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Question about the function of overdrive pedals

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  • Question about the function of overdrive pedals

    Hi,


    I have a bit of a question about overdrive pedals that I'm a bit confused on. I hope it is not considered stupid. Does the function of an over-drive actually push an amp's tubes to breakup or is it an independent effect?

  • #2
    Re: Question about the function of overdrive pedals

    its an independent effect but you can also boost the volume to hit the amp harder. there are typically three controls, volume gain tone. volume controls output level, tone shapes the sound, gain adds distortion or dirt or overdrive. typically over drive pedals are "soft clip" where distortion pedals are "hard clip" but they are very similar in form and function. with an overdrive pedal the boss sd1 for example, if you run the volume high but gain low the sound from the pedal will not have much dirt but will change tone from the un-effected signal and be louder which you could use to push your amp harder. the higher the gain control is set the more dirt the sound will have.

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    • #3
      Re: Question about the function of overdrive pedals

      An Overdrive traditionally uses some sort of clipping internally to simulate the sound of an overdriving amplifier. Generally a boost is used to push the amp into overdrive. Of course, since the first Overdrive pedals were released 40 years ago guitarists have discovered that you can use an Overdrive AS a boost, to push the amp into more clipping. Most overdrives color the sound in addition to boosting and adding gain, so this is another reason one might use an OD instead of a boost.

      This usually works best when the amp is running pretty hot. A 40W amp at "bedroom" volume usually doesn't respond to using an an Overdrive as a boost like it would when it's up around 4/5 or higher. Once you get the amp turned up a bit, by balancing the output and the drive controls of your pedal, you can get a wide array of tones.
      Oh no.....


      Oh Yeah!

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      • #4
        Re: Question about the function of overdrive pedals

        Thanks for the info, guys! Apparently, I was misinformed a couple years ago. I've been under the impression that the only function of an OD is intended to "push the tubes into breakup." The explanation you two fellows gave seems to make more sense because if all they did was push the tubes, it would be hard to explain why there is such a huge variety of different products available throughout the market. I appreciate the education and i'm glad I asked so I could learn something new today.

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        • #5
          Re: Question about the function of overdrive pedals

          In comparison to distortion pedals, there's a lot less coloring of tone and more (relative or total) "push" on the amp from an overdrive. And a lot of guitarists do use overdrive pedals more as boosts, so the statement that they "only push the tubes" is a common perception but not the absolute truth.

          Then again, I've played a lot of distortion pedals that can provide a large gain boost and "stack" well with a dirty amp, and I've played so-called Overdrive pedals which were useless at boosting an already driven tone. The lines are (excuse the pun) fuzzy.
          Originally posted by King Buzzo
          I love when people come up to me and say “Your guitar sound was better on Stoner Witch, when you used a Les Paul. “...I used a Fender Mustang reissue on that, dumbass!

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          • #6
            Re: Question about the function of overdrive pedals

            Well, you can push the tubes into breakup with something like the Pickup Booster, which hits the amp harder, but it is a clean boost. Overdrives should simulate a slightly distorted amp. They will also compress the signal a bit. I use my 805 to just push the amp slightly so it sounds a little thicker. I don't really dig all-out distortion, as it compresses too much and takes away any dynamics.
            Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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