I’ve been reviewing several Big Muffs lately and they all offer something different – some more convincing than others. The new hype seems to be pedals loaded with new features and it may be hard to find a straight clone of the old classics. The Pig Hoof from Electronic Orange promise to be a faithful clone of the “ram’s head” Big Muff – here’s my review.
But what is exactly is a “ram’s head”? What makes it different from the “triangle”? Not much. The fact is that the so called “triangle” and “ram’s head” circuits are more or less identical although the box designs and graphics are different – hence the triangle positioned knobs on the first Big Muffs and the straight positioned knobs with the ram face logo on the second generation pedals. That being said due to inconsistent use of parts during the first years of production some pedals might sound completely different to each other. A “triangle” may sound like any other “ram’s head” and vice versa. The schematic on the paper didn’t always fit the actual layout of the specific pedal. This and the fact that parts value change over time means that an original 1973 Big Muff won’t sound the same today as it did new. So, a clone will never fully represent the original but rather a version based on carefully selected similar sounding pedals or the “idea” of how the original sounded like. Over time clones have defined the differences and that’s why we in general can say that a “triangle” has a dark, smooth tone and the “ram’s head” has more gain and an overall more aggressive brighter tone. See Kit Rae’s excellent Big Muff site for more details on each version.
But all of this doesn’t really matter. You should be aware but what really matters is whether you like the pedal or not. As long as the pedal feature reasonably good quality parts and the assembly is up to standards I dare to state that there’s no such thing as a bad pedal. Only different tastes.
About a year ago I did a review of the Electronic Orange Moon Vibe, a clone of the original late 60s UniVibe. I was immensely impressed and was keen on checking out some of their other pedals as well. The Pig Hoof is housed in a T-Rex sized box with true bypass switching and controls for gain, tone and volume. It has a bright led and runs on 9V battery or Boss style adapter. The tone is unmistakably “ram’s head-ish” with saturated gain, thunderous well-balanced lows and a crisp top. The Pig Hoof is slightly darker than most “ram’s heads” I’ve tried but IMO that’s just an advantage as these models tends to be just a bit too bright and harsh. It still manages to maintain the top frequencies though and a fat attack – or the typical “click” you get from Muffs.
The Pig Hoof is very loud. One of the loudest Muffs I’ve had. That’s usually a problem and pedals like the Pink Flesh is just too wild and hard to tame but the Hoof is remarkably responsive and dynamic to your playing and the guitar volume and it goes very well with a booster behind it. It’s also surprisingly quiet, something I’d never would expect from a pedal this loud.
In terms of David’s tones the Pig Hoof covers everything from Animals, DG78, Wall to PULSE and Gdansk. Its transparent mids scooped tone makes it ideal for using different sounding boosters to shape the tone. Add a Colorsound Power Boost for the late 70s tones and a Tube Driver for the more present tones or perhaps a slightly darker Tube Screamer or OCD for some really squeezed warm tones. The Hoof also stands well on its own. Add a Mistress and some delay and you’re spot on Final Cut. I also recommend using the Hoof alone if you’re mainly playing at home on smaller wattage amps. It’s not as bright and doesn’t cut as much through the mix as the Blackout Effectors Musket but you’ll have no problems getting killer tones with it – it’s perhaps a better choice compared to the Musket on bright Fenders and similar amps.
I’m not really sure what to put my finger on. If you’re a die-hard fan of the early Sovtek models you might find the Pig Hoof to be just a bit too mild although it has much more gain than the typical “triangle”. If you’ve blown your savings on a Cornish P1 you might find the Hoof a bit too wild and dark but then again you probably wouldn’t care about another Big Muff. I urge everyone to check out the Pig Hoof and the rest of the vintage collection from Electronic Orange. They make some fine stuff!
The Pig Hoof was tested on two different Stratocasters, one with Fender CS69+Duncan SSL5 (bridge) pickups and one with EMG DG20 pickups and two different amps, a Laney Cub12 15w stack and Reeves Custom 50w – both with Weber Thames 80w speakers.