Dirty. Overdriven. Fuzzed Out.

Buying Guide: Distortion, Overdrive, Fuzz, and Boost Effects

Musicians and audiences can't get enough of the raging, thick, crushing, saturated, overtone-filled thump of a clipping audio signal. Turn on any popular song, and there is bound to be some distortion, overdrive, fuzz or boost added to an instrument.

Today's distortion effects are a far cry from the days when most distortion was accidental. The low wattage of early amplifiers made it easy to distort a signal -- your tone became an out-of-control harmonic monster by just cranking up the amp's volume. Musicians immediately liked what they heard. This high-gain sound eventually became so popular that early electric guitarists would even slash their amps' speaker cones to make their sound as roaring as possible.

Luckily for your speakers, the brightest minds in music were able to create portable and sonically versatile effects pedals. zZounds' exclusive Distortion Effects Buying Guide will help you choose the perfect distortion, overdrive, fuzz, or boost pedal to give you the exact kind of distorted tones you're looking for.

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Distortion and Overdrive Pedals
Distortion and overdrive pedals sit on your signal's peaks, loading it up with harmonics by sending it through one or more stages of clipping. There are a number of components that can crush and thicken your signal, each with their own unique tones and abilities.

Distortion pedals affect your signal at any volume level. This makes them perfect for switching between clean and high-gain sounds, or playing at a low volume. Their versatility in creating everything from smooth textures to highly saturated metal tones make them a essential part of your effects chain.

Overdrive pedals add distortion to your audio signal by mimicking the effect of cranking up the volume of tube amps. This soft clipping produces warm, harmonically dense tone that is affected by the signal's gain level -- the higher the level, the nastier the overdrive.

Classic Distortion and Overdrive Pedals:

Modern distortion and overdrive effects pedals have varied designs that offer even more crunchy, harmonically rich tones. Features like multiple bands of EQ, adjustable tone filters and layering of distortion let players dial in the most customizable distorted, overdriven tones yet.

Modern Distortion and Overdrive Pedals:

With distortion and overdrive pedals so popular -- even essential to your signal chain -- manufacturers have committed themselves to building affordable distortion and overdrive effects. These red-hot distortion and overdrive pedals will open up your tone -- and at under $100, save you money on your journey to saturation salvation.

Distortion and Overdrive Pedals Under $100:
Fuzz and Boost
The fuzzed-out tones of guitarists in the '60s were some of the most memorable and influential in popular music -- and they were often created with fuzz pedals. These first fuzz pedals created a buzzing, rumbling effect that was quickly embraced by some of the most legendary players, letting them push their sound into uncharted tonal territory.

After the first fuzz pedals had been dirtying up guitars for a few years, boost pedals became popular in the quest to create a somewhat clearer-sounding, but still powerful tone. Boost effects overdrive your guitar's signal by boosting the gain of the signal enough to overload your amp's tubes. This takes your tone from 10 to 11, making boost pedals perfect for accentuating lead lines or thickening up your rhythm sound with their complex yet natural tone.

Players consistently demand the dense, harmonically rich tones of the classic fuzz and boost pedals heard in the most popular and influential recordings and performances. Their tones and sonic ferocity are unmistakable, and continue to influence today's modern sounds.

Fuzz and Boost: Classic Sounds:

There is hardly enough fuzz or boost to keep musicians happy, and pedal makers continue to advance and update the classic fuzz and boost sounds. With advanced circuitry, improved reliability, and humongous tone, modern fuzz and boost pedals offer the perfect blend of insanity and discipline to impress the biggest fuzz and boost tweakers.

Fuzz and Boost: Modern Sounds:

Boost pedals and fuzz pedals are essential to crafting the thick and textured tones of classic songs. With tons of features and rich tone, these pedals will add plenty of texture to your sound for under $125.

Fuzz and Boost Pedals Under $125: