FUZZ – Overdrive – Distortion


There maybe a lot of confusion about the difference or the interpretation of Fuzz, Overdrive and Distortion. I still get the question asked very often.
Hopefully this will explain in “normal language” the difference between all.

The Terms “Fuzz”, “Distortion” and “Overdrive” are often used as to be the same thing, but they have different meanings.

OverDrive are used to be very mild, that produce very natural warm overtones at low volume. The gain can be (naturally) increased by louder volume but remains the authentic signature sound that is your base tone. They are very sensitive (in a positive way) to amp and guitar settings and the way you play. They really can create your signature sound because it also sounds different by an other “”playing hand”. They are often used to play Blues, Jazz and Rock. Legendary overdive pedals are the ProCo Rat, Ibanez TS808.
DrNo-Effects Overdrives are “More Gary”, “Drive-0-Matic”, “PowerDriver/Booster” and Powerdriver MkII” and Upcomming “Ledgend Tone”.
Distortion produces is known to be a harsher Overdrive that produces almost the same amount of Distortion at any level. Distortion is less organic and less sensitive than his mild and gentle college the Overdrive. The Distortion sound is way more intense and “in your face” than overdrive effects. It is very common to use Overdrive and Distortion in one effects chain to have a Clean/Overdrive/Gain stage to work with. They really work excellent together.  MXR Distrotion +, Big Muff, Boss DS1 or Roland EF1


Fuzz  is the most used and oldest name for the OverDrive/Fuzz/Distortion effects.Its known for its very aggressive but charming sound capabilities. Fuzz effects alters an guitar signal until its almost a square wave. Also adds very organic and unpredictable overtones that can be very exiting to play with. Legendary Fuzzes are the Maestro FZ1 (Rolling Stones), Arbiter Group Fuzz Face (Jimi Hendrix uses), Univox Super Fuzz (The Who).
DrNo-Effects Fuzz devices are: “Octofuzz”, “Kafuzz!!!”,”Madfly”, “Back Magic”, “Ford Falcon Fuzz Car”. More Fuzz Fun yet to be build.

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DrNo’s little history lesson about Guitar Effects

A little history lesson about Guitar Effects. And how did it all started.

Early 50s, rock guitarist and badass Willie Johnson of Howlin Wolf began cracking his amplifier beyond its intended gain level to create warm overdriven sounds.

Howlin Wolf
(“Howlin Wolf” (Chester Arthur Burnett) 1910/1976)

One of the earliest recorded examples of distortion in rock and roll history is the registration of the in 1951 recorded song “Rocket 88” with Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm. The Guitar player Willie Kizart used and amplifier with a speaker that was slightly damaged during the transport causing a slightly overdriven sound.
Ike Turner
(“Ike Turner” (Izear “Ike” Luster Turner Jr.) 1931/2007)

Early 60’s (1961 to be exactly) , the rock band  The Ventures asked their friend session musician and electronics wizard Orville Rhodes (AkA “Red Rhodes”) for help recreating the “broken” or “fuzzy” sound caused by a faulty preamp on  Grady Martin’s guitar track for “Don’t Worry”  by Marty Robbins. Orville Rhodes then offered The Ventures a handmade Fuzz-Box, they later on used on “2000 Pound Bee”.(1962).
Red Rhodes
(Orville J. Rhodes Aka “Red Rhodes” 1930/1995)

This also was the year of the first commercial fuzz boxes we all know as the legendary “Maestro Fuzztone FZ1 also released in 1962.
(Legendary “Maestro Fuzz-Tone”)

“You Realy Got Me” by The Kinks is even recorded with a razorblade slashed speaker to create that damaged distorted sound. This was in 1964.

1965 Mr Keith Richard used the Gibson Maestro Fuzz on the “I Can’t Get No” track that skyrocketed the sales of the Maestro Fuzz that made it totally sold out by the end of 1965.

1966 Mr Jim Marshall began modifying the electronic circuits of his now legendary amps to have a louder and fuller distorted sound.

Other Early Fuzz boxes where the Mosrite FuzzRite (“Spirit In The Sky” Sound), the famous Arbitter Group FuzzFace that was used by Jimi Hendrix, Vox Tone Bender, Univox Super Fuzz, Electro Harmonix Big Muff.
Univox Super Fuzz
(Univox Super-Fuzz)

End 60’s early 70,s bands like Led Zeppelin, The Who, Cream, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and many more shook the world with their ear deafening but amazing heavy guitar sounds that sounded like “Heavy Metal” falling from the sky.
Black Sabbath
(Black Sabbath)

Heavy Guitars and overdriven guitar sounds were invented there and were the subject of guitar evolution that went on till today.



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