#1
I still don't understand the difference between these three pedal types.
I read stuff on wikipedia but they seem to have a bad explanation.

I would appreciate it if someone could explain how the three are different.
Though I know that overdrive is mainly used for metal and grunge but what about distortion and fuzz?
#5
Distortion pedals ADD distortion to your sound while Overdrive pedals are supposed to boost the signal going into the amp so your poweramp will be overdriven i.e. produce more distortion. That means a distortion pedal would be better for a cheap amp or a low-gain amp, whereas the Overdrive would be better for a high-quality tube-amp that already has a lot of gain.

The fuzz is generally used as an effect rather than a distortion, as it's got a very specific sound. Apart from Hendrix, guys like Kurt Cobain and Matt Bellamy of Muse have used Fuzz very often on very extreme settings.
#6
overdrive is more commonly used for blues, where distortion is used for metal(and rock etc. but you won't hear that much overdrive on metal)
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#7
Quote by Farether
overdrive is more commonly used for blues, where distortion is used for metal(and rock etc. but you won't hear that much overdrive on metal)
Exactly.
For example, you will hear more overdrive with classic rock bands, or bands inspired by blues (like AC/DC), while you'll hear distortion on albums by grunge, prog rock or modern metal bands (Nirvana, Dream theater, Megadeth). Fuzz, like azziraphale said, is more used to create a mood rather than add some punch or aggressivity to your sound.
Quote by gudinge
Wasn't there a thread about this like yesterday?
Quote by ivan_2894
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#8
Quote by tickler444
Exactly.
For example, you will hear more overdrive with classic rock bands, or bands inspired by blues (like AC/DC), while you'll hear distortion on albums by grunge, prog rock or modern metal bands (Nirvana, Dream theater, Megadeth). Fuzz, like azziraphale said, is more used to create a mood rather than add some punch or aggressivity to your sound.

so what would you consider Santana be using for his awesome tone?
Is it overdrive, if you say blues?
#9
Quote by Farether
overdrive is more commonly used for blues, where distortion is used for metal(and rock etc. but you won't hear that much overdrive on metal)


^^ not saying its wrong, but i believe bullet for my valentine used the overdrive on a mesa..well its practically distortion, but its the OD channel...with a TS9 infront..
so technically overdrive..but i guess most metal is distortion..

EDIT : Santana uses a pedal called His Soul..
and a bloody nice amp...
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Last edited by fairycake92 at Jan 5, 2009,
#10
Quote by Free
LOL nice post blue_strat, please ignore mine

The more, the merrier when it comes to examples.
#11
Actually, you'll hear a lot of overdrive in metal. That's why high-output pickups were invented in the first place.

Overdrive: This is natural signal clipping caused by driving an amp harder. The only limit on how 'heavy' overdrive can be is just how hard you can physically drive the amp before either A) you can't drive it any harder or B) it overheats completely and catches fire (this can literally happen if you really try). This is what high-output pickups (especially active pickups) are for. Overdrive is usually created with high-output pickups, though most amps do of course have their own gain control to create the same effect. The upside of overdrive is it will react dynamically to your playing, so if you pick softer you'll get a less distorted sound, then you could dig the pick in hard for a much more distorted sound. It also means you can control the level of distortion right on your guitar, as turning down the volume knob will lower your guitar's output which in turn will drive the amp less. The main downside of overdrive is it'll wear out your amp faster, and if you're using high-output pickups to generate hard overdrive it can mean you'll struggle to ever get a good clean tone. Also due to the nature of how overdrive is created, you can't get a true overdriven tone without your amp being very loud, so for home practise (or even basic band practise) it's a no-go area. Attenuators can help with this but they'll always alter the tone and response somewhat.

Distortion: This is artificial signal clipping. It is for all intents an 'effect', whereas overdrive is more of a natural occurrence. If you're using a pedal, even if the pedal is called an 'overdrive' pedal, then it is still actually a distortion pedal. It is possible to alter distortion to only clip the signal in a softer path (not worth explaining what that means now) to sound like overdrive, but it can never react in quite the same way as overdrive. Distortion is often preferred for use in heavy metal music because you don't need to have high-output pickups to make use of it, and it can be as hard as you want one second then just click off the next to a perfect clean tone if you have everything set up right. There are many upsides to using distortion over overdrive, however the main downside is there is often very little way to actively control the amount of distortion you're getting while you're playing, and even when voiced to try to sound like overdrive, the fact that it will never react in quite the same way can limit some playing styles. This is why distortion is mostly used in hard rock and metal where you're almost always using a hard picking stroke, whereas overdrive is used more in straight rock and blues where a player will often switch between soft and hard picking.

Fuzz: This is, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same as distortion. The key difference is with fuzz, it applies it's effect to every part of the signal (unlike distortion which can selective ignore certain frequencies). This has the upside of it reacting better to different playing styles, almost like overdrive. It has the downside though of making background noise even louder than it is with distortion.
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#13
Good post, MrFlibble!

Quote by tickler444
Exactly.
For example, you will hear more overdrive with classic rock bands, or bands inspired by blues (like AC/DC), while you'll hear distortion on albums by grunge, prog rock or modern metal bands (Nirvana, Dream theater, Megadeth). Fuzz, like azziraphale said, is more used to create a mood rather than add some punch or aggressivity to your sound.


Actually most metal bands use overdrive pedals with their amps, even John Petrucci does it on his gain channels. As said, it helps to create power amp distortion by overdriving the power amp. They can also be used to shape/tighten the tone a bit. A lot of classic rock bands don't use any pedals, they just crank a low-gain amp up to the point where they get power amp distortion naturally. Distortion is technically exactly the same thing as "peaking", i.e. when the input signal is too loud to stay clean. If you turn up the input volume on a vocal microphone, you'll get distortion. This was used a lot by the Beatles and bands of that era. So it's not at all like the classic rock bands don't use distortion, distortion is exactly what they use. But they don't use pedals for it, and I'd assume this thread is about pedals.