These effects all introduce a level of distortion to a guitar sound. There are a wide range of different types, ranging from subtle overdrive (mimicking the sound of a tube/valve amp) right the way through to super-saturated distortions much beloved by metalheads.
In the following, click on the icon to hear an MP3 file of the effect.
Let's start by taking a listen to a fairly subtle overdrive sound. For reference here's the clean amp sound first , and now let's introduce some overdrive.
A little bit more intense, but by no means a full-on distortion sound is this crunch sound, where the drive level is cranked up a bit higher.
Taking things another step, we move away from "overdrive" territory towards "distortion". This is a much rockier sound.
When playing with distortion, it's easy to turn the distortion level up just a bit too high, and this can result in a slightly muddy sound. You should aim to get a good balance between being able to hear the effect and letting the dynamics of your playing come through.
Finally, we'll go right up into metal territory with a very high gain distortion sound.
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