Price paid: $ 32
Sound — 10
My setup: Epiphone G-400 into a Laney TT50-112 amplifier. In the loop: Marshall RG-1 Regenerator. In front of the amp: Ibanez WD7, DigiTech Bad Monkey and then this Big Muff. I always use this pedal on the clean channel (as you should). The sustain on this pedal is eternal. I LOVE it for that. If you turn up the sustain all the way, you begin to get some feedback ringing when you hold a note. Some people may dislike this but that's pretty much why I bought this pedal! With my DigiTech Bad Monkey boosting it, it's even more insane (though I do not recommend diming the sustain control; I usually keep it around 2 o'clock with the OD engaged). The tone control is very sensitive. I hate how it sounds past 2 o'clock; it becomes real fizzy, thin and piercing. Not my taste. I keep it around 10 o'clock. Here, it becomes a little boomy, but a lot smoother and VERY warm. PERFECT David Gilmour tone. At this point, it's not really a fuzz pedal anymore. It's more like a smooth, warm, high-gain distortion. With the sustain rolled back a bit and the tone up a bit (so that it's more fuzzy), you can start playing songs like "In The Flesh" from Pink Floyd. I cannot ask for more from a fuzz/distortion pedal. Gets a tentative 10/10 from me.
Overall Impression — 10
-Great distortion for any sort of smooth, almost violin-like leads. You can get it to sound gritty, but I really like this pedal for its lack of grit when the tone is rolled back. -If you're expecting to jam to Metallica or Avenged Sevenfold, look away. This is not a metal distortion. -I bought this pedal for its relative rarity. These things are picking up value now that they're discontinued. I got mine for a total steal at $32 USD. You can find some on eBay for up to $80.
Reliability & Durability — 8
Not the most extravagant of enclosures and knobs, but it has lasted. This pedal is probably about 10 years old. The aluminium casing (I think it, at least) is solid. The knobs are well..just knobs. The 3DPT Switch is sturdy too. I just think it's a bit too sparse and looks cheap; the circuit board looks loosely mounted onto the metal sheets, but no-one opens up their pedals in the middle of a gig, right?
Ease of Use — 6
First of all, I'd like to be more specific; this version of the Big Muff Pi is the discontinued, black-colored, Sovtek Big Muff. -3 knobs and 1 switch. How hard can it be? I opened the pedal up to look at the guts and this thing is BARE; a huge enclosure for a tiny little circuitboard. -Knobs are WAY too sensitive; the volume knob at 12 o'clock is nearly mute, at 1 o'clock it's searingly loud. Probably a manufacturer issue. No big deal though. I got used to it. -Knobs are very loose; too little resistance. All the above issues really do not impact the overall ease of use, to me at least. You might get a few surprises the first time you use it, but you'll grow accustomed to how sensitive the knobs are. However, there are two huge gripes I have with this pedal which make it significantly more difficult to use: -There is NO 9V DC power jack. That means you have to run off batteries. I had to buy a Visual Sound battery clip converter (they're only about $2) to get it to run using my power supply. It might sound all right, but it looks very unnatural having this clunky wire sticking out of the bottom of your pedal! -The input/output jacks are switched. Conventional pedals have input jacks on the right, and output jacks on the left; on this pedal, it's the other way round. This makes for a nasty cable arrangement on your pedalboard. Not a huge issue though; again it just looks out of place!