Author Topic: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?  (Read 2972 times)

KenBJammen

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So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« on: April 01, 2013, 12:42:23 PM »
Based on the previous thread, what is the difference between overdrive and distortion.  What do you think it is?
Does anyone ever read these things.  I have some guitars, some amps and some effects but none of them play the guitar for me.... Yet.

RichR

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2013, 03:12:15 PM »
Based on the previous thread, what is the difference between overdrive and distortion.  What do you think it is?

Mostly a matter of degree, IMO.

OD, Distortion, Fuzz.   The line between them, is um... fuzzy.

DannyDV8

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2013, 04:53:28 PM »
Based on the previous thread, what is the difference between overdrive and distortion.  What do you think it is?

Mostly a matter of degree, IMO.

OD, Distortion, Fuzz.   The line between them, is um... fuzzy.
:yes:
They call it the Blues, but the shit makes me SMILE!

KenBJammen

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2013, 05:59:32 PM »
http://guitargear.org/2009/11/05/overdrive-vs-distortion/

Here's a good short read:

I had an interesting conversation with a friend today regarding the difference between overdrive and distortion. Talk about two terms that are bandied about interchangeably in the guitar world! If you ask ten different guitarists the difference between them you’ll get ten different answers. But a common theme you’ll hear is what each sounds like; in other words, you’ll get a much more qualitative description as opposed to a quantitative description. What I’ve been after is a much more objective, quantitative description of each, but not necessarily too technical. So after talking about one versus the other, I decided to write down what we discussed, and throw my two-cents into the mix.

First, let’s look at the two terms, but from the perspective of an amplifier. The simplest explanation I could come up with is that overdrive, or in audiophile terms, over-powering, occurs when input gain exceeds the capacity of a device to handle the amount of gain thrown at it; in our case, a tube. What happens is that the smooth wave form that goes into the device gets “clipped” because the device’s input capacity is less than what is being thrown at it. Sonically, we perceive the result of this clipping as distortion. The higher the amplitude of the wave, the greater amount of distortion we hear.

But what about pedals? I’ll get to that in a bit, but I wanted to take time to clarify these terms. There’s been a lot of confusion about these two terms because they’re used so loosely, and oftentimes interchangeably. For me, I’ll stick with the audiophile’s perspective of overdrive in that distortion is the result of overdrive or over-powering an amplification device. A way to think about overdrive vs. distortion is that overdrive happens in the front-end (what you put in), while distortion happens on the back-end (what you hear).

But here’s where we get into a bit of murky territory, especially with pedals. Strictly speaking if we’re talking about overdrive as simply overpowering the front-end of an amp to make the tubes clip, the only pedal that is technically an overdrive is a boost pedal that takes your guitar’s signal and ups it voltage. But lots of manufacturers call their pedals overdrive pedals. In reality, most of those are distortion pedals – this includes the venerable Tube Screamer. OMG! Sacrilege!

So how do you tell the difference? That’s why I said we get into murky territory with respect to pedals, but as a rule of thumb, a distortion pedal will create a distorted sound irrespective of the amp. In other words, it’ll clip on its own. Put it front of the clean channel of an amp, switch it on, and it’ll create distortion. However, many, if not most, “distortion” pedals also provide a bit of gain boost to overdrive an amp. That’s where it gets murky, as most of the pedals termed “overdrive pedal” function as a combination of both overdrive AND distortion.

There are no real hard and fast rules, but in general most pedals that are commonly known as overdrive pedals (Tube Screamer, etc.) employ what’s called a “soft-clipping” circuit or transistor where only a small portion of the input signal is clipped. Most distortion pedals employ a “hard-clipping” device to severely clip the input signal to get that “square wave” tone. But as I said, there are no hard and fast rules.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 06:11:39 PM by KenBJammen »
Does anyone ever read these things.  I have some guitars, some amps and some effects but none of them play the guitar for me.... Yet.

yosoytudios

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2013, 08:38:59 PM »
he included it in the article.  soft clipping is overdrive, more square wave hard clipping is distortion. it is how you accomplish it. jk could tell as a little more on the technical aspects of it.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2013, 09:11:01 PM by yosoytudios »

KenBJammen

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2013, 08:57:49 PM »
When you look at a waveform you really get an idea of what is happening.  Overdrive shapes the wave slightly and gives it boost, distortion
Does anyone ever read these things.  I have some guitars, some amps and some effects but none of them play the guitar for me.... Yet.

DannyDV8

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2013, 09:20:53 PM »
If it makes the guitar smoke, I like it a lot!  :yes:  If it makes the amp smoke, I don't like it, no sir, I don't like it at all!   :no:
They call it the Blues, but the shit makes me SMILE!

Steve "Guitarman" B

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2013, 12:09:58 AM »
The main reason for me buying a distortion pedal is because I'll be playing out of a different amp at the jam sessions. I never know what to expect. I'll play a super clean one week and and a nice distortion the next week. I've played through a Victoria, Vox, Bassman, and many others. I needed something that would distort at indoor volume on any amp and be consistent without damaging the equipment.

yosoytudios

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2013, 12:21:54 AM »
The main reason for me buying a distortion pedal is because I'll be playing out of a different amp at the jam sessions. I never know what to expect. I'll play a super clean one week and and a nice distortion the next week. I've played through a Victoria, Vox, Bassman, and many others. I needed something that would distort at indoor volume on any amp and be consistent without damaging the equipment.

you bought an overdrive pedal. the tc distortion is called grey matter.

RichR

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 12:25:52 AM »
The main reason for me buying a distortion pedal is because I'll be playing out of a different amp at the jam sessions. I never know what to expect. I'll play a super clean one week and and a nice distortion the next week. I've played through a Victoria, Vox, Bassman, and many others. I needed something that would distort at indoor volume on any amp and be consistent without damaging the equipment.

I go to quite a few jams, and one good OD is pretty good insurance.   My jam rig is now my clip on tuner, and my Lovepedal Amp 11 OD.  And I don't even get the Amp11 out, unless it is just a naked clean amp, or an iffy amp/pedals in general.  I used to mostly take my own rig, amp/pedalboard, because of some bad experiences of playing 'whatever was there'.   But the jams I go to now-- I know the host, and I know his rig/amp.   And I've gotten a little more flexible about rolling with whatever is there.

The jam I went to last night-- I got to use an old bassman head on a 2x12 cab, host had a TS9 in front of it, and it was very fine.




Steve "Guitarman" B

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Re: So what is the difference between overdrive and distorition?
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 02:14:36 AM »
I too know the host pretty well but the amps are never the same unless one of the guest performers bring one that I've used before. I'll use a deluxe reverb as is and it sounds very good. The same with Victoria. Ah, the quest for "that perfect sound" goes on.

I should also add that since the owner of the amp has it set the the way they like it, I'm not going to readjust those settings. I'll use the clean setting and color the tone to taste.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2013, 07:16:20 PM by Steve "Guitarman" B »