Let's look at your basic overdrive pedal. It can be difficult to understand these boxes at first. Let's take a look at how an overdrive pedal works.

For the best effects of boutique overdrive pedals, they should be located in front of the amp. This means that you need to plug your guitar into the overdrive pedal, and the pedal into the amplifier's input jack. The FX loop is a more complicated conversation.

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Before you can power up your pedal, it is important to understand what you are trying to do with it. Do you want to improve the tone of your overdriven tone or replace your amp's harsh tones with more grit and girth?

You can choose option A – more grit or girth. If so, leave your amp settings as they are.

Option B: Replace amps with dirty tones – Switch to clean channel and choose a volume that suits your surroundings.

The first thing you want to do is to turn down the volume on your pedals. This will protect us from the excessive sound being pushed at the eardrums. It doesn't always feel good, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Turn the volume knob down to the middle position. 

If you choose option B, you can leave the volume knob at its current location and start adding the gain knob. To maintain a comfortable volume, you might have to lower the volume as the gain increases.

After you are satisfied with the volume and gain settings, you can turn on the tone knob. These are often simple tone sweeps, which will either cut the bass (or cut your treble) in many distortion pedals.