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Overdrive Pedals

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The humble overdrive pedal is one of the core components of a great guitar rig, even if you're not an out and out pedal geek with a huge board. Even the most minimalist of players know that the real job of a drive pedal isn't to emulate the sound of a valve amp but a tool to push a valve amp into breakup (or into downright filthy saturation depending on the starting point)!

The trouble with drive pedals is there's a whole heap of ways to describe them, it's confusing. We know. So here's a super quick breakdown...

Overdrive or Distortion?

  • Overdrive - Technically all drive pedals are overdrives but the term is usually used specifically for low to medium saturation effects
  • Distortion - Again technically all drive pedals distort the signal, but the term distortion generally denotes a medium to high gain effect.

Most drive pedals can cover both options but generally they do one better than the other . The only hard and fast rule is that if you want to play rock or metal and you only have a clean amp, distortion is what's going to get you the sound you need, and you might even want to look out particularly for distortion pedals that are designed to emulate amp sounds.


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Guitar Pedals & Effects