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Old 03-29-2013, 08:36 AM   #21
gerraguitar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave_Mc

it is semantics to a certain extent, but at the same time if you know you hate skimmed milk, getting a whole bunch of recommendations for skimmed milk when you want whole is pretty silly. Ditto with pedals. if someone wants a low gain overdrive and someone recommends they buy a metal zone because "it's all just clipping", then that's a bit silly IMO.


I agree with it being semantics. Not to start an even deeper discussion but I might just be off with my interpretation, but how about some of those pedals that can "do" both. You know how some say when you turn down a Rat's gain it can act OD-like. Whether or not it's true isn't really the point, I realize when you turn the gain down on a distortion pedal it does not turn into an OD, I think I've heard people say the same about the Dist +. I don't know shit about the whole clipping thing, is it clipping less when they turn down? Or are they not as frequent? I don't know, maybe I'm confusing myself. One of the reasons why I tend to stay clear of tech stuff, it just doesn't compute.
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Old 03-29-2013, 09:02 AM   #22
tubetime86
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Originally Posted by tas38
It's kinda like asking what's the difference between whole milk and skim milk.

As far as I know, it's not even that defined. I don't know a lot about milk, but I believe you can 'analyze' milk and determine if it is skim or whole based on the fat content... How would you 'analyze' a pedal to determine if it is an overdrive or distortion? Simply listening isn't good enough, that's too subjective to be concrete. I've heard people allude to a circuit design difference between the two, but from what I understand there are exceptions to that rule on both sides. Until someone proves different I still say they are purely marketing terms.

Sure there are 'high gain' and 'low gain' drive pedals (using 'drive' to encompass the whole category here, the fact that I have to say that just goes to show how bad the terminology is) but most have 'gain' (another misnomer) knobs so what happens when you take a 'distortion' pedal and turn down the 'gain?' Is it now an overdrive? The Rat is a perfect example. I think it does the full range, and does it well.

At the end of the day guitarists just need to understand that we've bastardized most of the technical terms that apply to our gear. There are countless examples, several of which are above, and it all just proves that the terminology used by guitarists is completely driven by the marketing departments at major companies like Roland.
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Old 03-29-2013, 12:44 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by gerraguitar
I agree with it being semantics. Not to start an even deeper discussion but I might just be off with my interpretation, but how about some of those pedals that can "do" both. You know how some say when you turn down a Rat's gain it can act OD-like. Whether or not it's true isn't really the point, I realize when you turn the gain down on a distortion pedal it does not turn into an OD, I think I've heard people say the same about the Dist +. I don't know shit about the whole clipping thing, is it clipping less when they turn down? Or are they not as frequent? I don't know, maybe I'm confusing myself. One of the reasons why I tend to stay clear of tech stuff, it just doesn't compute.


i'm not that great on the technical side of it either, but generally (and as tubetime says, there are exceptions on both sides... a lot of exceptions) ods use clipping diodes or leds in the feedback loop of the op-amp, whereas distortions use clipping diodes to ground after an op-amp gain stage. that tends to lead to a smoother overdrive in the feedback clippers and an edgier distortion in the to-ground clipped circuits. It also seems to tend to make overdrives more compressed and distortions more open/crunchier.

Now, of course, as i said, there are absolutely tons of exceptions. What you use to clip affects the amount of clipping and the compression (LEDs are more open/crunchier, i think because they need higher voltages to make them clip), the exact layout of the clipping affects how it sounds (symmetrical and asymmetrical clipping etc. ), you can also adjust the circuit to affect the amount of clipping (you could make a soft-clipping to-ground clipper, for example, without too much bother), not to mention a whole bunch of ODs and distortions don't even use clipping diodes, they use jfets and the like.

but... the couple of most famous circuits (and the most copied ones) tend to follow those rules.

you can turn down a distortion pedal and get something that sounds a bit like an overdrive, sure. But normally most od pedals will do that type of tone better. Ditto vice-versa.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tubetime86
(a) As far as I know, it's not even that defined. I don't know a lot about milk, but I believe you can 'analyze' milk and determine if it is skim or whole based on the fat content... (b) How would you 'analyze' a pedal to determine if it is an overdrive or distortion? Simply listening isn't good enough, that's too subjective to be concrete. (c) I've heard people allude to a circuit design difference between the two, but from what I understand there are exceptions to that rule on both sides. Until someone proves different I still say they are purely marketing terms.

(d) Sure there are 'high gain' and 'low gain' drive pedals (using 'drive' to encompass the whole category here, the fact that I have to say that just goes to show how bad the terminology is) but most have 'gain' (another misnomer) knobs so what happens when you take a 'distortion' pedal and turn down the 'gain?' Is it now an overdrive? The Rat is a perfect example. I think it does the full range, and does it well.

(e) At the end of the day guitarists just need to understand that we've bastardized most of the technical terms that apply to our gear. There are countless examples, several of which are above, and it all just proves that the terminology used by guitarists is completely driven by the marketing departments at major companies like Roland.


(a) yep, IIRC semi-skimmed is about 2% fat while whole is about double that (and skimmed has almost all the fat removed). However... like a lot of scientific terminology, it was made up by humans and (at least partly) subjective. EDIT: subjective is the wrong word... arbitrary would be better.

Just taking chemistry as an example (since that's what I know... sorta... badly ) there's a definition for, say, organic chemistry versus inorganic chemistry, to make it easier to learn and categorise etc. etc. etc. Is there any actual objective difference other than the almost arbitrary one decided on by chemists? Not really. It's all chemistry.

It's a bit the same here. Yes, there's a lot of subjectivity, it's been jumped on and hijacked by the marketing brigade, and yes, there are shedloads of exceptions, but that doesn't mean a rough rule-of-thumb to make things easier is a bad idea, either.

As i said already, taking my (admittedly extreme, but still valid) suggestion from earlier, if there truly were no difference and categorising the things were completely useless, any time anyone asked for a low gain od pedal they'd get suggestions for a boss metal zone. That doesn't happen (and when it does, the person suggesting it generally gets jumped on by the regulars), so clearly some form of very basic, rule of thumb categorisation is a good idea.

There was a similar thread over at TGP regarding modern versus vintage amps, and there was the usual (not saying you're as silly as TGP, lol, you're not, and I do agree with 90% of what you're saying fwiw) guff about "you can't categorise it!", but then someone said, "it's a bit like modern art- i know it when i see it". I think that's a bit like the od versus distortion pedal thing. take a certain pedal and most experienced guitarists will instinctively know if it's an od or a distortion.

Much like the pile of sand paradox (or even that "what's a superstrat?" thread a while back), actually trying to determine the specific boundaries probably is silly... but very few pedals fall at those exact boundaries (and the few that do can easily be categorised as "mid-way between an od and a distortion"). But that doesn't mean that the vast majority of pedals which do clearly fall within either camp can't be categorised. Certainly as long as people remember the limits of the categorisation, that it's only a rough rule of thumb.

EDIT: actually, taking chemistry as an example again, I think i've thought of an almost perfect analogy... ionic versus covalent bonding. At school you're taught they're different. In the real world, it's a continuum (much like od versus distortion). Does that mean we shouldn't teach ionic or covalent bonding? In fact, this case is even worse than the od versus distortion debate- there's actually no such thing as pure ionic bonding, all bonding contains some covalent character. Yet we still teach it as a thing, because it's helpful to do so.

(b) i'm guessing a signal generator and an oscilloscope?

(c) there are for sure loads of exceptions, but just because you've found an exception doesn't mean you tear up everything and start again. Granted, if there are more exceptions than rules, maybe, but I'm not sure that's the case. Even if you take no more complex a definition than "sounds like overdrive" or "sounds like distortion", most pedals fit into one or other group.

(d) yep the rat is one of the ones that does all the tones. It sorta does a fuzz tone too when turned up. But I wouldn't call it a fuzz, nor an overdrive.

I said this in the TGP thread I mentioned above (the one about the modern and vintage amps), and I think "potential" is a pretty good definition. Sure, if you turn down a distortion pedal you can often get a sorta poor man's overdrive type of tone, but it's rarely as good as that obtained from a specialist overdrive pedal, plus the distortion pedal has the potential to do a distortion, something which most overdrive pedals don't have.

It's like with cars... if I drive a ferrari around a car park at 5 mph does that mean it's not a sports car any more? Of course not. The potential is there, whether or not that potential is being used.

(e) yep, except I'm not sure I'd say it's totally driven by the marketing... there are terms which are understood by guitarists which might not have any specific scientific definition (or a fuzzy one at best), but that doesn't mean they're meaningless or useless, either.



(sorry for the length )
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:19 PM   #24
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All very well stated, Dave.

I guess I don't propose we throw the terms out the window... But I'm apprehensive about explaining them to new guitar players for fear of them taking them as a rule. In your example of asking for an OD and getting recommendations for a Metal Zone I think the other extreme is asking for an OD and being unwilling to consider the Rat or something similar...

At the end of the day an argument could be made that all music gear is subjective and all that matters is that you like the sound you get... So I guess you're right, we need to leave some distinctions in place, even if they don't always hold true.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:17 PM   #25
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yep it's definitely a balancing act between making sure newer players aren't flailing around in the dark needlessly, and not making people think that they can't experiment. I'm certainly not saying you shouldn't experiment.

I see most music "rules" as guidelines or suggestions, not rules. if it sounds good it is good.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:58 PM   #26
gerraguitar
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as thorough as you guys are in your explanations, and I do grasp it and understand what they both do and ho they differ and all that...

but I don't know I guess I never really bothered understand the tech part of it, I went on sound which is what a lot of people probably do. I have a good understanding of what they each do, but that's pretty much where it stopped for me at least.

Always good to learn more, to you both
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I would recommend the marshal MG100

Very versatile and quality sound. It should treat you well
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Old 03-29-2013, 04:23 PM   #27
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no worries, there are people who understand it way better than i do, too. I'm better at sounding like i know what i'm talking about than actually knowing what i'm talking about
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Old 03-29-2013, 10:10 PM   #28
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you technically should be able to do anything with a distortion that you can do with an overdrive in trms of pushing the amp. however, the circuit matters. not many distortion pedals with ever sound like a tubescreamer pushing an amp.

but in short, it is the type of clipping or amount of gain they are imparting on the signal. by definition, overdrive is less.
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