Crunch Sound: How Does This Guitar Effect Work?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  May 26, 2022

Always the latest guitar gear & tricks?

Subscribe to THE newsletter for aspiring guitarists

We'll only use your email address for our newsletter and respect your privacy

hi there I love creating free content full of tips for my readers, you. I don't accept paid sponsorships, my opinion is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something you like through one of my links, I could earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

Guitarists often use effects to create unique sounds. One of the most popular effects is the crunch sound, which can add a raw, distorted quality to your playing.

The crunch sound is characterized by heavy overdrive and clipping. It can allow guitarists to create a “fuzzy” or “gritty” tone that can otherwise be difficult to replicate.

In this guide, we will go over how the crunch sound effect works and explain how you can use it to enhance your playing style.

What is a crunch guitar pedal

What is Crunch Sound?

Crunch sound is a popular guitar effect that is capable of producing a wide range of sounds. This effect is achieved by overdriving the guitar’s amplifier, adding a layer of distortion to the sound. With crunch sound, the character of distortion can vary depending on the instrument and the player, allowing guitarists to explore a variety of sonic possibilities. Let’s take a closer look at how this guitar effect works.

Overview of Crunch Sound

Crunch sound is a type of guitar effect that adds an edgy and distorted sound to the music. It can range from subtle to intense, depending on how it is set up. This sound is used in various genres of music, such as classic rock, metal, alternative, hard rock and blues.

The crunch sound is normally achieved by using an amplified signal and turning up the gain or distortion settings on the amplifier’s controls. When playing soft notes the signal will be over-driven producing a clean signal with slight sustain. But when playing harder notes with higher output solos or riffs the signal gets distorted and saturated resulting in a louder shorter harder “crunchy” tone. The sound produced can also vary greatly depending on the type of guitar and amp combo being used.

To achieve a more powerful crunch effect it may also involve preamplifying a low payout synth lead through an analog stomp box or other device before going into the amplifier. This will add even more texture to your playing style as well as fill out your overall tonal range.

Some popular guitar sounds that feature crunch are AC/DC’s Angus Young’s classic hard rock riffs and Eric Clapton’s bluesy tone from Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love”. Regardless of what style of music you create having some knowledge about how this effect works will provide you with greater creative possibilities for capturing oozing vintage versus modern distortion tones for any genre or production work you’re recording or performing live.

How Crunch Sound is Generated

Crunch Sound, or distortion, is an effect that alters the sound of an electric guitar. It can be heard as a fuzzy distortion sound or as a crunchy gain boost. The distorted sound is created by using a variety of methods including by using pre-amps, adding distortion to the signal path, saturation effects, and fuzz pedals.

An amplifier’s pre-amp creates increased gain, which leads to an increase in the amount of overtones produced by the instrument. This distorted sound can also be achieved by running your guitar signal through an overdrive or distortion pedal before sending it to your amplifier. Fuzz pedals add more extreme levels of distortion and can be used to create intense amounts of gain.

High-saturation effects are created when a heavy guitar tone is passed through an amplifier and its pre-amp saturates the signal with increased gain, producing harsher waves with less smooth frequencies. Other popular ways of producing this overdriven tone include tube amp emulation pedals and harmonic-rich octave devices.

For creating even more extreme levels of distortion on electric guitars and basses, feedback loops are used to loop back audio signals from the instrument’s output. This effect has been used in metal music for decades and can create unique sounds when combined with wah-wah pedals and other effects processors. no matter which technique you choose, Crunch Sound provides endless possibilities for creating unique tones!

Types of Crunch Sound

Crunch sound is an effect used by guitarists to achieve a warm, distortion-like sound. This effect can be achieved by manipulating the picked attack and amplification level of the guitar. Depending on the settings, various types of crunch sound can be produced. Let’s discuss the most popular types of crunches.

Distortion Pedals

One of the most popular crunch sound effects is created through the use of distortion pedals. The basic concept is that it adds extra gain to the guitar signal, which gives the guitar a gritty overload and a feeling of power to it. There are many different types of distortion pedals available, but two main types that tend to be used for creating crunch sound are fuzz and overdrive.

Fuzz Pedals
Fuzz allows you to add an extra level of volume and also can be used lightheartedly or pushed harder with more extreme sounds. When pushed hard, you start to hear that satisfying fuzzy sound associated with rock music. It’s not as warm sounding as some other overdrive distortions and can be quite aggressive when pushed all the way up. When used in a subtle way though, it’s great for creating thick tones with substance and crunch that can cut through most mixes with ease.

Overdrive Pedals
In comparison to fuzz pedals, overdriven sounds offer warmth and control while still allowing you to create those classic distorted tones associated with rock music. They usually provide more low-end response than fuzz but produce a softer overall tone so they can make notes stick out from the mix better without being too aggressive. Overdrive also allows for greater dynamic ranges such as high-gain leads as well as vintage-style blues/rock tones or even light crunchy rhythm parts when dialing back the gain levels a little bit more.

Overdrive Pedals

Overdrive pedals are among the most popular for adding crunch sounds to guitar playing. Primarily used for lead and solo tones, overdrive creates a sound reminiscent of a tube amplifier being pushed to its limits. This type of effect allows you to create controlled distortion that has more point and bark than fuzz but less thickness than an actual distortion pedal.

This type of effect adds crunch textures, mild harmonic distortion and increased sustain. When you add an overdrive pedal in front of your amp, it will give your sound some body and snap when playing leads or solos. The best way to illustrate the differences between this type of signal chain is to compare it to running the guitar directly into your amp without any effects in between: Overdrive will create a warm, almost tube-like feel while still providing enough power and dynamics to cut through a mix.

An overdrive usually consists of several basic controls including volume, drive and tone knobs; however, some offer other switches such as “more” gain or “less” gain which allows you to shape the sound even further. Generally speaking, the drive control increases or decreases the amount of gain while the tonal control adjusts the treble/bass response or specific frequency band from taking too much presence (or loss) in the signal chain

Fuzz Pedals

Fuzz pedals are a type of guitar effect that were introduced in the 1960s, and quickly became popular due to the very distinctive distortions created when the effect is triggered. Fuzz pedals create a thick, distorted and crunchy compression similar to overdrive pedals, but with more emphasis on gain to create a unique sound. When overdriven, efficient transistors called silicon diodes or ‘fuzz chips’ are activated in order to intensify the musical signal.

Fuzz pedals usually have controls for distortion level and tone shaping, such as bass and treble settings so you can tailor your crunch sound. Some fuzz pedals also have mid-range control settings which allow you to boost frequencies in between bass and treble. Other features can include an adjustable gate or ‘attack’ button which helps define when your notes start and stop, and some even have wet/dry mix functions for creating radical fuzzy sounds with two different outputs at once.

When combined with other effects such as overdrive or reverb pedals, you can get some amazing sounds from a fuzz pedal. Ultimately it really comes down to experimentation – using different combinations of distortion levels while manipulating EQ settings until you find something that works best suits your style of playing!

Tips for Using Crunch Sound

Crunch sound is an iconic guitar effect that has been used in a wide variety of genres. It’s typically described as a warm, thick distortion that sounds great with both distorted and clean guitar tones. In this article, we’ll go over some tips for using crunch sound to get the most out of this versatile guitar effect.

Adjusting Gain and Volume

The ideal way to use a crunch sound effect on your guitar is to adjust your gains and volume levels accordingly. As a general rule of thumb, try setting your knobs as follows:
-Set the master volume knob at around 7.
-Adjust the gain knob between 6 – 8 depending on the desired level of distortion in your sound.
-Set EQ levels for treble and bass according to personal preferences. Experiment with EQ settings to achieve the desired tone and feel, usually starting with a higher treble level than bass.
-Adjust the Crunch knob until you reach the desired amount of crunch in your sound.

When using any type of distortion pedal, it’s important to adjust the settings accordingly — too much or too little can make for an undesirable tone! By keeping these parameters in mind, you can hone in on that perfect crunchy guitar sound that you’ve been searching for.

Experimenting with Different Effects

Once you have a basic understanding of how the Crunch Sound effect works, the best way to learn about it is to experiment. Take your guitar and make sure that you are utilizing its greatest potential. You can try different pickups, pick attack types, and sound variations from your amplifier. Also, get familiar with the range of your instrument’s dynamics – that range should help you determine when and how much gain should be applied when using the Crunch Sound effect.

With experimentation comes experience. As you become more comfortable with using the effect to control your tones, think about what each setting does for your sound. How does raising or lowering the gain affect your performance? Does rolling off or boosting treble at certain settings help or hinder? Answering these questions will help create a greater sense of understanding when learning new effects or quickly applying established ones in live situations.

Finally, don’t be afraid to combine effects with the Crunch Sound effect for tonal exploration! Experimenting with other pedals like chorus, delay, reverb or EQ can help tailor your sound in unique ways that compliment and enhance this unique tool for guitar control. Be creative and most importantly – have fun!

Understanding the Dynamics of Your Guitar

No matter what type of crunch guitar sound you are trying to achieve, it is important to understand how your guitar works in order to use it to its fullest potential. This can help you achieve the perfect crunch sound, as well as any other sounds that your music requires.

Guitar dynamics are affected by three main factors: strings, pickups and amplifier. Different string gauges affect the sound of your playing and the types of effects you can produce – for example, thicker strings provide a fuller sound than thinner strings whereas a lighter string gauge might be better suited for higher notes with more clarity. Depending on your pickup setup, different combinations will give rise to varied tones – single-coil pickups will bring out a brighter and sharper tone compared to humbucker pickups which have a bassier and darker tone. Lastly, the type of amplifier used can also contribute significantly; solid bodied guitars are best paired with tube amplifiers for enhanced warmth in the tone while hollow-body guitars work best with an ultra linear amplifier for greater presence in highs and lows.

Using these factors together creates an effective formula for achieving that perfect crunch sound on your guitar. Understanding and experimenting with each component is key! Increasing or decreasing your volume knobs as well as playing around with treble controls can help you adjust levels of gain and saturation while further modifying your sound – take some time familiarizing yourself with these configurations so that you can confidently approach any track knowing exactly what tones are needed during the recording process. With practice and patience, you’ll soon have mastered that ideal crunching guitar sound!


In conclusion, crunch sound is an effect produced by purposely letting the guitar’s distortion pedal work overtime. It has a different sort of sound than other distortions, providing a very sharp and sustained tone. This effect can add a unique flavor to your playing and help your solos stand out even more when paired with other effects.

This effect can be used in most styles of music but is especially noticeable in styles such as hard rock, heavy metal and blues-rock. When using this effect, it’s important to remember to adjust the settings of your distortion pedal accordingly in order to get just the right sound. With the correct adjustments, you will be able to create some amazing crunchy tones for yourself!

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Neaera and a content marketer, dad, and love trying out new equipment with guitar at the heart of my passion, and together with my team, I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2020 to help loyal readers with recording and guitar tips.

Check me out on Youtube where I try out all of this gear:

Microphone gain vs volume Subscribe