#1
What is the true difference between overdrive and distortion. I've been playing for awhile and never really understood, nor was willing to seek answers.
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#2
OD just pushes the sound till it breaks up.

distortion uses 'clipping'

then my knowledge runs out.
Get off this damn forum and play your damn guitar.
#3
Well both are forms of distortion but generally speaking distortion is a more extreme form of overdrive, both do basically the same job really.
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#4
Overdrive: Simulates a vintage tube amp running at full steam, nice thick warm overdrive. Think G'n'R
Distortion: Simulates a high-gain SS amp, more extreme and a harsher sound. Think Metallica
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#5
Quote by Demonikk
Overdrive: Simulates a vintage tube amp running at full steam, nice thick warm overdrive. Think G'n'R
Distortion: Simulates a high-gain SS amp, more extreme and a harsher sound. Think Metallica

That's not exactly true, overdrive doen't just simulate the sound of a vintage tube amp, your thinking of overdrive pedals. Also distortion isn't just used on SS amps, it can sound just as sweet on a tube amp
MIA Fender Strat
Yamaha FG-450S
Crafter 12 string
Orange Rocker 30 combo
Vox AC30CC2
Epi Valve Junior
Fulltone Clyde
Danelectro Free Speech
T.C. Electronic Vintage Dual Distortion
Boss MIJ GE-7 (c1987)
Boss TU2
MXR Phase 90
Artec delay
#6
Overdrives tend to have a smoother sound, and Distortion tends to be harsher, and have alot more gain. Some distortions are also pretty mid scooped compared to OD pedals.

Note that this is a generalisation, I'm sure you'll be able to find an OD with tonnes of gain, and a distortion pedal with tonnes of mids.
#7
You mainly use OD pedals to boost your amp overdrive. Distortions are used on clean channels.

OD + amp overdrive = distortion
Distortion + clean channel = distortion
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#8
OD is more 'crunchy' while distortion is thicker, almost fuzzy.

It's best to try out two different pedals - one of each - and hear the difference yourself.
#9
^ IMO distortion is normally thinner than OD, and usually 'lacks' something that I cant quite put my finger on.


Natural OD is when a tube/valve amp is pushed (cranked/volume turned real high) and it starts to turn gritty and sound like an OD pedal is put on it (although better than a pedal's OD) and the only way to get cleans when your amp is cranked is to either turn down the amps volume, or fiddle with the volume knob on your guitar to clean it up.

Distortion is achieved from a distortion pedal and its signal is squared, its achieved by making the natural signal clip. (as far as im aware on the sound wave thing, its more circled when OD, whereas distortion is squared i.e clipping)

IMO distortion sounds alot fizzier, thinner and harsher
OD is usually not as high gain, sounds more natural and abit more of a crunch rather than a fizz.

General consensus: OD>Distortion
#10
Quote by Hakanku
^ IMO distortion is normally thinner than OD, and usually 'lacks' something that I cant quite put my finger on.


Aye, it's quite the oddity

I know what you mean about some distortion - a lot of it does sound fizzy, even on tube amps - try listening to a Valveking for more than 10 minutes without your ears and eyes hurting.

But I stand by my first comment, some distortions are thicker, most in fact turn out to be fuzz pedals. Lil' Big Muff, par example.
#11
^ Ah yes, Muffs are very thick, but I dont really list them as distortion pedals, which is why i made the thin comment.