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Pedal terminology and descriptions

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by Tele-Strat, Aug 3, 2011.

  1. Tele-Strat

    Tele-Strat TDPRI Member

    Jun 11, 2011
    I am looking to get my first pedal and I want to understand the terms that are used in descriptions of various pedals. If I have a better handle of the terms, it may help me decide what I want and understand discussions here and on youtube demos, shops. I see the terms overdrive, distortion, crunch, high gain, clean boost, etc. Some pedals seem to focus on overdrive while some for example seem to have overdrive and clean boost combined. I don't want to assume that some terms are interchangeable, but I gather that is the case.

  2. bumblefingers

    bumblefingers Tele-Meister

    Dec 15, 2009
    Your question is sort of a can of worms. There are a bunch of general pedals, then some variations on those. There will be others that chime in that are probably more knowledgeable than I am. In general overdrive "overdriven amp" is a milder distortion than a distortion pedal. Sort of like blues/classic rock compared to heavy metal.

    What kind of music are you playing?

    Cheap OD pedals to look at, bad monkey, dano transparent overdrive v1, any tube screamer

    more expensive: tim, timmy, ocd

    I'd probably recommend starting off cheap to hone it in a bit. guitar fetish has some cheap ones that are generally well reviewed, danelectro has cheap boxes that lots of people like, boss pedals are very common and can be modded.

    Be careful, the boutique pedals start to stack up after a while. I'm on my 2nd pedal board and have what amounts to a high high end amp in pedals now. Easy to spend a lot of money $100 at a time.
  3. ObjectBlue

    ObjectBlue Tele-Meister

    Oct 23, 2009
    Newburgh, IN
    Only purchase pedals with names like "sexual chocolate"
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  5. jdaunt

    jdaunt Tele-Meister

    Feb 11, 2011
    To answer your specific question, essentially all those terms you mentioned are different uses of the same pedals, kind of. Overdrive is either the channel used on your amp, or an overdrive/distortion pedal with the volume above 12 o'clock (halfway) and the drive/distortion/whatever it's called on that particular pedal at or below 9 o'clock (about 2/4). Essentially OD is upping the volume and pushing the amp, but not to the point of breaking up the signal.
    Distortion is said knob above 9 o'clock to the point where the signal is breaking up. Crunch is essentially a lighter distortion, and you can take thar as heavy as you want.
    High gain in cranking the gain knob on your amp.
    Boost is getting one pedal set to the overdrive/distortion setting you want, then adding a second pedal-either another OD/Distortion pedal or a clean boost (essentially a volume) pedal set to similar setting to boost the guitar volume for a solo. Basically you have one level for your rhythm parts, then during a solo you hit that to boost it to make your solo stand out above the rest.
    So like I said it's allkinda the same, just depends on the level you take the pedals. Some are better at certain aspects of it than others so listen online and try some out in store if you can. It pretty much all comes down to personal taste. There's pedals people rave about that I think sound terrible, it just depends on what you want from it.
    That's kinda the basics, hope it helps.
  6. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Friend of Leo's

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA

    What kind of music do you like to listen to/wanna play? Or guitar tone you are going after?- all of these pedals produce (or drive an amp to...) some level of distortion, so its just a good idea to get a handle on this first. A player's "breakup" sound is really individual. Do you want to retain the inherent sound of your guitar>amp tone and develp a "breakup' that is just an extension of that, OR do you want to drastically modify that sound ?

    Luckilly there is a universe of affordable dirt boxes- but we can make a few recommendations if you have a "direction";)
  7. Wrong-Note Rod

    Wrong-Note Rod Poster Extraordinaire

    Mar 4, 2009
    good post jdaunt.

    overdrive and distortion are related and sometimes interchangeable. To me, overdrive is anything in the large sonic territory between very "light" overdrive of something like john lee hooker; to mild overdive like a lot of keith richards of chuckberrys stuff; hotter to maybe stevie ray vaughan; and then very hot overdrive gives you a lot of the "Classic rock" tones of early ZZ Top, Free, even some Led Zep and Cream and maybe ACDC. At that point, overdrive and distortion are probably hand-in-hand. Distortion has a much harder edge and is the hallmark of most metal music... anything from early VanHalen (altho some guys will say thats extra hot overdrive) and onward thru the most paint-peeling of severe and extreme rock guitar sounds.
  8. Teleworshipkid

    Teleworshipkid Friend of Leo's

    Mar 20, 2011
    Newport Beach, CA
    "Distortion": Distorts your guitar signal.
    "Overdrive": Distortion, but based more on the sound of an overdriven tube amp.
    "Crunch": Overdrive, but based more on the sound of a cranked Marshall stack.
    "Clean Boost": makes your tone louder without distorting it, so you can get natural overdrive from your AMP..
  9. Tele-Strat

    Tele-Strat TDPRI Member

    Jun 11, 2011
    Thanks, you folks are helpful.

    My first very first web search for pedals resulted in Catlinabread Formula 5demo of a band playing Cinnamon girl.

    That lead to links/demos for the Formula 5 used to play Keef riffs (Keith in a box) I thought that I don't need to look any further!! Maybe I am very naive .

    Then I saw the bunches of videos of Greg Hilden (Gregguitars) using an Okko Diablo to get lovely tone from his Telecasters and other guitars.

    I also heard demos of the Diablo sounding more overdriven like the Catlinabread Form 5 demos as well as the generally positive posts regarding it. One expensive pedal that would satisfy seems worthy of the high cost.

    Because of my pedal virginity, I wanted to get up on the learning curve. Thus starting the thread.
  10. Tele-Strat

    Tele-Strat TDPRI Member

    Jun 11, 2011
    Anyone have experience with these pedals? Comments???
  11. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Friend of Leo's

    Mar 29, 2007
    Manassas Park, VA
    What kind of guitar/amp are you using?

    Never played one but it seem the Catlinabread Formula 5 is a favorite for those seeking a cranked tweed Fender tone; as well as the recommended OD for those that do have "tweed style amps" Don't quite understand that....maybe for those that have tweeds but can't crank them? This seems to ne a niche tone OD tone for me in that is specific, NOT an all around good for anything OD tone. I Love "Cinnamon Girl"( and most Neil Young cranked Deluxe songs) but I don't want that breakup on everything!

    Have you checked out any of the popular but quality (off the shelf) OD's such as the Ibanez Tube Screamers, Fulltone OCD's or Fulldrives, Pro Co Rats, MXR, stuff from Exotic, Boss OD-3 just to have some reference points for OD/distortions?
  12. ' burn 08

    ' burn 08 Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 26, 2011
    Decatur, AL
    No experience with those pedals. But I understand where you are coming from. That is exactly the way i felt when I first started looking at OD pedals. Another term you are going to hear is "transparent". That just means that the pedal doesn't color the guitars tone so much. What helped me understand how an OD/distrotion pedal works is thinking about the signal chain: guitar>pedal>preamp>power tubes>speaker and the effect each stage has on the sine wave. In particularly signal clipping.

    When I got an idea of how that worked it made the pedal search easier becasue I knew how the signal should be effected when I changed the settings. And internet demos don't always tell the whole story depending on the mic setup when they are recording and depending on the speakers on your computer. I suggest trying a couple, side by side if possible, to kind of see what you like.

    I've only purchased 2 OD/distortion pedals so far. The first was a dano pastrami od pedal. I bought that one blind. It gave a decent boost and could fatten up the sound a little. Not bad for $30. Very transparent. I eventually got a Boss BD-2 which is pretty transparent also, but is very versitile. You can use it as a clean boost, for crunch, to drive the amp, or for distortion. You can get into fuzz territory also with it, but it is a little fizzy on the fuzz end without a mod. But I compared the BD-2 side by side with a Boss SD-1, which is a TS style pedal. The SD-1 gave a nice mid boost. I may still get a TS style pedal.
  13. k tone

    k tone Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 29, 2008
    I bought a Joyo Ultimate Drive from Yoosmart for around $45 all in and it kills. It is an OCD Clone. It is very well built and sounds great. I like it so much that I just ordered the OD and the Classic Chorus.
  14. telefan62

    telefan62 Tele-Meister

    Nov 17, 2009
    Silicon Valley, CA
    I have (and dearly love) a Catalinbread Formula #5. It's actually quite versatile, not niche at all, but you have to use the volume knob on the guitar to get the full benefit of its versatility. I use mine a lot and recommend it.

    For a first OD pedal, though, I'd recommend the humble MXR Classic OD if you are near a Guitar Center. For $39, this thing is killer: It's a tube screamer type, but it is cheap and sounds great. The more you play, you'll develop a more personal taste in ODs and probably add more, but I think the COD is a great place to start. I love mine and it sits on my board -and gets used- right next to pedals that cost 4X as much.
  15. Tele-Strat

    Tele-Strat TDPRI Member

    Jun 11, 2011
    To answer: I have a Telecaster and 65 Deluxe Reverb-- both shiny new Fender products. I wish I had read the most recent posts before I did what I just did:

    I was on Amazon ordering a dehumidifier and I had extra free gift dollars available -- just enough to also get the Formula 5 that I was interested in, So I ordered the appliance and my toy. If I had seen the one trick pony description and other posts, I might have picked something different. But it was essentially free and is already being shipped, so no going back.

    BTW, should this subject be changed from "terminology" to something else to gather more interest?
  16. Tele-Strat

    Tele-Strat TDPRI Member

    Jun 11, 2011

    I feel a bit better about my premature purchase based on your comment .
  17. jdaunt

    jdaunt Tele-Meister

    Feb 11, 2011
    Congrats on the purchase! Hope you enjoy it, and if not, put it on ebay and get something out of it and try again. That seems to be the routine.

    I got lucky on OD pedals so far. Picked up a Fulltone OCD and love it, perfect for what I wanted, and I use a BD-2 as a clean boost. Also go back and forth between my clean and crunch channels on my Marshall MG30FX depending on the mood of the song. Have had bad luck on fuzz pedals though. Tried a Way Huge Swollen Pickle, liked it but didn't love it so traded it in and got my Tele instead. Then tried a Dano Cool Cat Fuzz v1-knew it was not at all what I was looking for as soon as I plugged it in. Now I have a Big Muff, like it in small doses, but not an always on fuzz like I had kinda wanted. So now I've tweaked my amp settings and get my dirt from the crunch channel instead of a pedal. It's funny how much work it takes to make your amp put out the sound that's in your head, but so rewarding when you do it (or get close at least)
  18. Tele-Strat

    Tele-Strat TDPRI Member

    Jun 11, 2011
    I see now that options and permutations for tone is unlimited:

    Pedal x amp x pu x stomp x type of hearing loss = tone ;)

    With so many pedals available, and the above equation, I am beginning to see why there could be so many opinions.:
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