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Fuzz-distortion-overdrive difference
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Guitars, Basses, Amps & FX  
Author Fuzz-distortion-overdrive difference
With regards to synths and in general... what differs?
I have an EH Graphic Fuzz that I use on modular synths between modules, but it has a 'distortion'slider. Not fuzz. It makes me wonder.

Is fuzz limited distortion at certain frequencies? Is overdrive using only volume and not feedback to obtain the same results? Is there a dictionary to help my feeble understanding of the specific nuances? zombie

I use EH Graphic Fuzz a lot w/ synths and Vox Tonebender with other instruments. The EH is mislabeled and the Vox is a ???
I am not a technical guy, so I may well get corrected here, but at least I think I understand the common vernacular. "Fuzz" and "Distortion" can be thought of as two aspects of the same thing, and are frequently used interchangeably, especially back "in the day", or on pedals who are pretending to be something they're not. The difference lies in what sound they are going for, although they can be rather subtle differences on some pedals. Fuzz generally emulates tube distortion, and Distortion is just any distortion. Fuzz is supposed to be "creamy" or "woolly" and adds a fat bar of saturation to one smaller frequency range, as I understand it. Distortion is just any old application of the same, and sometimes sounds just like fuzz, but usually sounds like some cheap speaker overloading, or at worst (imho), like a digital part going click click click click -- hard clipping. Overdrive is supposed to be completely different in approach -- but usually pedals will do a combination of overdrive and distortion -- add gain, not necessarily changing the harmonics of the signal, but overdriving the amp, to make the amp do the same. A tube amp will usually have a warmer, more limited way of making a sound somewhat similar to a fuzz, and a solid state amp will usually give you results closer to a distortion (though some SS amps are designed to emulate tubes even when overdriven).

There, I probably got all of that somewhat wrong, but that's how all those pedals sound to me when I use them!
Really it all comes down to how the signal is being shaped. Some distortion clips the tops off the wave and this has different sound if its hard or soft clipping, and if it applies symmetrically or not. Then you start to get to transfer functions where the wave is 'shaped' from being a sine to something more square like or more triangle like, or even more saw like. Most distortions and fuzz are a combination of these.

So the names are really just trying to be descriptive; fuzz has sort of a classic vibe associated with it, like an overdriven tube amp, added sustain. Distortion is more Nirvana/NIN huge guitar sounds. That said, the way to achieve both comes about through some of the techniques above.
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