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BOSS Guitar Pedal Overview: Distortion/Overdrive

Most guitar players have a pedalboard, which is a small effects rig that they carry around. We all know rock stars who are superstars because of their ability to use and manipulate effects.

If you love heavy music and would like to duplicate that signature sound from your favorite band, it’s time you invest in a distortion pedal. Distortion/overdrive pedals may not be suitable for every guitar and vocal style. But if they are appropriate, it’s hard to beat the awesome sound of these effects pedals.

Let’s take a look at some of the best distortion and overdrive stompboxes on the market.

a guitarist wearing brown shoes is using effects pedals during practice

What is Distortion Pedal?

Aside from metronomes, a guitar player's pedal collection is also an important part of their equipment. It makes them easier to switch between effects in a live environment. It can also be a personal statement, defining the genre of music that you play.

What you need is a good distortion pedal - something that isn't out of tune with your unique style. Distortion pedals are a must-have for any player's pedal collection. They're used in a range of musical genres and styles, such as rock, metal, blues, country, etc.

Distortion pedals do as the name suggests—distort your guitar's sound. Distortion can range from light overdrive to heavy metal sounds. This lets you take your guitar from calm and clean to aggressive and powerful. Like any pedal, distortion offers a lot of freedom to experiment and play outside the box.

It is also an important ingredient you need to play the tunes you've been working on in front of an audience. What's great about guitar pedals is that they can create some pretty unique sound combinations. There's a lot of variety when it comes to distortion pedals. While some distort sound dramatically, others allow you to have more control.

Types of Distortion Pedals

Recording with distortion and overdrive pedals is very popular today. Manufacturers offer an enormous amount of different pedal categories. This allows them to cater to the various tastes of guitarists across the globe.

With so many guitar distortion pedals to choose from, it can be hard to know if they all do the same thing. To help you find the right one, below are the types of distortion pedals. So, you can learn more about these effects and how they’ll improve your guitar tone.


Overdrive is one of the most popular guitar effects. It adds an unmistakable tube-like tone and sustains your sound. BOSS overdrive stompboxes produce a warm, full sound that works well with any type of music. These pedals are perfect tools for players who want more gain, tone, and sustain. It is also ideal for rock, blues, and country guitar.

Many guitar enthusiasts are impressed by the overdrive pedal bug. Essentially using solid-state electronics and op-amps. They excel in making a distorted tone smoother and more controllable than your average fuzz pedal. 

These are, in great part, responsible for creating that tone that we all love so much. The truth is, there are countless variations of this effect and countless ways to put it to use.

The best way to think of overdrive pedals is as electronic devices. They can create an effect like that of a tube amp turned up too loud. This leveling out leads to an increase in distortion. Oftentimes, sounds more like an overdriven tube amp – particularly in the lower gain settings.

The use of overdrive pedals is to produce the same effect that occurs when your tube amp is being pushed too hard. This results in a sustained, distorted sound that is usually a derivative of the sound of an overdriven tube amplifier.

To better understand what Overdrive pedals do and how it sounds, let’s hear how Johnny DeMarco uses this pedal as a guide.

BOSS Overdrive Stompboxes

TOP BOSS Overdrive Stompbox: BD-2 Blues Driver


product image of BOSS BD-2 Blues Driver


Blues is the root of all rock music, so if you want a sound that will make people move, nothing screams rock like this pedal. The Blues Driver is a versatile and rich-sounding overdrive pedal. It is built with the same rugged construction as all-tube amplifiers. This pedal delivers copious amounts of clean headroom to let your tube amp reach its sweet spot.

The BOSS BD-2 Blues Driver is often considered the standard for blues, and for good reason. This pedal delivers a range of instant emotional responses, from smooth overdrive to subtle crunch to full-on distortion. And this isn't just a one-trick pony; it also comes with controls that allow you to alter the intensity, based on your style and tonal preference.

BD-2 Blues Driver is one of the most versatile overdrive pedals on the market. The pedal works to produce natural overdriven amp tones that can spice up your solos or lead parts. This pedal is designed with two switches and knobs for easy operation. So, you won't have any problems even if this is your first-ever pedal. With a range of tones from bluesy warmth to rock crunch and more, the TOP BOSS Overdrive Stompbox:BD-2 Blues Driver will surely give your tone a boost.


Fuzz pedals have been around for centuries, and were invented as distortion effects. Back when guitarists had to connect their guitars directly to the radio and didn’t have as many effects, a fuzz pedal would simulate overdriven sounds.  Fuzz pedals can range from being almost identical to standard pedals to pedals that are packed with modern features.

Fuzz is a type of distortion that has been around since the early days of rock n’ roll. It tends to sound fuzzy or dirty. But, without a lot of the higher frequencies that are often found in other Distortions. It can sometimes have a rawer sound than its cousins “Distortion” or “Overdrive.” Fuzz pedals are simplistic in design but provide a heavy sound when users want to emulate the raw sound of distortion from the sixties.

Generally speaking, most fuzz pedals work with one of two different mechanisms. The first type is germanium based and produces a more subtle distortion that sounds very warm. While silicon-based pedals offer greater levels of distortion but tend to lack the same warmth.

They can help you blast out a distinctive tone that is as memorable as it is powerful. The simplicity of this effect makes it a great choice if you are starting out playing guitar or bass. Or, looking for an affordable option to try out.

If you’re looking for a classic rock sound, but don’t want to compromise sound quality for it, BOSS Fuzz effects might be your cup of tea.

Let's listen to the sound of a Fuzz effect pedal by watching this video from BOSS Channel:

BOSS Fuzz Stompboxes

TOP BOSS Fuzz Stompbox: FZ-5 Fuzz

product image of BOSS FZ-5 Fuzz

The FZ-5 Fuzz stompbox is one of the most widely used guitar effects pedals that has worked magic on many famous guitarists' music. If you are looking for an effect pedal to deliver all out fuzz, you will be amazed to see the kind of magic that this stompbox can bring on your guitar. The signature and unique sound it offers is something you cannot find in any other pedal out there. 

As you are likely aware when trying out a BOSS FZ-5 fuzz, there's no denying this pedal is dominant and absolutely chaotic. It will easily turn your sound into an overly distorted tone that sounds like pure destruction. If you are looking for something extreme, look no further. 

The BOSS FZ-5 is one of the best fuzz pedals for an electric guitar.  The FZ-5 provides a wide range of tones which makes it even more versatile compared to others in its class. It isn't noisy at all and is built to last. It is a true professional fuzz pedal that has some levels of fuzz that are full and thick. Using three different modes, the BOSS FZ-5 gives you several options.


Distortion is a guitar effect that alters the initial signal. It's often used in metal. Although this is a widespread sound, there are many types of distortion. The most generic name would be distortion, but, there are harsh and more distinct sounds than fuzz boxes. 

There's much more distortion. While all these pedals have their specific sound, all music genres can use distortion pedal effects.

Distortion is a class of tone effects that overdrives the sound. Unlike other types of effects, this method of sound alteration increases the amplitude of the waveform of your signal, giving it a grainy and sometimes harsh sound when you push the pedal beyond its range. 

A quick history lesson: pedals in this category were meant to simulate the distorted sounds heard at live rock concerts in the 1960s. Hence, they have a much harsher "metal" sound than other kinds of effects. However, they are often also used to give guitar solos and bass lines similar distortions. As well as to "clean up" tonality by making harsh overdrive sounds more mellow during rhythm passages.

BOSS distortion pedal. Making it easy for you to crank out super heavy metal tones. Distortion pedals come in a wide variety, and you need to find the one that’s best for you.

The BOSS guitar pedal series all have a “Distortion” effect. This is one of the most generic names in the world of effects, but it doesn't tell you much about this category. Many players describe distortion as a harsher sound than overdrive. But with more discernible notes, and to others, it sounds like a fuzz box when overdrive would be a better description.

Take a look as John Dreyer shows you how to achieve clean and distorted tones in your playing!

BOSS Distortion Stompboxes

TOP BOSS Distortion Stompbox: ML-2 Metal Core

product image of ML-2 Metal Core BOSS distortion stompbox

Building upon the success of the widely popular DS-1 and DS-2 pedals, the stunningly new ML-2 Metal Core Pedal crushes it with even more capabilities, tighter tone, and greater distortion. This stompbox is going to blow your mind when you hear the massive gain from its tight low end and gut-punching mids. It has enough distortion even for metal gods who want to push it to the edge.

With its extreme gain and grinding tone, the ML-2 is one of the most potent and heavy distortion pedals ever created by BOSS. The ML-2 will easily deliver massive distortion and gain with thick, grinding lows for playing extreme metal styles. Its ferocious and biting tone will complement and cut through any blast beats your rhythm section can create.

This pedal leans toward metal and heavy rock but can be used for other genres as well. It is particularly suited for nu-metal, industrial and other styles that have a very aggressive sound and need high gain distortion.

What’s the Difference between Distortion and Overdrive Stompboxes?

What is Distortion? The term “distortion” refers to how much a guitar effects signal has been changed. If you need a little bit of grit, then a subtle overdrive will do the trick.

Distortion - Dirty Sound

Distortion was created as an unintentional by-product of overdriving the input of the amplifiers. Overdriving means pushing too much voltage to an amplifier. This creates a distortion in sound which is the reason why some players describe it as dirty or fuzzy. This 'dirty' sound is what makes any guitarist crank up the volume. And push their amplifier's knob to achieve that aggressive tone.

Overdrive - Perform Dynamics

Overdrive pedals, as the name implies, it overdrive an amp model, guitar, or pedal. You can use this to make a sound that is more aggressive or to add extra gain when playing solos. They can also boost your signal - meaning you can increase your level without having to turn your amp up so much.

To create a reactive and dynamic distortion, overdrive pedals are often used to push a clean amp into a natural overdrive. Overdrive is often used with electric guitars, sometimes with a distortion pedal.


While it's true that both pedals create a similar effect on the guitar sound by increasing gain, there are two main differences. Overdrive pedals allow the overdriven signal through. While distortion pedals take the original sound and change it. You can use the same amount of distortion (or overdrive) with a hard playing style or soft playing style. As opposed to an overdrive pedal which requires lots of dynamic input for an authentic sound.

Overdrive creates the sound you already have, but in a louder way. Distortion changes the original sound, adding no new qualities or flavors. It simply cranks up the original sound.

BOSS Distortion and Overdrive Stompboxes

TOP BOSS Distortion and Overdrive Stompbox:OS-2 OverDrive/Distortion


product image of BOSS OS-2 OverDrive/Distortion pedal


Guitarists love pedals. A good pedal can produce that perfect overdrive or boost your amp into overdrive and provide you with the distortion you've always wanted. But not every pedal is perfect. And sometimes, pedals overlap each other but in a different way. BOSS has given us a cool pedal, the OS-2 and it's like two pedals in one. The OS-2 allows you to produce all kinds of overdrive sounds and distortion flavor, or even a combination of both!

The OS-2 is a two-in-one pedal. It features distortion as well as an overdrive mode. Call up a fat distortion tone, and drive with the Drive control while adjusting the Tone knob to get different shades of color. This pedal is great for metal rhythms, leads, and controlled feedback.

The Overdrive mode's tone ranges from thin and transparent to tight and aggressive to brown and smooth. With the Drive control, you can go from no gain at all to massive amounts of crunch. The pedal also offers a cool glassy clean tone when you turn down both the Drive and Level controls.

This combines the classic crunchy rhythm sound of overdrive with the aggressive sound of distortion. One footswitch lets you go from the clean sound of overdrive to the distorted tone that defines rock 'n roll. The other footswitch steps up the bite, ready for your solo or lead. You'll find that endless variations of tone are waiting in between these two extremes.

Should You Get A BOSS Distortion/Overdrive Stompbox?

Definitely! A distortion pedal can be used in many different ways depending on your musical situation. 

As a bedroom guitarist, you might use it in small increments for solos or in the background for a “dirty” sound. As a recording artist, you may want to use it for choruses and solos to stand out from the mix. Or if you're playing live with a band, you might want to use it for screaming guitar solos or as part of your rhythm guitar sound.

If you want to create it, distortion pedals can get it done. No matter what kind of music you play – rock, metal, jazz, pop, or country – there’s a distortion pedal out there to help make your riffs sing. 

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