Distortion or overdrive? i use a Fender frontman 212, a gibson firebird V (2004) and i have 5 effects pedals, one is a Boss DS-2. time to add an overdrive? what are the main differences in sound and which are the best?
overdrive is a softer distortion...good for adding to an already distorted sound
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Overdrive generally outputs a cleaner but larger voltage signal which in turn overloads your amps preamp to create distortion.
Distortion outputs a signal that's already distorted.
Differences in sound are more pronounced if you overdrive a tube amp vs overdriving a SS or using a distortion pedal.
The reason has to do with the waveform produced. SS ccts basically clip the positive and negative portions of the waveform off by driving the output signal till it's the same level as the power supply rails (this creates a lot of odd order harmonics and sounds harsher). Tube amps will distort before this happens. When you overload a tube amp increases in grid current don't give you more plate current after a certain point and this results in a rounder distorted waveform with less odd harmonics. Which sounds more pleasant to many people.
Moving on.....