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Guitar FX basics: What is distortion?

The BOSS DS-1 distortion pedal
The BOSS DS-1 distortion pedal

Click here for all Guitar FX basics videos.

Getting to grips with guitar effects can be a complicated business and there are so many different types that it can be difficult to know where to start. This Guitar FX basics series of video lessons is a brief introduction to the most common effects.

This video lesson focuses on distortion. Distortion occurs when the gain (the degree of amplification) of the signal is turned up beyond the point where the circuitry is able to handle it, causing the signal to ‘distort´. It sounds similar to overdrive, but a distortion pedal typically sounds more dense.

The best way to learn the difference is to watch the video on distortion below, and then check out our FX basics video on overdrive.