So, you’ve just bought that new distortion pedal you’ve been checking out, and for some reason it’s just not delivering the sounds you expected. This is a common occurrence for most people when buying new gear, and below are some things to take into consideration when your distortion pedal is not performing up to your standards.
1. Your distortion pedal does not match your style of playing
There are three main types of distortion pedals; Distortion, Fuzz and Overdrive.
Each of these create different guitar tones that may/may not fit into your desired style of playing, and this is why you never want to buy a distortion pedal without either hearing, or playing it first.
- Distortion – A straight distortion pedal will offer increased sustain, gain and attack, and their levels can range from mild distortion to full blown metal. They fit well into almost all rock and metal genres.
- Overdrive – Overdrive pedals are designed to give your guitar a tone similar to that coming out of a quality tube amp with the gain turned up. They are great for adding an edge to your sound while also preserving the nuances of your playing. They do not provide the same level of sustain and gain as distortion pedals do, but are perfect for classic rock and blues. Their tone can be described as “warm”.
- Fuzz – A fuzz pedal allows you to turn up your amp and get some wild tones from your guitar. Jimi Hendrix made these types of pedals famous with his signature sound, and just like his pedals, your fuzz will provide a thick, sustain rich distortion. These types of pedals fit right into hard rock, blues and stoner rock. Guitarists from both the Black Keys and White Stripes are current examples of rock bands that utilize the fuzz tone.
2. Your distortion pedals settings are not adjust correctly
Even the best pedals might require some tweaking to get their tone just right, and properly adjusting the settings is the preferred way to do this. Most distortion pedals will have, at the least, a volume, tone and distortion setting.
- Volume – This adjusts the output level of the pedal when it is engaged. You want to balance this level with your clean tone, because if both are at completely different levels, then switching between them will make your transitions sound unnatural. It is common though for your distortion pedals volume to be set higher than your clean tone so you get that extra attack of gain.
- Tone – No surprise here with this setting, it will alter your overall tone. It works by adjusting the mix of the highs and lows that are produced. My advice is to set the knob at 12 o’clock and tweak it as you play until it sounds just right.
- Distortion – This will adjust the level of distortion, over drive or fuzz that your pedal pushes out. It is generally a personal preference, so you if you like a lot of gain, turn it up.
3. Your effects pedal chain is not ordered correctly
Overtime, guitarists can accumulate a wide variety of effects pedals, and in order to play them at the same time, they are placed in a effects chain. Effects chains consist of numerous pedals that are are linked together, and the ordering of them can play a big role in your tone because some pedals could effectively zap your distortion pedal’s power/tone.
4. Your distortion pedal’s batteries are weak/dying.
Although some people actually like the tones produced by their pedals when using weak batteries, some of us might not. If you are concerned with your pedal’s tone changing over the life of you battery you may want to consider purchasing an AC Adapter.
5. You are using an old or inferior guitar cable.
A guitar cable is the lifeline to your amp, and if you are not using a quality cable, neither your guitar’s tone, or your pedal’s tone will sound their best.
6. Your amp settings are not adjusted correctly
Just like the settings on your effects pedals, your amp settings also need to be fine tuned to get the perfect sound. This again, is somewhat of a personal preference and I am mentioning it basically as a reminder. If you are not satisfied with your guitar tone, making a few minor adjustments on the amp could make a world of difference. Also check out for the best Joyo pedals review for high quality guitar effect Pedals.