NPD - So I've tried a ton of Big Muffs lately, here are my thoughts...

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by OttoCorrect, Sep 16, 2018.

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  1. OttoCorrect

    OttoCorrect Tele-Meister

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    Hi everybody. This is my first time starting a thread here (I post off and on, though, so I'm not super new) but I figure its about time to let you in on my current pedal addiction. I've been buying, trying, and selling many many variations and clones of various Big Muff versions trying to find the perfect one for me. Here are my thoughts on them all, what I personally paid for them (most if not all have been bought used), and a score from 1 to 10 to serve as a review. Obviously, this is all just my opinion, but if the info helps anyone, so be it.

    Everything was played with either a Squier Classic Vibes Tele, a Squier J Mascis JM, and an Agile AL-3200 through a Quilter 101 mini or Quilter 101Reverb through a 1x12" open back cab loaded with a Celestion Rocket.

    Way Huge Russian Pickle
    $115
    I had an OG Bubble font Russian Big Muff back in the day, and plugging this in was instant nostalgia. Great harmonically rich fuzz and a not a bad sound in the thing. It has a slight bump in the upper mids compared to my next entry, but if you want the best of what a Russian muff gives you, this checks all the boxes. 9 out of 10.

    EHX Green Russian Big Muff Pi Reissue
    $70
    Everything I just said about the Way Huge Russian Pickle is true here too, but with substantially more volume on tap and no upper mids bump. Don't let that fool you though, the Russian Pickle and the EHX Green Russian are nearly indistinguishable when played side by side (as I have done). This still has rich harmonic overtones like a good Big Muff should have, plus a cheaper price tag. If you want to see what the Russian Big Muff fandom is all about, EHX delivered the goods with this one, and the reasonable price only makes it better. 9 out of 10.

    Stomp Under Foot Pumpkin Pi
    $100
    Took me a while to find a used Pumpkin Pi that cheap, but I did and I'm glad I tried it. I've been hearing forever about how the SUF muffs are pretty much the best ever, and so far I'm inclined to agree. This is everything you'd want an Op Amp muff to be, with a diffuse grainy crunch around the typical mid scoop fuzz. This is another harmonically rich muff, with a low mid grunt that seems to be characteristic of the Op Amps. Does the Smashing Pumpkins sound, plus plenty of other 90's era filth, just fine. 9 out of 10.

    EHX Op Amp Big Muff Pi Reissue
    $63
    This is really close to the SUF Pumpkin Pi in tone, but about 10% more polite. While both have a big crushing sound with some low mid grunt and a crunchy grain to the fuzz, the SUF is a little wilder around the edges, while this EHX is a little more tame (relatively speaking, as it's still a Big Muff). Still, at this price point, plus a tone bypass switch, this is a really good sounding Op Amp muff, and should please people looking for that particular sound. 8 out of 10.

    BYCO Lil' Op Amp Beaver
    $34
    Mini version of the Op Amp muff circuit. This is by far the most polite Big Muff I've ever played; with every knob at noon it sounded like an overdrive pedal! That said, once I did crank up the fuzz a bit more it revealed the typical Op Amp muff sounds. A little flatter sounding and less harmonically rich than the SUF or the EHX, its still sounds good and the fact that used ones are cheap as chips is nice for those on a budget. 6 out of 10.

    Vick Audio '73 Ram's Head
    $100
    The Vick Audio muffs get a lot of praise, and for good reason. This is a very harmonically saturated fuzz, with lots of gain and very musical harmonic overtones. Vick Audio also puts a 3-way mid selection switch on their muffs for added versatility. The '73 Ram's Head ran a little too dark for my rig, but my rig is darker to begin with. The uncompressed, huge fuzz sounds excellent, though, and this is a great Ram's Head at a good price. If you have a brighter setup than I do, this pedal would probably warrant a better score, but for my rig its a 8 out of 10.

    Vick Audio Violet Ram's Head
    $90
    Ah, this is what I needed. The Violet is still high gain, still has tons of harmonic overtones, but has a brighter tone and more presence then the '73 version Vick Audio offers. This is an absolutely fantastic Big Muff that instantly put a smile on my face from the very first strum. Dinosaur Jr. tones were pouring out of my amp, and crushing crunchy textures were abundant. The 3 way mid switch adds to the total package. 9 out of 10.

    Stomp Under Foot Ram's Head
    $129
    This is also a Violet Ram's Head clone, so it's almost identical in tone to the Vick Audio Violet Ram's Head, with that nice brighter presence intact. The main difference in tone is the SUF Ram's Head has more grit to the fuzz, which I personally love. It's really close to the Vick, though, probably only 5% better IMHO. No 3 way switch, but I have to admit this is the single best sounding Big Muff I've played. I love this sound so much. Between this and the Pumpkin Pi, I now totally get the reputation SUF has for their Big Muff pedals. 10 out of 10.

    EHX NYC Big Muff Pi (Big Box)
    $70
    This is the current full size big box version of the NYC reissue Big Muff Pi. While people seem to put this one down at times, I found it to be big, open, and harmonically rich in all the ways one would want a Big Muff to be. It's not EQ'd as gorgeously as a good Ram's Head is to me, but I had read various opinions suggesting the NYC Muffs really drop the ball and after trying one for myself I just don't understand why that is, as I liked this just fine. I know EHX likes to tweak their circuits, and when I opened this one up the board said it was revision E or J or something, so maybe the earlier NYC Muffs weren't as good? I don't know, but this one was a solid, cool sounding Big Muff. If you're looking for White Stripes, this is the box you want. Better than it's reputation would suggest, I'd be fine if this was all I could get my hands on. 7 out of 10.

    Moen Fuzz Moo
    $40
    This is a cheap import fuzz that is basically a Ram's Head circuit tweaked for flat mids. I tried this back to back with my Vick Audio '73 set to flat mids and found it to be practically indistinguishable. Personally, I like the classic mid scoop and feel that's part of what makes a Big Muff a Big Muff, but this is still one excellent budget priced fuzz. 7 out of 10.



    There you go. My opinions on all the Big Muffs I've tried lately. In conclusion, there wasn't really a bad one among them, but some were better than others with my rig and to my ears, and I definitely preferred some versions to some others. I love the Russian for nostalgic reasons, and the crunch of a good Op Amp is fun, but one thing this journey taught me is that the brighter Violet Ram's Head is my favorite version of the Big Muff.

    Although, I just saw that EXH reissued the Triangle, and I haven't tried a Triangle Muff yet. Guess I've got one more to try yet...
     
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  2. ICTRock

    ICTRock Tele-Afflicted

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    there's a couple reasons why the current NYC big box sucks ... there's an extra electrolytic in the signal path and the 500K volume pot plus some dodgy choices for other tone shaping caps ... basically it is too much of everything you don't really want. I do like picking them up used and modding them though
     
  3. Lord_Ingipz

    Lord_Ingipz Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for your review! I've been wanting a muff and not sure which exact one to get but you helped me dial it down to the SUF Rams head
     
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  4. Billnchristy

    Billnchristy Tele-Afflicted

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    Have you tried a bass muff? They do pretty good on guitar.
     
  5. Ex-riverman

    Ex-riverman Tele-Holic

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    This is great. Thanks. I’m interested in the new EHX triangle muff reissue.
     
  6. OttoCorrect

    OttoCorrect Tele-Meister

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    Not in probably 9-10 years. I had one once but it’s seriously been that long. This list is only the recent muffs I’ve bought. Lol.
     
  7. bftfender

    bftfender Friend of Leo's

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    great reviews. thanks !!
     
  8. tele_pathic

    tele_pathic Friend of Leo's

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    About a year ago, I got a great deal on a SUF ‘76 Amherst Fuzz, which is a clone of J. Mascis’s favorite Muff fuzz, dated 1976. J had direct input on this pedal, so it is sort of a signature pedal. Holy smokes! This thing rocks. Hits the DJr, Smashing Pumpkins, Pink Floyd, you name it. Very versatile. Sounds amazing with the fuzz anywhere on the dial: unbelievable at 0; pummeling, brutal, highly musical at 10. It’s just such an amazing find.

    Stomp Under Foot knows what they are doing when it comes to recreating classic Muffs. If you haven’t read his blog posts, you definitely should. He’s up to 1975 now and I keep bugging him to get to ‘76 and the creation of the Amherst.
     
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  9. OttoCorrect

    OttoCorrect Tele-Meister

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    I have read his blog. It seems like the method at SUF for their muff line is “try every component variation of a particular type, then release the one that sounds best to them and have that be the representative of that version of big muff.”

    IE: the Op Amp muff is the direct clone of the best sounding one he’s had, the Ram’s Head is the perfectly balanced violet one from this particular year, because that was the best sounding one. The research really seems to have paid off, the two SUF muffs I’ve played have been the pinnacle of their respective versions, at least compared to the others I’ve tried. Again, I totally understand SUF having the reputation they do for big muffs. In particular, that Ram’s Head I have is superb.
     
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  10. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    They've been out that long?

    In any case, I tried one in a shop and hated it. Sounded nothing like a Russian Muff.
     
  11. Tone Eee

    Tone Eee Tele-Meister

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    My fave is currently a Jumbo Tonebender clone, which is a BM missing the first set of clipping diodes and the last gain stage.
    Check out some vids, but it is muffy with sort of a clean blend character especially in the bass frequencies.
    It's pretty rad
     
  12. zippofan

    zippofan Tele-Afflicted

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    I gave my son a big box EH NYC Muff a few years ago, sounded pretty good to me but I don't know much about them. After reading Kit Rae's amazing Big Muff info site, I went looking for something I could afford and picked up a Chicago Stompworks Moose Pie bare box, which is based on the Ram's Head schematic. I like it! Now to mod my son's pedal, he left it here when he went back to school and only took the DOD 250 clone I built him, a Rat clone (CSW Mr Vermin) and the DOD Gunslinger for dirt.

    Hmmm, between the Lovepedal Karl clone I'm building for him (that's his name) and modding the NYC Muff, might be good Christmas presents for him. Thanks for the reviews!
     
  13. mattpas

    mattpas TDPRI Member

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    I just saw this thread and wanted to thank you guys for all the kind words on the Stomp Under Foot pedals.
     
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  14. Bob Womack

    Bob Womack Tele-Afflicted

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    HERE is my review of the Triangle Reissue for those who want a personal perspective. I've also got a link to Kit Rae's excellent Muff page with reviews.

    Bob
     
  15. OttoCorrect

    OttoCorrect Tele-Meister

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    Well thank you for documenting and making amazing Muff pedals!
     
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  16. 1300 E Valencia

    1300 E Valencia Friend of Leo's

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    Darn it, I thought my quest was over with the Vick's '73 Ram's Head, but now I see I'll need to try the Violet Ram's Head as well! To say nothing of the Stomp Under Foot pedals.
     
  17. OttoCorrect

    OttoCorrect Tele-Meister

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    Not sure how to edit my original post, so I guess I'll just add these for anyone who's interested:

    EHX Triangle Big Muff Pi Reissue
    $80
    This is the first and only Triangle style BMP I've been able to try. I did a separate review page for a NPD, but I'll quickly restate the highlights. This is the biggest muffiest BMP I've ever played. It's huge. Deeper bigger bass than any of the Russians I've played, higher gain than any Ram's Head, and a very deep scoop. With the gain cranked you get into that crazy almost-too-much-for-itself oscillating chainsaw texture like with real extreme fuzzes like the Boss FZ-2 (but with no octave). Very rude and unruly, you can dial it back for subtler sounds, but virtually any other muff circuit I've tried is going to do that better than this guy. If you want to bring the nasty, however, this is your ticket. Very very cool, but may not be to everyone's taste. I love it. 8 out of 10.

    Chicago Stompworks Moose Pie
    $50
    This is a straight clone of a Ram's Head era BMP using a schematic found on Kit Rae's Big Muff page, down to the reverse "hi cut" style tone knob found on that 1973 original. Sonically it's a fine example of a Ram's Head. While I prefer the brighter presence of the Violet versions I've tried, I have to say the Ram's Head era (violet or otherwise) seem to be my favorites, as they've consistently been big, open and uncompressed with a good EQ balance and lots of harmonic richness. The gain is high and can be absolutely ripping if you want, but its easy to dial things back and tame it with other pedals if need be. This particular example is darker than the Vick and SUF violets, but a tad brighter than the Vick 73 Ram's Head, making it a pretty great, well balanced Ram's Head specimen. The SUF and Vick Audio Violet are still preferable to my ears, but this is an excellent Ram's Head full stop, and the fact that they turn up for super cheap only makes it that much better. 8.5 out of 10 (gains a half point for being so dang cheap on the used market).
     
  18. Fearnot

    Fearnot Friend of Leo's

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    I've been through a bunch o' Muffs this last couple of years, but I seem to have stopped with the Catalinbread Manx Loaghtan, which is basically a ram's head run through a Baxandall 2-band tone circuit. Tonally versatile, doesn't get lost in the band mix, and still makes the back of my neck sweat like a Big Muff should.

    A buddy of mine tried one and now he swears by it.
     
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