, so you shouldn't touch the pedal while playing. What is important is that the pedal does not overheat, unlike many other tube models.

On the top panel of the vintage-inspired soft yellow case, you will find the Gain, Treble, Mid, Bass, and Master controls, a mechanical hard bypass pedal switch, and an LED status indicator for power on/off. And on the top sidewall: the standard Input and Output for circuit connection (1/4"), a power connector, Power and Noise Gate buttons, and a Threshold knob. Look for more details about Behringer VT999 features in the next paragraph of the article.


So, a hand-selected 12AX7 vacuum tube provides the gain that earns the Monster name and sustained warm even-order harmonics. Thus the VT999 is almost as good as the sound of a tube amplifier. At the same time, the pedal consumes a huge amount of current, so a 9V DC power supply is included to improve battery operation.

An obvious feature of the VT999 is the built-in Noise Gate with an adjustable Threshold that can be turned off. It literally suppresses noise on the line so that the sound is not ruined. I'll also mention the mechanical True Bypass here to preserve your tone. These features make your guitar sound clean and the pedal, in turn, useful for any player.

Separate Gain (responsible for the degree of distortion), Master (output volume), and a 3-band EQ with Treble, Mid, and Bass knobs (frequency adjustment) provide a range of sound from hard distortion to light, soft overdrive, suitable for blues. In general, you could call the sound vintage, but for me, it sounds modern and fresh, and I find it a benefit of this pedal model.


Behringer VT999 photo

In conclusion, as I said, the only drawback I would call is its size and weight. Its filling could definitely be placed in a smaller case. But this is probably due to its power consumption, which is why the VT999 doesn't overheat, dissipating heat inside itself.

The Behringer VT999 sounds great for its price. A worthy competitor to many comparable models of a similar rank. It can be absolutely silent and perfectly holds the tone you set. The pedal will work great with humbuckers in a chain with other effects pedals, giving off an exclusive high gain for metal riffs. You should know that it doesn't have a middle for a round crunchy sound- you go from one extreme to the other right away. But I like playing blues, jazz and old-school rock with it because it can sound warm and mellow. With the right instrument and pedalboard, you get impressive results.

Key specs
  • Controls: pedal switch, gain, master, bass, mid, treble, noise gate, power, treshold.
  • Connectors: input jack: 1/4-inch, output jack: 1/4-inch, DC IN jack.
  • Power Supply: DC adaptor (9.6V).
  • Size (WxDxH), inch/cm: 2.4x6.7x8.7/6.1x17.2x22.
  • Weight oz/kg: 48.3/1.37

The best distortion pedal for Stratocaster is a tube model called the Vintage Tube Monster. It can be completely silent and holds the tone you set perfectly. The VT999 will work great with humbuckers in a chain with other effects pedals, giving off an exclusive high gain for metal riffs. It doesn’t have a middle for a round crunchy sound; you go from one extreme to the other right away. The cool device which should be in the collection of every serious guitarist!

Boss DS-1 – budget

In this Boss DS-1 review, I will tell you about one of today's most popular and selling distortion pedals. It was introduced back in 1978 and was produced in Japan and later in Taiwan. And in the 2000s, Boss became part of Roland. However, these events did not affect the quality of the product, and numerous modifications only improved the basic model.

The bright orange pedal has incredible durability, so you can often find many used models on the market. And I assure you, they are still as great as they were years ago. Another attractive aspect of the Boss DS-1 is its price, which is surprisingly low for such a celebrity. So let's take a closer look at it.

Build and design

Boss DS-1

The design of the pedal has not changed since its creation and is recognizable all over the world. The case is incredibly sturdy, and it can last you for a very long time. You don't have to worry about its integrity; use it with pleasure!

The Boss DS-1 is pleasant to look at and easy to operate. In addition to the standard input and output jacks you can use to connect it to your circuit, it also has three control knobs and a foot pedal. There is a CHECK indicator to indicate the control battery. So nothing can throw you off. The distortion pedal is portable and will fit in your pocket - that's how compact it is. With a weight of 13 oz, it measures only 2-7/8 inches, 5-1/8 inches, and 2-3/8 inches. So this is an option where you can use it wherever you want.


Let's get down to the features of the Boss distortion DS-1. As I have already written, it is very simple and comfortable. For example, the on/off pedal is very smooth and doesn't snag or break. And the 1/4" DC input and output connectors are telephone-type with a 20 dBu rating. The pedal is powered by an alkaline battery (9V, 6LR61) or a zinc-carbon battery (9V, 6F22), but you'll need to buy an AC adapter.

There are only three controls: TONE, DIST, and LEVEL. The latter essentially controls the volume, allowing you to use the Boss DS-1 at a concert with maximum sound or home by setting it to the minimum. TONE - The frequency control, their equalizer, is a standard control for most pedals, as it is for an amp or electric guitar. In the left position, you get more bass; in the right position, you get more treble. With DIST, I hope everything is clear. With this control, you turn the clean sound of your guitar into a distorted and crunchy sound. Perfect for performing heavy genres.


Boss DS-1 photo

To conclude all the above, it is only necessary to tell how the Boss distortion pedal sounds. I have a tube amplifier, and there were no problems. But I have encountered comments about it not being very good with solid-state ones. So, just keep that in mind, and check beforehand.

Otherwise, in my opinion, this pedal is perfect for your circuit. And, of course, it's suitable for metal and rock, delivering a fun, high-quality overdrive. Excellent wide-range tone, low gain, warmth, and harshness - a combination worthy of old-school masterpieces. For solos, you can press it on an already distorted sound to achieve more volume and balance the sound.

Still need proof? Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Daf Aldrich, Mike Stern, and other legends have used the Boss DS-1. So I think it's worth you, too.

Key specs
  • Controls: pedal switch, tone, level, dist.
  • Connectors: input jack: 1/4-inch, output jack: 1/4-inch, DC IN jack.
  • Power Supply: Alkaline battery (9V, 6LR61) or Carbon-zinc battery (9V, 6F22), AC adaptor.
  • Size (WxDxH), inch/cm: 2.8x5x2.3/7.3x12.9x5.9.
  • Weight oz/g: 13/360.

The bright orange Boss DS-1 would be a great distortion pedal for Fender. With the DIST knob, you turn the clean sound of your guitar into a distorted and crunchy sound. The high-quality Overdrive is perfect for performing heavy genres. Being bright, loud, and “screaming,” it will definitely add drive to your compositions!

Pro Co RAT2

In 1978, in the basement of a Pro Co store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Scott Burmam created an effect pedal. This device has undergone some changes since then, but the original circuitry has remained the same. And today, in the Pro Co RAT2 review, I will tell you about this now-famous pedal made by the Chinese company Neutrik for Pro Co. It is designed for fuzz and distortion in equal measure, where smoothness overrides sharpness. So let's take a closer look at it.

Build and design

Pro Co RAT2

The cute little pedal has an understated design in black with glow-in-the-dark graphics. So it's visible on your pedalboard in the dark. The Rat 2 gives the impression of being indestructible, and it really is. Measuring 2.5 inches, 3.5 inches, and 4 inches, and weighing 2 pounds, it has a classic practical steel body and metal panels on the sides. The heavy-duty industrial pedal switches, three knobs, and connectors can also handle a lot, making it definitely suitable for concert activities. Circuit connectors are located on the top panel of the sidewall next to the DC connector, and there is also an On/Off LED indicator and a battery compartment on the back. Everything is simple and to the point.


Pro Co RAT2 features are as simple as its design. But that doesn't stop it from being versatile. To start with, the pedal runs on 9V batteries and the RPS2 power supply adapter, which are not included in the kit. In addition, it has standard ΒΌ" jacks, a 100% analog signal path, a military-grade glass-epoxy circuit board, and a True Bypass. There are also three controls, Distortion, Volume, and Filter, which rotate virtually 360 degrees, allowing for an extremely wide range of tuning.

As I said before, the pedal finds a balance somewhere between distortion and fuzz. Indeed, by turning the knob to the limit, you can get one effect or another, depending on what you're playing. The Filter is designed to regulate high and low frequencies. All in all, by playing around with the settings, you will get unexpected results. But take your time. Better yet, listen to RAT2 before you buy it. In my opinion and musical taste, it is perfect for classic rock or grunge. But metal lovers will find it lacking in dirt and compression.


Pro Co RAT2 photo

In conclusion, I can only say one thing: this pedal will undoubtedly find its fans, even though it does not have any one unique quality. It's all about the range of its capabilities. It is definitely not suitable for heavy styles of music, but in grunge, classic rock Pro Co RAT2 sounds great. The proof of that is the fact that Kurt Cobain used it. And he's not the only one! Thom Yorke, James Hetfield, and David Gilmour are also among the users. If you take the time to experiment with its knobs, tune it, and play it back, the RAT2 will give you the credit you deserve. And taking into account its affordable price, I can put it in a worthy competitive place among other pedals.

Key specs
  • Controls: pedal switch, filter, volume, distortion.
  • Connectors: input jack: 1/4-inch, output jack: 1/4-inch, DC IN jack.
  • Power Supply: battery (9V), DC adaptor (9V).
  • Size (WxDxH), inch/cm: 3.5x4x2.5/8.8x10.1x6.3.
  • Weight oz/g: 32/907.

The Pro Co RAT2 provides classic distortion for a Fender guitar. It finds a balance somewhere between distortion and fuzz. Indeed, by turning the knob up, you can get one effect or the other, depending on what you’re playing. The filter is designed to regulate high and low frequencies. In my opinion and musical taste, it is perfect for Rock or Grunge.


How to make a Stratocaster sound heavy?

A Stratocaster can sound very heavy. You will need a good amplifier, where you should increase the bass and midrange and decrease the treble. It is also better to use a midrange or neck pickup for this purpose. Of course, you will need effect pedals such as distortion and noise gate. You should start by “unifying the gain” by turning the Level up so that the volume is the same with the pedal on and off, and then raise the gain/drive/distortion level until you are satisfied with the sound.

Is it possible to play with heavy gauge strings on a Fender Stratocaster?

Thick strings affect the guitar’s tone by producing lower frequencies and holding the tuning better. But these strings can also damage your guitar by deforming the neck or the bridge if used improperly or pulled too tight.

The Fender Stratocaster has an extended scale, an excellent, stable tremolo bridge with bent steel saddles, and a solid, modern C-shaped fingerboard made of maple with a 9.5″ radius that isn’t too tight. So in terms of its parameters, it meets the requirements for such gauge strings. But whether it’s necessary for this guitar is up to you to decide.

What musical styles can a Stratocaster play?

The Fender Stratocaster sound is recognizable, and in capable hands, the guitar produces tonal dexterity and expressive vibrato. All frequencies are clear and crisp, powerful, but not ringing. The pickups really do their job perfectly. The 5-step positioning allows you to achieve effects unavailable on other instruments. That’s why musicians of all genres use the Strat – it offers the widest range of possibilities. You can hear Rock, Blues, Jazz, Funky solos, and Country. It’s even capable of heavy styles (Metal and Hard Rock) if you add certain effects and amplification.

Metal guitarists who play Stratocaster

The Stratocaster has been and still is played by many celebrities, but if we are talking about Metal, it is Adrian Smith (Iron Maiden), Dave Murray (Iron Maiden), Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest), KK Downing (Judas Priest), Eddie Van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Jim Root (Slipknot).
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