Gain Pedals: The Difference Between Overdrive, Distortion & Fuzz Pedals

Gain pedals Drive Pedals

 Differences between overdrive, distortion and fuzz pedals

Gain pedals are broken up into three main types. First and the lowest amount of gain is an overdrive pedal. Second in gain is the distortion pedal, and finally fuzz pedals. Below we will look at each type and check out the video that will show you how to dial in each. Welcome to the world of gain pedals.

Overdrive pedals

Overdrive Gain Pedals

An overdrive pedal can make your clean amp sound as if it is naturally breaking up. Overdrive pedals are gain pedals that can achieve their break up with ought cranking the amp to ear shattering levels. This pedal  type will be more true to your guitar’s original tone than distortion and fuzz pedals. Overdrive works in a more musical manner with an amps natural saturation than distortion pedals. For styles that require gain, but not heavy distortion, the overdrive pedal would be a fine choice. Popular examples of the overdrive pedal are the Ibanez Tube Screamer and Boss Blues Driver for classic pedals. Modern overdrive pedals include the Wampler Tumnis, Friedman BE-OD, and the J. Rocket Archer.

Distortion pedals

Distortion Gain Pedals

A distortion pedal will turn your clean channel into distortion. Distortion will color your tone and add more sustain to a clean channel and it is more aggressive than an overdrive. A distortion pedal is a great choice for high gain rock and sustain filled leads. Distortion is a better selection for heavy metal than overdrive and fuzz pedals. The  distortion is a more focused gain pedal than fuzz, but more aggressive than overdrive. Popular distortion pedals are the Wampler Pinnacle Deluxe and the legendary Boss DS-1.

Fuzz pedals

Fuzz Gain Pedals

Fuzz pedals are gain pedals that produce more exaggerated distortion than overdrive and distortion pedals. These pedals are most musical when played into an amps natural distortion. They work well when adjusting the guitars volume and tone controls for dynamics. In the late 60s fuzz played a huge roll in contributing to the psychedelic music movement. This pedal is a Big Muff Pi.

Blending gain pedals

Gain pedals can be combined. Any combination of the pedal types mentioned here can be used at the same time. An example would be an overdrive pedal set with its gain set low feeding into a distortion pedal, with its gain dialed to a medium setting.

Gain Pedals are like guitars, you can never have enough. Two overdrives or a distortion and fuzz, you can’t go wrong. Different pedals fit different playing styles and tones. Have fun on your quest to find the ultimate gain pedal that works for you.


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