Watch the Basic Rock online guitar lesson by Jeff McErlain from Guitar Effects Survival Guide

This is probably the most important sound of the bunch. Getting your basic tone down is essential as it is your canvas to where you add all other effects. What I am going for here is what you would get by plugging your guitar into a really loud amp that is distorting on its own. For most of us this is a difficult thing to do because of neighbors and we want to keep our hearing! Fortunately there are so many great OD boxes on the market these days that won't break the bank. I always look for one that reacts well to your volume knob, if you roll down the volume, the pedal should clean up like a good amp does. If you watch someone like Clapton, Beck, Van Halen, or Page they are basically controlling their guitar tones just by using the volume and tone knobs ( jeez Eddie didn't even use a tone knob!). I use these guys as an example because we are discussing a classic rock tone and they defined it. Modern guys with a similar approach are Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark Jr, and Derek Trucks.