How To Create Distortion For Guitar Amps

The right amount of overdrive can send your lead guitar lines soaring, but learning how to create distortion for guitar amps can be a somewhat delicate task.  There are two ways to create distortion for guitar amps, through distortion pedals or by using the amps onboard preamp system.  For distortion pedals, just plug in and tweak the sound, but make sure to watch your levels; however, there are a few more steps to using your preamp system to create distortion for guitar amps.

To create distortion, you will need:

  • An electric guitar
  • An amplifier
  • Guitar cables
  1. Connect the guitar to the amp. Use a 1/4" cable to connect the guitar to the amp. If you are using effects pedals in your signal chain, then add them accordingly.
  2. Turn on the amp. Turn on the guitar amp. Allow tube amps a few minutes to warm up before taking the amp off of standby, this will give your tubes more life. If you use tubes to create distortion for guitar amps, then you will want to make the tubes last.
  3. Lower the main volume. Distortion comes from the amps preamp, which boosts the signal strength, so lower the main volume to avoid feedback and disastrous sounds. The goal is to create distortion for guitar amps, not create blown speaker.
  4. Set the amp to a distorted channel. Set the amp to a channel that is designed for gain. Gain channels are referred to as lead, overdrive, distortion, or crunch.
  5. Add gain. Use the preamp volume, or gain volume, to add distortion.
  6. Adjust the distorted channels EQ settings. Adjust the high, low, and mid-range tones to create your ideal sound.

The key to successfully creating distortion for guitar amps is in the fine-tuning. It will take some time to find a crisp, distorted sound, but finding the right sound will give your guitar tone the distorted edge you desire.