The Heavy Century: Complete History of Guitar Distortion

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The 20th century brought changes in both science and art. The exponential technological advancements were felt all throughout these 100 years. With this being said, the music went through significant changes, both in the songwriting and sonic aspects. As the years went by, more and more music styles were being born. One of the most important genres, that eventually made an impact on all the other styles of music, is rock 'n' roll. Eventually going through all sorts of evolutions, we finally got a whole variety of genres and subgenres, ranging from anything between soft pop-rock to extreme metal.

However, nothing of this would ever be possible without the wonders of the electric guitar. This one instrument conquered the world and found its way into the hearts of millions and millions of music fans worldwide. And what made it stand out so much is its peculiar tone, most notably the distorted one that became associated with rock and heavy metal music. But the effect that is so easily achieved these days (all you need is cheap guitar, amp, and pedal) is a result of decades of research, innovation, and even some happy accidents.

And it is kind of fascinating to see how an effect that we hear on a daily basis (and kind of take for granted) came to be and how it evolved. And it all happened due to musicians' urge to sound more powerful and heavier in their music. So let us dig through history and find out more about how distortion developed over the decades.

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