When you are a musician sound is your product. Knowing the exact difference between the tools that you use to create that sound is important. Distortion pedals and overdrive pedals are two of the most commonly used pedals in the music industry and understanding the difference between the two can help you to be more effective when it comes to the finer points of your music. That doesn’t mean it is easy so we are here to help create an understanding of the difference.
What an Overdrive Pedal Is
An overdrive pedal, also known as an overdrive stomp, is used to help you to reproduce the classic sound of a tube amplifier. Pressing the pedal applies overtones to the music that you create and at the same time adds musical like harmonics to the sound your amp produces. When the music industry started switching to more reliable solid-state amps, they took a way a unique sound that had become part of a guitarist’s image, with a distortion pedal you can add that again.
What A Distortion Pedal Is
A distortion pedal is a pedal that is used to add both treble and drive to the sound of your amplifier. A guitarist might say that they produce a crunch and gain effect to your music. They can also include a circuit boost which is used to sonically step up. The sound that a distortion pedal produces is very metal or hard-rockesk. You will find that most distortion pedals have different levels of effect. The highest level of effect will breakup your sound and apply large amounts of sustain with it.
What Is The Difference
Unless this is a topic that you have read about before you are probably wondering what the exact difference between these two devices is. A distortion pedal, like its name implies, will tend to make your audio sound a lot more corrupted. This comes from the breakup and is a natural feeling for some types of music. Some may say that the sound that distortion pedals produce is more fierce.
The competition though is used to make your music sound more vintage. It does less to make your music feel broken-up and instead adds a slightly different feeling to it. Another important note to make is that overdrive is a type of distortion. While it may not be as serious as a distortion pedal, you are still altering the sound of the audio. It is more to reproduce an old sound that you cannot get naturally with a modern amp though, as opposed to being a sound that alters what you are playing.
The simplest explanation though, is that blues players might prefer an overdrive pedal as it is more reminiscent of a blues sound. Hard rock, metal, and screamo musicians might better benefit from a distortion pedal as it will sound more like their musical aspirations. There are however always exceptions to these rules and that was why the choice is up to you on what type of pedal you want to use for your specific application.
When it comes down to it, the function of each box is in the name. An overdrive pedal puts your music through a different a traditional audio effect while a distortion pedal makes your audio sound distorted or altered. Both musical devices can be used by anyone for any kind of music but we have mentioned the most common uses for both devices. Now that you know what both devices are, what they do, and the most common musical uses for them, you can now make the decision for you which one is right. And keep in mind that this may change based on specific songs.
In summary, a distortion pedal allows you to change the sound to make something new. An overdrive pedal makes your music sound traditional. Both pedals have their own unique uses while remain similar devices.