which big muff

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by hyperlitem, Nov 20, 2004.

  1. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    So i think i finally decided on getting a big muff, but i was lookin on ebay and which one do i get. Is there one thats better for bass or am i gonna have to get it modded regardless to hold my low end down. I just want that really scary distortion and i think this one might be it. Any help would be great im just not a pedal person.
  2. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    I can't seem to find my cut and paste response to this, so I'll do it again:

    There are a lot of variants of the Big Muff, first there's the original made in 1970 by Mike Matthews, two years after founding Electro Harmonix. The original was made from bent sheet metal and had three knobs in a triangular pattern and an on/off switch in the upper left corner. It was moved three years later to the back, by the power jack and the colors were changed to red and black, occasionally seen in blue. Some had a "sheep's face logo" and in 1976, the chrome Muff changed it's graphics to what they are today.

    The original Big Muff was not true Bypass, and had a rather warm sound, due to it's four transistor design. Mind you, with the relative lack of technology that transistors had much more variation in specs than they do today, so each Muff had a slightly different sound. These tend to suck some low end, suck batteries, and sound rather warm. They sound great when mixed with the original signal. In 1978, and after, some were made with dual 741 op amps in place of the transistors, and lost some of the warmth.

    Next, is the Big Muff Re-issue. Mike Matthews as the head of New Sensor re-issued the Big Muff Pi with the black and red graphics we know today. They're currently made in New York and are made to specs similar to the original, however, still maintain the use of op amps (don't have one in front of me, can't check but 99% sure) and have become true bypass. They are warm, but nowhere near the original. These are made with switching input jacks removing the battery switch altogether. These also feature a red LED indicator.

    The green Sovtek Big Muff Pi derived from the Red Army Overdrive, a very rare, Russian made variant. This was made in the early 1990's when Mike Matthews started up shop in Russia to produce some pedals. The Red Army Overdrive had a very similar design, was chrome in color and was soon to become the Green Big Muff.

    The Green Big Muff Pi derived from the Red Army Overdrive, and is built like a TANK. Because of it's color, it's sometimes assumed that they are made from Russian tank parts. These feature no power adapter, and have a switch nothing like those that we know. The tone is warm, and the pedal is HUGE!

    And lastly, the modern Russian Big Muff Pi is black. Once again, this Big Muff has no power adapter, and is the harshest sounding of them all. With a similar concept as the vintage Muffs, the tone varies greatly on these as well due to the current variations in Russian technology. They're smaller than the green ones, have a switch that appears to be a Carling knock-off, and suck batteries. They DO have an LED indicator.

    Switches tend to be the first thing to go on either Russian Big Muff, but are easy replacement. The Russians also have strange wiring using ribbon wires making modifications somewhat confusing.

    I've attached a quick reference table to this post.
  3. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    thanks man extremely helpful. Im going for a BRMC like real mean distortion which one would you personally suggest? It sounds like the black russion one but woudl i be better off just getting one of hte new new york ones and haveing sumone mod it. Theres a few people in town that mod pedals so i assume itd be pretty easy to get done.
  4. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    In the past, I used a very heavily modified NYC Reissue. Modified by myself, it didn't lose any bass, was very in your face, and still maitained definition without muddying. You can get the tone you want with one of these, but it sounds like you might want to look at a ProCo RAT as well.
  5. wingnutkj


    Mar 27, 2003
    Here's the thread that's got the comparison mp3 I did of US & Russian Big Muffs -

    My experience differs from tpylon's in that my US RI is a bit harsher than my black Russian, which I love the tone of (although the build quality is a bit ropier). I think there's a lot of variation though, so try a few different ones out if you get the chance to.
  6. The Red Menace

    The Red Menace

    Nov 25, 2004
    I have owned almost every version except the real vintage original. The only one that maintains your low-end with no modifications is the green Russian one. It is the only one I still own and will never part with. I even had mine re-housed in a Hammond enclosure. Muffalicious.