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10 Best Pedals For Grunge & Alternative Rock

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best pedals for grunge and alternative rock

If you’re looking for some of the best and most affordable pedals for grunge and alternative rock, don’t worry – you’ve come to the right place! In today’s in-depth guide, I’m going to highlight some of the coolest effects for these genres of music.

The truth is that finding the right pedals for this kind of music isn’t that simple. There are hundreds of different effects out there, so it’s really easy to get lost – especially if you’re just an amateur.

That’s why I decided to create a list of 10 best pedals for grunge and alternative rock! Feel free to check them all out below. I built this list based on my own experience – I tried all of the pedals mentioned on that list. Hopefully, this guide will be really helpful!

1. Fender Pugilist Distortion

Fender Pugilist is a really affordable and great sounding distortion pedal suitable for the most demanding guitarists out there. In my opinion, this is a really underrated pedal – not many people are aware of how good it actually is.

What makes it so special? Well, it’s extremely versatile! The Pugilist is a dual overdrive and distortion pedal, so it’s basically like having two separate pedals in one box. It also has a bass boost, so it can help you if your pickups sound too thin.

The Pugilist gives you access to a lot of amazing tones, so whether you’re looking for a subtle overdrive or a punchy and aggressive distortion, it won’t disappoint you. Surely, it will be a perfect choice for any enthusiast of grunge or alternative rock music.

On top of that, the Pugilist is built like a brick, so it will be really difficult to break it. It’s a perfect choice for any gigging musician. I’ve been using quite a few Fender pedals throughout the years and honestly, their durability is absolutely amazing.

It is also worth mentioning that this is a actually a pretty affordable effect. It’s not the cheapest distortion pedal on the market, but considering how versatile and great sounding it is – it’s definitely worth every cent.

Here’s a quick demo.

2. BOSS DS-2

BOSS DS-2 is one of the most popular distortion pedals of all time. It was frequently used by Kurt Cobain and it still plays a crucial role for such guitarists as John Frusciante, Steve Vai, Matthew Bellamy and many more! As you can imagine, it’s a killer effect.

The DS-2 features two amazing turbo modes: warm and mild with flat frequency response, or screaming and hard with mid-boost. This means that this is an extremely versatile distortion effect that can be used not only for grunge, but also for alternative rock, hard rock and metal.

What’s important, the DS-2 isn’t overly expensive either. And even if it’s too expensive for you, you can also check out the BOSS DS-1 – it’s way cheaper and it sounds really similar, although it doesn’t have these turbo modes.

Undoubtedly, BOSS DS-2 is one of the best distortion pedals for grunge and alternative rock. I have no hesitation in recommending this effect to everyone who’s looking for a great sounding effect of this type.

Here’s the demo.

3. Pro Co RAT2

Pro Co RAT2 is an another legendary distortion pedal used by a lot of guitarists all around the world. It’s an another safe bet and it’s a perfect pedal grunge and alternative music.

What makes it so cool? Well, it gives you access to a hard-clipping distortion! It’s extremely versatile, so it can be used as a subtle and sweet overdrive or a fat and aggressive fuzz-like tone. Also, it’s very easy to use thanks to the three controls: Distortion, Filter and Volume.

It is also worth mentioning that the RAT2 is built like a brick, so it’s really difficult to break it. This is a really important feature, especially if you play in a band and you play gigs from time to time. Surely, if you decide to add it to your own pedalboard, it will last you for years to come.

Just like the Fender Pugilist Distortion and Boss DS-2, the Pro Co RAT2 is quite affordable. Again, it’s not the cheapest pedal in the world, but it’s still really affordable, especially when you consider how legendary and great sounding it is. That being said, it’s definitely worth the money!

Here’s the demo.

4. Walrus Audio Julianna

Walrus Audio Julianna is one of the best and most versatile chorus pedals available on the market right now. It’s an absolutely amazing effect which gives you access to a lot of unique modulated tones.

It allows you to continuously blend between dry, chorus, and vibrato sounds, so whether you’re searching for a subtle chorus tone or something a bit more experimental, this pedal will be a fantastic fit for you.

The only disadvantage of the famous Julianna is the fact that it’s quite expensive. It’s significantly more expensive than other chorus pedals available on the market, but trust me – it’s totally worth that amount of money.

Undoubtedly, this is one of the best chorus pedals out there. It will be perfect for grunge and alternative rock music, but it will also work well in shoegaze, dream pop and indie. I’m sure that a lot of you will immediately fall in love with it!

Here’s the demo.

5. Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi

Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi is an another extremely popular pedal among the grunge guitar players. In fact, it’s one of the most iconic fuzz pedals of all time. It was frequently used by such guitarists as Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana, so as you can imagine – it’s pretty good!

What makes it so special? Well, the Big Muff Pi is extremely fun to play with and it’s very powerful. It has a really dirty sound, so it’s perfect for producing amazing overtones and harmonics. Additionally, it’s really easy to use and it’s quite flexible, so you can easily access the tone and sustain.

When it comes to pricing, let’s be honest – it’s not the cheapest fuzz pedal in the world. But considering how iconic it is, it’s definitely worth every cent. In my opinion, this fuzz pedal is actually underpriced!

Undoubtedly, if you like the music of Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins or Soundgarden, you should definitely consider adding this pedal to your own pedalboard. There’s a really high chance that you’re going to love it! It’s definitely one of the best pedals for grunge and alternative rock.

Here’s the demo.

6. Ibanez TS808

Ibanez TS808 is an another iconic pedal suitable for the most demanding guitarists out there. The sound of that effect is not as dirty as in the Big Muff Pi, but it still offers a fantastic value for the money.

It’s a perfect choice for anyone who’s looking for a classic tube-like overdrive. It may not be enough to get that classic and dirty grunge sound, but it will still spice up your tone a little bit. Surely, it’s one of the best tube screamers out there.

The only disadvantage of the TS808 is the price – it’s not a cheap overdrive effect. However, it’s definitely worth every cent, especially when you think of how many legendary artists used it on a daily basis. It was popularized by Stevie Ray Vaughan, so as you can imagine – that says a lot about it.

Undoubtedly, Ibanez TS808 is one of the best overdrive pedals that you can choose for grunge and alternative rock music. It’s a safe bet, so there’s an extremely high chance that it will be one of your favorites.

Here’s a quick sound demo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgsRbDcLEd4&t=8s

7. Behringer SF300

Behringer SF300 is one of the cheapest fuzz pedals available on the market. It’s a budget pedal, but it offers a surprisingly good value for the money. It may not be as good as some of the other fuzz pedals mentioned on today’s list, but honestly, you won’t be able to find anything better at this price level.

The manufacturer equipped this pedal with three individual fuzz modes: classic fuzz, grunge and gain boost. What’s more, the SF300 also has a 2-band EQ and individual gain and level controls. As you can imagine, it gives you the ability to shape your favorite fuzz tone.

I have to admit that I tried using a lot of Behringer pedals in the past and they were always really good. They’re not ideal, but they do the job very well. The only disadvantage of these pedals is that they’re usually made of cheap plastic, so they’re not that durable.

Who is it for? Well, if you’re on a tight budget and you don’t want to spend too much money on new gear, this fuzz pedal will be perfect for you. It will definitely help you achieve that classic grunge tone.

Here’s a quick sound demo.

8. Fender Marine Layer Reverb

Fender Marine Layer Reverb is a high quality reverb pedal designed for the most demanding guitarists out there. I’m a proud owner of that effect and it takes a really important place in my own signal chain. It’s one of my favorite reverb pedals of all time!

The pedal features three reverb modes: Hall, Room and Shimmer. All of them are great, but I particularly enjoy using the hall reverb mode. In my opinion, it’s one of the best reverb pedals for alternative rock that you can possibly add to your pedalboard.

It is also worth mentioning that just like the Fender Pugilist Distortion mentioned a bit earlier, the Marine Layer Reverb is built like a brick. It’s extremely durable, so it should last you for years to come. Surely, it will be really difficult to break it, even during some crazy live performances with your band.

Overall, I have no hesitation in recommending this pedal to all guitarists who are searching for a great sounding reverb pedal. It exceeds all the expectations and it’s actually not that expensive.

Here’s my quick video review. Also, feel free to subscribe to my channel – there are a lot of other pedal and guitar reviews in there!

9. BOSS CE-2W

BOSS CE-2W is an another amazing chorus pedal designed for the most demanding guitarists out there. This particular model is a part of the Waza Craft Series, so it offers a very high quality. For those who aren’t aware, this is an upgraded version of the legendary BOSS CE-1 and CE-2 pedals.

The CE-2W gives you access to a lot of fantastic chorus sounds. It allows you to easily switch between the tone of CE-1 and CE-2. Additionally, it allows you to control the chorus rate and depth. The tonal possibilities with that thing are just endless!

When it comes to pricing, this isn’t exactly a cheap pedal. Just like all the other effects from the Waza Craft Series, it tends to be quite expensive. However, it’s not overpriced at all. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend a little bit more in order to get a piece of gear which is simply exceptional.

Surely, this is a great alternative option for those who aren’t interested in getting the Walrus Audio Julianna mentioned earlier. It exceeds all the expectations and it’s definitely one of the best chorus pedals for grunge and alternative rock.

Here’s the demo.

10. Fender The Pelt Fuzz

Fender The Pelt Fuzz is an another excellent pedal manufactured by this legendary brand. This is a silicon fuzz effect, so it has a really edgy and bright sounding fuzz tone. It sounds a bit differently than the BOSS DS-2 or Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

I have to admit that this is actually one of my favorite fuzz pedals of all time. I’m personally using it in my own pedalboard and I can confirm that it’s extremely versatile. Whether you’re into grunge, indie, emo or alt-rock, you will definitely benefit from adding this effect to your signal chain.

Additionally, The Pelt isn’t overly expensive and it’s extremely durable just like all the other Fender pedals mentioned on today’s list. Surely, it will last you for years to come, even if you decide to use it during the live performances or tours with your band.

Undoubtedly, Fender The Pelt Fuzz is one of the best fuzz pedals for grunge and alternative rock. I have no hesitation in recommending this effect to all musicians who are looking for a high quality pedal of this type.

Here’s the sound demo.

My Thoughts (As an alternative rock band member)

If you’re on my blog for the first time, you probably don’t know that I’m a vocalist and guitarist in a band called The Coastline.

We played dozens of gigs and to be honest, quite often I used some of the pedals mentioned on today’s list. That includes:

  • The Pelt Fuzz
  • Marine Layer Reverb
  • Walrus Julia/Julianna
  • Fender Pugilist Distortion

I tested all of these effects not only on rehearsals but also during live shows. And trust me – they all sounded great! So if you’re on a similar level as a musician and you’re looking for something new to your pedalboard, there’s a high chance that you’ll love some of these pedals.

But.. (there always has to be a but) it doesn’t mean that these are the only pedals that you should consider. Honestly, there are so many great ones out there! But I can 100% guarantee that the ones that I mentioned are absolutely top level. I’m sure that you’ll agree that these are some of the best pedals for grunge and alternative rock.

Summary

As you can see, there are a lot of fantastic and inexpensive pedals suitable for grunge and alternative rock music. I’m sure that if you decide to choose at least one of the effects mentioned above, you won’t be disappointed!

Which pedals do you think are best for grunge and alternative rock music? Leave a comment down below and let me know what you think, I’m really interested to hear your thoughts about it!

Thanks for checking out today’s guide, hopefully it was helpful and you found what you were hoping to find. If you enjoyed this article and you’re searching for more gear recommendations, you may also like: