ok, really basic question here. I'm curious what the difference is between an overdrive and distortion pedal...are they close to the same thing? I have a DS-1 distortion, and I'm wondering what an overdrive pedal would do.

Thanks for any help, it is appreciated.
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I got the OS2 Pedal, the combined DS and OS pedals. I really find i only use DS, it's got a nice rumble in it. OS just seems like a light distort with a higher volume. Im sure some people will refute this but meh
more or less the same thing but with distortion its much meatier and you have a lot more gain control, allowing you to play metal :P
I use the distortion over a clean channel and overdrive over the lead channel for an extra push
I had the DS-2 and traded it for an old ass OD-2(late seventies). I wanted an overdrive pedal cause while the DS-2 sounded nice with my starter amp, transistor and all, when I got my tube amp it didnt sound good anymore. I had heard overdrive pedals were better for tube amps and figured I should give it I a try, since the overdrive channel on my amp sounded a whole lot better than the DS-2 through it. So I trade it for the OD-2 and damn it sounds great. I use it for light distortion and the overdrive channel for heavier stuff. Turn them together and you might as well have an orgasm.

So putting it really really simple, it boils down to the amp you have. If you have a tube amp, overdrive pedals are better, if you have a transistor amp, distortion will probably be better.

Just remember stuff isn't that black and white, there are great distortion pedals that work with a tube amp(like a Big Muff), what I said is a pretty general answer.
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Distortion is supposed to give you...distortion. Play it through a clean channel on your amp, and a distortion pedal will give you distortion.

And overdrive is supposed to...overdrive the tubes in your amp. So, it gives an amp a little more gain/sustain/an extra boost to get a heavier and more overdriven sound. I believe that it's best used in a tube amp, but then again, I like the sound of tube amps.
generally a distortion is just a more extreme version of an overdrive... the overdrive generally has less gain/clipping, and what gain/clipping there is is softer...
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to put it simply, a distortion has more gain. the reason for this though, is because a distortion pedal models the sound of a good amp's drive channel, while an OD models the sound of a clean tube amp being turned up past its limits.

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