Sound — 8
I am playing a Fender Jaguar hh special through a Peavey windsor, and this pedal perfectly compliments the Vintage class a distortion with everything from a touch of sweet sustain to a load of heavy distortion. The pedal can be a tad noisy, but this can be easily countered by rolling back on the volume knob of your guitar. This effect sounds great with most other effects aside from other distortion pedals, but this isn't really an issue as the fuzz sounds great by itself. This pedal is great for emulation the heavily distorted tones of most guitarists. It's easy to get a hendrixesque fuzz sound, or to roll on the gain and get a heavier early sabbath sound. The unit wouldn't do modern metal well though, as the pedal leans towards a fuzz sound more than a distortion at high gains. The unit sounds best with a mid to high tone and sustain, which creates a fat harmonically rich seventies distortion.
Overall Impression — 10
This pedal is perfect for creating the rich, fat, distortion that was popular in the late sixties and early seventies. If it were stolen, I'd definitely buy a new one. The pedal looks good, feels solid, and most importantly sounds phenomenal, all for around fifty bucks. I prefer it to tube screamers, fuzz faces, and Boss distortions because of it's natural analog tone, and beautiful retro styling.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The pedal feels solid, and comes in a fairly Solid Metal case. My only complaints about the durability would be that the Russian Fuzz doesn't have a 9v jack, so you have to keep fresh batteries on hand if you want to use it on stage. For diyers, adding the jack is an easy mod which I have done myself and will add an extra layer of security to the sound if you plan to gig with it. The casing is fairly large, and if any components did fail, they would be easily replaceable. I would happily gig with this without a backup distortion, but I always bring some extra 9v's just in case.
Ease of Use — 9
The Russian made Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi is the Holy Grail of fuzz pedals. First manufactured in the early seventies, the Big Muff was based heavily on the distorted sound popularized by Jimi Hendrix. This pedal is very simple, one input, one output, one volume knob, one tone knob, and one sustain knob. The sustain knob regulates the amount of distortion, and goes from almost a clean boost at zero to a grinding, spitting fuzz at ten. Between the two extremes there are a wide array of beautiful fuzz sounds, and wherever you put the chickenhead knob, you're sure to find a great sound. This sonic array is augmented by the tone knob that shapes the distortion from a deep throaty growl, perfect for bass guitarists, to a screaming Overdrive. This pedal requires almost no tweaking to make it sing, and it's easy to transform the sound.