1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

overdrive vs distortion

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Bigwig, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. Bigwig


    Dec 27, 2003
    Im somewhat lost, can someone explain to me the difference between overdrive for bass, and distortion for bass, if there is any?
    Im a huge rage fan, and i know timmy used alot of overdrive, but how can this be compared to distortion, or is it overdrive just bass with distortion?
    sorry for the lame question.
  2. Correct me if i'm wrong guys, but this is what i've heard:

    It kind of depends...there are basically two ways to look at it. There is the more technical way, which, from what I've heard, goes like this: overdrive is characterized as "soft clipping"-where the signals range is slightly restricted-this can be achieved many of times by overloading the amp to a degree..."overdriving" it. Distortion is "hard clipping", where the range is severely restricted, and is purposely done, usually by the use of a pedal.

    The two have similar tones and most pedals offer both tones in one pedal. In the regular sense, overdrive can be seen as softer distortion. A lot of people actually use the two interchangeably.
  3. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Here is kinda how I think of it I guess, may help.

    OD is what happens when I crank my tube Pre amp to 10. Kinda grindy and softer distortion. Very playing intensity sensitive in my case.

    Distortion I get from using a pedal. Takes it a step further than just OD. As stated before, a harder clipping. Seems to be less sensitve to how I play.

    Beyond Distortion is Fuzz, extremely clipped signal. Lots of fun, but you gotta know when its apropriate.

    As far as Timmy C. I think he kina runs the gamut. Though I don't recall really fuzzy tones. I agree though gotta love the OD/Distorted sounds he gets.

    There is a plethora of knowledge on OD and Distortion round here, use the search feature and you bound to learn some knew stuff.
  4. spidersbass


    Nov 29, 2004
    Downtown L.A.
    while were on the subject of TImmy. does anyone know how to get his tone from the DVD of the show in front of the 2000 Democratic National Convention? boosting and cutting what?
  5. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    bassist66 hit it pretty much on the nose.

    Overdrive, distortion and fuzz are often used interchangeably, but in a nutshell can be used to describe three degrees of the same effect: overdrive being a slightly grittier tone often heard in tube amps, distortion being a much dirtier tone while still retaining note definition, and fuzz tends to be a much more extreme distortion where note definition begins to be lost.

    On a technical basis: overdrive refers to soft clipping, whereas the extremes of a sine wave are compressed a bit, distortion compresses them significantly more, and fuzz cuts off the tips. In the diagram below, overdrive and distortion are more characterized by the yellow, the red shows fuzz and the blue denotes the original signal.

  6. Joe P

    Joe P

    Jul 15, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI

    Makes me want to bring my bass and ODB-3 to work, and see if the guys in the R&D Lab will let me have a little time alone with their $12,000 'scope! That thing does both time domain AND frequency domain, and saves screen dumps to disk, so we could look at a spectrum chart.

    I might have to borrow a Lab Tech too if I want to bring-up the FFT functions - or I suppose I could look through the operation manual through a lunch or two - that thing looks like a phone book!