Fender Pugilist Distortion – Is It Good? [REVIEW]

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Fender Pugilist Distortion review

If you’re wondering if Fender Pugilist Distortion is a good pedal or not, don’t worry – you’ve come to the right place! In today’s in-depth review, I’m going to take a close look on that affordable guitar effect. Surely, it’s a really popular distortion pedal, but is it actually that good?

The truth is that Fender Pugilist Distortion is an extremely versatile pedal. Since it’s a dual overdrive and distortion effect, it gives you access to a huge amount of different tones. It’s definitely worth the money, there’s no doubt with that!

Let’s dive deeper with research to find out why so many guitarists decide to add this pedal to their pedalboards. Firstly, we’ll have a look at the specs and the main advantages of that effect. Of course there will be a few sound demos included too, so you’ll be able to hear how it sounds!

Specs & Pricing

Fender Pugilist Distortion review

The Pugilist Distortion is one of the most popular and most affordable overdrive/distortion pedals manufactured by Fender. The pedal offers a completely original drive circuit designed by this legendary brand.

What makes it so cool? Well, this innovative pedal features two gain stages – each one of them has its own tone control. You can either run these stages in series or in parallel, so as you can imagine – that opens a lot of tonal possibilities.

There’s also a bass boost switch, which is a massive advantage for those guitarists who own guitars with thin sounding pickups. Whether you’re looking for a subtle overdrive or a punchy and powerful distortion, this pedal is for you.

It is also worth mentioning that the Pugilist Distortion also has a really good looking and durable construction. Surely, a lot musicians will appreciate the overall aesthetic and the durability of that effect.

When it comes to pricing, it’s actually one of the most affordable pedals made by Fender. It’s not as cheap as some of the Chinese-made overdrive and distortion effects that you can find on the market, but it’s definitely far better and far more versatile. That’s why it’s worth the money!

Here’s the sound demo – feel free to check it out.

Who Is It For?

Fender Pugilist Overdrive is recommended for both amateur and more intermediate guitarists. No matter how advanced you are, you will definitely enjoy the high quality and versatility of this pedal.

Since it’s a really versatile effect, it can be used in the vast majority of music genres. Whether you’re looking for a subtle overdrive for blues music or a punchy distortion for grunge and metal, the Pugilist won’t disappoint you.

It is also worth mentioning that this effect also features a very solid construction, so it’s a perfect choice for all gigging musicians. Honestly, all Fender pedals are made like bricks, so it’s really difficult to break them. That’s why they’re ideal for live performances and touring with your band!

Overall, Fender Pugilist Distortion is a fantastic guitar effect. It’s not too expensive, so any guitarist should be able to afford it. Considering how versatile and great sounding it is, it is safe to say that there’s a high chance that you’ll fall in love with it.

Here’s an another sound demo.

Disadvantages Of Fender Pugilist Distortion

Although Fender Pugilist Distortion is generally a great guitar pedal, it has its own disadvantages as well. Here’s what you need to know about the potential flaws of that effect.

Firstly, if you’re searching for an extremely powerful distortion for heavy riffs, this may not be the best fit for you. It’s more like a Blues Driver, so although it’s really versatile, it’s not perfect for such genres as heavy metal and death metal.

Additionally, if you decide to use it with the batteries, be aware that they usually run out of power pretty rapidly. That being said, it’s way better to use a regular pedalboard power supply rather than the batteries.

Also, it will take you a while to find a guitar tone that suits you. Many guitarists get discouraged because they are not able to find a good sound out of it right away. Just make sure to spend some time and try all of the settings that you can. You’ll definitely find the tone that you love!

Undoubtedly, the advantages of Fender Pugilist Distortion definitely outweigh the disadvantages of that pedal. It will be really tough to find something better and more versatile at this price level. That’s why I highly recommend checking it out!

Fender Pugilist Distortion vs Santa Ana Overdrive

santa ana overdrive

Many guitarists wonder if Fender Pugilist Distortion is better than Fender Santa Ana Overdrive. To be honest, it’s really difficult to pick a clear winner of that fight – both of these pedals are awesome.

In comparison with the Pugilist Distortion, the Santa Ana Overdrive is a bit more expensive. It may be a better option for guitarists who don’t necessarily want to play with high-gain. But again, it all depends on your own personal preferences.

Here’s the direct comparison of both of these amps – feel free to check it out below.

Would I Get It?

Yes, I would be really happy to keep this guitar pedal in my pedalboard! This is a great piece of gear and considering that it’s not that expensive, it definitely deserves a lot of attention.

I just love the fact that it’s pretty much like having two different overdrive and distortion pedals in one box. The versatility of the Pugilist is amazing and it’s the main factor that makes it a killer pedal.

I have no hesitation in recommending this effect to all guitarists who are searching for a good and reliable overdrive/distortion pedal. There’s a really high chance that it’s going to last you for years to come.

Are There Any Alternatives?

If you don’t like the sound of Fender Pugilist Distortion, don’t worry – that’s totally fine! Not everyone has to love it. Thankfully, the market is full of great and affordable overdrive and distortion pedals.

Here’s a few alternative options that you should definitely check out too.

alternative options

Firstly, I highly recommend checking out my review of BOSS DS1 and BOSS DS2. These are two of the best and most popular distortion pedals available on the market. They’re loved by a lot of professional musicians and they’re definitely worth the money!

Alternatively, you can also check out my list of 8 Best Distortion Pedals Under $100. Most of the effects mentioned on that list are really cheap and although they’re not as good as the Pugilist Distortion, they’re definitely worth checking out.

If you love overdrive and distortion, you can also check out my list of 10 Best Amps For Distortion & Overdrive. Getting a new amp that offers a powerful distortion is definitely a good option for those who love punchy guitar riffs!

But like I mentioned before, Fender Pugilist Distortion has everything that you need from a pedal of this type. It’s extremely versatile and it will be really tough to beat its quality, especially at this price level.


As you can see, Fender Pugilist Distortion is a really good sounding and versatile pedal. I’m sure that if you decide to add it to your own pedalboard, you will be fully satisfied with your choice. Although there are a lot of other pedals of this type available on the market, this one certainly stands out from the competition.

What do you think about the Pugilist model? Do you think that it’s worth it? Leave a comment down below and let me know what you think, I’m really interested to hear your thoughts!