How To Get Distortion On Fender Amp – 4 tips

Having trouble getting distortion sounds on your Fender amp? You are not alone.

Here are 4 tips on how to get distortion on a Fender amp

  1. Turn the amp volume up for basic distortion
  2. Use the overdive knob to further the distortion
  3. Set up a tube compressor and a distortion amp before the Fender amp
  4. Set up a dual amp channels

Fender amp is meant for clean tones so it is not an amp that specializes in overdrive.


Tip 1: Use the drive knob

Fender amp comes with a drive and gain knob. Dial these things way up. You can lower the volume with the master knob. Using these setting, you should get some kind of distortion.

If you are satisfy with this level of distortion, adjust the volume upwards until you find a suitable tone.

Using this approach will not get you heavy distortion but for slight distortion, it is one of the easiest way to achieve it.


Tip 2: Dial the volume up

Like it or not, distortion requires a certain level of volume on the Fender amp. However, note that the drive knob basically is the volume knob. Just dial this up to between 2 and 4 to better create the distortion, provided that the above condition from tip 1 has been made.


Tip 3: Use a tube compressor

You can set up a tube compressor before the Fender amp on a pedal board. Set the setting to around 38% for threshold 38%, and 34 for the level.

Once this is up, you can add a distortion pedal in front compressor but before the amp. Add in some dirt from the amp and you will get a noticeable more powerful distortion than what tip 1 can give you.

A good distortion pedal is the Tech 21 GT2 SansAmp GT2. This pedal has 3 styles of clean, dirty and overdriven. Using the dirty style will give you the best effect. This pedal already has an inbuilt Fender style so using it on a real Fender amp should be ideal. Only thing is that this is a rather expensive pedal, costing around $180-$200.

The downside is effort to set up the pedal board and the cost of acquiring the different components. If you already have these, then by all means try this set up. If you are thinking of buying them, I suggest you get another amp instead.


Tip 4: Set up dual amp chains

If you really want the clean tones of Fender, as well as some mix of dirty tonnes, the best way is to do it through a dual amp chains. It sounds complicated but is pretty easy to figure out.

Basically the idea is to link the 2 chains control to the expression pedal so that one move, either heel down or tow up, is enough to change channels, and hence the tone.

Here is a detailed version of how it works:


Alternative Amps With Stronger Distortion

At the end of the day, Fender amps are meant for clean tones and has no dirty channels. If you desire an amp that can truly distorts, below are some better alternatives:

  • Fender mustang gt 40: This particular Fender model has a lot of effects, from which you can create ok sounding metal distortions. It also does high gain pretty well. Best of all it costs between $250 and $300. Overall, it makes a good bedroom amp that has distortion built into it.
  • Yamaha THR-10X: I have done a review on it (see article on thr10 vs thr10c vs thr10x). This amp is basically built for high gain as it is able to supply high power even in that range. When you set it rip, the distortions can be fantastic and clear sounding. Its price is also around $300 , making it very affordable.
  • Boss Katana Air: A ‘lunchbox’ amp that is not a toy but a full blown amp with plenty of high gains and strong power, especially the higher watts version. It is compact and can be easily used in any small space or bedroom. The distortion it can do is pretty good. Read more about the Boss Katana amp here.


Getting any sort of distortion on a Fender amp is pretty tough given that it is build mainly for clean tones. Although there are some things we can do, it will not sound as good as an amp that is built for distortion.

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