Tag Archives: Overdrive
Do you know the difference between overdrive, distortion, and fuzz pedals? There are so many dirt pedals out there that it can be overwhelming for new guitarists even to know where to start. Each pedal will affect your tone in its own unique way, and one of the pleasures of playing guitar is the quest to shape your tone and discover your own voice. Before you start investing thousands of dollars into a pedalboard, however, it helps to learn how dirt pedals work.
The Boss BD-2 Blues Driver is a relatively inexpensive distortion pedal featuring high quality Boss construction. It is much tamer than its orange cousin the DS-1, but it can put out a fair amount of distortion with the gain knob cranked up. The BD-2 is designed to be more of an overdrive pedal. It cleans up nearly all the way when the gain knob is turned all the way down, and it offers a range of subtle distortion.
The Fulltone Fat-Boost 3 is a good quality boost pedal with a two tone controls and some light on-board overdrive. This pedal has a few idiosyncratic design features, some of which are more endearing than others. The Fat-Boost 3’s thick metal chassis is held shut by four thumbscrews, allowing easy access to the battery compartment and circuit board. Overdrive is accessible using a knob with eleven detents. Also, the bass and treble controls are miniature pots with itty-bitty knobs.
The Keeley Fuzz Head is a Fuzz Face style distortion pedal housed in a small red enclosure. Some impressive tones can be coaxed out of the Fuzz Head using its simple array of enigmatically named controls. The two major external knobs, labeled “Fuzz” and “Head,” are dirty and clean gain controls, respectively. There is also a miniature switch that toggles silicon diodes in and out of the circuit.
MXR’s M-133 Micro Amp is a very simple, very clean boost pedal with a small footprint. Like most other MXR compact pedals, it is housed in a sturdy metal chassis and is constructed using materials and practices that satisfy baseline needs for professional use. It sports only a single gain knob and one on/off foot switch. Like its cousin the Phase 90, one of the Micro Amp’s most attractive features is its ease of use. This is a pedal designed to do only one thing: amplify.
The Ibanez TS9 Tube Screamer has been an extremely popular distortion for many years. For many guitarists it finds just the right balance between price and build quality, while providing pleasing overdrive style distortion that is easy to dial in. Many makers offer pedals that copy or expand upon the TS9’s circuit, but few can match the economy of scale available from Ibanez.
The Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi has been used for years by guitarists for its warm, harmonically rich distortion. It comes in an enormous and fairly sturdy metal housing with good quality external components. Its sound could be described as an extension of its massive physical presence. It has a loud, sometimes overbearing tone with both strong presence and wide spectrum.
The Fulltone Plimsoul is an extremely versatile distortion pedal in a surprisingly small enclosure. Its fancily named controls allow a mixture of smooth overdrive and heavier distortion with extremes available at either end. The lighter distortion is controlled by the sustain knob, and the heavy distortion can be mixed in using the miniature stage 2 knob, which is rotated a little off center by design. The enclosure is compact, durable, and attractive.