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#1
ok so recently ive been thinking. is there a difference in function between OD and distortion pedals? or is the difference high quality and low quality distortion pedals?

obviously a OD pushes the amp harder and adds some gain to get grit. Duh.

HOWEVER, it seems like cheap pedals are fizzy and nasty. artificial. good ones sound natural, warm, crunchy. others seems to push so hard the amp goes right into distortion perhaps like a zakk wylde OD.

my question? does a good distortion do the same thing as a OD - pushes the amp so hard it goes into natural distortion? or does it in fact produce artifical distortion on board?

it appears to me like quality pedals interact with your amp to get the sound naturally. shitty ones (boss, line 6, digitech, etc etc) create fake, onboard distortion and then send it to your amp, make a fizzy, buzzy, chain saw mess (in a bad way).

i think this because ive never heard a distortion pedal that sound as natural as plugging into a dual rectifier. s it even possible?
#2
distortion pedals are usually used through the clean channel of the amp and the pedal produces the distortion (hence the name) overdrives usually are used to push the front end of an amp.
#3
Quote by monwobobbo
distortion pedals are usually used through the clean channel of the amp and the pedal produces the distortion (hence the name) overdrives usually are used to push the front end of an amp.


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#4
for example, a suhr riot. it seems to be very responsive and sensitive to volume etc like a OD. is it really just a crazy high output OD that pushes the amp into distortion?

i am wondering if it is the way it is used or if the build quality and components are the sole factor.
#6
woah woah woah...

Distortion and Overdrive are the same things, signal distortion. They sound different because of the distortion of the waveform. The signal in an OD is amplified less and "soft clipped" creating that "warm, natural" sound. Distortion pedals amplify the signal in a much higher amplitude, and then cut their heads off, creating a "harsher", albeit more often then not, "heavier" sound.

Essentially, when you're using an OD (or anything else) to boost an amp into further distortion, all you are doing is increasing the signal strength in the amp, and forcing the amp to clip sooner as opposed to if there was no boost. So you could say the distortion is divided between the amp and the pedal.

For "distortion" pedals, most, if not all, the signal distortion is coming from the pedal, be it from diodes, op amps, etc. and run into a clean amp.
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#7
well some are pretty darn good. for example the suhr riot and the pigtronix polysaturator. they give a really great warm crunch with a ton of gain. people differ if thats teh sound they want, but most will agree the pedals i named or a blastar tube drive or EHX enlish muffin are amazing pedals.

my question is, - is build quality all that differs? or can you literally overdrive an amp sooooo much that its actual distortion.

the tone coming out of these pedals is the a buzzy box of beehive a** like your average digitech or hardwire. jesus. i tested a hardwire distortion and its the most expensive turd of a pedal. others are just as bad, but they charge a pretty penny for those hardwire pedals.
#8
^^ yeah, that's more like it.

in simple terms, they're both the same, except overdrive has less clipping.

in practice, *most* ods tend to run the clipping diodes in a feedback loop around the op-amp, which creates softer clipping, while most distortions run the clipping diodes to ground, which results in harder clipping. There are some exceptions, of course, but that seems to be a good rule of thumb.

So first of all, that results in a difference in tone if you're only using the pedal to create the distortion (i.e. not using either pedal as a boost).

added to that, a lot of people use an overdrive as a pseudo-clean boost, to push teh amp into more distortion, rather than creating most of teh distortion in the pedal, whereas a lot of people would use a distortion pedal into a cleanish amp or clean channel, and that makes teh pedals' tones seem even further apart.

but certainly you can use an overdrive as a standalone dirt pedal into a clean channel, and you can certainly use a distortion pedal as a boost if it has enough boost on tap and you can turn teh pedal's distortion low enough.

EDIT: ^ they've had to take their boutique section down now, but iirc freestompboxes reverse engineered the riot and it wasn't any different from a lot of much cheaper distortion boxes. maybe better parts (though i'd doubt that, iirc teh riot even had a lot of SMD parts ) are making the difference, maybe it's psychological, or maybe just more care has been taken with the voicing of teh pedal to appeal more to teh warm mojo tgp brigade, I dunno. but there's no magic going on.

EDIT #2: just out of interest, where do you set the little switch on it? one position might be a diode lift, so in that case it'd be behaving more like a boost.

fwiw, i haven't tried one, but any of the clips i've heard of them have that same buzzy tone you complain about in cheaper distortions
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Last edited by Dave_Mc at Dec 2, 2011,
#9
well i dont have to pick the suhr. one ive been looking at recently. i recently youtubed the polysaturator and thought that was a very great, unique sound. not sure if its what i want, but it sounds like a totally different tone than your average 50-100 retail dirt box by joe-bag-of-crap brands.

dont get me wrong, i am all for making cheap gear sound good if it is feasible, but it seems like cheap dirt boxes are HORRID (like a boss turbo or metal distortion etc). big old box of bees.

i even own a boss distortion. OS-2. i think its the best boss Od. distortion and can be adjusted to give quite a good tone i would say. for the price atleast.

point is - higher quality pedals do something different. they just sound, well, right.
#10
For what I like, an ideal situation will be a cranked valve amp, maybe slightly boosted. However, I play a lot of covers and different material and like most people, need to compromise. A good distortion into a clean amp CAN sound good. For example, a Suhr Riot/Xotic kit.
I've always been a bit particular and used the least pedals possible, yet one of the best tones on the local circuit is a Boogie V twin into the front of a Hotrod Deluxe. A relatively humble setup.
For me, my ultimate amp tonally won't be my best amp practically, so I settled on a good multi channel amp with an fx loop. I tried using a single channel rig using a boost and my guitar volume, but it was a matter of eq. A fat crunch/lead would be a muddy clean and vice versa.

Can be an expensive lesson!
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#11
Quote by ikey_
for example, a suhr riot. it seems to be very responsive and sensitive to volume etc like a OD. is it really just a crazy high output OD that pushes the amp into distortion?

i am wondering if it is the way it is used or if the build quality and components are the sole factor.


It's not a bad pedal at all, and it is definitely more sensitive than your typical high-gain "distortion" pedal, but I ended up defaulting to my Xotic BB Preamp and taking the Suhr Riot off my pedalboard, because I found the Riot comparatively non-natural sounding. The Riot definitely does not simply push the amp, there is a bit of a non-natural sound in there the more you increase the gain.

However, I wouldn't want to discourage you from getting it if you want a good high-gain pedal. It just ended up not being what I need for my own purposes - it seems like high-gain distortion just isn't for me. The warmth, natural sound and responsiveness of the BB does it for me.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Dec 2, 2011,
#12
I think a good 2/3 channel amp with a loop will do what you need. 100 watts, often switchable down to 50 or 25 and with separate channel eqs. Rockerverb, Marshall 6100, EVH 5153 etc are all great gigging amps that have all the versatility you need, yet still sound great. You could set one channel clean, one for a heavy crunch and roll it off with the guitar volume, and then boost that channel for lead.... or a microamp/volume pedal in the loop for clean and dirty solos.
It's a compromise but when you get it right, it won't seem like one.
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#14
Quote by bogg808
Riot isn't high gain..


Maybe not by the standards of metal, but it's not a low-gain pedal by any means, and in terms of the Suhr line of dirt pedals, it has the most gain out of them (and is explicitly advertised as a "high gain distortion box"). IMO, usable distortion on the thing ends pretty quickly after the gain knob is a bit past half-way up. That should be more than enough gain for any rock shredder.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Dec 2, 2011,
#19
Oh dear, using terms like "high gain" for a pedal when referring to distortion level. How much distortion a pedal has has naff all to do with its gain. A high gain pedal would actually mean that it produces a large signal, not that it clips the signal a lot.
I'd like to find the guy that first labelled the preamp gain knob on an amp "gain" and take him out and shoot him.
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#20
I use a skreddy screwdriver set to have quite a bit of gain into an already cooking matchless spitfire. OMG how is it that im using a distortion pedal in an already distorted amp?

Dont listen to a the shit on here saying overdrives are made for boosting amps and distortions are made to standalone. I hate my 808 spec modded sd1 boosting anything although i do quite like it as a standalone into a clean amp. People push their amps wih fuzz pedals which have a shit tonne of gain. There are no rules.

Also usually more expensive pedals sound better because there is less cost cutting on components and less pressure to design circuits which are cheap to produce. Better build quality also helps.
#21
for what its worth, no matter what the price, I have never heard a "distortion" pedal i like, I have only played a couple pricier ones, my friends triple wreck as one example, but everytime im at a show where the guitarist is using a disto. pedal, even a high end one, it still sounds like a pedal, even it sounds "good".
overdrives dont have this affect on me. i have been able to get a good overdrive tone from most any pedal that was at least a $100.
Other than pedals designed more to act like preamps, I havent heard any heavy distortion boxes id use to gig with.
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#22
My experience is similar. Almost all of the pedals labeled "distortion" I've played have sounded unnatural or thin, no matter how much you tweak tone controls. They tend to produce a radically different sound, rather than blending well with your amp.

If one wants a pretty saturated sound I'd suggest going the route of playing through the dirty channel of a tube amp and pushing it more with an overdrive or booster, or even just sticking a compressor in front of it.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Dec 3, 2011,
#23
ugh, not this "overdrive pedals are for boosting overdriven amps and distortion pedals are for use with clean amp settings" nonsense again.

the only difference between a distortion pedal and an overdrive pedal is the type of clipping each produces. in fact i'd go as far as to say in some cases the terms "distortion" and "overdrive" are interchangeable with some pedals. both types can be used for the same applications with equally good results depending on the pedal itself (regardless of whether it's distortion or overdrive) and more importantly the person using it.

overdrive pedals are not clean boosts, they can often be used that way and people use tubescreamers (for example) like that because the mid-boost they provide is great for bringing out the fundamental frequencies a lot more clearly which can tighten up a hi-gain tone or really help your tone cut through the mix for solos etc.

you can do this with distortion pedals too, it'll just sound a bit different, most likely a little less transparent with a harder edge to the tone. on the other hand, you can also run an overdrive pedal in front of a clean amp and let the pedal to all the work - turn down the volume on the pedal so it's not overloading the amp's input, turn up the gain/drive/whatever they label it as on that particular pedal. simple as that.

short answer: you can do either of those things with either of those types of pedals. it's up to you to find out what works best for you.

edit: ^it can be harder to get a distortion pedal to blend with the amp but it's definitely possible, watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdHANxGipVs
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Last edited by Blompcube at Dec 3, 2011,
#24
ugh, not this "overdrive pedals are for boosting overdriven amps and distortion pedals are for use with clean amp settings" nonsense again.


Just to be clear, that isn't my position. My position is that the "distortion" pedals - especially the ones geared toward metal - tend to sound unnatural and fizzy, regardless of your amp settings. They basically bury or kill the tone of your guitar and amp.

the only difference between a distortion pedal and an overdrive pedal is the type of clipping each produces.


I'm aware of the difference between hard and soft clipping, and to a significant extent that's how I'm defining OD vs. Dist, and I'm probably partly articulating that I don't tend like the sound of hard clipping, as I think it compresses your tone away.

I think this is also generally true about the amount of clipping/gain one uses on the pedals (or on an amp). Extreme amounts of clipping removes clarity and buries tone - a pedal or amp with the gain knob all the way up just doesn't sound good in most cases. This is why you see a lot of players using less and less gain as they develope their awareness of tone.

on the other hand, you can also run an overdrive pedal in front of a clean amp and let the pedal to all the work - turn down the volume on the pedal so it's not overloading the amp's input, turn up the gain/drive/whatever they label it as on that particular pedal.


This is actually how I tend to use them (it's how I use my BB Preamp - volume knob not too far past a quarter up, gain knob used within the range of a quarter and halfway up; it's currently set with the volume at about 10 O'clock and the gain at Noon). But it doesn't conflict with the amp sound really, it just seems to enhance it a little in a desirable way.

edit: ^it can be harder to get a distortion pedal to blend with the amp but it's definitely possible, watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdHANxGipVs


In accordance with the philosophy espoused above, I'd simply say that you can get your distortion pedal to blend better with the amp by turning the gain down. The guy in the video you linked pretty much says precisely this.

But this leads me to say that if you had a pedal with more soft-clipping characteristics (an OD), it inherently will be easier to blend with the amp and sound natural, and you have more of a range of usable gain on the pedal.

Which is why I think there is a basis for a substantive distinction between the two, and discriminating in favor of OD (softer clipping) pedals.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Dec 3, 2011,
#25
Quote by ikey_
well i dont have to pick the suhr. one ive been looking at recently. i recently youtubed the polysaturator and thought that was a very great, unique sound. not sure if its what i want, but it sounds like a totally different tone than your average 50-100 retail dirt box by joe-bag-of-crap brands.

dont get me wrong, i am all for making cheap gear sound good if it is feasible, but it seems like cheap dirt boxes are HORRID (like a boss turbo or metal distortion etc). big old box of bees.

i even own a boss distortion. OS-2. i think its the best boss Od. distortion and can be adjusted to give quite a good tone i would say. for the price atleast.

point is - higher quality pedals do something different. they just sound, well, right.


an awful lot of those higher quality pedals are based on existing cheap pedals, though. Not to say that a little modding can't make a decent pedal into a great pedal, but yeah. as i said, there's no magic.

also, the tonerider british distortion sounds pretty good. joyo has clones of an ocd and crunchbox for abour $30-$40. there are certainly decent-sounding cheaper pedals, if you know where to look.

granted, there's a lot of trash too

Quote by Cathbard
Oh dear, using terms like "high gain" for a pedal when referring to distortion level. How much distortion a pedal has has naff all to do with its gain. A high gain pedal would actually mean that it produces a large signal, not that it clips the signal a lot.


+1

actually, would those pedals which are built on mosfets (not for clipping, i mean for amplification) be considering high gain? they don't have any clipping diodes. something like the catalinbread dls, say.

Quote by Blompcube
ugh, not this "overdrive pedals are for boosting overdriven amps and distortion pedals are for use with clean amp settings" nonsense again.

the only difference between a distortion pedal and an overdrive pedal is the type of clipping each produces. in fact i'd go as far as to say in some cases the terms "distortion" and "overdrive" are interchangeable with some pedals. both types can be used for the same applications with equally good results depending on the pedal itself (regardless of whether it's distortion or overdrive) and more importantly the person using it.

overdrive pedals are not clean boosts, they can often be used that way and people use tubescreamers (for example) like that because the mid-boost they provide is great for bringing out the fundamental frequencies a lot more clearly which can tighten up a hi-gain tone or really help your tone cut through the mix for solos etc.

you can do this with distortion pedals too, it'll just sound a bit different, most likely a little less transparent with a harder edge to the tone. on the other hand, you can also run an overdrive pedal in front of a clean amp and let the pedal to all the work - turn down the volume on the pedal so it's not overloading the amp's input, turn up the gain/drive/whatever they label it as on that particular pedal. simple as that.

short answer: you can do either of those things with either of those types of pedals. it's up to you to find out what works best for you.


+1

Quote by Brainpolice2

I'm aware of the difference between hard and soft clipping, and to a significant extent that's how I'm defining OD vs. Dist, and I'm probably partly articulating that I don't tend like the sound of hard clipping, as I think it compresses your tone away.


actually i'd have said ods had more compression than distortions (certainly tubescreamer-style ods). That's actually what i don't like about a lot of distortions, they have a ton of gain but no compression or "meat" behind the tone, they're way too hollow-sounding.
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#26
Quote by Brainpolice2
In accordance with the philosophy espoused above, I'd simply say that you can get your distortion pedal to blend better with the amp by turning the gain down. The guy in the video you linked pretty much says precisely this.

But this leads me to say that if you had a pedal with more soft-clipping characteristics (an OD), it inherently will be easier to blend with the amp and sound natural, and you have more of a range of usable gain on the pedal.

Which is why I think there is a basis for a substantive distinction between the two, and discriminating in favor of OD (softer clipping) pedals.

the gigrig video link was the only bit of my post that was actually directed at you at all the rest was just directed at everyone on UG who has ever said "overdrive pedals are for boosting amps, distortion pedals are for clean settings". simply because, that's just not true. i personally find distortion pedals work their best when used with a slightly overdriven amp, very much like fuzzboxes, and i also think overdrive pedals sound better into a clean channel than distortion pedals do. they are just different.

the recommendation in that video is not simply "turn the gain down", he's saying "turn the gain down if it's sounding too fizzy". the same applies to overdrive pedals, just replace "fizzy" with "muddy". too much gain from an overdrive pedal, into an already overdriven amp, sounds like a sloppy mess - in fact, why don't you try it and see for yourself?
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#27
actually i'd have said ods had more compression than distortions (certainly tubescreamer-style ods). That's actually what i don't like about a lot of distortions, they have a ton of gain but no compression or "meat" behind the tone, they're way too hollow-sounding.


I meant compression in the sense that distortion itself is a kind of compression. But I agree with the gist of what you're saying - the distortions have no warmth and fullness to them. I'm positing that this is partly because of the hard-clipping characteristics, as that inherently doesn't leave the necessarily "space" if you will for your original signal to come through enough.

If we want to think of pedals as having "headroom" in some sense, the dist pedals have little to no headroom. Think of what happens on an amp when there isn't enough headroom and you're clipping the hell out of it - your tone is flattened in the sense that your EQ controls have less of an effect, and you're left with an ugly sound in which there is "noise" instead of useful, musical frequencies. That's what the dist pedals are doing - filtering out the natural frequencies of your guitar and compressing the sound into that "noise" - the sound is literally being squashed into the area of white noise.
#28
the gigrig video link was the only bit of my post that was actually directed at you at all


I suspected that but wasn't sure. Thanks for clarifying.

the rest was just directed at everyone on UG who has ever said "overdrive pedals are for boosting amps, distortion pedals are for clean settings". simply because, that's just not true


Yea, that particular notion isn't something I'd espouse. I use overdrive in conjunction with the clean channel of my amp, and not as a mere booster. I don't see why only heavy distortion would be used with a pristine clean channel.

the recommendation in that video is not simply "turn the gain down", he's saying "turn the gain down if it's sounding too fizzy". the same applies to overdrive pedals, just replace "fizzy" with "muddy". too much gain from an overdrive pedal, into an already overdriven amp, sounds like a sloppy mess - in fact, why don't you try it and see for yourself?


Well yea, that's fully consistent with my philosophy that you should be moderate with gain period, whether it's an OD pedal, a distortion pedal, or an amp. Extreme amounts of gain is what introduces the problem to begin with. I'm only saying "turn the gain down" in reaction to fizziness being present (or, more broadly, the guitar's tone not being present).

If someone is complaining that their lead sound is too fizzy and unnatural, or too thin, I'll ask them how they have their gain set, and if I see that it's like all the way up or close to it, I'll tell them to turn the gain down as a solution. The other step is I'll inquire into how they have their mids set, and if it's scooped I'll tell them to turn those mids up.

I find that this is pretty commonly a big part of the issue when people are dissatisfied with their non-clean guitar sounds (too much gain + scooping, or simply not enough mids, is the source of the problem). It just so happens to be the case that when you turn that gain knob all the way up, you actually are burying the mids with noise.
Last edited by Brainpolice2 at Dec 3, 2011,
#29
Quote by Blompcube
"overdrive pedals are for boosting amps, distortion pedals are for clean settings"


everybody is gonna feel different about this. i have an opinion on this subject too, i just don't share it cuz it won't help you decide what you like anyway ("you", as in: general audience reading this and no one in particular, especially the enlightened fellow who brought this up)
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#30
Quote by gumbilicious
everybody is gonna feel different about this. i have an opinion on this subject too, i just don't share it cuz it won't help you decide what you like anyway ("you", as in: general audience reading this and no one in particular, especially the enlightened fellow who brought this up)

exactly, which is why it's not really a helpful thing to say to someone who is asking for advice about pedals, it's a bit like telling someone "single coils are for cleans and humbuckers are for distortion", or "tube amps are for blues and solid state amps are for metal".
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#31
Quote by Brainpolice2
I meant compression in the sense that distortion itself is a kind of compression. But I agree with the gist of what you're saying - the distortions have no warmth and fullness to them. I'm positing that this is partly because of the hard-clipping characteristics, as that inherently doesn't leave the necessarily "space" if you will for your original signal to come through enough.

If we want to think of pedals as having "headroom" in some sense, the dist pedals have little to no headroom. Think of what happens on an amp when there isn't enough headroom and you're clipping the hell out of it - your tone is flattened in the sense that your EQ controls have less of an effect, and you're left with an ugly sound in which there is "noise" instead of useful, musical frequencies. That's what the dist pedals are doing - filtering out the natural frequencies of your guitar and compressing the sound into that "noise" - the sound is literally being squashed into the area of white noise.


ah ok
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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?
#32
HERRO! EVERYONE!

Does the pedal clip itself???

if yes then

DISTORTION/FUZZ PEDAL

if no then

OVERDRIVE/BOOST PEDAL!

fight me.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#33
overdrives clip themselves

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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?
#34
Quote by Dave_Mc
overdrives clip themselves



nope can't. distortion effect. by definition.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#35
Quote by AcousticMirror
HERRO! EVERYONE!

Does the pedal clip itself???

if yes then

DISTORTION/FUZZ PEDAL

if no then

OVERDRIVE/BOOST PEDAL!

fight me.


MY DESTORSHUN IZ TEH BR00TZ AND TEH ONLY TING IT IZ CLIPPING IZ TEH HEADS OFF MY ENEMIES!

#36
so if i keep the volume low on an od and crank the gain, it's not clipping?

(i kinda get the feeling you're either trolling me or this is a trick question )
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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?
#37
Quote by Blktiger0
MY DESTORSHUN IZ TEH BR00TZ AND TEH ONLY TING IT IZ CLIPPING IZ TEH HEADS OFF MY ENEMIES!



nope can't.



I has teh only one.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#38
Quote by Dave_Mc
so if i keep the volume low on an od and crank the gain, it's not clipping?

(i kinda get the feeling you're either trolling me or this is a trick question )


you have a distortion pedal.

my delay pedal has a level knob. I can use it to boost my signal but it is still a delay because that pedal was designed to make teh delays.

otherwise almost all pedals would also be overdrives in addition to whatever else they would be because almost all pedals provide gain at the output.
Prs se Holcomb is the answer
#39
Quote by Blompcube
"single coils are for cleans and humbuckers are for distortion"

yeah, another sacred cow. i love single coils for distortion
punk isn't dead, it's always smelled that way.

"A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem."
-ae
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