Since the early days of the electric guitar, blues musicians searched for different ways to overdrive their amplifier's signal. Of course, when rock'n'roll took off, the process of "distorting" a guitar tone became a lot easier thanks to new amp and pickup designs. Soon, musicians like Link Wray were making a name for themselves with the use of distortion. By the mid-60s, fuzz pedals were being used by teenage garage rockers around the world while performers like Dave Davies and Pete Townshend made distortion and overdrive a part of their signature sound. Today, distortion and overdrive effects pedals are a dime a dozen, and a quick glance at this section will make that obvious.
If you're new to distortion and overdrive pedals, you might be wondering what the difference is between them. For the most part, they do the same thing and are both often referred to as gain pedals. How they differ is that distortion pedals usually provide a harsher, grittier tone with increased sustain. When it comes to distortion, think of genres like grunge and death metal. On the other hand, overdrive pedals are designed to emulate the sound of a tube amp when you increase their volume. The result is a warm yet crunchy sound that's ideal for playing blues and classic rock. Of course, one is not better than the other, and the right distortion or overdrive pedal for you will be a matter of personal preference.
For an overdrive pedal, turn your attention to the Fulltone OCD Obsessive Compulsive Drive Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal. Compact yet versatile, this pedal is great for anyone who likes a raw vintage-like overdrive, and it even makes a great boost pedal. Now, if it's a distortion pedal that you're after, take a closer look at the Electro-Harmonix Classics USA Big Muff Pi Distortion/Sustainer Guitar Effects Pedal. The Big Muff Pi is a legendary pedal in itself, and this reissue has 3 controls that let you dial in the finest harmonic distortion/sustain ever produced. From warm bass to crisp treble, you'll be blown away by what this distortion pedal can do for your hard-rocking guitar performance.
Along with the options mentioned, be sure to check out overdrive pedals like the Ibanez Tube Screamer or the Boss Super OverDrive SD-1. As for distortion pedals, be on the lookout for the TC Electric Dark Matter Distortion Pedal or the MXR M75 Super Badass Pedal. Whether you're going for a heavy Sabbath-like snarl, the cutting buzzsaw tone of Johnny Ramone or Cobain's feedback-drenched squeals, the distortion and overdrive effects pedal for you is waiting in this catalog.
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