Jam Pedals Red Muck review

February 11th 2011 | Posted in Big Muff Reviews | 28 Comments

A lot of people have asked me to review the Red Muck from Jam Pedals. It’s not that often that I come across a clone of the early Sovtek pedals although cloners are starting to acknowledge these unique sounding Big Muff models. With great interest I gave the pedal a shot. Here’s my review.

My very first Big Muff was a green Sovtek that I bough new back in early 1997. I still got it. This was before the internet exploded with boutique companies and at least here in Oslo there was very little knowledge and interest among the guitar stores for the new wave of analog pedals. The Big Muff completely changed my conception of tone and it’s been my favourite distortion pedal ever since. Another model that I’m particularly fond of is the triangle Muff. In my opinion this is the most musical of the Muffs with a classic scooped warm tone and lots of sustain.

The Red Muck from the Greek company Jam Pedals promise to be a clone inspired by both the triangle and early Sovtek models. IMO a great idea since the triangle sometimes lack a bit of gain while the Sovteks can be too aggressive. The pedal is housed in a BYOC sized box with fitting Soviet inspired graphics and feature controls for gain, tone and volume, true bypass switching and it runs on 9V battery or adaptor.

The pedal was tested on two different Stratocaster setups – Fender CS69+Duncan SSL5 (bridge) and EMG DG20 – and two different amps – Laney Cub12 15w stack and Reeves Custom 50w – both with Weber Thames 80w speakers. I also did an A/B test with a 1996 green Sovtek Big Muff and a BYOC Large Beaver triangle clone.

My first impression was that the pedal sounded dark and lacked the crisp top of the Sovtek. It was also hard to squeeze out enough gain. Easy to dismiss as one in a million perhaps but with some patience and tweaking the pedal started to reveal its true identity. First of all the Red Muck is probably the most silent Muff I’ve ever tried. Even with the gain all the way up the noise level is quite moderate. It also has a very dynamic tone control that both has a wider range and still manages to maintain the character of the pedal without sounding too dark or too bright. The overall tone is very similar to a Sovtek with a fat saturated lower end and a mild mid boost. Like the triangle the Red Muck allows a much more dynamic control with the guitar volume and it responds incredibly well to your picking compared to the Sovteks.

I’ve always preferred Big Muffs that aren’t too aggressive with a milder warm tone. If you swear by your P2 or the bright gain saturated ram’s head then you might dismiss the Red Muck as too mild or too dark. However this is one of the best sounding Muffs for smaller home setups that I’ve come across. The mild tone allows for David’s Muff+booster setup and even a compressor in front without getting too wild and noisy, which is often the case with a ram’s head or Sovtek on smaller setups. On a bigger stage setup the Red Muck opens up and in combo with a Tube Driver nails David’s PULSE and Island tones with a transparent character allowing both the amp and guitar to shine. Much like the qualities of the triangle Muff.

I don’t really have that much to put my finger on with this one although it’s perhaps not as versatile as many other Muffs. But then again I don’t think the Big Muff is a very versatile distortion all together. Unlike the P2 or the early Sovteks, which stands well on their own, the Red Muck needs a booster behind it. Personally this is a plus because I think it’s easier to blend with a booster but I would like it to have just a hair more gain and I also think it lack some of that “click” attack from the triangle and ram’s head, which the Sovtek is also capable of.

I warmly recommend the Red Muck and especially if you’re mainly playing at home on a smaller amp and low volume. The pedal is easy to tame and goes well with most boosters and overdrives without getting too saturated and noisy. Check out the big range of vintage clones at Jam Pedals’ homepage and learn more about the Red Muck.

28 comments so far

  1. Vergil says:

    Nice…. That second pass, was much sweeter… I mean I know the added delay, and comp smoothed it out and made it sing a little more… but the tone with less fuzz-gain, and the added overdrive-gain was much more vocal, and harmonically pleasant…

    [That's basically what David does with all his lead tones. Adding a booster doesn't only add more gain and volume but also adds character and the best of both pedals. - Bjorn]

  2. flaviu says:

    very nice !

  3. Allan says:

    Very nice sounding pedal. It really does capture the pulse tones very well. I like that it’s been built with the booster in mind, something other muff builders maybe don’t consider as much.

    I’ve ordered a ’73 Rams head from Matt, I imagine it will be a TOTALLY different animal to the Jam Pedals model haha!

    From what I’ve heard it can almost touch metal tones :P

    Btw, don’t know if you’ve been following, but Empress have a 3 channel dirt pedal out with fuzz, dist and overdrive. The fuzz is apparently based on a big muff. i couldn’t tell you which circuit though.

    Thanks again Bjorn, digging your clips as always.

    [Thanks! Yeah well, the '73 is a different beast and in my opinion quite different to the average ram's head as well with more gain and lower end. I'll check out the Empress. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  4. steve vai says:

    you need to learn how to hold the Pick because you strike like a rooky , the thumb of your right hand needs alignment, try a car wheel alignment machine :-)

    [Hmmm... That's just the way I was born I'm afraid. My thumbs aren't screwed on right. I think I manage to play guitar nevertheless :) - Bjorn]

  5. Giorgio says:

    Bjorn, this is the first time I hear you recommending a Muff for small rigs at home (:-o
    Just yesterday I’ve got an EHX Little Big Muff, bought on ebay for 75 bucks. Bought to play at home with my CIJ strat, a handful of pedals and a small Hiwatt practice amp. I said what the hell, if it’s going to be muddy let it be for that price. Well, I can tell you I have no regrets. I was positively surprised. The little Muff is great, incredibly dynamic, lets you play full chord without loosing clarity, it is mid-scooped (too much perhaps), analog and tubish, and if you roll off sustain and guitar volume the tone cleans up and it is still alive … works great with BD-2 behind and even with a Zoom G2nu multiffect unit! I also have a RAT2, which I like, but the Little Muff is way better, and nails Gilmour much closer. Indispensable from now on. Here is my chain now: CIJ Black Strat (gilmour pups and black pickguard of course)>Dyna Comp>Blues Driver>Little Big Muff>Zoom G2nu>Small Stone>Stereo Electric Mistress>Boss DD-7>Hiwatt G15watt>My ears>My grinning face… So the question is: are these boutique pseudo-muffs worth the extra $200 more (Red Muck is $275 here in Australia)? Also not sure where to fit the RAT anymore …(ditch it?)
    Ciao

    [The reason I rarely recommend Big Muffs for the typical practice rig is because in most cases the Muff will sound thin and harsh. It depends greatly on the amp and the rest of the setup and as an overall rule the Muff needs a tube amp played loud to reach its potential. However, no rule is without exceptions and based on your your rig I'd say a Muff would work fine... as you've figured out your self. Still, most people who play at home doesn't have a Strat with David's pickups, a Hiwatt amp and other pedals that goes well with the Muff but rather a Roland Cube or similar and in some cases just a POD or other digital units they want to run pedals through. In any case I'd say that one should always trust one's ears. The RAT would go nicely between the Muff and Zoom I'd imagine. I'd also try placing the BD2 after the Muff and RAT. - Bjorn]

  6. steve vai says:

    thanks god so, that you need alignment for your thumb and not for your middle finder , imagine if this was the alignment problem !!!!

    anyway it’s the first time i can see a guitar player do so much movements with the pick right hand thumb ..i dont think that these movements do something more on play … :-)

    [Probably not but then again, I've been playing for 20 years with the same hands and I'm doing OK I think :) - Bjorn]

  7. Alan says:

    Great review Bjorn, I love this pedal’s sound but I’m perfectly content with my Green Russian, which one do you think is better?; Green Russian or Red Muck (you should film a “shootout”

    P.S. Don’t let anyone criticize you like that, “steve vai” spells like a “rooky” anyways

    [Ha ha! Well, I'm confident enough with my playing not to get affected. People are free to say whatever they want anyway. I don't think you can compare the green Russian and Red Muck as equals. The green Muff has a much wilder character with more of everything while the Red Muck has a much warmer and milder tone. Very similar to the triangle but with some easy to hear Sovtek qualities. - Bjorn]

  8. Dave A says:

    Hey Bjorn great reviews as usual and the Tip of the week articles are a great addition to the site,keeps something new and fresh coming thick and fast.Look forward to them.Even though im not playing much lateley your site helps my enthusiasm to all things Gilmourish to stay alive.Cant express my thanks enough.:)

    [Thanks Dave! Always appreciate your support :) - Bjorn]

  9. Mike G says:

    Bjorn, it’s always been pretty hard to justify using a $300-400 Tube Driver to be used solely as a booster for a Big Muff (I have a Tube Driver with a bias knob for a seperate overdrive).

    Every Big Muff clone and most distortion pedals I’ve used on my Hiwatt haven’t sounded anything like an original Muff until I bought the 1st Edition Tall Font Green Russian Big Muff, which, to my understanding has the same circuitry as the Civil War Muff. The beauty of these vintage muffs is that they retain all of the bass and presence as the original signal once it is engaged, so you don’t need to boost it with a Tube Driver.

    How about doing a review on an original Gilmourish muff like the Triangle or Ram’s Head or Civil War with no booster?

    [The Sovtek is not the original Muff but rather the triangle and ram's head models from the early 70s. The Sovteks are based on the late 70s Electro Harmonix model that's similar to the current US model. You're raising a good point here because everyone has an opinion of what an effect should sound like and if it doesn't meet one's requirements it often dismissed as crap. That's not quite how it works because with the wave of clones all pedals tend to be a bit different. There are mainly two different cones - the ones that claim to be dead on clones and those who are based on the original with modifications. The "based on" clones are always harder to review because you'll always be biased and compare it with a true clone or the original. How a pedal should sound like is purely individual. But I agree that the Sovteks stand well on their own. They doesn't really a booster although I prefer to have a mild boost after it for a bit more character. There are lots of pedals you can use instead of the Tube Driver with a similar result. The excellent Boss BD2 is a great sounding overdrive ideal for boosting. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  10. Seraphim says:

    Hi everyone,

    We are the JAM Pedals distributors in North America and also in charge of North American endorsees. We had 7 players on the Experience Hendrix tour use JAM Pedals.

    With regards to the Red Muck specifically and the Hendrix Tour, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos use the Red Muck. They also use the Boomster, Delay Llama, Delay Llama+, Fuzz Phrase, Retrovibe and Waterfall. They also use all of these pedals on Los Lobos gigs and are opening for Eric Clapton on this North American tour in a couple weeks.

    Kenny Wayne Sheppard also has a Red Muck. Kenny also uses a Delay Llama+.

    Many thanks for taking the time to do a review.

    Seraphim

  11. Vadim says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    Great sound – the sound of the great researcher of the great Gilmour! Very clearly shows the interaction of the pedals. Just super! Cope if Ibanez TS808 with the task, which in this case solves the Tube Driver? Bjorn, what overdrive/booster do you use for the tone of the tour In The Flesh (1977). And yet. Bjorn, do not you planning to do on the site material for a solo performance techniques of David’s solo parts?

    Yours faithfully
    Vadim.

    [The TS9/808 works nicely as a booster although its pronounced mid range can make the Muff sound a bit too muddy and "boxy". I think a Boss BD2 and other similar transparent overdrives are a better choice. - Bjorn]

  12. Kelton Gomes says:

    Bjorn, I’ve seen some demos of the Red Muck by an italian guy and the sound was really good, with lots of sustain. However, the pedal was always pushed by a TS9 behind it, which addresses the gain issue you’ve mentioned…

    I’ve been using the Hoof Fuzz from Earthquaker Devices for a while now and I must say it’s definitely in the Gilmour ballpark. It was designed with a concept much similar to the Red Muck’s: a green muff clone with some new tonal possibilities in the mids section. It makes everyone in the rehearsal room smile, every time… =)

    [Nice! - Bjorn]

  13. Giorgio says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Thanks for your tip above (Little Big Muff on a small home rig). I have tried the BD2 both behind and after the Muff, and for some reason on my chain just sounds better before the Muff and not after, not a big deal every rig is different …
    Anyway I am actually tempted to upgrade my booster to a true bybass pedal. I am undecided between the OCD or the Throbak Overdrive Booster. Both excellent pedals it seems. What are your thoughts, do they still work fine with the Big Muff?
    Cheers

    [They both work nicely as both boosters and dedicated overdrives but they do sound quite diffrent from eachother. The OCD is based on the TS9/808 with more gain and lower end. An additional tone switch allows for more presence taking it in the direction of a Tube Driver but it still has a pronounced mid range. The ThroBak or the original Colorsound Powerboost has a bright transparent tone similar to the BD-2 that in my opinion works better as a booster but perhaps not as versatile as an overdrive although it's ideal for David's 70s tones. Since you already have a BD2 I'd go for the OCD. - Bjorn]

  14. Eric N says:

    Hey Bjorn, I just bought a Stomp Under Foot Civil War from ebay so I should be getting that in a couple of days. I can’t wait to test it. Should I use a carbon battery for it? And how is the second Airbag album coming?

    [Hi Eric! Although I haven't tested the SUF CW my self I do prefer using a carbon battery for my green Muff. The tones is warmer with a smoother top. We're in the middle of mixing the album and it's coming alone nicely although we're a bit behind schedule. The plan is to have it out by early autumn. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  15. Dave A says:

    This is a really good review,interesting how you say it works well at bedroom levels.Hmm food for thought indeed.Ive been pondering a while on the SUF cival war as you know many likeminded folk are raving over it.Its a great video showing how the added affects completley show the advantages when blended correctly,a very inspiring format.Hope you use this technique again.Cheers Bjorn :)

    [I'm sure the SUF Civil War is much closer to an early Sovtek than the Red Muck but I really enjoyed the fact that this pedal combines the best features from the Sovteks and triangle. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  16. Eric Nyberg says:

    Bjorn have you ever had a carbon battery leak on you. My dad said that you really need to pay attention to them so that way they don’t ruin the electronics on the inside of them. Any thoughts?

    [Never experienced it but you should avoid high temperatures and don't leave the battery unattended for more than a couple of months. - Bjorn]

  17. Eric Nyberg says:

    further update. I am now getting a SUF Violet Rams Head and a Skreddy Lunar Module. My poor apartments walls are never going to be the same.

    [What would rock n roll be without feedback? - Bjorn]

  18. LC says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I have the Blackout Effectors Musket Fuzz v2 pedal. I saw a couple good reviews tagging it as a very versatile muff pedal capable of several muff types and bought it. Kitrae has some good reviews on the pedal f.ex.

    I’m a bit new to electric guitar (always been more of an Electro Acoustic player) and I am currently building my new gear based on Gilmour tone.

    I have a Blackstar HT-5 mini-stack, Fender American Std Strat (CSFat50, CS69 and SSL-5 – neck to bridge).

    Anyway, I can’t find with this pedal something similar to a “so called” Gilmour tone as others might have. The pedal sounds too dark and fuzzy (Smashing Pumpkins like) and not smooth with good/clear attack. And with the amount of tweaking possible I find myself a bit lost! But even using the suggestions in the manual and some sites I can’t seem to nail it.

    Have you tried this pedal before?

    I have also the MXR Dynacomp, BD-2 Keeley and Boss DD-7 as main pedals. Klotz La Grange cables.

    Any suggestions would be helpful.

    Thanks a lot Bjorn, wonderful site!

    LC.

    [I've had the Musket for some time and I think it's one of the best sounding Muffs out there. I'm working on a review that'll be posted in a couple of days. I'm not that familiar with your amp but Blackstar in general has a dark tone so it's crucial that you set the amp up for a bright clean tone. Try this: bass 50%, treble 50-60%, mids 40% and use the clean channel only. I like to set the standard gain, tone and volume controls on the Musket fairly mild: gain 1:00, tone 11:00, volume 1:00 (o'clock) and use the additional controls for adding more gain, presence etc. Try setting the pre at 12:00, mids 12:00 (or roll it off if you want the classic scooped mids tone) and the focus between 12:00-3:00 (o'clock). The focus especially will add more presence and sustain. I don't think I'd use a compressor with it but perhaps just a hint of the BD2 with a very mild clean boost: gain 8:00, volume 12:00, tone 11:00 (or something like that). Keep in mind too that any Muff needs volume to get that smooth sustained tone so you might want to crank the amp a bit if possible. Hope this helped. - Bjorn]

  19. Nick says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    Like Giorgio, I have found the best place for my Boss BD2 (non-modded and standard) seems to be before the Big Muff. When I have tried it after, the tone turns to mud and lacks clarity, Im wondering why is this?
    My set up currently is (into the front of the amp):
    MXR super-Comp
    BD2
    Big Muff Pi
    74 re-issue Phase 90
    With a EHX #1 echo in the effects loop.
    Amp is the Blackstar HT-5 ministack. I am using decent quality (I think?) DeMarzio patch cables.
    So I am missing out on not making the most of boosting the Muff? Do you have any ideas why the tone is so crappy with the BD2 after the Muff on my particular rig with the above set up?
    Many thanks as always Bjorn,
    Nick

    [Hard to say. Every rig is different and the reason for it might be everything from your technique to the amp's character. Always trust you ears and arrange your rig the way it works for you. - Bjorn]

  20. Eric N says:

    Bjorn, take a look at this clip I found on youtube of David Gilmour playing Love Reign O’er Me with The Who. It’s pretty cool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJMUE8WfR5c&feature=related

    [Cool! It's been awhile since I saw that :) - Bjorn]

  21. LC says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    many thanks for the suggestions!

    I do have now a good starting point…guess that’s what I was missing.

    Cheers,

    LC.

    [:) - Bjorn]

  22. Bibz says:

    Hi Bjorn,
    thanks so much for your review!! :)
    I actually already ordered a Large Beaver. Do you think the red muck would be complementary to that pedal ? Or does the large beaver cover the whole tonal and sound quality range of the red muck ? (I already own a colorsound power boost if that helps you for answering)
    Thanks.

    [If I had to choose I'd go for the Large Beaver. Although the Red Muck has much of the triangle model in it it's a different pedal all together. I nice alternative to both the triangle and Sovteks but if you've decided on a ram's head Beaver it can't be compared. - Bjorn]

  23. Darrga Williams says:

    Here’s a good demo of this awesome pedal.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xczwio46iS8

  24. Bibz says:

    Hi again Bjorn,
    I finally got my hand on a Red Muck and could A/B it against my brand new Large Beaver. :) I tried several configurations on the Large Beaver (Triangles, Green Russian, etc.), but could never reach the same kind of fat bottom-end as with the Red Muck. Do you think it is normal ? Do you have any recommendations in order to achieve this kind of sound with the Large Beaver ?
    Thanks a lot.
    Cheers.

    [I don't have any problems getting fat lows from my Large Beaver but you have to remember that they're two different pedals and different Muff models. Each are cloned from specific original pedals and specs so there will be differences. Adding a transparent booster after the Muff, like a Boss BD2, Colorsound Power Boost, Tube Driver etc allows fatter tone. You can also assign an EQ boosting the needed frequencies. - Bjorn]

  25. Bibz says:

    Just noticed I wrote “Large Beaver” instead of “Royal Beaver” in both my last messages… LOL
    Maybe my questions would make more sense now… ;-)
    Keep going this wonderful website anyway!
    Cheers.

    [OK :) The Royal Beaver is basically designed around a typical "triangle" cirquit and the additional controls allows for versatile tone shaping. It's perhaps not as fat in the lower frequencies as the Red Muck but I find the RB more focused. Anyway, each pedal will be different so you just have to search until you find something that nails the tone you're looking for :) - Bjorn]

  26. Daniel says:

    Hi Bjorn
    Just a quick note to the guys with Blackstar HT-5 amps:

    I had one (a head + 2×12 Celestion cab) and I also have a musket fuzz v2. I had a lot of trouble getting good tones out of this amp+muff combo.
    I now have a Laney cub and these problems are gone! I can easily dial nice tones at decent volumes using the <1W input of the amp.

  27. Bryan says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    I am just starting to build my at-home setup to play around with and I was thinking of using the Red Muck to get David’s PULSE tones.

    My setup consists of a MIM Fender Strat with DG-20′s and my amp is a Laney Lionheart L5T 5w.

    I have some BOSS chorus and delay pedals I can use for now, however I do not know if I would need to get like a BK Butler Tube Driver or a BD-2 Blues Driver modified by Keeley to run with the Red Muck.

    Keep up the great work!

    [You don't need it but I think Muffs sound better with a booster. Not so much for the actual boost but for adding a bit more character and tone to the Muff, which can be a bit dull alone. The BD2 is a great alternative to the TD - both as a clean booster and overdrive. I also recommend the Wampler PlexiDrive. - Bjorn]

  28. Tord says:

    Hey Bjorn! Great stuff as always! I was wondering how pedalboard friendly this unit is? Ive got a Boss Rc-3, Boss DD-7, Boss BD-2(main overdrive with Pink Floyd, and im gonna mod it with analogman one day), Boss BC-2(my mid-rangy overdrive/distortion that i use with JB Jr bridge pickup for mostly harder genres, but you should check it out sometime!), Boss CS-3(for Shine On, etc.), Boss TU-3, Jim Dunlop Wah wah in my pedalboard. My gutar is a upgraded maple neck 2011 MIM Fender std strat(Callaham bridge, graphtech nut) with SD ssl-5 in the neck for Pink floyd mainly.

    Now i just need a Fuzz-sounding pedal that i stomp on for solo on Money, Time, maybe Comfortably Numb and Echoes mainly(bd-2 allready as crunch rythm). I love those things going on in middle of Echoes with that nice fuzz sound! :) Im gonna buy a Peavey Classic 30/50 when i got enough money. So i was thinking about the Jam pedal Rattler, Red Muck, analogman DS-1(with the mid mod knob down for a more fuzz sound) Mxr classic 108 fuzz, Buffalo FX CVIII Silicon Fuzz(but i haven’t see ur full review of it because it isn’t available yet), Analogman BC108(that one particular is great but is it pedalboard-friendly?) and many more.

    But my problem is that i need a fuzz-sounding pedal that can go into my board without i have to change any pedals, since all i have is buffers boss pedal except Wah wah. I need ur help, since im sich i can’t go to store so i do assesment on internet. I hope you answer back!!!

    Thanks for every bit of information you share and video you make for better understanding, and it have helped me very much in my gear selection and tone understanding through music generally! Keep it going, its a fantastic site! -Tord

    [Hei Tord! The Red Muff, like all Muffs, doesn't react to other pedals like a fuzz would. Technically a Muff is very different from a fuzz and it goes well beside a buffered pedal. The Red Muck is very versatile and should work great with the setup and tones you've listed :) - Bjorn]

Leave a comment

Please note that it might take up to 48 hours for your comment to be approved and replied to.

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>