Price paid: $ 50
Purchased from: Guitar Center - Used Online
Ease of Use: Today I will be reviewing my most recent purchase, the Black Russian Big Muff. This is now a discontinued version but I think this is one of the best Big Muff's out there. You can find them on Craigs List and Guitar Center Used Gear. Shipped to my door was $50 which is a hell of a steal for an iconic sound, true bypass etc.
Info as pulled off EHX.com:
"A pinch smoother than its American-made comrade, the Russian Muff exhibits slightly less sustain, yet retains that unmistakable Big Muff sound. Prized by bass players for its edge, and sought after by guitarists seeking its unique flavor."
Unique tone of the USA Big Muff Pi
Double duty when used with your bass
Independent volume, tone and sustain controls
9 volt battery included
(This does not have a DC plug in, what I did is bought a OneSpot 9v to DC jack, ran it out the battery compartment and now it works on power supplied from my pedal board)
Now that we have that covered lets dive right into ease of use. The positives here is that it only has three controls, Volume, Sustain, & Tone. Tone controls the fuzzyness of this pedal. And although this is not technically a Fuzz pedal it very much is. Still with me? So that is the easy part. Now the uneasy part is dialing this thing in. The Volume control is beyond over sensitive. For instance, at 9 o'clock, you get nearly no sound, 11 o'clock, barely any sound, 12 o'clock, slightly audible, 1 o'clock SCREAMING LOUD. So there is an extremely fine line in order of getting this thing dialed in. That is where 'ease of use' isnt really that easy.
The version I have is the last version they made where the grounding wire that goes to the foot screw is an (I) washer which is better and different then the year prior where they just had a wire wrapped around the screw. If you decide to purchase this and take off the feet like I did, open up the pedal prior so you don't rip out the ground wire!
Pictures of this are on my profile page so please feel free to check it out. It is roughly the size of the state of Nevada, so good luck making it fit on your pedal board. It is smaller than the NY made Big Muff but still a GIANT pedal. // 7
Sound: Now this is why we are all here. What does this thing sound like. Well by trait I am a blues/rock player so I like things pretty bassy. I use Greenbacks in all of my amps to get that accentuated bass, that 'fat' tone. I got this pedal for the same reason. In contrast to its American made counterpart the Russian Big Muff is a lot more bassy, which is exactly the tone I was going for. Due to the pedal being quite bassy I am not kidding when I say this, it makes a Strat sound like a Les Paul. The FIRST pedal I have heard that has been able to do that. I am still blown away by how it does that, it can really add a ton of sustain to your single coil guitar.
In terms of settings and what I play I am a very basic player, the simpler the better. Les Paul - Pedal Board - Marshall Plexi. Everything on the amp is set to 5/10 or 12 o'clock. All the work is done with the volume on my guitar. So just LP into Marshall = great lighter classic rock, I use an Ibanez TS808 for heavier classic rock, think Lynyrd Skynyrd & AC/DC, I have a Fulltone Fulldrive Mosfet II for my heavier stuff I cover, (Guns n' Roses) and use for leads, and I got this because it is a completely different sound. The Russian Big Muff really recreates the buzzsaw fuzz effect. Sounds so much different then any of my other pedals.
The settings I use on this pedal is basically 1 o'clock for everything. To me it sounds very good this way. This is Billy Corgans Pedal of choice and for his tone (which I really don't like) he turns the tone all the way up. At that point it just doesn't sound good to me. The way I have it set up and when played through the Les Paul into my Marshall really envokes a heavy, fuzzy, Black Keys type of tone. Very full, very unique. The added bass of this pedal really makes a difference and makes a LP sound even beefier. Awesome tone! // 10
Reliability & Durability: Big strong Electro-Harmonix pedal here. Manufactured in Russia with great precision. Built strong like bull.
Joking aside this is on the pedal board and ain't going anywhere. I think the Electro-Harmonix casings are great quality, and to be honest I treat my gear well. It is my hard earned money, I don't just through my pedals all around. So I am not sure how anyone really 'breaks' pedals. // 8
Impression: Overall I have been extremely impressed with this pedal. It is boutique in its own sense because now it is no longer manufactured, has an interesting and sought after tone, and is one of the cheapest true bypass pedals you can buy. With all that said this is an amazing pedal.
Today there are too many boutique pedal companies just popping up and charging $150 minimum to own one of their hand wired true bypass pedals. As I said early on, I like the classics, I like to keep it simple. Are any of these boutique companies pushing the envelope? Not in my mind. They base the sound of all of their pedals on classics, such as the 808, the Big Muff, Fuzz Faces of yesteryear. Now I believe boutique companies do good (heck I own a Fulltone) but for $50 you can own a piece of history, and I can probably guaruntee your friends will not own this, and it will be very rare to run into someone with this as well. I think people start buying boutique because it is just to be different. Well I will tell you this, you can spend $50, be different, have an amazing tone with True Bypass, and in the end, their pedal is being created after this one. I am just saying think a little before you buy. There are so many options for fuzz pedals out there but this one is a keeper.
If for some reason this broke, caught fire, stolen, etc I would replace it immediately. For the price it cannot be beaten. Have I made my point yet? If anyone wants sound samples send me a message. // 9