Overdrive, distortion, and fuzz are synonymous with rock ’n’ roll. They add texture and attitude to countless classic songs, and each has its own way of doing so. As a player, how do you distinguish one from the others? The easy answer is to say that overdrive, distortion, and fuzz are on a spectrum with each more intense than the last. That’s alright for listeners who don’t play.

If you’re a player who likes to use dirt boxes, though, you’ll need a deeper understanding of how overdrive, distortion, and fuzz can help you craft the best version of your musical vision. To really dig into the dirt, we need to consider what each effect was designed to do, and how you intend to use them.