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Do distortion pedals work well with tube amps? Or should I use a tube screamer?

Kinda new to the pedal stuff. I have an Orange Crush Pix series 35 watt combo tube amp, an Epiphone Special 2 GT and a Boss Super OverDrive. I was wondering if it's better to use a disto pedal on the clean channel or just keep the OD and modify it? And if I use the OD how would I change between that and a clean signal? The OD is pretty gritty which was one of two distos I want. The other I want is more cleaned up around the edges, something to play real chords on or possibly something to play punk with? Any suggestions of pedals would be greatly appreciated.

  • See this: music.stackexchange.com/questions/3099/…
    – Jduv
    Sep 28, 2012 at 18:25
  • Just realized you asked this exact question as an answer on the question I just linked you to :). So basically, your answer is in that article if you read it. If you have any trouble understanding it, feel free to let me know and I can clarify.
    – Jduv
    Sep 28, 2012 at 18:34

1 Answer 1


There are no solid rules. Try all the combinations, and use the sound you want.

Having said that, feeding a distortion pedal into an overdriven amp is going to cause a very noisy mush. Some people want that, some don't. It depends on your tastes and the style of music you're playing.

If you want the ability to switch between (pedal + clean) and (no pedal + amp distortion), consider getting an A/B pedal.


Another approach, which I use, is to use a completely clean amp (I use a keyboard combo) and to do all the "character" in pedals. There are pedals that model everything from valve distortion to cabinet characteristics; even mic placement. Purists say nothing compares to the real thing, but the simulations are good enough for me.

  • I use the clean amp and pedal SIM combo as well, it makes gigging really easy: all I need a venue to give me its a clean PA
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Sep 28, 2012 at 20:12
  • 1
    Unless I'm missing someting, in order to make the A/B pedal thing work you need at least a two channel amplifier or two amplifiers. Normally, a two channel amp will come with a channel switcher in the first place, removing the need for an A/B box. All applications of the A/B I've worked with involve two amplifiers.
    – Jduv
    Sep 29, 2012 at 2:33
  • @JDuv that's a good point; it happens that my 2 channel amp doesn't have a switch; both inputs are always active.
    – slim
    Oct 1, 2012 at 14:34

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