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Overdrive or Distortion ... what's the difference?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Solarmist, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. I've been checking out overdrive/distortion pedals, and having never used one before - I'm not sure what I'm after. I like the sound of the Boss ODB3 (youtube) a bit better than the Digitech X-series Bass Driver. I didn't really care for the Big Muff. Around a $100 to spend.

    Thanks guys
  2. DeltaPhoenix

    DeltaPhoenix Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2011
  3. Crystalman85


    Nov 30, 2008
    Chicago, Il.
    I own a digitech bass driver and it sounded pretty cool. it also sounded pretty cool with my danelectro cool cat cc-1 chorus pedal. it gives me a grungy but heavy sound. If you've never used an overdrive or a distortion pedal before, you might want to try them out at your local guitar center or sam ash music store. the boss odb-3 is a cool sounding pedal(even though some people find it to be a little to extreme), but I like the digitech bass driver better for it's fizzy metallic sounds. it's a pretty decent pedal for hard rock and heavy metal music.

    I think the only difference between overdrive and distortion is that overdrive has softer clipping sound while distortion has a harder clipping sound(considering that distortion is usually a fuzz or a grit produced by a stomp box or an amplifier). there's a lot of overdrive and distortion pedals to choose from. you just need to find what you're looking for in a overdrive or distortion pedal. try them out or check out sound samples and video demonstrations on youtube. either way, see which overdrive or distortion pedal is right for you.
  4. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I build and modify basses
  5. DeltaPhoenix

    DeltaPhoenix Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2011
    Distortion doesn't equal fuzz...
  6. Swift713


    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    "They're all chickens, the rooster has sex with all of them. "
  7. Frank Costanza's confusion is hilarity.
  8. Crystalman85


    Nov 30, 2008
    Chicago, Il.
    I can understand from your prospective that distortion is more of a grit than a fuzz. but according to the effects glossary at music123.com, they say that distortion is a fuzz or a grit produced by a stomp-box or an amplifier. but come to think of it, they could be wrong about describing distortion as a fuzz because distortion is really more of a grit. and fuzz is actually an extreme sounding distortion that usually has synthetic sound quality.
  9. chatterbox272


    Apr 12, 2012
    Distortion is a group of effects where the waveform is clipped in some way. Overdrive is a smooth distortion that attempts to model the sound of the natural clipping of a tube amp as much as possible. Fuzz is a different type that is very heavily clipped, and doesn't usually try to sound natural at all.
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    People, read the FAQ link in the second post. When describing pedal effects, OD/distortion/fuzz are all just different amounts of clipping. And all of them are also "distortion". Clipping is a type of distortion. It just gets murky in the pedal world because people use the word distortion to mean an amount of clipping between OD and fuzz.
  11. I completely spaced - I should have went there first - thanks.

    I'm eye-balling the Boss ODB3 or the DigiTech X-series Bass Driver, but not sure which?
    I like the Boss sound samples I've heard (youtube), but there aren't any real clear sounding ones of the Digitech.

    Boss or Digitech?
  12. Crystalman85


    Nov 30, 2008
    Chicago, Il.
    The digitech website has sound samples of the digitech bass driver. and so does musician's friends. here are the links.



    Hopefully this would help you get an idea on how the digitech bass driver sounds. I own one myself and I think it sounded pretty cool. it may not be the best bass distortion pedal, but some people dig it.
  13. famousbirds


    Aug 3, 2009
    Now, your mileage may vary, you might love them, lots of people do... but personally I didn't like any of those pedals. ODB-3 was too colored and unusable in a live situation. The Digitech was a bit better, but I only ever really liked it at very low-gain settings. Big Muff is cool on bass but it is very much a one-trick pony.

    IMO, you're much better off buying a nicer used OD used from the classifieds here than paying retail price for a mass-produced, entry-level dirt pedal. The reality of this situation is that it will take a couple tries to find a dirt pedal you like, and buying smart used lets you recoup your investment if you change your mind. I got my beloved EBS Multidrive here for $120, and could turn around and resell it back for the same amount. Good luck getting your $110 back on that ODB-3 though.
  14. I've owned the Boss (Sold it) and liked it. I've never tried the DigiTech so I'm no help there. I would go used if possible though. Especially if you don't have a store near you to try it out. There are a ton of OD's and Distortions out there and some very good ones depending on your budget.
  15. Jason Hall

    Jason Hall

    Jun 21, 2012
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Boss or Digitech? Neither imo, tried them, didn't like either. Maybe you could post a sample of the sound you're going after and someone could help you. Remember, how a pedal will sound has a lot to do with your other gear too. I'm using a bass big muff atm and experimented with the sansamp model on my b3 tonight with amp mids boosted... crunchy fuzzy goodness that made me smile.

    Sigh.. now I need to buy a BDDI...

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