How to Create Distortion on a Guitar

Distortion on the guitar is the result of increasing the volume and gain knobs to a level that exceeds what the amplifier is capable of producing. These two knobs on the amplifier can be adjusted simply by turning them to the counterclockwise to decrease the volume and the clockwise to increase volume. Most guitar amps come with these options already available, so you should already have all of the equipment you need to create distortion. Distortion is the process of distorting sound by exceeding the frequencies capable by the amplifier. Using the gain and volume knobs is the standard method of creating distortion.

Step 1:  Set the volume of the guitar to the highest volume setting. This will ensure that the guitar will send the maximum volume of sound to the amplifier.

Step 2:  Turn the volume knob counterclockwise until you are unable to turn it any further. Turning the volume all the way down helps to prevent blowing out your speakers.

Step 3:  Adjust the gain to about three-quarters of its maximum. You can do this by turning the gain knob clockwise.

Step 4:  Slowly increase the volume on the amplifier, by turning the volume knob clockwise, while playing the guitar until you get the right volume level for your needs.

Step 5:  Use a multichannel amp to quickly switch back and forth between distortion and a clean sound. Multichannel amps will have a separate volume and gain knob for each channel. To move between channels you simply depress the button for the channel you want to activate.

Creating distortion is also possible through the use of a distortion pedal. These can be purchased at any music store. The pedal attaches to your amplifier and relies upon manually adjusting the level of distortion with your foot. There are several types of distortion pedals, so you will need to choose the one that fits your needs. Some will sound warm, others soft and some will give the distortion a bright sound. There is literally a pedal for every genre of music. Talk with music store personnel to select the best pedal for you.


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