The Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff is a version of the classic distortion pedal that is specifically designed for bass guitar. There are plenty of versions of the Big Muff, but I believe that this is the only model that is for bass rather than guitar. I don't know how long ago they started making these, but when compared to how long the regular Big Muff for guitar has been around, I believe this is a fairly new creation. The pedal has 1/4" connections for input as well as both a dry and effected output. The pedal can be powered by either a nine volt battery or power supply. It also has true bypass, but isn't rack mountable in any way since it's a stomp box.
There's not much at all to using the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff. It's a really simple pedal as you'll be able to see just from looking at it, as it's just got parameters for volume, tone, and sustain, just like original Big Muff and most of it's subsequent releases. It also has a bass boost switch, which is of course unique to this version of the pedal. I haven't had a look at the manual for this pedal, nor do I think I ever will.
The Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff has an absolutely creamy distortion sound. It's not unlike the Big Muff for guitar in that you'll get a very rich and full sound with a ton of sustain (and certainly some noise mixed in there!). In general I'm not the biggest fan of bass distortion, but a client brought this pedal in and I have to say that it did sound pretty incredible. I was really impressed with the overall thickness of the distortion and also with the seemingly endless sustain possible with this pedal.
If I were looking to buy a distortion pedal for bass, the Electro-Harmonix Bass Big Muff would most likely be my first choice for a few years. The first reason has to be the absolutely killer tone, but coming in a close second is the price, as this is very reasonable and will probably be affordable to all players. Electro-Harmonix makes some of the best pedals in the game, and the Bass Big Muff is a great example of their versatility in quality.
I'm a big an of Electro Harmonics pedals. They are so simple and in expensive and yet so many people over look them as legit effect pedals. They do seem to come in big boxes and you can buy them at Guitar Center but they have a real analog purity to them that in my mind set them apart from many of their competitors.
Much like the original Big Muff for guitarists this pedal is aimed at bass players who are in need of a little fuzz distortion. This pedal has similarities and differences to its founder but the fuzz is still the main attraction. The layout is as follows....
Tailor your drive/distortion sound with sustain, tone and volume knobs
A dry switch that mixes your dry bass with the Bass Big Muff Pi's distortion
Mini switch for bass boost EQ switch that reintroduces your low frequencies when tone is set for high frequencies
Based on the Russian Big Muff
Tough and compact die-cast chassis
9-volt battery included
Optional 96DC-200BI power supply available
Controls for Volume, Tone, and Sustain
Rugged metal chassis
Very simple use in that it has three knobs and a mini switch. As you add tone is will change the darker feeling to a brighter tone much like a guitar tone knob would do. The more you add the sustain it will distort even more. Even adding the volume up will get he pedal to distort a little bit as you move it clockwise. The flick of the bass boost switch will of course add a bass frequency in case of needed bottom end when playing in a band. Sometime the bottom can drop out and this switch will help it you need that. To me I don't think it is necessary and it kind of makes the bass tone a little unnatural. Plus you have the option of that mini switch to add dry signal and mix it with the effected signal. This is much like a wet/dry setup that guitarists use.
The original Big Muff and Bass Muff have similarities but I think the bass version has a slightly tighter tone. It retains the bottom end a bit more where I don't think the Big Muff does as well. The Big Muff does retain the bottom end but it seems the bass carries it just a tad bit more.
I like to keep the tone knob around noon and the volume as desired with the sustain around 1:00-2:00. This pedal in general is only used sparingly. It is more for certain type of songs with heavy bass riffing and so it is only used occasionally. This is the setting I have found to be my favorite.
I used this with a Rickenbacker 4003 and an Ashdown Klystron amp into an Ampeg 8x10. Great set up and sounds fantastic with this pedal. I really got a good driving tone already with my rig and then when I hit this pedal it takes my tone into an aggressive rock tone.
A great pedal if you need a high quality bass fuzz tone that delivers tonal variations in a simple box. I like this pedal as well as EI's Bassballs which I'll do a review as well. I love the value you get out of this pedal. You can pick it up for about $80, and at that price you can afford to make a mistake if you don't like it.
I recommend this pedal to any bass player looking to enhance his sound with a distortion/ grind box and who is on a budget. Great pedal for the money and a great pedal for the tone.