O.K. this is gonna sound like a retard question but I'm kinda new to this so..

What, if any, is the difference between a distortion pedal and a overdrive pedal? Or are they the same thing? Are these terms just slang for saying the samething? I'm confused. Thanks.
Yeah, I kind of need this knowledge too. And can someone suggest a nice effects pedal to me?
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I'm not sure when I think of it actually, but overdrive gives you more boost and crunch sort of, and distortion... ads distortion.
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Last edited by BlisteringDDj at Oct 8, 2008,
Overdrive = crunch. An amp turned up to where it's slightly 'dirty'.

Distortion = metal. It's like overdrive times dos.
I can assure you they're not the same thing.
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at responses.
Od's and distortions are similar but not the same.
Distortions use a harder clipping to achieve their gain, while overdrives use a softer clipping. The softer form is much closer to the original signal of the amp and therfore creates a more "natural" gain. It also involes the driving of the amp, which is why overdrives are used more for tube amps since the driving and breakup of a tube is far more desierable then a ss amp. There is a more in depth explination in the sticky, I believe.
Generally, ODs use "soft" clipping, where the top of the waveform is rounded off where distortion uses "hard" clipping, where the top of the waveform is sliced off.
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All pedals of this nature try to replicate the process of what occurs naturally in a vacuum tube on an amp when the volume is cranked.

The naturally occurring process of the tube is that the top and bottom of the wave gets cut off at some point. Now the great thing about tubes is that depending on their type, and how much gain is being pushed into the tubes, you can get a huge range of sounds from the mildest crunch (think a dirty clean sound) to crushing extreme metal (think pantera) and everything in between.

Over Drive pedals mimic the cutting process more similar to a natural tube thats being pushed. Some will say that an OD pedal isn't enough for metal, to them I simply say "tube screamer" or "Ds-1" and they shut up lol.

Distortion pedals go more on their own path to the same sound. They allow greater cutting of the wave forms. Distortion pedals in general have the ability to cut much more than an od pedal. Which lends them to be popular with metal players and heavy rock dudes.

The sonic difference in the waves is the shape of the clip. While an OD pedal tries its very best to recreate flat topped or round looking waves where the shape only at the very tip of the wave is cut. On the other hand, distortion pedals try their best to create plateau looking waves with steep curves and flatter tops.
Overdrive: overdrive is the natural occurring distortion that happens with tube amps after you crank them/ push the tubes to the limit. it is generally a lighter distortion then a distortion pedal. most people use an OD pedal to push their amps into overdrive, like SRV with his various tubescreamers. some other people, mostly in the metal community, use an OD pedal for a good gain boost for a solo, like Zakk Wylde with his Boss SD-1 int he earlier days or his MXR ZW-44 nowadays.
some good ones are:
Ibanez TS808 or TS9
Boss OD-1 overdrive
Boss SD-1 Super Overdrive
Digitech Bad monkey

Distortion: basically, more gain than overdrive. it is mostly used in heavier music like grunge, punk and metal, but can be used in many other styles. most people who use a distortion pedal have their amps set to clean and use the pedal as their main distortion.
some good ones are:
Boss DS-1
Boss MT-2 Metalzone
MXR Distortion+
MXR Distortion III
Vox Saturator
Ibanez Jemini
ProCo Rat2
Big Muff Pi (NY or Russian made)
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