Choosing the Right Bass Fuzz: Tall Font Russian vs Grey Stache vs TAFM

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by mstill78, Oct 12, 2020.

  1. Wren and Cuff Tall Font Russian

  2. Fuzzrocious Grey Stache

  3. Smallsound/Bigsound TAFM

  1. Hello everyone,

    I am a newcomer to TB (first post) and am currently researching and exploring my options in hopes of replacing my MXR Bass Fuzz Deluxe with a fuzz pedal that will better suit my needs. Although I consider the BFD to be an adequate effect while playing on my own, I feel as though I get lost in the mix in a band/live setting.

    Based upon the research I have conducted thus far, I have narrowed it down to 3 or possibly 4 contenders; Wren and Cuff Tall Font Russian, Fuzzrocious Grey Stache (possibly with the clean blend and tone bypass mods) and Smallsound/Bigsound Team Awesome Fuzz Machine. I also haven’t completely ruled out the Wren and Cuff Pickle Pie Hella Fuzz B.

    I have determined that I like the smooth creaminess of muff based fuzz pedals. I mainly play either a Fender Precision with flats, Fender Precision with rounds or a Fender Jazz with rounds through either an Ampeg SVT-VR with either an Ampeg 8x10 or 6x10 or a late 70s Ampeg V-4B through an Ampeg 6x10. I should also note that I don’t play metal, doom or stoner rock. There are certain characteristics that I am hoping to obtain from a fuzz pedal:

    1. A fuzz pedal that cuts through/doesn’t get lost in the mix

    2. One that doesn’t result in degradation of the low end - remains articulate

    3. One that performs well with lower levels of saturation (mild fuzz), i.e. doesn’t sound muffled, boomy or muddy.

    I am hoping to get some feedback from those who have experience with these specific pedals as well as what the likes and dislikes are for each pedal and why. I would also like to know what your thoughts and opinions are on both the Wren and Cuff TFR and the Grey Stache with versus without the clean blend mods and why. Lastly, is it imperative to choose a fuzz pedal that has been specifically designed for bass?

    Thank you in advance for your time.
    BrentSimons and Nunovsky like this.
  2. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Welcome to TalkBass!!!!

    I have no experience with the others. But I did a TON of asking questions and and reading here before getting my TAFM. And it lived up to the hype!

    The blend certainly helps keep my low end.

    The gate acts as sort of a second "slightly angrier" fuzz for two options.

    Build quality is great! And it just looks freakin cool too.

    This isn't mine but it looks just like mine.
    BrentSimons likes this.
  3. gh0st42

    gh0st42 Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2019
    If you like Muff style fuzz, go for the Tall Font or the Grey Stacey.

    I’d recommend getting the tone bypass mod on either if you can. A muff clone with bypassed tone stack is crushing. Check out a BlueBeard with tone bypass too, if the opportunity arises.

    TAFM is kinda it’s own thing, and not Muff based like the other two. That being said, it is most certainly the more flexible of your three options.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2020
  4. This exactly. Also consider the W&C Super Russian which is the TFR with flat mids and creamy dreamer mods (plus a germanium boost on 2nd foot switch). The Grey Stache and Bluebeard are on my radar but I'm totally happy with the SR.
    BrentSimons and gh0st42 like this.
  5. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I’ve used a TFR with the clean blend for several years and still love it. It does lower gain tones better than most Muffs (in my opinion), and has plenty of fat lows to spare. I particularly like it with flat wounds on my Rickenbackers, which are low enough that it can almost sound like a fat overdrive. I actually don’t consider the clean blend necessary on the TFR. I originally bought it without then sent it to him to add on later and not sure I gained much, though I tend to leave it with 25% or so clean blended in to clean it up slightly (it is subtle). It actually sounds different with the clean blend option installed vs without one- which he warned me about when I got it. Not that it is worse at all, just a bit different and it’s been so long I can’t recall how it changed.

    I had a TAFM for awhile before the TFR and really liked its versatility and tone soloed, but for me it kinda lost the fat in a mix forcing me to crank it too loud to not drop out. The TFR kicked it off the board pretty quick. I’d love to try a TAFM again now to see if I might have a different take.

    I also would recommend checking out the Zvex Mastotron as an option- it’s another fuzz that has outlasted tons of competition on my board and is quite versatile. I often have both it and the TFR as options, with the TFR filling more of a fat distortion/drive role and the Mastotron filling the edgier fuzzy and/or gated role (though the Sub switch on the Mastotron makes it quite fat if you want it). It gets a lot of interest for the gated tones, but really does a lot more too.
    BrentSimons likes this.
  6. Nunovsky


    Sep 4, 2004
    I have the TAFM and it's one of my favourite fuzzes. I highly recomend it.
    If you like muff pedals why don't you check the EHX Sovtek Deluxe? You can choose between 2 muff circuits, the green russian (similar to the TFR) and the Civil War (similar to the Grey Stache). You have blend, gate and parametric mids which is the key to cut through mixes. And if you use an expressiona pedal with it you can even use it as a fuzz wah.
    And the best thing is that it's cheaper than all the other options.
    groove pump and BrentSimons like this.
  7. rratajski

    rratajski Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    Mount Laurel, NJ
    Thanks for considering our Grey Stache! Much appreciated :).
    Here to help, if you need it.
    RissKippery, BOOG and BrentSimons like this.
  8. Thank you Ryan. Can you please tell me, does the clean blend mod affect the overall tone of the pedal? Obviously it will have an impact when the blend pot is being used but if the clean blend is "off" does it sound the same when compared to a Grey Stache without the clean blend mod? Also, are you able to tell me about the benefits of having the tone bypass mod for bass? Thank you in advance.
  9. Thank you. This is very interesting to know. Up to this point I have been leaning toward the TFL and have been back and forth as to whether I should be pursuing it with the clean blend mod. I have read in other threads that the clean blend does affect the tone on these. Very curious to know if and how it affects the tone if the pedal had the clean blend but it isn't being used. My concern is that if I opt out of getting it with the clean blend, I will end up needing to run another pedal like a Boss Line Selector in order to incorporate my dry signal.
  10. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    You could try messaging Wren and Cuff about it. I’m pretty sure they are the ones that told me it might affect the tone a bit, it might even be on their website or something (probably worth searching Talkbass too, as there was a lot more talk about the TFR 10ish years ago and certainly some people in there that owned both and had stronger opinions about it). I can definitely verify that it still absolutely kills with the Blend on there, so either way is probably going to be fine. I really don’t think it needs it though- it is already relatively low gain and has a lot of lows. I got mine added because I like options, but like I said it doesn’t feel like I added much with it.

    Honestly if you can afford the extra, if I was buying one now I’d probably go for the Super Russian as mentioned before just because I like to have extra options to mess around with and those options might be better for the circuit than the clean blend. I’d be especially intrigued by the germanium boost!
  11. Definitely some food for thought, thank you. I actually emailed Matt about it last week but have yet to hear back. Perhaps its worth a follow up email. I haven't considered the Super Russian but I will also look into it.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    First, you're all playing for second place in the Fuzz department. This is where it's at!
    theunknowndude likes this.
  13. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    Out of curiosity I found a thread quickly with a number of opinions including my own from 6 years ago (at that time I would have actually remembered what it sounded like before!): Wren and Cuff Tall Font Russian - clean blend mod also someone pasted Matt’s reasoning for not making it stock
    mstill78 likes this.
  14. Chapster


    Nov 11, 2019
    Parsippany, NJ
    I would seriously consider this pedal, as it meets all 3 criteria that you mentioned (in my experience)
  15. Are you able to obtain a warmer/creamier muff like tone with it? My impression, at least from the Youtube demos and from what I've read is that it is a edgier, gnarly and more aggressive fuzz tone.
  16. rratajski

    rratajski Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    Mount Laurel, NJ
    The clean blend circuit is separate of the Grey Stache circuit, so it doesn't affect the tone/sound of the GS side other than that you're adding clean, dry signal in. When it's on the CCW fully dry side, there can be the tiniest bit of fuzz in there, but that would never be used since there's no reason one would turn a fuzz like this on with no fuzz signal haha. If you like playing with more scooped mids, when you hit the tone bypass mod, your volume will jump and your tone will be wide open. Think of verse/chorus or rhythm/lead.
    gh0st42 likes this.
  17. So conversely, because the clean blend circuit is separate of the GS circuit, if I chose to not add clean blend, i.e. CW and fully wet, the clean blend circuit will not affect the tone/sound of the GS circuit when compared to a GS that is build without the clean blend mod? Also, does the pedal perform well with lower levels of saturation? Thanks again for taking the time to explain.
  18. cusar5

    cusar5 Supporting Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    Planet Iommia
    TAFM is a pretty unique sounding circuit. I haven’t heard anything else that sounds quite like it. The clean blend works very well, and if you like germanium fuzz it’s a great choice.

    For Big Muffs, I’d go for the GS over TFR. The Mid control on the GS makes it much more useable for bass than the TFR in my opinion- GS cuts through the mix, whereas TFR is too muddy for most bass applications.
  19. sunbeast

    sunbeast Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2006
    Denver, CO
    I definitely disagree here from my experience, but these things are subjective. For me, those high/middle mids that many modded muffs (or the NYC Muff) tend to have an abundance of usually blend in too much with the guitar range, and often require quite a bit of extra volume (or significant clean blend) to not drop the low end when engaged. The lower gain of the TFR keeps it punchier than many of its higher-gain cousins (more in the “thick distortion” zone than fuzz zone IMO), while the Tone control up around 3 o’clock to max adds enough edge to stick through while still retaining thick/authoritative low-mids throughout the whole sweep (Tone below noon it can definitely be dark, which can also be a pretty great tone occasionally too). I tried a handful of more full-featured boutique Muffs (and the TAFM) before the TFR, and in a thick mix in my main band (heavy drummer, 2 guitars, synth, Hammond organ) the TFR was the one that didn’t get lost when engaged at reasonable volume levels.

    In a different kind of mix I could definitely see how a more gnarly mid-forward Muff could rule, especially in a less dense trio environment. For me that heavy compression and too much high-mids just make my guitarists angry! I did really like the TAFM when I used it jamming in a trio format for a bit, but ultimately it just never quite bonded with me. For me the clean Blend never filled it out enough unless I was really pushing volume (though it was more organic sounding than Muff blends tend to be from my limited experience).

    Whether the TFR is the best at that particular Russian flavor of Muff I don’t know, as I’ve been sufficiently happy with it to never really bother trying others since (which is super rare for me!) apart from a couple actual vintage units (which I would never rely on for a gig!). I would love to try the modern EHX Russian Muff variants as well as the Stomp Under Foot versions or of course the Bluebeard that have often been compared to the TFR. Maybe one day...

    I just remembered I had a good example of a song where I used the TFR on the entire time, a Rickenbacker with flatwounds (and using a Moog MF Drive as the filter in the intro and middle IIRC): it’s a pretty dynamic song and I love how the TFR is capable of those kinda dynamics
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2020
  20. gh0st42

    gh0st42 Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2019

    Inspired by this thread, I went and snagged an Acid Etched Grey Stache with Tone Bypass and Diode switching mods.

    Didn't need another Muff, yet here we are! LOL
    rratajski, cosmicevan and mstill78 like this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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