The Big Muff Pi is a fuzz effect from Electro-Harmonix. It’s one and a half pounds of fuzz in a box measuring 2.95" x 6.875" x 5.5". It has three basic controls: Volume (for overall volume) Tone (for EQ adjustments) and Sustain (which in this case is a gain or fuzz control) and one big bypass switch in the middle. The pedal can be powered by a 9 volt battery or by a 9 volt power supply.
Electro-Harmonix doesn’t give you much to work with on this one. Basically you just set your volume and amount of fuzz and you can tweak a little bit on the tone and you’re set. The pedal is built well in an all metal housing with a sturdy switch, but it seems a little large for such a basic effect. I haven’t ripped this one apart yet, but I’m sure they could cut back on some of the housing and save you some pedal board room, but I think that’s why they came out with the Nano line of effects. I never run my pedals off batteries (though a dying 9 volt can sound wicked in a fuzz), so in order to use with a One Spot or similar power supply you will need an adapter, as this pedal does not have your usual “Boss” style barrel plug. Not a deal breaker, but a slight pain if unexpected.
This pedal is pretty much a one trick pony, but nothing sounds like it. You can always tell when someone is playing a Big Muff, because it just has that tone that is nasty, fuzzy, and.. well Muffy. This is the USA NYC version and I hear the Russian model has a slight variation in tone, but I have no experience there to suggest an opinion between the two. The Sustain knob has plenty of harmonic distortion on hand, but I wouldn’t call it an over the top fuzz. Though I have heard some fuzz pedals that could peel the paint off the walls (this can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the circumstances), this pedal stays fairly smooth and musical through all its settings. I would call it dirty for sure, but not exactly raunchy. There is plenty of low end available and classic fuzz tones are easily coughed up.
Overall this pedal does what it does and that’s about it. It’s a fuzz pedal and it’s gets that classic Muff sound. They always say “classic sounds of Hendrix to Santana” on their ads, but I hear more Santana than Jimi for sure. It doesn’t get as raw as Jimi’s classic tone, but it’ll get you in the ball park. Overall for 80US dollars it’s a well made pedal that is capable of a few good tones. It’s nothing spectacular if you ask me, but used sparingly, unique and signature for sure.
- Controls for volume, tone, and sustain (gain/clipping)
- Top mounted jacks
- Buffered bypass
- Large classic enclosure
- Powered by 9v battery or standard Boss style adapter
This one is pretty simple and straightforward to dial in. Tone knob gives a pretty wide range of tones, its worth taking the time to tweak. The sustain knob is really just a gain/clipping control, but yes that obviously adds sustain. '
I wasn't really a fan of the construction on this one. Yes its lightweight, but the enclosure is very thin and doesn't come off as sturdy at all.
The internal build quality is not great. The wiring job is very shabby and I've totally seen these start to fall apart with use.
The bypass is a pretty mediocre buffer, love it or hate it.
To be honest, it doesn't sound that great, especially for the amount that this pedal is hyped up. Yes some of the old ones could produce fantastic tones, but they were also built a lot less consistently. The reissues really just aren't that great. Harsh and gritty, yes its a fuzz, but muffs are a pretty mild fuzz variation and this one fails at creamy tone.
It can do the wall of sound thing pretty well, and as mentioned, the tone knob is pretty versatile. The gain knob will take you from very mild compression to a wall of sound type deal.
Not the best Muff type pedal I've come across. They sound decent, nothing more, nothing less. They go for quite cheap used, so if you are on a budget, its not a bad choice. But personally I would pass. The mediocre, bland sound, coupled with the shoddy build quality and flimsy enclosure just don't do it for me at all.
If you are after a serious nice sounding muff, take a look at Stomp Under Foot. Matt makes great pedals, and has a few modeled after good sounding vintage ones.
As far as I can tell, the hype about the reissue Pi is more about image and reputation than anything else. The sound just isn't there.
The Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi (USA) is an analog distortion pedal. It has a 1/4 inch input for your guitar and another 1/4 inch output to go to your amplifier. It is not a rackable unit as it is a stomp box.
The configuration of the pedal, like most Electro Harmonix pedals, is extremely easy to follow and is easy to use. It has three knobs - one for volume, one for tone, and one for sustain. It is easy to manipulate the pedal to get a number of different distortion sounds as it only has three knobs that control pretty straightforward things. I don't have a manual for this, but never was in a situation where I wish I did.
The Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi has one of the fattest tones I have heard from a distortion pedal. It really rips and when the sustain is up, you can hold your note out endlessly. I have only used this for guitar, which is really what it is aimed for using with. One of the guitars I use this with is a Fender Stratocaster and I usually use it with a 1976 Fender Twin Reverb amplifier. I love using this for both rhythm and lead tones, but have found it most effective as a lead tone. The thickness from this pedal is unlike any I have heard.
I've been using the Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi for about three years. While I can't get every distortion sound I would like out of this, the sound it does produce is pretty great. It is thick and rich in tone and is quite easy to use. Compared to a pedal like the Boss DS-1, it sounds better overall to me as it produces a much fuller tone. The price won't blow you away, but it isn't too expensive. Electro Harmonix makes great guitar pedals, and this is a great example of the craftmanship they deliver.
I went to Guitar Center one day looking for something to buy because I had money burning a whole in my pocket. Decided to pick the Big Muff up since I have seen so many players use or talk about this pedal. Took it home and wow!!!...This is the first time I have played a fuzz box before and very different than natural amp distortion or other OD pedals such as Boss or Ibanez. To my pleasant and utter satisfaction I was getting very cool sustain to which I had never gotten with regular OD pedals before. I was even getting a violin type sound with playing around with the Sustain knob.
The layout is as follows...
Volume is at is says. Tone will color your tone to dark or bright depending on how you dial it in. Sustain add the gain and violin like qualities to your tone.
What I like best about this pedal was how the sustain was very long and drawn out. Very useful in certain situations. I probably wouldn't use this as my everyday rig tone but it adds a cool and fun element to your arsenal.
Well it does not get much simpler than this. Maybe the easiest pedal to figure out. The manual was a mute point as anyone can figure out how to use this thing. It did help a little to find that violin setting which I did not know it could do until I read the manual. So that was a plus to add in the box.
When it comes to fuzz boxes I don't think there is anything better than the Big Muff. I have played a tone of fuzz pedals and nothing really comes close to the Big Muff. It is very warm and thick. Other pedals I have played seem to be thinner and more metallic sounding. This pedal is so simple and cheap at $80 it is not something that will necessarily break the bank.
I would use this with a Tele, Strat, and a Les Paul. Each instrument sounded very good and usable. It beefed up my Tele and just made my LP explode into sustaining saturation. I ran it in front of a Vox AC30 and a '74 Marshall JMP. The combo with the Vox was quite good and a tone that I actually miss since I don't have my Vox anymore. I have gone through a ton of pedals throughout my years and this is one that has stayed with me and I will never sell.
One downside is that I have an older one that is not true bypass which is a bummer now that the newer ones have this feature. However, I'm not going to shell out the extra $80 to get one with true bypass when I don't use it that much anymore
I love this pedal. Easy to use and the most classic fuzz box this world has ever known. I would say the only down side is the size of the box. It is HUGE and takes up a ton of space on your pedal board. Another thing is the odd plug which is on the male side. It doesn't use a normal Boss or Ibanez plug so beware of that. It feels kind of hollow to which you would think it could break but I have never had a problem with mine.
I would recommend this pedal to any guitar player. It to me is a staple in rock n roll and should be owned by everyone. For the money some spend on gear this is one that will always sound the same and provide that irrefutable classic fuzz tone.