Fuzz ... Distortion ... or Overdrive ... What’s the Difference?!

Fuzz ... Distortion ... or Overdrive ... What’s the Difference?! />

It’s fair to say that the line between what is between a fuzz pedal, a distortion pedal and an overdrive pedal is, very.... well... fuzzy!  And if there are 50 shades of grey, then I reckon that there is at twice that for different types of distortion.

It all started in the early days of rock n roll when guitarists wanted to push the amps, push their sound, push the boundaries... so much so that it was just natural evolution for the creative electronics nerds out there to try and come up with something that would make their guitar sound ‘distorted’ (as if the player was over-driving their amp at maximum volume... which is what valves do naturally when you push them hard enough). 

Ever since then guitarists have been tinkering and chasing their “own” sound and tone with the end goal I guess to make your guitar/amp sound like you’re playing SUPER loud but at a more neighbour (and hearing) friendly volume! Quite a challenge.  And a pursuit that is the holy grail of most guitar players... to try and find “that sound”!  

Enter the clever people at Earthquaker Quaker Devices in Ohio, USA.   EQD are one of the most creatively out there and progressive pedal makers on the market today and they have dedicated over a third of their range to various overdrives (and yes, fuzzes and distortions) … with names that are just as creative! Try and visualise, if you possibly can, what you think a “Hoof” might sound like... or a Germanium/Silicone Fuzz, a Hizumitas, a Park Fuzz... they even have one called the “Erupter Perfect Fuzz”?!  All I can say is their board meetings must be a hoot!

But why so many? And what do they all actually DO?!  That is the 5-million-dollar question.  And it’s also why it’s impossible to easily answer a question we get almost every day which is “What’s the best distortion pedal?”.  Listening, talking to other players and researching the “gear rig” for your favourite guitar player/s is a great idea... but ultimately the best way really is to come in and sit down and try them for yourself a few a time. 

Overall... overdrives will be the most subtle (they emulate like “overdriving” a valve amplifier) followed by distortions... which are slightly more aggressive and edgy... and then the world of the fuzz, which can be totally out there even to point you can hardly hear the actual note anymore!

Some guitarists come in knowing exactly the sound they’re looking for... some are just looking for “something different” and still others are collectors (yes, some players collect pedals. And why not?!).  Pick one you like... and go home and experiment.

One of the only things we can promise is... your first distortion (or fuzz or overdrive) pedal will definitely not be your last!  You might get lost down a rabbit hole but you’ll have ball doing it!

Rock on and stay tuned!

Graham

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