Beginner electric guitar players usually get themselves a guitar pack, one that comes with a guitar, a guitar amp, and some accessories. That’s a great way to start, these beginner guitar sets, they’re a great value, and you’ve got everything you need.
After you’ve been playing awhile though you may notice that you can’t get some of the same sounds as the music you’re listening to. Most people blame the guitar, but those small amps lack the punch you’re probably looking for, especially at low volumes. The thing is with most guitar amps, is that you’ve really got to push the volume to get a good sound, the larger amps but more so with the smaller amps under 50 watts. Not to mention the fact that most guitar players use other effects other than distortion such as effects like chorus, delay, etc.
Many guitar players also use guitar effects pedals for their distortion too. Kurt Cobain’s sound was the classic Boss DS-1 pedal. It’s the sound of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” A distortion pedal can actually help you to get a better sound at lower volumes than amp distortion (which your neighbors will appreciate). You might also notice that your sound is cleaner too. Some of the cheaper guitar amps have a distortion that’s a little harder to control than the pedal distortion. You’ve got to be much more careful about your muting and letting open strings ring while playing through an amplifier’s distortion.
Distortion pedals are also nice because they’re much cheaper than an amp, so you can get a good amplifier, and different pedals for different sounds without breaking the bank. Boss makes several popular units used by many famous guitar players, the DS-1 and 2 or SD-1, DigiTech, and DOD are two other brands of guitar distortion pedals that are in pretty common use.