Vivian Reithe review by Gradam Electronics

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  • Ease of Use: 10
  • Sound: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 10 Gem
  • Users' score: 8.5 (2 votes)
Gradam Electronics: Vivian Reithe

Purchased from: eBay

Ease of Use — 10
I can't get a bad sound out of it. There is no editing of patches - this is analog twisting knobs. There is no manual for it. It has three knobs - Volume, Distortion, and Tone. Distortion equates to sustain on the original muff. So remember, if you want a lot of sustain, you are dialing in "distortion." The tone control tames the tone, and gets that creamy lead that the violet muff is known for. Plug it in, and wail away. Again, I do recommend a gate at the end of the effects chain with this pedal, but we didn't have that in the '70s, I can tell you.

Sound — 10
This is a Big Muff Pi Violet Ram's Head clone, made by a small maker in Ormond Beach, FL. He appears to name all his pedals after girls. I supposed Vivian has a big muff? Reithe is pronouned REY-hey, Gaelic for Ram. I own #7 of 20. It's suited to that great old school classic rock. I had an original violet ram's head for over 20 years, so I know the tone. Sadly, that pedal is now gone, but this is great replacement. It nails the tone, and has some improvements over the original. First, the pedal is much smaller than the original. It is in an MXR size case. It's a light green color, very distinctive. The 9v connector is on the side of the pedal near the line in, so it doesn't waste space like the standard rear connectors. What is labeled "sustain" on the Ram's head is labeled "Distortion" here. It is a copy of the original's circuit made with NOS 2N5133 transistors. It does have some of the original's noise. That said, using a gate after the pedal clears things up. It also seem to be sensitive to the quality of the power it is using. I found that a lower milli-amp 9v supply worked best. I imagine using a a good power conditioner would help as well. But, the noise gate really solves all of that, so no issue there. All in all, I am very pleased. I am giving it a 10, its at least a 9.5, with less noise it would be an easy 10.

Reliability & Durability — 10
It appears to be built solidly. It's a study metal case. I would have no hesitation to putting it on my board and gigging with it. It will be on there shortly. The jacks appear to be high-quality components. The LED is very bright. One nice thing is that the bottom contains no special label that will be affected by Velcro. Other than a small marking showing its number, the bottom is unencumbered by protrusions. It should be noted that the finish of the pedal is designed to wear to produce a road worn look.

Overall Impression — 10
I play blues and rock, mostly. This definitely fills the void left by my old Big Muff Pi. I have been playing about 45 years. I currently have several other EHX Big Muff variants, including the Little Big Muff, Metal Muff, and Germanium 4 Big Muff, and several pedals that try to emulate the Big Muff sound. I have 30 guitars, no need to list them. Suffice it to say I have all the bases covered. I bought this on a hope it would be a good violet muff clone. I am quite satisfied. It it were stolen, I would beg Gradam to sell me another one.

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