I have a cheapo analogue guitar distortion pedal (Chord DS-50), which has worked fine for the year or so which I've had it, and actually sounds quite good. However, when I plugged my guitar into it yesterday the power light came on and it outputted a signal to my amp, but without the distorsion effect, i.e. as if the pedal was just being bypassed.

I have no knowledge of electronics but opened up the casing to have a look inside for any loose connections or something obvious looking, but couldn't find anything.

On the basis that the pedal still powers on and outputs a signal, I was wondering if anyone who has experience with this type of analogue pedal could tell me what the problem might be.


  • 1
    Are you powering it with a battery? Did you try a fresh battery? Oct 16, 2016 at 13:49
  • An odd suggestion – low battery is a typical cause of distortion in circuits that are not supposed to distort. Low battery in a distortion pedal might well make the output weaker, but certainly not cleaner. Aug 14, 2017 at 23:35

1 Answer 1


Things to check, from easiest to most complicated:

  • battery. This is the cheapest and easiest to check, so swap in a new one.
  • switch. If you have a multimeter, you can check that the foot switch actually switches between effect and bypass
  • connector. Check visually and with a multimeter that the jack socket connectors (the metal leaf contacts that the jack plug pushes when you plug the cable in) a connecting and disconnecting as they should.
  • gain circuit. Typically distortion happens using a combination of gain and clipping. If you look at the input circuit you should be able to trace the signal path and compare input voltage to that after the gain stage. Then using an oscilloscope you can compare waveforms between that clean amplified signal and the signal post clipping (I think that pedal uses jfets to hold the signal to the rails)

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