What Is The Difference Between Distortion vs. Overdrive?

Effects pedals are great for bringing out the tone of the guitar and raising energy in rock music styles. Distortions and overdrives can really thicken up a guitar and add a lot of punch to rhythms behind the vocals, but which one is right for you? Many people actually categorize the two different kinds of pedal as the same thing, but really, they are worlds apart.

Overdrive

Overdrive effects pedals are like your amplifiers best friend, supporting and encouraging your pre amp to do its best to deliver great natural tube overdrive. The two work together wonderfully, producing a rocking tone which makes you never want to stop playing.

Overdrive boosts your guitar, forcing the tubes of an amplifier into a gritty-sweet kind of distortion which can be controlled through tone and drive knobs on the overdrive pedal itself. The main difference when compared with a distortion pedal is that this kind of effect can provide anything from a simple boost to that grainy drive popular on a lot of British rock songs from the 70s and 80s.

This kind of effect is great for classic rock, blues rock, Texas rock and pretty much anything which needs a little more bite to the tone, without being too saturated with distorted harmonic overtones.

Distortion

As overdrive’s dirty big brother, distortion effects pedals perform in a similar way, but take it to the extreme. A good distortion will have a lot of range on the ‘drive’, ‘gain’ or ‘distortion’ knob, ranging from mild fuzz right through to heavy dirt.

This kind of effect is a must if you like to play heavier music like metal, hard rock or thrash, and can really give you a strong tone which is great for those which face melting solos and chugging alternate-picked riffs.

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