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When does Overdrive become Distortion


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So is there that much difference between Distortion and Overdrive or are they the same thing just one is louder and more fuzzy than the other?

 

For me ive always thought that they were pretty much the same thing (as in the effect if you turn the distortion pedal down or an overdrive pedal up all the way? and thus both really do the same thing?).

 

Heres a vid I found that talks about this. What do you guys reckon?

 

I ask this as I have nearly always used built in amp overdrive and is one of the things I look for when I buy an amp, that it has a decent overdrive channel. But have been thinking about getting a new distitortion pedal recently so was looking into this. I like the fat JCM 800 Slash/Angus type sounds can anyone reccomend a decent priced pedal for that?

 

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After effects Reverb and Flanger for my guitars I would like to have overdrive.

It seems it is more melodious than distortion, but maybe I'm wrong, I'm not an expert in them.

Yes im much the same... I use a bit of reverb and distortion and thats usually it apart from the built in effects in my little digital four track that are limited.

 

I also wonder where a Fuzz pedal fits into all this too?

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Overdrive is used to push the amp into breakup, Distortion is already broken and used into a clean amp. Fuzz is like distortion but a different flavor to me mimics more of a speaker breakup than amp. With enough level they all could be used to punnish the front end of an amp.

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Overdrive is used to push the amp into breakup, Distortion is already broken and used into a clean amp. Fuzz is like distortion but a different flavor to me mimics more of a speaker brealup than amp. With enough level they all could be used to punnish the front end of an amp.

That makes alot of sense... Thanks :) [thumbup]

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So am I right in thinking that a good setup would be to use a distortion pedal for your general hi gain sound and then for instance use an overdrive pedal as a booster for solos? (since it retains some of the original sound at lower level settings)..

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The difference (as shown in the video) is significant. Same with fuzz pedals. To make things even more daunting, different OD pedals, distortion pedals and fuzz pedals will have different sounds also. That's part of the reason you'll see pedal boards with multiples of one or more type of box.

 

My large pedal board has a Hendrix Fuzz Face and a Dunlop Octavio (from the Hendrix line). Two very different effects (both fuzz, though to be fair, the Octavio also does octave). Also had my vintage Rat distortion pedal, though I've robbed it for my mid sized board. Also has two Tube Screamers, a TS 9 and a TS 808. I like them both, the difference is subtle. Sometimes I'll keep different settings on them for multiple options, sometimes I will run both, one driving the other.

 

My mid sized board has the borrowed Rat, an MXR Classic Distortion, and another two Tube Screamers. Not yet on a board is an MXR Custom Badass '78 Distortion (probably going on the large board as I re-think a few things there). This one is great at getting that 70's style cruch at lower volumes than we used to play at.

 

Which brings us to another point, amp volume. Your needs will likely change with amp selection and even with how hard you drive the amp. Back in the day, many of us would dime a Plexi and play away, no pedals required. But some were using early pedals even then. Times change. Sounds change. Amps change. All these pedals strive to give you options. Some go for mega distortion, some for the sweet crunch of a classic Marshall stack, and some just a little added bite.

 

In the end, it goes to what sound you want. Experimentation is often the best way to get to where you want to go. Trying a bunch of different pedals can help with that journey.

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So am I right in thinking that a good setup would be to use a distortion pedal for your general hi gain sound and then for instance use an overdrive pedal as a booster for solos? (since it retains some of the original sound at lower level settings)..

What type of stuff are you playing, and what is your rig?

 

An overdrive could work as a boost pedal, but you may need just a boost pedal (I have an MXR Micro Amp on my mid sized board, does JUST boost without effecting the sound, and does it very well). What sounds are you chasing?

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What type of stuff are you playing, and what is your rig?

 

An overdrive could work as a boost pedal, but you may need just a boost pedal (I have an MXR Micro Amp on my mid sized board, does JUST boost without effecting the sound, and does it very well). What sounds are you chasing?

Ive just got a small combo Marshall MG 15FX and a Mini Stack MG 15HFX and the only pedal I have is a Wha.. I have had some duing my playing years but lost them over time and these days I often play direclty into a Boss Micro Studio which has built in effects but they are limited which is why I have started thinking along these lines...

 

I dont play in a band at the moment but want to and as such want to be able to take my distortion with me in case I need to play through someones elses amp or something like that. And as said in my OP I like fat Slash/Angus JCM 800 sounds.. I play lots of stuff but love my hard rock.

 

And yes I always intended to go and try many, I just wanted a starting point from you kind and knowledgeable folk on here before I wade into the pedal world again :)

 

Also ive seen the pedals with built in tubes which really interests me, but will obviously cost way more.. So will look into those too. i.e. one of these

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A very interesting topic...and for many electric guitarists, pivotal to their sound and tone creativity...

 

IMO experimenting with whatever appeals is the best approach...there are so many variables to explore...

 

Natural amp overdrive is, for many the holy grail...having in itself many variables...

 

I have a Boss ME 70 multi-fx which has about 7 different O/D choices, including fuzz

 

Also outboard Big Muff and Metal are fun...always pre other fx like delay or phase/flange etc

 

Another 'wrinkle' can be to modify a pedal O/D with a multi-band EQ to tailor the frequency blend to taste

 

Lots of ways to have fun... [biggrin]

 

V

 

:-({|=

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And as said in my OP I like fat Slash/Angus JCM 800 sounds.. I play lots of stuff but love my hard rock.

 

Lol, got so tied up in writing my first reply, I forgot that line in the OP.

 

80's type rock sounds like your main goal. One I would strongly consider is the Proco Rat (born around 1982). A couple good Rat demos below (second one not in English, but they capture the sound well).

 

 

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Lol, got so tied up in writing my first replt, I forgot that line in the OP.

 

80's type rock sounds like your main goal. One I would strongly consider are the Proco Rat (born around 1982). A couple good Rat demos below (second one not in English, but they capture the sound well).

 

Very nice.. Thanks [thumbup]

 

I will check that out. I liked the second video. You cant see it but I bet hes playing a Les Paul :)

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I think having one of each pedal is a must, I generally run my SuperLead With a Zvex SHO in to an xotics AC boost into an EHX LPB1 for lead boost.

I can go clean to mean with about a 10%(15-20% with 90's) gain increase in the AC booster, I use the SHO set at about 10 o'Clock just to push up the output on my guitar, be it my LP with 90's or my SG with HB's.

Having three boost stages allows me to tailor my sound from Blues, to classic 60's rock, to Shreddy 80's Quasi Boogie mark V at the twist of a knob.

I drive My AC4TV with my Rat. and can do the same with that setup.

 

My 2 cents.

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The components in the pedal and the circuit design make a big difference in what they do and how well they do what they do........

 

Using an OD into a solid state amps really isn't practical.....Some ODs work well as distortion units, some distortions, but not many,

 

work well as ODs as well....A lot depends on the amp on is using....Throw boosters into the mix, and, well, it gets interesting...........

 

Some amps, including some tube Marshall, have distortion circuits in them....IMHO, it's important to know what really makes

 

a particular amp tick.........I'm still collecting ODs, Distortions, and fuzz boxes....I'm up to six pedal boards now...Catlinbread is

 

making some really fine and popular pedals...Check them out........But yeah, the basic premis is distortion works well into a clean

 

tube channel & slightly dirty channels, and ODs work well into clean, dirty, and already saturated tube channels...IMHO........

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The components in the pedal and the circuit design make a big difference in what they do and how well they do what they do........

 

Using an OD into a solid state amps really isn't practical.....Some ODs work well as distortion units, some distortions, but not many,

 

work well as ODs as well....A lot depends on the amp on is using....Throw boosters into the mix, and, well, it gets interesting...........

 

Some amps, including some tube Marshall, have distortion circuits in them....IMHO, it's important to know what really makes

 

a particular amp tick.........I'm still collecting ODs, Distortions, and fuzz boxes....I'm up to six pedal boards now...Catlinbread is

 

making some really fine and popular pedals...Check them out........But yeah, the basic premis is distortion works well into a clean

 

tube channel & slightly dirty channels, and ODs work well into clean, dirty, and already saturated tube channels...IMHO........

Cheers [thumbup] im getting some interesting info out of this

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They're two completely different things.

 

If you slash the speakers on your amplifier you'll get distortion. If you throw it out the window you'll get distortion. If you turn the volume up on your amp passed what your speakers/tubes are designed to handle, and it can no longer produce a clean signal i.e. you overdrive it, you'll get distortion.

 

Distortion is an effect and overdrive is just one of many ways to achieve it. An overdrive pedal overdrives the amp, and leaves the distortion up to the particular amplifier's break-up qualities. A distortion pedals imposes its own characteristic distortion on the signal, before it even reaches the amp. A Big Muff, for example, will sound relatively "Muff-esque" regardless of which amplifier it's played through. An overdrive pedal, however, won't sound the same on any two amps.

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It's also my understanding that an overdrive pedal pushes a breaking up valve amp whereas a distortion pedal alters the signal of a clean amp in order to simulate a fully cranked valve amp.

 

Harking back to an earlier point about picking, don't forget also that a valve amp can be set to the point of breaking up and then you can roll off the guitar volume pot to clean up your tone (or reduce your playing volume by picking more lightly to get that clean tone.) Alternatively, with a two pickup, two volume guitar you can set the guitar's pots so that you can use the pup selector switch to choose between your cleaner and your dirtier tone, rather than rolling off. Turn things up further on the amp and using the roll off/selector switch trick you can, insead, select between a dirty rhythm tone and a more fully saturated lead tone. All this without pedals so far. However, if you add an OD in to the same equation then you can set the amp for the break up point to use as your rhythm tone and then roll off/switch pups to get your clean tone while you use the OD pedal to push either option further. I think a distortion pedal is useful to add to an OD in your board because it allows you to play a range of types of music very readily- usually using the OD pedal as described above when playing classic/hard rock/dirty blues and then a distortion pedal for metal (which, as a genre, often involves switching between very clean and very distorted passages

 

Amps with multiple channels/gain stages provide a lot of flexibility but you can certainly use a range of pedals with a very simple, one channel amp that has a great clean tone, rather than buying a very, very expensive multi-channel/gain stage amp.

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Good reply's here and like its been said already...

 

Overdrive is just turning up the volume and is best described by looking at a class A or a tube amp that don't have a lot of pre-amp gain. Your just pushing the signal to the point of breaking up the whole amp by running it at max out-put level.

 

Distortion is changing polarities before you get to the out-put gain, you have a lot more control at low level with distortion then with an amp that you have to run practically wide open to get some dirt.

 

They both have there prospective places for some sound's, ie with hard-core metal you want mega distortion, on the other hand with classic rock you may be better off with a cranked up (naked) tube amp.

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