Big Muff Pi review by Electro-Harmonix

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 7
  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.8 (120 votes)
Electro-Harmonix: Big Muff Pi

Price paid: £ 60

Purchased from: Trevor Davies Music

Sound — 9
I mainly use this with a Fender Cyclone HS and a Laney VC30 combo. It is a little noisy, but it's a fuzz/distortion. Actually, there's a lot less noise than most of this type of pedal. Of course, turning the sustain up to full makes it crackle a little, but I think that's a result of outside interference. The effect itself is pure energy. Don't expect pleasant, smooth warm clipping, because this is a fuzzbox. What you get is an incredibly gritty, raw, all powerful dirty sound, with bass levels through the roof. it's so thick sounding, if you use a downtuned guitar for rhythm, you won't need to add a bass guitar to the mix, because the guitar will fill out that range of frequencies. it's almost as if there is a sub-octave. You can dial this out with the tone knob and go for all out treble, but I think it can sound very shrill if you turn it up too much, especially if you have a bright voiced amp like mine. I usually have the tone a little below half, so there's the subsonic bass response but with just enough treble to sharpen the sound a little. It is scooped in the midrange, so it could get lost in the mix, but I usually match the volume of everything to the midrange so that it my guitar won't disappear out of the mix when I Switch it on, and it works. This pedal also works great as a bass fuzz, although I prefer how it sounds with bass if you turn the sustain almost as low as it can go. So it's not perfect, but it's still a great sound. I didn't get this pedal with the intention of getting the sound of my favourite artists, as none of them actually used a big muff regularly, but it's very good for Nirvana, even though kurt cobain only ever used a big muff on 1 or 2 songs.

Overall Impression — 9
I play a wide variety of music, from classic to modern rock, punk, blues, and while this is a better match for the modern rock and punk sounds, there are also a bunch of classic rock bands that used the big muff "back in the day", so it could suit some classic rock. I've been playing since I was about 7 years old, but I stopped playing when I was about 10 or 11, then went back to it when I was 15, I think. I'm now 18. whether that counts as 11 years of playing guitar or not, I don't know. I'll just say I've been playing about 3 years. In the way of distortion I also own a Boss DS-2 and a Marshall Jackhammer. The guy in the shop told me everything he knew about big muffs before I bought it so I didn't need to ask anything! If it was stolen, I'd definitely get another, because it's an important part of my sound now. I love the raw energy this thing seems to put in your hands. You get a real sense of power when you Switch this thing on, I'm not a very confident person, but I do become much more confident when I start using the big muff. I guess my only issue with it is the slight mid-scoop that makes me need to boost the overall volume to match the midrange. When I'm recording, especially, I end up matching the input volume to my clean sound, then when the big muff comes in with the mid-frequency volume matching, boom, it's clipped. I guess that's my problem, not the fault of the pedal itself. I didn't compare this to anything else. I just tried it out and was completely blown away by the sound and had to have it, when I was looking for a fuzz. It was also the only fuzzbox I could find locally. Prior to that, I was considering the Ibanez FZ-7 in the same shop, but that was sold before I got a chance to try it out. The only thing I wish this pedal had was a bit more midrange frequencies. But it's a great pedal anyway, I'd recommend them to anyone Who is looking for a thick, dirty fuzz.

Reliability & Durability — 7
I've not had an opportunity to rehearse with it yet, let along gig, but I think it will last. It is well constructed, like all EHX pedals, but the sheet metal does kinda worry me, because it seems to bend momentarily when I unplug the cables from the input/output jacks. Seems like it could dent with road abuse, but nothing that'll effect the performance of the pedal. Well, the sheet metal construction doesn't really worry me as much as I just suggested it does, otherwise I wouldn't have bought 3 EHX pedals.

Ease of Use — 10
Its very easy to get the best sound to suit you out of this pedal. It has only 3 controls, Volume, Tone (Anti-clockwise is treble cut/bass boost, and clockwise is vice versa), and Sustain (basically the level of compression and to a lesser extent saturation, like gain, but sustain is a more accurate label for what it does). it's so easy to use, I haven't actually read the manual. Mine is the NYC USA muff, which I got because it's all they had in TDM.

2 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I just got one for myself. I play it on the bass though. I don't know if for the long term it will damage or anything but it sounded a lot like Cliff when I first found a good config on the knobs.