Price paid: C$ 89
Purchased from: Spaceman Music
Sound — 9
The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff, like the Pro Co Rat and the Arbiter Fuzz Face, is the kind of pedal that has a very distinctive sound. It's a one-trick pony; if you buy this, it's because you're looking for that 'Big Muff sound'. If you're looking for a versatile, all-purpose distortion, than this isn't it. One sound can be attained: a rich, silky smooth gargle. The USA Big Muff has a strong low-end in comparison to the scratchier, treblier Sovtek Big Muff, which is great for the wall-of-sound ambient drones that I play, but also for warm blues and rock 'n' roll sounds. It isn't noisy at all, though the Switch does sometimes emitt an audible pop that gets repeated if you're running a delay or reverb unit. It's nowhere near as versatile as a Zvex Fuzz Factory or the like, but if you're looking for a Big Muff sound, this is the only way to go.
Overall Impression — 9
Combined with the right effects boxes, the Big Muff is capable of tremendous walls of distorted ambience. I usually use a Fender Jaguar Special > Dunlop Cry Baby > Big Muff > DigiTech RP-300A > DigiTech Digiverb > Fender JAM. This setup does deliver exactly the sort of sound I need, but versatility is an important factor to me as I'd like to save space on an expanding pedal board, so I'll probably sell it to help finance a Fuzz Factory. If anything, I wish it was capable of harsher sounds; if I were to replace it with another Big Muff, I think I'd go for it's Russian cousin. The only real trouble with this pedal is that it takes a "male" adaptor, but Electro-Harmonix corrected this on the Litte Big Muffs.
Reliability & Durability — 7
I disagree with the general impression that this is a reliable product. The USA Big Muff feels brittle to me; I find myself handling it very delicately for fear that it will break. I much rather the tough casing on the Russian version, or the die-cast armour of the Little Big Muff.
Ease of Use — 10
The EHX Big Muff is configured as any other 3-knob distortion pedal: it features 1 volume, 1 tone, and one gain (sustain) knob. Amongst the numerous goodies now included in the package (one of which is a DVD of EHX pedal demos) is a manual. It's unnecessary, really, but it's there. There can be no "bad" sounds produced by this pedal; that is to say, there is only one sound that this pedal can achieve, and it's a good one. Fiddling with the sustain will result in a very slight mellowing or harshening of sound, but in all honestly, there isn't much tweaking of your sound involved.