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Thread: What's the differene betwixt Overdirve and Distortion??

  1. #1
    User that's registered MontgomeryGoo's Avatar
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    What's the differene betwixt Overdirve and Distortion??

    Overdirve and distortion - aren't they the same thing?

    My mate found a bargain at a car boot sale t'other day, with a multi FX pedal (I'm not sure which one, he wouldn't specify) with 3 pedals, one for Overdrive/distortion to clean or whatever, one for Wah/boost, and a third random thing, great conditoin, all for 100 sterling.

    He won't let me have a go, cos I wear boots and not trainers, so he thinks I might break it.

  2. #2
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    They basically work the same way. However, people like to separate them. Distortion is more distorted / has more gain than an overdrive pedal.
    Overdrive pedals usually are used as a booster ( to overdrive a distorted amp... ) or to get some crunchy or raunchy drive, while a distortion pedal can turn a clean sound into a lead sound, adding lots of gain.
    This is just a generalisation... you can use a distortion pedal as a booster too, but basically, thats the difference
    Eric

  3. #3
    User that's registered MontgomeryGoo's Avatar
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    so overdrive is more often used in booster pedals?

    It's cos I'm gonna get a pedal board like my m8 got so my solos will stand out above the rhythm, and I'd like a clean/dirty pedal for more options for future songs.

    am i right in thinking that overdrive doesnt kill as much of your guitar's tone?

  4. #4
    Ibreathe Music Advisor EricV's Avatar
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    Yeah, overdrive pedals mostly are used as boosters. The legendary Tube Screamer and the Overdrive pedals by Boss come to mind. There are many other good ones.

    Lets say that a good overdrive pedal doesnt affect your sound as much. Many distortion pedals offer a lot of gain, and they also add a fair amount of compression which might alter the sound a bit. It depends on the settings you dial in though.
    For boosts, Id usually go for an overdrive pedal. I use the Super Overdrive by Boss, myself.
    Eric

  5. #5
    Mad Scientist forgottenking2's Avatar
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    Funny enough I had an interesting experience with that yesterday, I went to teach in this School (it's actually a cheerleader school and they're trying to incorporate music to their program) and I just went with my little old marshall practice amp (15 w. It doesn't even have separate channels or anything it'll just distort if you turn it up loud enough) and my old Super Overdrive by boss and I tell you this, my guitar sounded HUGE in that classroom, a very "singing" guitar tone, warm and sweet, I loved it, I need to try it at home (I got home too late to practice, I was dead after a... 16 hour day) so yeah, an overdrive pedal would be way more useful than a distortion, you can always get good distortion from a good amp and use the overdrive for lead.

    I just thought I'd share that with you.

    Regards,
    "If God had wanted us to play the piano he would've given us 88 fingers"

  6. #6
    -boxฮดุฐฒฤฮถดฤณฮดุฐฒ
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    Im not sure if I got this right, but hey:

    Overdrive is the kinda thing you get if you put your guitar through your SLOPPY soundcard in your computer, it's too loud, and it adds noise to your guitar's sound.
    Pedals work the same way (i think), you just change the frequenzy of the noise (OD / DS), and the noise level (gain)

    Distortion is like overdrive, but the frequency of the noise is faster, and therefore the sound is more tight than overdrive.

    For children, overdrive is BROM and distortion is BZZZ

  7. #7
    Achilles Stranger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuitarLausing
    For children, overdrive is BROM and distortion is BZZZ
    I loved this part
    one and two and three and ... erm ...

    My gear: Gibson Les Paul / Ibanez RG570, Fender Amp and Digitech board

  8. #8
    I, Galactus oRg's Avatar
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    Yeah if your looking for good overdrive and sitorsion pedals I've found that Boss pretty much makes awesome OD/DS. I also hear Fulltone makes a real good OD. I had to give props to fulltone, they're the ones who tought me how to build a really awesome A/B switcher.
    v2sw3CUhw6ln3pr6OFck3ma9u6Lw3Xm6l6Ui2Ne5t5TSFDAb8T DOen7g6RZATHCMHPa21s6MSr53Dp3hackerkey

  9. #9
    User that's registered MontgomeryGoo's Avatar
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    so I would use standard distortion (BZZZZ) like I have on my tiny insignificant amp, and if I wanted a boost I'd use an overdrive pedal (BROM), so I'd be coming out of the amp sounding like BRBZZZOM?

  10. #10
    -boxฮดุฐฒฤฮถดฤณฮดุฐฒ
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontgomeryGoo
    so I would use standard distortion (BZZZZ) like I have on my tiny insignificant amp, and if I wanted a boost I'd use an overdrive pedal (BROM), so I'd be coming out of the amp sounding like BRBZZZOM?
    Quoting the nurse in 'A Clockwork Orange': "...Something like that"

    The Boss Overdrive/distortion pedal is a killer crunch pedal, but if you wan't a really heavy sound, try Mega Distortion. Seriously a lot of bottom

  11. #11
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by forgottenking2
    (it's actually a cheerleader school and they're trying to incorporate music to their program)
    Okay Jorge, I'm going to have to call you on this one. You're saying THEY wanted to incorporate music into their program--or was this all YOUR idea?
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

  12. #12
    User that's registered MontgomeryGoo's Avatar
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    Mega Distortion by Boss?

  13. #13
    -boxฮดุฐฒฤฮถดฤณฮดุฐฒ
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    oh yeah http://www.bosscorp.co.jp/products/en/MD-2/index.html

    (i'm actually an undercover employee of Boss and i'm trying to promote my products)
    It's up to you.......

  14. #14
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    Here's an academic way of looking at the terms--even if it has nothing to do with gear.

    Distortion means that an output signal (from some system) does not accurately reflect the input signal. In plain English, the output is not proportional to the input for all input. In even plainer English, the amount of amplification the input signal receives by the amplifier changes depending on the level of the input signal.

    So...you can do that artificially with a pedal..intentionally making a signal that is 'clipped', for example, when the guitar pickup reaches a certain level. In most circuits, 'clipping' means a sharp-cornered signal, and that always means harmonics are created ("ringing") in the signal path. You can design a pedal circuit to do that.

    Here's the deal. I can do all that I've described above, yet still have the overall LEVEL of the signal be totally reproduceable by my amplifier's input (preamp) section. So, the pedal has introduced distortion (relative to my guitar pickup's output), BUT, my guitar amp is able to amplify that signal perfectly. I'll say it another way--so long as the input to my guitar amp never exceeds some range, my guitar amp can amplify it with little or no distortion. In this case, the 'distortion' is ALL due to the pedal itself.

    On the other hand, if I send a signal to my amp's input section that is bigger than it can deal with, my AMP will distort that signal. The amp simply can't keep its own output (to the power section) proportional to the input it's getting. In this case, we say the input section (the preamp section) of the amp is being 'overdriven'.

    The signal the amp is getting is too big--at least too big part of the time. It doesn't really matter if that signal is a perfect, undistorted version of the guitar's pickup output, or if it's a distortion (perversion, abortion, abomination) of the guitar's output. All your guitar amp knows is that the signal is "too big". You are 'overdriving' your amp's preamp section, and your amp will distort the signal.

    In the first case, the distortion comes from the pedal, in the second case, at least some of the distortion comes from your guitar amps input section. ALL of these things are totally independent...here's what I mean:

    Your setup can do any of the following, or all of the following depending on the knob settings for everything involved:

    a) guitar output is distorted, but the Level can be cleanly amplified by the guitar amp (pedal distortion only)
    b) guitar output is distorted, but to a level that overdrives your amps input section (pedal distortion, followed by amp distortion)
    c) guitar output is amplified by the pedal cleanly and input to the amp, and the amp can still cleanly amplify it--no distortion at all (relatively speaking)
    d) guitar output is amplified by the pedal cleanly, but to a level that the guitar amp can't cleanly reproduce--all distortion comes from your amp's input section

    Does this make sense?

    From this dork's point of view, in a perfect world a 'overdrive' pedal could be maxed out on the Level knob, and would produce no signal distortion of its own at all, by defintion. That's probably not true in the real world. The Boss Super Overdrive has independent 'Level' and 'Drive' knobs, and does distortion bigtime.

    And, from a dork's point of view, a 'distortion' pedal would have to do two things--provide distortion from 0 to x%, AND provide control over Level (gain).

    So...those of us who want to simply overdrive the input section of our tube amps but ensure all the distortion comes from the amp itself, use an overdrive pedal with 'Drive' set to 0, but 'Level' set to big. Big clean signal injected into the amp for it to deal with.

    But I am not a smart guy when it comes to the ways of the World.

    Just one more thing...I think it's bull**** that Jorge gets to keep this cheerleader school gig to himself. I know a thing or two about marching band music (e.g., oom-pah, oom-pah, etc), and want in on the action! Tuba, anyone?
    Last edited by Bongo Boy; 06-25-2004 at 05:46 AM.
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

  15. #15
    User that's registered MontgomeryGoo's Avatar
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    wow. thanks

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