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There are a huge number of mini distortion pedals on the market for you to choose from.
We’ve rounded up the best mini distortion pedals that don’t break the bank.
We all love a good list of fun pedals, but we also know that real estate on your pedalboard is precious. Mini-sized pedals have become very popular lately to help you get the maximum tone out of the smallest possible pedal size.
While you certainly can’t cram the same functionality of a fully-featured delay or complex reverb into a mini-pedal, distortion, fuzz, and overdrive effects are now frequently being “downsized” into these miniature boxes.
The Timmy overdrive is a boutique modern classic overdrive pedal that has loads of fans in the guitar community.
Originally designed and hand-built by Paul Cochrane, the Timmy has become harder and harder to find in recent years as demand for the pedal sharply increased. Paul Cochrane being just one guy was unable to keep up, leading to long wait times for new pedals and high prices on the used market. Paul teamed up with MXR this year to bring the Timmy to the masses in an affordable and tiny package, and guitarists everywhere rejoiced.
The Timmy is described as a transparent overdrive pedal that gives you the sustain and bite you need without changing the character of your original guitar tone. The MXR Timmy is based on the most current V3 edition, and according to MXR, it nails the same transparent but full character of the original Timmy.
I’ve never owned an original, but I own one of the MXRs, and I can attest to the fact that this pedal sounds awesome and is more useful than pedals twice the price (and size).
While the terms “transparent” and “amp-like” might sound like every other overdrive pedal on the market, the Timmy stands out for a couple of reasons. First, the EQ section is incredibly versatile and unique. Both the bass and treble controls are cuts, allowing you to filter out the high and low end from your signal to focus the sound.
But it doesn’t just stop there. In the circuit, the bass cut is placed before the clipping/gain stage and the treble cut is placed after the gain stage. This is different to most other pedals where the EQ section is always post-gain. What this means is that you can get an incredibly focused and tight sounding drive by reducing the bass before it gets distorted, and you can avoid fizziness by having the treble cut after the distortion is applied.
But that’s not all! The Timmy also has a 3-way toggle switch that actually changes the clipping diodes, giving you 3 more distinct flavors of overdrive style. These range from super transparent boosted sounds to more amp-like asymmetric clipping.
From my experience, the only “drawback” I’ve found in it is that the overall volume is relatively low until you get to about 2-3 o’clock (at which point it really gets loud!). This may cause some problems for some players depending on their setup.
To be fair, MXR has taken an incredibly rare boutique pedal and made it both affordable and accessible to anyone. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop transparent overdrive that doesn’t break the bank or your pedalboard space, the new MXR Timmy is a great option!
2. Outlaw Effects Lock Stock and Barrel Distortion (Best Budget)
3-Mode Distortion Pedal Converts your clean tone into the powerful, saturated grit that you'd hear from a vintage, high-wattage tube amp. Go from classic crunch tones to tighter, more modern high-gain sounds.
Outlaw Effects make a variety of cool miniature pedals covering most popular guitar effects, but the Lock Stock and Barrel distortion really stands out for its versatility.
The Lock Stock and Barrel essentially is 3 different distortion pedals crammed into one small package!
The pedal features the standard volume, gain, and tone knobs found on virtually any distortion or overdrive pedal on the market, but also features a three-way switch at the top marked Lock, Stock, and Barrel. Each mode gives the pedal a totally unique distortion style, giving you a huge range of tones in one tiny silver box.
“Lock” mode is an organic and amp-like distortion tone, perfect for almost any genre. This mode gives you a profile that’s reminiscent of a Classic Marshall cranked up into full saturation. It’s definitely gritty, but still gives you great note definition and a fair amount of “hair” to your distorted tone.
The “stock” mode is a tighter and higher gain distortion, which works well for more modern styles of music and might even be good for some types of metal. Having said this, I wouldn’t say this pedal is really aimed at metal, but Outlaw also makes the Widow Maker specifically for metal distortion tones.
The “barrel” mode is a classic distortion tone, with plenty of gain and a high amount of note definition that makes it perfect for lead guitar shredding.
The Lock Stock and Barrel definitely takes the cake for versatility in a mini package. While the overall sound might not be as “unique” or different as some other pedal maker’s offerings, you’d be hard-pressed to find a mini pedal with this much versatility at this price point.
Suhr is well known for their boutique guitars and amplifiers, but they also make some great pedals. The Riot Mini Distortion packs the same high-gain distortion sounds found in their original Riot pedal in a tiny package.
Sonically, the Riot can go anywhere from creamy mid-gain overdrive to all-out high-gain mayhem. But it always stays responsive and controlled, like plugging into a high-gain 100-watt amp. It never gets tubby or loose sounding and really does sound like a fully cranked amplifier.
The Riot mini features the classic three-knob controls you know and love, but also features a two-position voicing switch. This changes the clipping styles from a vintage high gain sound to a more modern clipping sound.
The overall character is that of a high-gain American style amp, so if you’re looking for something with heaps of distortion that still sounds responsive and tight, the Suhr Riot mini is a great choice.
Xotic has been in the mini pedal market for years, making great sounding pedals that typically fall into the utility category, such as their EP booster and SP compressor.
The SL drive adds to that family as a mini overdrive pedal that is designed to sound like a “classic British tube amp” AKA a cranked Marshall. They successfully packed the tone and spirit of some massive tones into a tiny package with the SL drive.
While the SL drive looks like a fairly simple 3-knob overdrive on the surface, the pedal features internal dip switches that allow you to fine-tune the response of the pedal. By doing this, you can get Super Lead-esque tones or Super Bass sounds, which makes this pedal a versatile overdrive option for bass guitar as well.
Overall the tone on the SL drive is everything you’d expect from a Marshall-in-a-box pedal, with those classic rock sounds that make you wanna windmill like Pete Townshend!
The SL is also very touch responsive, and you can alter the tone a great bit by dialing back the volume on your guitar itself, which adds to its overall versatility. The pedal can also be powered by an 18V adapter to give you extra headroom and clarity if you need it.
The SL drive is an affordable and useful overdrive pedal that can give you all of the classic rock style tones you could ever need without taking up hardly any space on your pedalboard. With a nod to the heritage of great guitar sounds of the past, the SL drive can function as a perfect second stage overdrive for your pedalboard, or as a specific emulation for songs where you just need that classic Marshall crunch sound.
Complete with the classic green paint job, and three simple knobs to dial in a wide range of tones, you'll be primed for tonal excellence with the Ibanez Tube Screamer Mini overdrive pedal in your guitar rig.
While many of the pedals on this list try to emulate certain amplifiers or are essentially “unique” circuits that have been downsized, the Ibanez tube screamer mini doesn’t really need any explanation. It’s the same classic TS808 style overdrive tones you know and love in a smaller package, and doesn’t pretend to be anything else.
The Tube Screamer mini features the now ubiquitous three-knob layout of the classic tube screamer.
The TS-mini also features true bypass switching (unlike original and re-issue TS808s), which makes it the perfect overdrive pedal to put on your board without taking up any real estate. There’s a reason the Tube Screamer is so popular, because it just sounds so good, and having an option that takes up half the space means you can have more space for different effects.
Some users of the Tube Screamer, such as Trey Anastasio of Phish, actually use 2 Tube Screamers side-by-side to have a “low gain” and “high gain” setting. With the TS-mini you can emulate that same sound while only taking up the real estate of one full-sized tube screamer.
If you’re looking for the classic overdrive sounds of countless blues and rock legends, the Tube Screamer Mini is a great pedal that doesn’t take up any major real estate and will give you a plethora of useful and classic overdrive sounds.
When I first saw the Wampler Tumnus I laughed out loud at the cheeky naming strategy, and immediately knew what the pedal was going to be without even reading the description. The Tumnus is Wampler‘s take on the legendary Klon Centaur overdrive, with a playful CS Lewis reference for its name to presumably not get sued for cloning the Klon.
The Tumnus doesn’t deviate from the stylings and transparent sound of the Klon, but puts the legendary tones within reach of normal guitarists. This is greatly appreciated as prices for the now discontinued original at shockingly high and continuously rising. While there are plenty of different “klones” out there on the market, the Tumnus is a great option for a couple of reasons.
Klon style pedals are generally regarded as the gold standard (both figuratively and literally) of a transparent overdrive. This means that they don’t have a ton of gain on tap. But that’s because they’re really only supposed to help you take your own guitar and amp combo into its own natural overdrive, almost acting as a clean boost to your own signal (but with a little bit of its own mystical mojo).
The Tumnus nails this, and takes things further by giving you a nice amount of overall gain to take you from light and subtle to raging but still tight overdrive tones. This makes it a great pedal to stack with other distortion pedals, and also makes it a great “sonic enhancer” in general.
The Tumnus takes the legendary and hard-to-access stylings of the Klon Centaur and puts it in a pedalboard-friendly package, with rock-solid construction from Wampler that you know won’t die on you in the middle of a gig.
The Tumnus also features buffered bypass switching just like the original Klon. I am a little bummed that the current Tumnus pedals don’t feature a Centaur graphic anymore, but in terms of nailing the Klon sound on a budget, the Tumnus can’t be beaten.
The Fuzz Face Mini pedal line features legendary Fuzz Face tones in smaller, more pedalboard-friendly housings with several modern appointments: true bypass switching, a bright status LED, an AC power jack, and a convenient battery door.
While most of these pedals have all fit into the new “mini” standard pedal enclosure, Dunlop’s mini Fuzz Face reissues don’t quite match in terms of size. They are, however, certainly more compact than the original Fuzz Face pedals.
The Fuzz Face Mini is a faithful recreation of the classic Fuzz Face circuit originally made by Dallas Arbiter. They even come in multiple “flavors”; you’ll find Fuzz Face Mini pedals in different colors which are modeled on different eras of the iconic fuzz pedal.
In terms of sound, the Fuzz Face is typically associated with the guitar tone of Jimi Hendrix and other late 60s blues and rock artists. This gives you loud and aggressive tones without losing your note clarity. The controls couldn’t get any simpler, with one knob for fuzz amount and one knob for output level. But the simplicity of the controls here is made up for by the extremely responsive nature of this pedal.
You can change your tone based on pick attack, and the pedals also clean up very nicely with your volume knob, allowing you to get overdriven type tones and all-out fuzz with the twist of your onboard volume knob.
As I previously mentioned, one of the best things about the Fuzz Face Mini is that it comes in multiple different models to give you even more variants without taking up too much space. The “red” germanium model is based on the original mid 60s Fuzz Face with, you guessed it, germanium transistors for a more vintage tone. The “blue” silicon model features a more aggressive and treble-heavy drive sound based on models from the late 60s and early 70s.
There are also two different Jimi Hendrix models. One is based on his “classic” early 60s tone and the other is based on his later “Band of Gypsys” guitar sound from 1969. With all of these options and a relatively similar price range across all models, there’s certainly a Fuzz Face for everyone. It’s also worth noting that they all feature true bypass switching, and the overall build quality is seriously rock-solid.
While Jimi Hendrix’s massive fuzz tone is well known and associated with his use of the Fuzz Face pedal, another one of his famous sounds is the “octave” fuzz sound that he achieved using the Roger Mayer Octavia pedal.
While original Octavias are prohibitively hard to find (and absolutely space-age looking), Dunlop has now put the legendary octave fuzz sounds of Hendrix in an affordable mini pedal with the Octavio.
The Octavio features a super simple control set, much like a Fuzz Face, though sonically the Octavio sounds much more aggressive and gritty, which is kind of the point. The harmonized octave up sound is both classic Hendrix and can also be useful in other “heavier” genres.
One awesome feature of the new Octavio is the ability to turn the “octave up” effect on and off, which doubles the effectiveness of the pedal. You can use this for super gnarly riffing, or use the octave off mode as a “standard” fuzz pedal.
The one drawback, which is understandable considering the overall price-point and size of the pedal, is the lack of an option for putting the octave on/off on a footswitch. The mini-button at the top of the pedal would certainly be pretty hard to tap on the fly during a performance, but it is at least LED backlit and the button latches so you know it’s engaged.
The Octavio pedal is a part of a really cool all mini-pedal line showcasing the most popular effects used by Jimi Hendrix. Other great mini effects in this series include two limited edition Fuzz Faces and a Univibe, so you can effectively get your Hendrix on with a fully miniature pedalboard!
I’m somewhat surprised that more boutique pedal makers haven’t really jumped onto the mini pedal game. The Mini Foot Fuzz from JHS is one of only a few mini pedals in their lineup. But while it looks small and unassuming, the tone is absolutely massive.
While the Mini Foot Fuzz doesn’t claim to be “emulating” any sort of specific fuzz design, its two-knob control and silicon transistors certainly sound like a recipe for a great sounding pedal.
While you can definitely get late 60s fuzz tones reminiscent of a Fuzz Face, the pedal takes it a step further by adding a two-way gain toggle switch, which gives you two very unique sounds.
Flick the toggle to the left (plus) and you get a pretty “standard” higher gain fuzz tone, but it does clean up pretty well with volume adjustments.
The right (minus) mode gives you splatty, glitchy, and almost gated fuzz tones. It’s somewhat reminiscent of using a dying battery in a guitar pedal, but without the inherent fear that the pedal will actually die on you! So even though the Mini Foot is small, it’s definitely got some versatile sounds built-in.
If you’re looking for a fun and simple fuzz pedal that allows you to go from splatty lead tones to big crunchy rhythms, the Mini Foot Fuzz is a fantastic option that won’t break the bank for a boutique pedal and won’t take up too much space. Plus if anything goes wrong with it you’ve got real humans to talk to who can fix the pedal, since JHS is a boutique company that stands behind the build quality of their products.
This silicon fuzz has a rich subby ripping texture with aggressive midrange and plenty of volume. Your Fuzzolo has two knobs, one controlling Volume and the other controlling Pulse Width, which sweeps between square wave and a narrow/wide pulse shape.
Surprisingly, the Fuzzolo from ZVex does not combine a fuzz and a tremolo, but you would be forgiven for thinking that based on its name. While this would be an awesome combination, the Fuzzolo is equally impressive because it takes the absolutely massive fuzz sounds found in Zvex’s popular Mastotron and Wooly Mammoth pedals and puts it in a mini package.
The Fuzzolo features a simple control set, but not exactly what you’d expect, leading to a much more unique sound profile than other simple fuzz boxes. The “volume” control on the pedal is actually an output volume control, which leaves your overall gain shaping to your guitar’s volume knob. So in this case, the volume on the pedal essentially controls how hard you want to pummel your amp with fuzzy goodness.
The other control is called “pulse width,” which essentially changes the type of fuzz that is applied to the clean signal, ranging from a splatty and gated fuzz tone all the way to smooth and creamy fuzzy goodness.
Because the Fuzzolo doesn’t have any tone controls or any sort of tone adjustments internally, the pedal has a very deep and wide overall response. This also makes the pedal a fantastic fuzz for bass guitar, and the pedal even features an internal jumper to accommodate passive or active pickups that are typically found on basses. You could also use that jumper if your guitar has active pickups, which is a nifty feature that isn’t found on any other pedal I’ve seen.
All in all, the Fuzzolo packs a unique and huge sound into a small package, and like all Zvex pedals, they feature a hand-painted enclosure by Zachary Vex himself. The pedal also comes with a lifetime warranty, so you know you’re getting a quality product. If nothing else on this list has piqued your interest yet, or you’re just looking for something more unique than your standard “fuzz” pedal, the Fuzzolo is a fantastic option!