One of my all time favourite effect pedals is the green Sovtek Big Muff. I bought mine new in 1996 and itâ€™s been on my boards ever since. Itâ€™s one of the most sought after Big Muffs but rarely cloned so when I saw the Green Russian from Absolutely Analog I just had to check it out!
After Electro Harmonix was forced to close down in the mid 80s founder Mike Mathews moved to Russia and started reissuing some of the pedals under the name Sovtek, – notably the Small Stone phaser and the Big Muff PI. The first Big Muff reissue was the so-called â€œcivil warâ€ model, which David used on the Division Bell tour in 1994. It soon got replaced by the more familiar military green model and with it the most popular distortion pedal of all time exploded into the whole analog effect revival of the early 90s much thanks to the grunge movement. In the late 90s the green Muff was replaced by a slightly smaller black model, which by many is considered to not sound nearly as good as the blue/yellow and green models.
The green Sovtek Big Muff is kind of a mix between the 70s models and the Cornish P2. It has the silky smooth sustain and fat lower ends from the classics and the typical boosted mid range known from the P2. When the classics may lack some gain and the P2 might sound a bit too boomy, the green Sovtek is a perfectly balanced beast suitable for any Gilmour era from 1977 to present.
Absolutely Analog is a fairly new company that specialises in making clones of classic overdrives and distortions like the Fist (Colorsound Power Boost clone), Ratzo (RAT clone) and the Green Russian.
The green Russian is exactly what it promises to be, – a faithful clone of the green Sovtek Big Muff PI with a couple of much needed improvements. It has a power supply jack, true bypass and metal film capacitors in place of ceramic caps to improve fidelity and lower the background noise (Iâ€™ve seen people debate whether this is a positive choice or not but it seems to improve the tone and make it slightly â€œcleanerâ€). The biggest improvement though is the size. The pedal is about a 1/4 of the Sovtek housed in an industrial strength aluminium box slightly smaller than a MXR pedal.
– A humble attempt at On the Turning Away with the Absolutely Analog Green Russian.
Iâ€™ve A/B tested the Sovtek with the Green Russian and Iâ€™m surprised how similar they sound. Now, it should be said that I have yet to hear two identical Sovtek pedals (they seem to have used whatever components they had available) so the difference might be more evident with other Sovteks. The Green Russian is very quiet but I must say that the Sovtek wins the noise challenge. They both have the same gain span ranging from near clean (Iâ€™m using Fender CS69 pickups with low output) to screaming fuzz. The tone control on the Sovtek seems to go slightly deeper/warmer when you roll it down but the Green Russian has a â€œcleanerâ€ tone all in all, which may make it sound a tad brighter and not as muddy. The Green Russian also seems to respond better to the guitar volume control and cleans up pretty nicely when itâ€™s rolled down.
What I do like about the Absolutely Analog pedals is that they donâ€™t try to be anything more than what they should be, – clones with the needed, yet simple improvements like better components and power supply. I donâ€™t care for clones that have tons of added mods with switches for different EQ settings and gain structures. I want one pedal with as few controls as possible and just the purest classic tone.
I doubt that the Green Russian will replace my old Sovtek. Thereâ€™s something about the slight unpredictability and the its bizarre look that I somehow prefer but I can sleep a little better now knowing that if it should fail â€“ God forbid â€“ I have a great sounding clone just waiting to beat the hell out of my amp.
The Green Russian is highly recommended and do visit their site and check out the Colorsound Power Boost clone too. Great pedals suitable for any budget and the hat off for excellent customer service.