How To Combine Fuzz and Overdrive: 8 Production Tips

While a range of other distortion pedals has come to light, fuzz and overdrive are still the most popular. Combining fuzz and overdrive pedals can give you everything from a big muff to a heavy metal sound. Yet, if you do it correctly, you can hit the sweet spot in sound production.

Here are eight production tips for how to combine fuzz and overdrive:

  1. Stack fuzz into overdrive for a hard lead tone.
  2. Stack overdrive into fuzz for a fuzzy and distorted effect.
  3. Get the perfect gain and level.
  4. Increase the volume after the second pedal for more volume.
  5. Increase the volume before the second pedal for more gain.
  6. Set the gain control as low as possible.
  7. Consider your EQ pedal positioning.
  8. Experiment with different stacks.

In this article, I’ll give you more details on these tips so you can improve your stacking scope. By following these tips, you’ll resolve most of the problems associated with stacking fuzz and overdrive. 

How To Combine Fuzz and Overdrive 8 Production Tips

1. Stack Fuzz Into Overdrive for a Hard Lead Tone

When it comes to stacking fuzz and overdrive, your main concern will be which one to stack first. This often depends on what type of tone you want to achieve and the difficulty of stacking one before the other. When it comes to tone, most people prefer to stack fuzz into overdrive for a hard lead tone.

While other factors may affect the tone you manage to produce, the dominant tone will be a hard lead one if you stack fuzz into overdrive. Though this isn’t a hard and fast rule, and you can achieve varying effects when stacking overdrive into fuzz. Still, unless you’re an expert, it’s best to start by stacking the fuzz pedal before the overdrive one.

One of the rules of stacking multiple pedals is to stack the dominant pedal second. Thus, if you want a dominant lead tone, stack the overdrive pedal second, and if you want a more “fuzzy” tone, stack the fuzz pedal second. Most people prefer to stack overdrive pedals second because they have the dominant sound.

If you don’t want to achieve a hard lead tone, you can get varying degrees of lead in your pedals by adjusting the amps, EQ, and other factors. Keep in mind, it’s much easier to adjust the tone when stacking fuzz into overdrive instead of the other way around.

2. Stack Overdrive Into Fuzz for a Fuzzy and Distorted Effect

While I’ve mentioned that you should try stacking fuzz into overdrive, this doesn’t mean you can’t try stacking them the other way around. You can actually produce some unique sounds when stacking overdrive into fuzz if you get the volume control and OD gain correctly. However, this requires a lot of tweaking before you get the perfect tone.

When stacking overdrive into fuzz, you’ll be able to boost the fuzz. You’re essentially boosting an already distorted tone with an overdrive which may either cause the tone to get too fuzzed out or have a pleasant effect. Yet, this usually only works when the overdrive gain is low, so you’ll have to experiment with varying levels of overdrive tone control before you can perfect the tone.

Stacking overdrive into fuzz will increase the compression and distortion of the tone. This is rarely used since the fuzz pedal already produces a distorted tone. Although, in some settings, it can give you unique tones. Even if you aren’t into highly compressed tones, knowing how to stack overdrive into fuzz is a helpful skill.

Unfortunately, you’ll likely run into some problems when stacking overdrive into fuzz. The first problem you’ll face is getting the right overdrive gain. Many people struggle with overdoing the fuzz effect, which gives them a squashed and over-distorted tone. Yet with some practice, you’ll add another tone to your arsenal.

3. Get the Perfect Gain and Level

When it comes to stacking overdrive and fuzz, gain and level are crucial. Always stack pedals so the one with the highest gain is placed last and the lowest one placed first. You can also adjust the gain level in the overdrive and fuzz pedals using tone control. Gain is all about amplification and can help you achieve the perfect levels of distortion.

The key to getting the perfect tone with gain stacking is to stack the gains just enough to get an “edge of distortion” sound. For this, it’s always best to stack fuzz before the overdrive. Stacking overdrive before fuzz will result in too much gain, and the tone will be too distorted.

One helpful tip when stacking gain pedals is to keep your amp clean. Using a tube amplifier will only result in more distortion since you’ll have less headroom. You won’t be able to easily increase the volume without causing too much distortion when using a tube amplifier. If you want to achieve the perfect tone without too much distortion, keep your amp as clean as possible.

4. Increase the Volume After the Second Pedal for More Volume

Stacking is always dependent more on the second pedal, as the first pedal is meant to have a slight effect on the tone. In most cases, you’ll have the choice between increasing the volume or gain, but you can’t simply crank up the volume on both pedals to get more volume.

To increase the volume, you’ll have to increase the volume after the second pedal. This applies regardless of whether you stack overdrive or fuzz first, since the second pedal is usually dominant and will affect the overall volume.

If you’re struggling to increase the volume, try adding a boost pedal to preserve the pickup’s tone. Unless you’re stacking fuzz pedals first or your amp is dirty, you shouldn’t have a problem with increasing the volume. Just remember to increase the volume on the second pedal in the stack.

5. Increase the Volume Before the Second Pedal for More Gain

While increasing the volume after the second pedal increases volume, doing it before the second pedal increases gain or dirt. This will amplify the gain if you place the pedals in order from low gain to high gain.

Increasing the volume in the first pedal increases the input volume and results in more distortion, especially if you stack fuzz before overdrive. Stacking for gains is all about effective volume control, which is only possible if your input tone has a higher volume. These results will be amplified if the overdrive pedal has a low gain.

Keep in mind, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to increase the gain when stacking fuzz before overdrive unless you’re trying to achieve a highly distorted or compressed tone. Many people find it easier to get the right level of distortion when increasing the volume on the fuzz pedal rather than placing the overdrive pedal before the fuzz pedal.

6. Set the Gain Control as Low as Possible

If you’re trying to achieve a unique tone without amplifying the distortion, you’ll need to set the gain control at the perfect level. Remember, the gain control sets the amp’s output and controls the amount of distortion or clipping that goes into the tone. Always try to set the gain control as low as possible without distorting the signal too much.

While the EQ pedal should be flat, the gain control should be set at 10:00 or lower. The higher you set your gain control, the more chance of damaging your equipment. Sometimes, you’ll be able to set the gain control at 8:00 or lower, just verify the pedals aren’t affected by this.

When working with lower gain settings, remember that a lower gain control won’t allow your amplifier to operate at full capacity, so it’s best to go for the middle road. If you’re stacking pedals, the ideal gain control is usually 9:00 or 10:00.

7. Consider Your EQ Pedal Positioning

When it comes to stacking fuzz and overdrive pedals, your main concern will be getting a highly distorted tone. To clean out the tone, you can consider adding an EQ pedal to level out the equation. An EQ pedal will help you control the frequency of your tones and may help even out highly compressed sounds.

EQ pedals play an important role in stacking. Adjusting the pavement of your EQ pedal provides more control over the sound distortion. Placing the EQ pedal before the fuzz and overdrive pedals provides more control over the tone. Placing it after the distortion pedal will result in a higher volume.

So, when should you place an EQ pedal after the distortion pedal?

This depends on which pedal you’re using as the distortion pedal. If you stack overdrive before fuzz, it’s best to place the EQ pedal after the overdrive pedal for more control over the volume since the overdrive will be the dominant pedal. Whereas, if you’re stacking overdrive after the fuzz pedal, stack the EQ pedal after the fuzz pedal for a cleaner sound.

You can also stack the EQ pedal after the overdrive pedal, even if the overdrive is second in the chain. This will give you more control over the volume of the output. However, EQ pedals are used to control the frequency, and you shouldn’t rely on them to control the volume.

8. Experiment With Different Stacks

There are no rights and wrongs when it comes to stacking unless you’re aiming for a specific tone. Most people experiment with different stacks before achieving the perfect tone. Indeed, the key to success with stacking is experimentation.

Many of the “rules” on stacking pedals are based on creating very specific sounds and don’t mean that you can’t go against them. For example, most people recommend you never stack an overdrive pedal before a fuzz pedal. Although, if you work the controls properly, you can get some “cleaner” distorted tones.

As long as you don’t play with the settings on your stacks in a way that will damage them, you’re free to experiment with different volumes and gain control. As long as the sound is something you want to work with, why limit your scope of experimentation?

Best Fuzz and Overdrive Pedals

If you’re looking to experiment with fuzz and overdrive pedals, try some of these top picks available on Amazon.com:

JHS Pedals 3 Series Fuzz

Sale
JHS Pedals 3 Series Fuzz (3SFUZZ)
830 Reviews
JHS Pedals 3 Series Fuzz (3SFUZZ)
  • Made in Kansas City USA
  • The perfect balance of vintage and modern with soaring sustain and clear articulation. The controls allow you to create a wide variety of sounds via the Bias knob, which gives the Fuzz a more gated sound as you turn it up
  • Unlike many fuzz pedals, the fuzz knob is usable across 100% of the sweep for many different flavors not typically found in a fuzz, like distortion, and even pushed amp Esq overdrive tones

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This 3-in-1 fuzz pedal has everything you need to achieve the perfect level of fuzz control. It comes with a combination of modern and vintage fuzz effects, making it perfect for any setup, and has clear articulation and a fat toggle for bass boost. If you’re looking for a fuzz pedal with more powerful sound effects, this is the perfect choice.

SONICAKE Fuzz Guitar Effect Pedal

SONICAKE Fuzz Guitar Effect Pedal Fazy Cream Vintage Fuzz Pedal True Bypass
1,503 Reviews
SONICAKE Fuzz Guitar Effect Pedal Fazy Cream Vintage Fuzz Pedal True Bypass
  • 100% Analog Circuit guitar pedal takes you from Classic Creamy Fuzz to High Gain Fuzzy Distortion
  • Muff Style Fuzz Pedal Sound designed for both Guitar & Bass
  • Wide Tone Control Range from Pitch Dark to Aggressively Blasting guitar fuzz pedal

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you like analog vintage guitar pedals, this is ideal for you. It comes with a wide tone control range and a Bypass Footswitch for a clean signal path. Best of all, this pedal is designed with a muff style, making it perfect for both guitar and bass.

MXR Sugar Drive Guitar Effects Pedal

MXR Sugar Drive Guitar Effects Pedal
82 Reviews
MXR Sugar Drive Guitar Effects Pedal
  • Brings out the best of your Guitar and amp sound
  • Diverse range of tones, from boosting to overdrive
  • Based on a rare & elusive overdrive circuit

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This pedal has various effects and can produce boost, overdrive, and other effects. It has the ideal blending effects and fits well with any guitar’s signal, making it perfect for producing a more balanced overdrive. If you’re looking for something that’s reliable, this is the perfect effects pedal.

J. Rockett Audio Designs Tour Series .45 Caliber

Sale
J. Rockett Audio Designs Tour Series .45 Caliber Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal
280 Reviews
J. Rockett Audio Designs Tour Series .45 Caliber Overdrive Guitar Effects Pedal
  • A recreation of the original 1962 JTM 45 sound, overdriven
  • Achieves the brilliantly crunchy rhythm tones of Malcolm Young
  • Also achieves that "face-melting" goodness of Pete Townsend on Live at Leeds

Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

When it comes to the overdrive pedals, J.Rockett has made a name for itself in the guitar market. This .45 caliber pedal comes with bass, gain, treble, and loud functions, giving you a wide scope over the overdrive tones you can produce. It’s easy to use and perfect for both beginners and pros.

Key Takeaways

Combining fuzz and overdrive will give you a wide range of tones to work with. There’s no hard and fast way of stacking fuzz and overdrive, but it’s important to do it correctly for better sound effects. Consider these tips when combining fuzz and overdrive, and you’ll never go wrong:

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment.
  • Preferably place fuzz pedals before overdrive for better tone control.
  • Keep the gain control lower and experiment with different stacks.
  • Change the EQ pedal positioning for varying tone effects.

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

Recent Posts