Overdrive/Distortion and cutting through the mix


Silver Supporting Member
Whenever I switch to an overdriven or distorted tone by stepping on a pedal, even if I have the volume cranked higher than my clean tone, I seem to disappear in the mix. It seems that I need to crank the volume to unpleasant levels just to be heard. Are there any secrets to soloing with an overdriven tone and being heard when playing live? I don't play high gain or metal, just a good edgy overdriven lead tone for blues and classic rock.


It depends on a lot of things...
-the room youre playing in might have bad frequency response
-what kinda equipment does your band use? You might have competing frequencies or volume issues with the other guitarist, or bassist, or the drummer might be waaay too loud
-is your amp open cab or closed cab? Closed cabs are very directional, meaning no one can hear it really well unless they are standing directly in front of it, about 20 feet away lol.
-you might not have the right volume set on your crunch pedal...most people set the volume on those too low...it should be AT LEAST the same volume as your clean sound, probably even louder, for the sake of dynamics. Most people aren't good at dialing that in.
-your band might just be too darn loud, or you are not standing at a good vantage point to really tell what you sound like...you either need a good monitoring system or a band that isn't too loud!

I'm sure there are others, but that is just off the top of my head. :)
you may want to bump up the mids on your amp's EQ or get a pedal that has pronounced mid-frequencies (like a TS-type pedal)....

a lot of times the mid-frequencies help cut through the mix in a band situation...

what type of OD/Dist are you using?

Some very basic, inexpensive mid-heavy pedals are: ibanez TS9, Boss SD1... try one and see if it makes a difference. if so, you can shop around for other similar pedals....


Silver Supporting Member
On one hand I have heard your problem and attributed it to too much distortion.
OTOH- I regularly get told to turn down if playing overdriven chords because the sound just becomes overpowering, competing with the other instruments and vocals. Experiment.


Silver Supporting Member
A well-known soundman once said to me
that if your lead tone feels a bit loud & cutting on-stage (i.e. a little uncomfortable)
then you're probably just right ...

Big Fat tones might sound great at home, on a clip or at soft rehearsal,
but rarely cut through a mix in the real world of a band pumping at real gig volume levels ....

Trending Topics

Top Bottom