Big Muff Pi (Made In USA) review by Electro-Harmonix

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  • Ease of Use: 9
  • Sound: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 6
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.3 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (18 votes)
Electro-Harmonix: Big Muff Pi (Made In USA)
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Purchased from: Ebay Seller

Ease of Use — 9
This pedal is really as easy as it gets. There are three knobs, volume, tone and sustain. You all know what volume and tone do. The sustain knob basically controls the amount of distortion output. It's very simple, yet very effective. The manual is as simple as the pedal, for the simple fact that there's not much to explain. The best thing to do once you take it out of the box is to just plug it in, experiment, then rock! Accessing the battery compartment is simple enough, you just need a small Phillips head to remove the battery holder. Like most stompboxes, it uses 9volt batteries.

Sound — 10
Describing the sound of this stompbox is no easy feat, as it sounds like pretty much nothing else out there. Rich, creamy yet also very crunchy, this effect produces nothing short of an absolute wall of sound. There is so much low end, that you have to have the tone knob positioned at least around 2 o'clock, otherwise it sounds like your amp is behind a wall of mattresses. For this reason, it can be difficult to find the "right" sound, but once you've found the sweet spot, you'll definitely know about it. What's also amazing is how different it can sound through different amps. I usually run mine in a slightly crunchy Vox amp, and it sounds totally different going through a big Marshall or even a clean Fender amp. Mind you, it still sounds awesome.

Reliability & Durability — 6
This is where I was somewhat let down. This pedal was first built back in 1970, and the design has barely changed at all since. It's basically a thin stainless steal face screwed onto an even thinner piece of metal that makes up the sides and bottom of the stompbox. The switch isn't exactly the smoothest thing in the world, and when I received it the knobs weren't in the correct position, but that is an easy fix. The potentiometers, however, feel very solid. The finish scratches extremely easily, and I also experienced a problem with the LED indicator, where it wouldn't switch on at all, or would but only as long as the switch was depressed. However, this problem sorted itself out after a short amount of time. All of this being said, I've still never had any problems with the operation of this pedal (apart from the LED), and I can't imagine it will ever break on me any time soon. All of the circuitry inside the pedal is very simple, so there's not really anything that can go wrong. So as long as you don't do anything like drop it out a window or run it over in a car, you really shouldn't have any problems.

Overall Impression — 8
Because of the unique sound of this piece of equipment, it isn't the most versatile thing in the world, but you would still be surprised at the different sounds you can get out of it. I play in a grunge/alternative rock band, and the sound of it is perfect for our style of music. David Gilmour used this pedal quite a lot to achieve creamy and smooth lead tones, such as the first solo on "Comfortably Numb," and Santana used it a lot as well. That should give you a pretty good idea of what this pedal is appropriate for. I typically use a few different distortion and overdrive pedals to achieve different sounds when practicing and gigging, and I find that I use this Big Muff the most. The fact that it sounds so different from anything else out there also really helps to set you apart from all the other average joe guitar players and their Boss DS-1s. The Big Muff has truly become an integral part of my sound, and I imagine that it will remain on my pedal board for the rest of my life. That's just how good it is. I just wish EHX could make the chassis a big sturdier, or at least make it with thicker steal.

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