#1
Don't worry this isn't one of those whats the difference threads (well, not your normal every day one anyway)... I'd just like to explain what I understand to be happening technically and you lot can tell me if I've got the right idea. I've read a few explanations but sometimes they contradict and none mention the interaction with an Amp's drive feature...

So...

A distortion pedal is something that just amplifies and clips the peaks of a signal, so that a larger signal is entering the amp and because its pushing the preamps too far, it distorts?

overdrive is exactly the same but to a much lesser extent?

the drive feature on an amp does the same thing but internally, boosting a signal past the preamps comfort zone and resulting in distortion?

So my questions are (assuming my above statements are even vaguely correct):

1) is overdrive is just a weaker distortion pedal, why not just get a distortion pedal and turn down the gain for the same effect?

2) why would you use a distortion pedal over the amps channel switch pedal which is also results in distortion?

I'm just trying to really get my head around the technicalities, I find it all quite interesting but a little ambiguous... anyone care to enlighten me?
'93 Gibson Les Paul Special (Heritage Cherry) - modded with SD P90s (Vintage & Hot)
'06 Yamaha RGX520FZ (Translucent Dark Red)
Laney VC15 (Ltd. Edition Old English White)
Jim Dunlop Original Crybaby
Boss DS-1
#2
1) A distortion pedal is designed to clip the signal before it reaches the amp. So your tone is more-so influenced by the pedal than the amp.

And OD is designed to push the preamp of your amp harder to distort the signal (turning the volume up on the pedal), then you can dial in a bit of gain on the pedal if desired.

But you can use a distortion pedal to boost your amp in the same way, by pushing volume on the pedal OFC, but distortion pedals colour the tone more in their own way, instead of relying more on the amp.

2) Because some people want more gain or a different voicing than there amp provides. Ive been using a distortion pedal with my laney vc30 on the clean channel to give me a good metal tone, the amp alone will only do low gain.
#3
Ahh, so overdrive just pushes the preamp which results in slight, warm distortion where as a distortion pedal clips the signal as well as pushing the preamp...

So in other words, an OD pedal hightens the distortion characteristics of the amp itself whereas a distortion pedal makes it sound like a different amp altogether?
'93 Gibson Les Paul Special (Heritage Cherry) - modded with SD P90s (Vintage & Hot)
'06 Yamaha RGX520FZ (Translucent Dark Red)
Laney VC15 (Ltd. Edition Old English White)
Jim Dunlop Original Crybaby
Boss DS-1
#4
IN laymans terms, pretty much yeah.

Though, making it sound like a different amp altogether is a bit of an exaggeration, you'll still get the characteristics of the amp shining through, unless its a particularly er uncharacteristic sounding clean channel. Something like the orange rocker 30s natural channel, very clean sounding, very dependant on whats guitars etc. are fed into it. Distortion pedals still vary on different amps.
#5
Cool, so... last question, if you had really hot pickups which were kicking out loads of beef, would that also push the preamps and distort the signal? or is the direct output from a guitar never powerful enough to do that?
'93 Gibson Les Paul Special (Heritage Cherry) - modded with SD P90s (Vintage & Hot)
'06 Yamaha RGX520FZ (Translucent Dark Red)
Laney VC15 (Ltd. Edition Old English White)
Jim Dunlop Original Crybaby
Boss DS-1
#6
Quote by SooTyLaD
Cool, so... last question, if you had really hot pickups which were kicking out loads of beef, would that also push the preamps and distort the signal? or is the direct output from a guitar never powerful enough to do that?


Potentially, i have a 15k bucker in my strat, with the volume cranked up a bit and a hard attack it does get dirtier faster than it would with a lower output pickup.

But at normal bedroom volumes, you probably wouldnt notice.
#7
Just one thing to clear up ,though becky's answer is correct,

The main difference between overdrive and distortion pedals is that a distortion is trying to produce the sound on its own. Some distortion pedals may sound similar (though not near as good) direct to a mixer. An overdrive pedal is really trying to push your amp to sound its best, or to help simulate a cranked sound at slightly lower volumes.

Last point. Distortion pedals can drive the preamp if you want it to, but if you set it at unity gain (same volume when on/off) then it will not be pushing the preamp tubes and all of the gain you are hearing is from the pedal.

Hope this helps!
#8
i think od pedals clip too, they certainly have clipping diodes etc. the sound is softer clipping, and more natural, than distortion pedals, which have harder clipping (there's some overlap in the terms of course). A clean boost would be for only boosting the amp to have more overdrive.
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#9
Quote by Dave_Mc
i think od pedals clip too, they certainly have clipping diodes etc. the sound is softer clipping, and more natural, than distortion pedals, which have harder clipping (there's some overlap in the terms of course). A clean boost would be for only boosting the amp to have more overdrive.


Yeah they do clip when you turn the gain up, but in the way theyre generally used, the gain on ODs is usually just to spruce everything up a bit on top of the gain you allready have. Rather than the way people use dist pedals.

Generally speaking, not everyone abides ofc.
#10
yeah, sure, but even at minimum gain there's normally a bit of pedal clipping in there too. I also have heard an electronics dude on another forum saying that the tubescreamer clips even if you remove the diodes, and it sounds fairly similar (by that i mean the pedal is clipping, not pushing the amp into clipping)...
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#12
possibly, depends on the od in question, too.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?