pedals include Fuzz and Overdrive. Both produce a warm and gritty
sound. Fuzz produces a more distorted buzzy sound as in the Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No)
Satisfaction” while overdrive gives a warm tube-amp sound.
A Brief History of Overdrive
The overdrive sound originally came from a tube amp
phenomenon. When you drive the signal beyond the capacity of the power amp, you get clipping (the
cutting off of the top of the sound wave) which produces a gritty distorted sound. Some players
achieved this by removing one of the tubes in the power amp or using lower wattage amps and turning
them up higher. Later the sound could be achieved with less bother (or risk of shock) by turning up
the preamp volume and reducing the master volume control of the amp. Early Marshall amps didn’t
have a master volume control so some players would daisy chain to channels together to overdrive
the amp. Later, distortion pedals added to a huge variety of gritty distorted tones available for
all styles, from classic rock to heavy metal.
Fuzz Tone Distortion
Fuzz was first used by the Rolling Stones in (I can’t get no)
Satisfaction. According to Keith Richards, he originally planned to use horns, “The fuzz tone came
in handy so I could give shape to what the horns were supposed to do. But the fuzz tone had never
been heard before anywhere, and that’s the sound that caught everybody’s imagination.” Keith never
used the effect again, preferring not to repeat himself.
There are many good distortion pedals out there, offering a great variety of tonal
characteristics. Here are some of the highlights:
Boss is the name to be reckoned with for the sheer number and variety of distortion pedals
its offers. Boss covers all bases, from the heavy metal overdrive tones of the
Boss MT-2 Metal
pedal, to the
fuzz pedal, to the hugely popular and value priced
SD1 Super Overdrive
Pedal. Boss pedals are known for durability and value. For
a great all around pedal, consider the
Boss BC-2 Combo
pedal. Starting from the sounds of classic British tube combo amps, The BC-2
lets you dial in power and tone that far exceed what the original amps could do.
is another great name in distortion pedals with a number of great products. The
Badass 78 Distortion Pedal
is well worth your consideration for its classic amp stack
distortion tones and hot rodded circuitry.
Electronics Dark Matter Distortion
pedal is a particularly versatile effects unit.
Take your tone from clean with a little something extra, to a dirty bluesy tone, to extreme vintage
overdrive, with output 3 or 4 times the voltage of other pedals. TC Electronics is known for the
finest circuitry using the finest components and the Dark Matter pedal with its “true bypass”
design is no exception.
For those on a budget, a great place to start is with the
Fender Starcaster Distortion EQ Pedal
. This is a very versatile pedal, ruggedly
built, and at an incredibly low price. This is the perfect way to start your effects collection.