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Amp Drive Vs. Fx1 Gain

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The various amp models on the Spider IV give different distortion sounds, and you control how much distortion via the drive setting.


But separate from that, FX1 gives a range of distortion effects options like "screamer" and so on, and you can control the amount of this distortion with FX1's "gain" setting.


But how do these two interact?  I don't mean that technically... I don't think... I mean in terms of modeling different tones do people generally use one type of distortion or the other (i.e. amp or FX1), or both together?  It seems like most of the factory presets with distortion use both, but that's confusing to me (so many permutations!). If the amp models are meant to mimic various types of amps with their own distortion, why add the FX1 distortion effect on top of that?



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Basically the way this breaks down is that most of the amps that are physically manufactured, and the ones that are modeled here have what's called overdrive, or simply "drive". What this was designed to do is slightly different than what a distortion pedal will do in the outside world.


Overdrive is basically a way of sending more power and signal (voltage) through the vacuum tubes of many older amps and essentially "dirtying up" the sound that is sent to the speakers. Solid state amps have been emulating this for a long time, but generally sound a lot thinner. This is one of the big drivers for the "Tube vs. Solid State" war that has been waging in the guitar world since the dawn of time. lol.


Distortion is a manipulation of the signal coming from the guitar (in most cases) in that it alters the original signal's wave signature to incorporate more rapidly occurring peaks in the signal flow, hence breaking the wave pattern up and creating a "chunk", or "buzz" effect to the guitar's original signal prior to hitting the amp.


Both have similar effects on the sound of the guitar's signal, but you may notice differences in the way they sound. For overdrive, or drive it will be more "rumbly", whereas with distortion it will be a tighter, nastier "buzz saw-like" aspect added to the sound. Check them out with various levels without the other added, and then decide how much of each you would like in the overall sound you're looking for.


The two can be used together, but be careful of the levels of both as too much of any one of them can create some unintelligible results. If that's what you're going for, however, go for it. The distortion you get as FX1 will act on either the clean signal from the guitar BEFORE it gets to the amp where it can be overdriven, or after the overdriven sound from the amp. It's your decision, ultimately, but they can produce very different results depending on where they land in the signal chain, and how much of each is applied.


Hope this helped. :) 

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Thanks for that thorough and clear response, sonicgraffiti.  I totally get the difference between the two, technically, but what confused (confuses?) me is I think a lot of the factory presets use both the amp model gain as well as a distortion effect.  I can't be sure of that, I'd have to look.  Anyway, thanks again.  I still struggle so much with getting sounds I want, and with distortion you've got the 8x2=16 amp overdrives plus, I dunno, 6 or 8 distortion effects, I have no idea where to begin to model even (what I think is) the most simple and straightforward sound.

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You're welcome. Yes...I come across the same issue when trying to find combinations of FX to get the right sounds. I may know what the difference between the two are (regarding the original post), but I'm in much the same boat as far as all other FX manipulations are concerned. So far, I just do what so many others are recommending - find a preset that sounds "close" to what you want, and tweak it to customize it to your taste. Nice, but the ability to pull that off from a ground level sound is ultimately, the coolest way to do it, however tricky it may be.  :blink:

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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

I just updated my new amp to the current version and have all kinds of cool drive fx...but my question, especially for the distortion or overdrive fx like Screamer, what is the difference between the Gain setting and the Drive? 


I'm guessing Drive = Gain, and Gain = Level? Or the other way around?



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