The sounds in the songs you've listed are actually pretty different to my ears, but I'll try to generalize and go through some examples.
Here is the raw line for reference. This is a modified strat with an EMG-SA in the neck position. This is important because EMG is an active pickup so the signal level is higher. This means it will distort sooner. So keep in mind the settings for every guitar will be different. ; )
Don't lean too hard on the drive
This has got to be my #1 advice. Start with the drive knob all the way down and work your way up slowly until it just starts the crackle.
The fewer notes you are playing at once, the more you can push the drive. It's better to pick a particular style (e.g. rhythm or lead) and adjust for that rather than try to find a setting that works for everything.
Also, don't ignore the tone
Start at halfway and see what you need. Perfect tone adjustments take practice. I will say usually the sweet spot is between 12 and 3 o'clock but it depends on the guitar. For example, humbuckers typically need more high end.
You could try, for example, pushing the tone up to find the point where the low-end body starts to disappear, then adjust back down a little. You don't want to lose the low-end completely, just demphasize it a little.
Here is an Ibanez Tube Screamer model (no amp, just the pedal). (This pedal isn't driven by a tube but is so-called because it was originally intended to sound like a tube. It's since taken on a life of its own.) The Queens of the Stone Age example sounds a lot like this pedal or something like it.
Here's the same sound amplified through a Vox AC-30 model. The AC-30 could probably be considered a clean amp but it's a little on the dirty side.
I'm pretty careful about boosting the high end here because the pedal is already pretty washed out.
Sometimes you don't need a pedal
Many amps have drive that sounds great. Pedals typically have a more colored sound.
Here's the same AC-30 model without the pedal, and instead just driving the amp. Again, not pushing it too hard.
Also note the tone adjustments: I've reduced the low end and pushed the mid/highs for a slight increase in clarity.
Here's a more typical-sounding distortion. This is your sort of Boss DS-1 archetype and everything like it.
Note the position of the drive here for my particular setup: almost all the way down.
(The amp is a model of a Marshall which I chose for being cleaner than the AC-30.)
For good measure, here's a real pedal, a Boss OD-3.
Again, the important thing is starting low and finding that "sweet spot" for what you are doing with your particular setup.
Few other general notes:
- Compression is less important to getting a distorted sound right. It will get you a very smooth distortion and whether you want that is more of a stylistic decision. Also, the same things I stated above still apply to a compressed sound.
- One very important thing to keep in mind is that these sounds from recordings are treated in ways that can't be recreated with a pedal. Guitars on a recording will get their harmonic structure cleaned up with fine-tooth paragraphic EQ notches. A live rig will always sound dirtier than a recording, which is fine.
it all sounds muddy and trash
If you have a cheap guitar, cheap pickups could also be a contributing factor.
i have theorised that if I use a Overdrive Pedal paired with a Distortion pedal i could achieve a similar sound (clear distortion)
The Boss OS-2 is like this. It is a good example of what this might sound like and it's a nice pedal itself--very clear. I don't have access to one anymore but there are clips on the Boss website.
I live in a small town and the only guitar shop around has a Wah Pedal and a Looper Pedal, so I can't go out and test them. The nearest city is about 4 hours drive away.
This is tough. One of the best things you can possibly do before buying this type of equipment is try it out first. The reason is that you should spend a sufficient enough time playing around with it that you've gotten to know it a little bit. Every shop I've ever been to has been fine with this.
My advice would be:
- Read reviews and especially see if you can find audio clips. YouTube also has lots of demonstrations.
- If you find a band with a sound you like, try to find out exactly what equipment they use. It is hit or miss (depends on the band) but usually you can find this kind of information online.
Every amp, pedal, etc. does something a little different and it's hard to judge what it might be from product descriptions.