I’ve used the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi at a few of my shows now and it is one of the better pedals I’ve bought. The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi produces a dirty distorted sound that works well for blues and rock. I love to pair it with a wah pedal while playing rock or punk solos to give the audience something that their ears haven’t heard before.
For what it is the pedal is pretty cheap. I’ve bought pricier pedals before that have either not lasted or just don’t seem to work with my amps as they should. Typically, when I’m on stage and I click this thing on I feel like everyone in the crowd is specifically looking at me and listening to that sick sustain. Like I said it works perfectly with my wah pedals or every once in a while I’ll use my home-made flanger with it.
I play noise-punk shows with my band, Mincemeat: A British Punk Techno Band which is not the usual type of music that this pedal is used for but it seems to go really well with our sound. We’ll be playing some techno or even audio clips and then we will either cut the sound and go right into me with a solo with this pedal on with a wah or have me just play softly in the background with just the Big Muff.
I’ve also had some friends (some really great guitarists) who are blues musicians and alternative rock musicians use this pedal in front of fifty or a hundred people and it totally seems to work great for them. I’m never afraid to lend it out because it seems to be really robust. I’ve dropped it probably ten times and it’s still going strong, I’m sure I’ll have it for at least another ten years.
Now to go onto some history and why I actually bought this pedal in the first place. It wasn’t just a pedal buy where I just went into the store and saw one that looked cool. I was tight for cash but knew I wanted a new sound for some upcoming recordings so I decided to do some research. I wanted something that I could play blues and classic rock sounds on but wouldn’t clash with the modern sound of my group.
The Big Muff is one of the more famous effects because it has been used by guitar giants like Jimmy Hendrix and Jack White. It creates a recognizable sound but is still able to sound fresh, much like the musical genres it is used in.
It is a pedal that followed up the Big Fuzz pedal, which was sold back in 1969 also by Electro-Harmonix. What the Big Muff delivered was a long sustain without a raspy sound and it soon became very popular because of this. It’s sound is described as, “an almost violin-like sustain.” This pedal is often compared to the earlier Electro-Harmonix pedal, Axis Fuzz. Axis has a similar chassis to Muff but has a simple two transistor build opposed to the Big Muff’s typical four transistor build. Part of the reason for the Muff’s success was it’s complex build (creating a unique sound) and relatively low cost.
Used By Many Famous Musicians
The pedals continued success is due the changes in popular genres of rock still having a demand for the type of sound it creates. While it worked great for a Hendrix solo the pedal also had the grindy sustain that was demanded of 90s popular grungy and alternative rock. Bands like Mudhoney, Bush, NOFX, Dinosaur Jr., and The Smashing Pumpkins began to extensively use the pedal.
So basically, I wanted something that could sound classic but could also provide a unique sound with other pedals. The sustain of this pedal is really what sold me on it, especially after listening to it in use by some of the greatest bands throughout rock history.
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