Guitar Overdrive Effects

by Chris Brower
Overdrive adds thickness and power to a guitar sound.

Overdrive adds thickness and power to a guitar sound.

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Overdrive is what creates a distorted sound for guitar. This pronounced distorted guitar resonance is used frequently in all genres of rock, as well as blues and other genres. It helps create a thick, heavy guitar sound and is often controlled using a foot pedal. As this is one of the most commonly used guitar effects, most manufacturers of effects pedals offer multiple overdrive and distortion models.


Overdrive effects come in a variety of styles, which give you a number of options in the level of overdrive you can add to your guitar sound. The type of style you choose is often based on what genre of music you play, with metal guitarists typically wanting heavier, thicker distortion and overdrive pedals than blues players. Some styles include standard overdrive, fuzz, blues overdrive, metal distortion, grunge style distortion and overdrive pedals that replicate the sound of certain amplifiers.


Effects pedals usually feature multiple controls, giving the guitarist a variety of options for the sounds that the pedal can create. These controls often come in the form of knobs that you turn to generate different sounds, similar to turning a tone knob on a stereo. Common knobs include gain, level, low, mid and high. Overdrive and distortion effects pedals can also be combined with other effects pedals to create even more sound possibilities.


Several companies sell guitar overdrive and distortion pedals. BOSS offers several pedals including the OD-3: OverDrive, MD-2: Mega Distortion and DS-1: Distortion. DigiTech manufactures many, including the Tone Driver, Metal Master, Grunge and Hot Head. MXR sells several, such as the Blue Box Octave Fuzz, Distortion III, Fullbore Metal and GT-OD Overdrive. Ibanez offers multiple pedals, including TS9DX: Turbo Tube Screamer, JD9: Jet Driver, TS9: Tube Screamer and TS808: Tube Screamer Overdrive Pro.

Bass Guitar

While bass overdrive or distortion is less frequently used, some manufacturers of effects pedals do offer pedals designed for that purpose. This includes BOSS ODB-3: Bass OverDrive, DigiTech: Bass Driver and MXR: El Grande Bass Fuzz. Adding distortion or overdrive to the bass guitar imparts thickness and power to its sound.

About the Author

Chris Brower is a writer with a B.A. in English. He also spent time studying journalism and utilizes both to deliver well-written content, paying close attention to audience, and knowing one word could determine whether a product is a success or a failure. He has experience writing articles, press releases, radio scripts, novels, short stories, poems and more.

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