Welp, I’m going down the Big Muff rabbit hole (again)

jrblue

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Wren and Cuff are the muff masters. The Caprid Blue-Violet is the best I've played through, though of course that's personal. But wow -- great response, great sounds.
 

D_Malone

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OP here. Got the Violet Menace and really digging it.

On its own I like it a lot. The tone controls offer a lot of flexibility.

With my Naga Viper (treble booster) in front of it, WOW! The Naga Viper really brings it to life. They work together beautifully.
 

Lies&Distortion

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OP here. Got the Violet Menace and really digging it.

On its own I like it a lot. The tone controls offer a lot of flexibility.

With my Naga Viper (treble booster) in front of it, WOW! The Naga Viper really brings it to life. They work together beautifully.
A boosted violet ram can make some glorious sounds. I have a Chicago Stomp Works version that sounds great pushed by a Silver Pony (Klone).
 

jvin248

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I picked up an Azor 303 (BMP clone) a while back. It does the stuff. The gray box version is better than the yellow box version.




Cuvave has been popular for a while.





Yes they are low priced pedals!
My opinion is that if a pedal needs $300 of branding to be 'good' -- I don't want it nor need it.

.
 

Yonatan

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.

I picked up an Azor 303 (BMP clone) a while back. It does the stuff. The gray box version is better than the yellow box version.




Cuvave has been popular for a while.





Yes they are low priced pedals!
My opinion is that if a pedal needs $300 of branding to be 'good' -- I don't want it nor need it.

.

Interesting, for another budget option, I have the Biyang Fuzz Star, though honestly I can't say how it stacks up to a real muff. Though the tones sound similar to the first video that you posted.
 

11 Gauge

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Interesting, for another budget option, I have the Biyang Fuzz Star, though honestly I can't say how it stacks up to a real muff. Though the tones sound similar to the first video that you posted.

I have a Fuzz Star and went under the hood. The values of at least some of the components for the tone stack were somewhat unorthodox vs. any actual Muff. After changing those components to be the same as what are found in my favorite Muffs, it's pretty much on par with them.

------------

I've personally sort of divided (stock original) Muffs into roughly two categories:
  1. higher gain with more scooped mids
  2. lower gain with less scooped mids
...Unlike some other fuzzes, the gain of a Muff is mostly determined by circuit-level constraints, as opposed to the gains of the transistors themselves. Long story short is that I prefer the lower gain configurations found in the Russian models, which also have smaller values for the 'clipping band caps' (these are in series with the clipping diode pairs), and are a bit less mid-scooped, vs. something like many of the ram's head models.

Anyway, I've personally discovered that if the gain is lower and the mids aren't as scooped, then a Muff doesn't suffer from issues necessitating the need for any sort of midrange knobs or switches. And in the instances where I want more mids, I'll actually just stack something in front that does just that. Part of what I like about a Muff, and what IMO makes it the animal it is, has to do with there being attenuation at a particular range of midrange frequencies.

...The curious thing to me is that 99% of the midrange-emphasizing tricks are done at the tone stack itself. I've found that you can actually alter things in a much more useful way by decreasing the size of the two caps that are right before and after the sustain pot, which are almost always 100nF in most Muff models, so dropping them to 22nF or even as small as 10nF really adds a lot of mid emphasis. You can usually leave the tone circuit alone when this is done. A simple DPDT toggle will let you go back and forth between stock and more midrangey modes.
 
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Chiogtr4x

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I have a Fuzz Star and went under the hood. The values of at least some of the components for the tone stack were somewhat unorthodox vs. any actual Muff. After changing those components to be the same as what are found in my favorite Muffs, it's pretty much on par with them.

------------

I've personally sort of divided (stock original) Muffs into roughly two categories:
  1. higher gain with more scooped mids
  2. lower gain with less scooped mids
...Unlike some other fuzzes, the gain of a Muff is mostly determined by circuit-level constraints, as opposed to the gains of the transistors themselves. Long story short is that I prefer the lower gain configurations found in the Russian models, which also have smaller values for the 'clipping band caps' (these are in series with the clipping diode pairs), and are a bit less mid-scooped, vs. something like many of the ram's head models.

Anyway, I've personally discovered that if the gain is lower and the mids aren't as scooped, then a Muff doesn't suffer from issues necessitating the need for any sort of midrange knobs or switches. And in the instances where I want more mids, I'll actually just stack something in front that does just that. Part of what I like about a Muff, and what IMO makes it the animal it is, has to do with there being attenuation at a particular range of midrange frequencies.

...The curious thing to me is that 99% of the midrange-emphasizing tricks are done at the tone stack itself. I've found that you can actually alter things in a much more useful way by decreasing the size of the two caps that are right before and after the sustain pot, which are almost always 100nF in most Muff models, so dropping them to 22nF or even as small as 10nF really adds a lot of mid emphasis. You can usually leave the tone circuit alone when this is done. A simple DPDT toggle will let you go back and forth between stock and more midrangey modes.
I am kind of interested in the Fuzz Star ( I'm a Biyang fan), but they seem hard to find!
( I like Biyangs, as I love the MXR size, sound, and that they still take batteries)
 

telemnemonics

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I have a Fuzz Star and went under the hood. The values of at least some of the components for the tone stack were somewhat unorthodox vs. any actual Muff. After changing those components to be the same as what are found in my favorite Muffs, it's pretty much on par with them.

------------

I've personally sort of divided (stock original) Muffs into roughly two categories:
  1. higher gain with more scooped mids
  2. lower gain with less scooped mids
...Unlike some other fuzzes, the gain of a Muff is mostly determined by circuit-level constraints, as opposed to the gains of the transistors themselves. Long story short is that I prefer the lower gain configurations found in the Russian models, which also have smaller values for the 'clipping band caps' (these are in series with the clipping diode pairs), and are a bit less mid-scooped, vs. something like many of the ram's head models.

Anyway, I've personally discovered that if the gain is lower and the mids aren't as scooped, then a Muff doesn't suffer from issues necessitating the need for any sort of midrange knobs or switches. And in the instances where I want more mids, I'll actually just stack something in front that does just that. Part of what I like about a Muff, and what IMO makes it the animal it is, has to do with there being attenuation at a particular range of midrange frequencies.

...The curious thing to me is that 99% of the midrange-emphasizing tricks are done at the tone stack itself. I've found that you can actually alter things in a much more useful way by decreasing the size of the two caps that are right before and after the sustain pot, which are almost always 100nF in most Muff models, so dropping them to 22nF or even as small as 10nF really adds a lot of mid emphasis. You can usually leave the tone circuit alone when this is done. A simple DPDT toggle will let you go back and forth between stock and more midrangey modes.

One thing I can’t say I understand with all my Muffs that I play more than any other type of dirt pedal is the higher vs lower gain distinction.
With OD and Dist pedals I generally think of higher gain as more compressed and distorted.
But Russian Muffs known as low gain, sound more distorted to me in terms of the cleanest sounds available at a given setting.
For example a Ram can deliver very clear grit free single notes up high, where the same notes played through a Russian invariably have some grit or grain I can’t get rid of by careful attack.
Sustain? Both are endless with volume?
So what does higher and lower gain really mean with Muffs?

For background I never ever run the gain/ fuzz/ sustain knob all the way down, because the clearest sounds are between two o’clock and maxed out.
Gain knob below noon gets too massy and muddy to be any use to me.
 

telemnemonics

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A boosted violet ram can make some glorious sounds. I have a Chicago Stomp Works version that sounds great pushed by a Silver Pony (Klone).

I’ve also never felt the suicidal urge to stomp an additional dirt pedal when running amok, sorry, running a muff.
What settings would you use on each?
I have klons and Muffs so might try that but have no clue why?
A muff my itself will blow down a brick house full of little pigs, so where does one go from there?
The smoke house?
 

Yonatan

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A muff my itself will blow down a brick house full of little pigs, so where does one go from there?
The smoke house?

I don't think that I can put the volume knob on my Biyang Fuzz Star past 8 o'clock, it would blow something out for sure. Not sure what they were thinking with this pedal.
 

Yonatan

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I am kind of interested in the Fuzz Star ( I'm a Biyang fan), but they seem hard to find!
( I like Biyangs, as I love the MXR size, sound, and that they still take batteries)
I got mine from AliExpress, I see that they are still available.
 

telemnemonics

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I don't think that I can put the volume knob on my Biyang Fuzz Star past 8 o'clock, it would blow something out for sure. Not sure what they were thinking with this pedal.

Muffs pretty much all have massive output, some you really can barely turn up the level past that range.
I used to try to run muffs near unity gain, for a small volume boost over bypassed, but finally surrendered to the LOUD.
An option is if you have a second amp channel, use one channel for cleans and run muffs into the other channel with the channel vol down and the muff output opened up more. Gets a creamier more tube dirt influence.
Earplugs may be in order as well...
 

11 Gauge

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So what does higher and lower gain really mean with Muffs?

It's primarily determined by the values of the collector resistor vs. emitter resistor values at the two clipping stages.

So something like a Russian Muff uses a 12K collector resistor with a 390 ohm emitter resistor, for a 'gain value' of ~30.8. Then something like a ram's head might have a 12K collector resistor with a 150 ohm emitter resistor, for a 'gain value' of ~80. There are yet others with 10K collector resistors and 100 ohm emitter resistors, or 15K collector resistors and 150 ohm emitter resistors, and so on.

The sustain control on a Muff doesn't increase or decrease gain - it's merely a volume control that determines how much of the first booster stage will overload and drive into clipping the subsequent clipping stages. So whatever the circuit-level 'gain values' of the clipping stages are will truly determine how distorted things sound throughout the sweep of the sustain control. To my ear, the higher 'gain values' tend to have more treble content, both at settings lower in the sustain knob, and translating to sounding much more distorted (e.g. hearing a lot more higher freq. harmonic distortion) than those with lower 'gain values'.

I can get feedback really easily with my later-70's ram's head, and can never run the sustain knob anywhere near max, as a result. With my mid-90's Russian, even max sustain only produces a fraction of what my ram's head does, and it's considerably darker/warmer sounding, even when I try to run the tone knob at an unusually high setting.
 

11 Gauge

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Muffs pretty much all have massive output, some you really can barely turn up the level past that range.
I used to try to run muffs near unity gain, for a small volume boost over bypassed, but finally surrendered to the LOUD.
An option is if you have a second amp channel, use one channel for cleans and run muffs into the other channel with the channel vol down and the muff output opened up more. Gets a creamier more tube dirt influence.
Earplugs may be in order as well...

I've found that you can tweak the output by changing the value of the emitter resistor on the 'recovery stage' that falls after the tone circuit. If you're using a log (audio) taper volume pot, this resistor will probably be around 2.2K or maybe even 3.3K, but if you have something with a linear taper pot, you can increase the emitter resistor to 4.7K or even bigger, and that will alleviate the need to run the volume way low at around 9:00 or similar.
 

telemnemonics

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It's primarily determined by the values of the collector resistor vs. emitter resistor values at the two clipping stages.

So something like a Russian Muff uses a 12K collector resistor with a 390 ohm emitter resistor, for a 'gain value' of ~30.8. Then something like a ram's head might have a 12K collector resistor with a 150 ohm emitter resistor, for a 'gain value' of ~80. There are yet others with 10K collector resistors and 100 ohm emitter resistors, or 15K collector resistors and 150 ohm emitter resistors, and so on.

The sustain control on a Muff doesn't increase or decrease gain - it's merely a volume control that determines how much of the first booster stage will overload and drive into clipping the subsequent clipping stages. So whatever the circuit-level 'gain values' of the clipping stages are will truly determine how distorted things sound throughout the sweep of the sustain control. To my ear, the higher 'gain values' tend to have more treble content, both at settings lower in the sustain knob, and translating to sounding much more distorted (e.g. hearing a lot more higher freq. harmonic distortion) than those with lower 'gain values'.

I can get feedback really easily with my later-70's ram's head, and can never run the sustain knob anywhere near max, as a result. With my mid-90's Russian, even max sustain only produces a fraction of what my ram's head does, and it's considerably darker/warmer sounding, even when I try to run the tone knob at an unusually high setting.

Ahhh interesting, I suspected it may be as much in the circuit as in the sounds, though my listening may also be biased in ways that make me "hear gain" or not hear it in a wrong way.

I have no problem running my sustain knobs full up on Rams as well as Russians, but Rams then need the level way way down.
Or I turn down the gain to ease back the tone and add bottom, to my ear.

I've been using a W&C Super Russian with "creamy dreamer" switch, and just bought a "Green Russian with creamy dreamer mod" from Big Knob Pedals because I like that so much. Not sure it will be the same being the W&C is a whole other pedal with that mod on a switch, but I'm happy to try circuits that have potential.
I believe the resistor values you're referring to is the main mod that makes a green Russian a creamy dreamer?

Not associating the mod with Pumpkins, totally not that, not an IC muff, just a nutty internet myth.
I can see why certain pedal builders put a whole career into all muffs all the time!
Hoping the Big Knob "Creamy Pi" is what I hope...
 

telemnemonics

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I've found that you can tweak the output by changing the value of the emitter resistor on the 'recovery stage' that falls after the tone circuit. If you're using a log (audio) taper volume pot, this resistor will probably be around 2.2K or maybe even 3.3K, but if you have something with a linear taper pot, you can increase the emitter resistor to 4.7K or even bigger, and that will alleviate the need to run the volume way low at around 9:00 or similar.

Oh that's good to know, may look at that on one of my cheaper muff clones.
As much as anything it's annoying if the cable drags across the board and a tiny shift of that knob adds a massive volume boost.
Could also remove the knob from the pot or put a rubber gasket under it to make it harder to turn.

Would there be any signal loss or change, running the pedal with the level pot turned down so far?
Like is the signal going through the whole resistance strip on the pot?
Or whatever?
 

11 Gauge

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Oh that's good to know, may look at that on one of my cheaper muff clones.
As much as anything it's annoying if the cable drags across the board and a tiny shift of that knob adds a massive volume boost.
Could also remove the knob from the pot or put a rubber gasket under it to make it harder to turn.

Would there be any signal loss or change, running the pedal with the level pot turned down so far?
Like is the signal going through the whole resistance strip on the pot?
Or whatever?

The volume pot is your standard deal where it's coming off the final transistor's collector (well, the output cap there), so it's a variable voltage divider between the output jack and ground. Unless it's dimed, you always have some series resistance, and unless it's at zero, you always have some resistance to ground.

The output cap is almost always 100nF, and it forms a highpass filter with the resistance to ground of the volume pot. So let's say you've got the volume pot set pretty low, and you've got 10K to ground (most vol. pots in Muffs tend to be 100K). That will give you a highpass corner freq. of ~150Hz, which is still pretty much on the low side.

Long story short is that the freq response through the rotation of the volume pot of a Muff should be pretty consistent.
 

D_Malone

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I’ve also never felt the suicidal urge to stomp an additional dirt pedal when running amok, sorry, running a muff.
What settings would you use on each?
I have klons and Muffs so might try that but have no clue why?
A muff my itself will blow down a brick house full of little pigs, so where does one go from there?
The smoke house?

I can only speak for myself, but I run a Naga Viper (treble booster with a bass knob, basically) into a Muff as a tone shaper, not necessarily as a boost. It really tightens up the low end and adds upper midrange.

Truth be told, I almost never turn the Naga Viper off. I love it with all my dirt pedals.
 

D_Malone

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The saga continues. Recently picked up a Thorpy Fallout Cloud and it is stellar. I'm impressed by how it sounds with the guitar volume rolled back. Retains the high end better than most. Check it out.

 




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