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Author Topic: Distortion or Overdrive  (Read 1010 times)

Offline dwest2419

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Distortion or Overdrive
« on: January 28, 2014, 01:39:27 PM »
Hi guys. I would like to know what is the difference between distortion and overdrive and even a boost pedal?

Offline funkStrat_97

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Re: Distortion or Overdrive
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2014, 02:40:54 PM »
Hi guys. I would like to know what is the difference between distortion and overdrive and even a boost pedal?

Overdrive is distortion (clipping).  However, in terms of an "overdrive" or "distortion" pedal, we are dealing with the degree of distortion.  Basically, overdrive is supposed to be a more subtle to moderate effect ranging from (in some cases) a clean boost to mild distortion while a distortion pedal goes from mild to a potentially insane amount of gain.  Boost can get into light overdrive territory, but it is usually used to provide a bit of increase in volume and perhaps midrange or another frequency; comes in handy for cutting through the mix when you have a solo.  Boost is not typically used as a primary source of distortion.
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Offline gtrdave

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Re: Distortion or Overdrive
« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2014, 04:07:02 PM »
^^All good stuff.
Another way to think about it is that overdrive is meant to emulate the sound of tubes being pushed beyond their clean threshold. It's punchier, more clearly defined and still retains much of the normal character of the guitar and amp.
Good overdrive keeps a Les Paul sounding like a Les Paul, A Strat sounding like a Strat, A Tele sounding like a Tele and so on.
Overdrive is what a good Class A or A/B tube amp will do naturally when cranked. Have a single channel amp that you love the clean sound of? Plug an overdrive pedal in the chain and add some dirt to compliment your clean sound.

Distortion, on the other hand, is meant to sound more like transistors being pushed beyond their clean threshold. It is more harsh sounding, less defined and the original tone of the guitar and amp are masked. Distortion can hide the identity of the guitar and pickups to where you may not know what is being played. Where distortion is handy is for emulating very loud overdriven amps at lower volumes. You want to sound like Yngwie Malmsteen live, but you don't want to wake the neighbors? Turn the amp down and use a distortion pedal.

Boost is simply an increase in the signal by however many decibels as the pedal will allow, but boost all too often begins to cross into overdrive and even distortion territory if the boost is happening on the input side of the amp. If the amp has a very sensitive input, even a clean boost will come out sounding like overdrive because the pre-amp is being pushed beyond its threshold. My AC15VR does not play well with my boost pedal. It breaks up too quickly at low levels of boost. The Bad Cat, on the other hand, works great w/ the boost. It actually works better with all of my pedals because the input is very forgiving to excess gain.
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Offline dwest2419

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Re: Distortion or Overdrive
« Reply #3 on: January 28, 2014, 05:25:53 PM »
Thanks for the input. One more question, though.

Now I'm thinking heavily about getting an overdrive pedal; and also is the boss blues driver a little like an over drive pedal? What is your take on it?

Offline funkStrat_97

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Re: Distortion or Overdrive
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2014, 05:39:40 PM »
and also is the boss blues driver a little like an over drive pedal?

The Blues Driver isn't like an overdrive pedal.....it IS an overdrive pedal and probably one of the better distortion type effects that Boss offers.  It has a wide range from barely there brake up to heavy overdrive that approaches distortion.
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Offline gtrdave

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Re: Distortion or Overdrive
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2014, 11:01:44 PM »
Yeah, the BD is an overdrive pedal and a decent one at that.
I personally prefer the Bad Monkey or, if money is no object, an original TS808 or a suitable clone.
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Offline trackman

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Re: Distortion or Overdrive
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 04:51:21 AM »
Anyone ever used the Jekyll & Hyde? I've had my eye on the for a while
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Offline gtrdave

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Re: Distortion or Overdrive
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 07:15:18 AM »
Anyone ever used the Jekyll & Hyde? I've had my eye on the for a while

Me, too. Never used one, though.
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Offline funkStrat_97

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Re: Distortion or Overdrive
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 11:56:01 AM »
I hear good things about the J&H.  Never used one myself, but my co-guitarist at church has the Fulltone GT-500 and that's a nice sounding overdrive and distortion pedal.  I've even read some reviews where it was praised higher than the J&H (which - apparently - is a pretty awesome pedal in its own right).
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