The Lowdown On Distortion Pedals

Who doesn’t love a little distortion – I know I do! Over the years, I have used a ton of distortion pedals, all different but basically doing the same thing.

Looking for specific recommendations –  look at these best distortion pedal reviews.

What Exactly Is Distortion

Maybe a better way to ask this question is – how does a distortion pedal circuit work?

When guitarists refer to ‘distortion’, they mean what’s technically called harmonic distortion. This is what happens when a gain stage is asked to create a bigger version of a signal than it has the capacity for. As the signal gets too big for the device’s boundaries, its head and feet get clipped off. This changes the shape of the waveform, which of course makes it sound different. Read more…

What Is The Difference Between Distortion, Overdrive and Fuzz?

Sometimes there is some confusion among guitarists with of other similar effects like fuzz and overdrive. However, there are differences between the three:

The terms “distortion”, “overdrive” and “fuzz” are often used interchangeably, but they have subtle differences in meaning. Overdrive effects are the mildest of the three, producing “warm” overtones at quieter volumes and harsher distortion as gain is increased. A “distortion” effect produces approximately the same amount of distortion at any volume, and its sound alterations are much more pronounced and intense. A fuzzbox (or “fuzz box”) alters an audio signal until it is nearly a square wave and adds complex overtones by way of a frequency multiplier. Read more…

Where Should Distortion Be In The Pedal Chain?

This is a tough one because it really depends on your preference. There are so many variables to consider – what other pedals you have, which distortion pedal, style of music you play, etc. To be honest, the best way to answer this is to tell you to take a few hours and just try a number of different configurations and see what sounds best to you. Kind of a politician’s answer but really there is no set rules!

Distortion Directly From Amp vs Pedal

Another personal preference. Take a look at this excellent forum thread on the subject:

Ok this is one of those questions that there is no Right or Wrong answer, its all a matter of taste. I am curious to see where my fellow forum members stand with this question.

Personally I like my dirt to be created by the amp which is why I tend to gravitate towards Tube amps that have a decent amount of gain in the pre amp section. Up until recently I never liked how a clean amp dialed to almost break point sounded when pushed by a pedal to get to break up. Like I said personal preference. Recently Ive discovered certain pedals that sound pretty good pushing amps to breakup though I will wont go that route full time with my rig Ive found a combination of pedals that will allow me to recreate ” My Tone ” in the event that my main amp is out of service. Watching PRSh demo his new “Paul’s Amp” Read more…

What Distortions Do Some Of The “Greats” Use?

Which One Do I Recommend?

1I’m not alone in this because this is a very popular pedal – the Ibanez Tubescreamer is my favorite. Sure, there are better ones out there if you look at expensive boutique type pedals, but all around, this is my go to distortion. Great price too!

Click here to check it out!

If you are looking for more ideas, look at these distortion pedal recommendations.

Or perhaps you are looking for specific reviews:
Behringer Ultra Metal UM300 Distortion Pedal Review