CostaLab Custom Muff review

August 22nd 2012 | Posted in Big Muff Reviews | 17 Comments

Everyone seems to be offering variations on the classic Big Muff circuit these days. While some are packing the pedal with all sorts of extra controls, others are sticking to the original designs with more or less authenticity. The Custom Muff from Italian CostaLab promise to capture the legendary tones with a few modern updates. Here’s my review.

I’ve done a few CostaLab reviews. Most recently the excellent Chorus Lab, which I still think is one of the sweetest sounding chorus pedals I’ve played. The bar is set high as I tackle the Custom Muff. First off, and I’m sure I sound a bit grumpy, I always get a little skeptical when I see Floyd related graphics on pedals – or any other gear for that matter. Of course, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but it comes off as a cheap marketing trick. Better to let the product speak for it self.

I’m using a Fender CIJ ’65 Stratocaster with D Allen Voodoo 69 and Duncan SSL5 (bridge) pickups into a Laney Cub12 15w stack. Reverb and delay is added in Logic.

Anyway. The Custom Muff is housed in a MXR-sized chassis, with true bypass switching, controls for gain, tone and volume and it runs on either 9V battery or Boss style adapter. A rugged construction and a nice, small footprint for the pedal board.

The Custom Muff is one of the quietest Muffs I’ve ever played. Turning the gain all the way up, still doesn’t do much to boost the noise. Placing all the knobs at noon, produce a typical Triangle tone – the very first Muff circuit from the late 60s. It’s mild, warm and smooth. However, the Custom Muff has a lot more mid range, placing it somewhere between a Triangle and the early Sovteks – similar to the Jam Pedals Red Muck. The pedal cleans up remarkably well when you roll down the gain or the guitar volume. Much like a germanium fuzz, the Custom Muff sounds just as good as an overdrive as a full blown distortion. Switching to humbuckers, in this case a pair of 57s, adds to the already mid boosted flavor and enhances the natural attack and compression.

If I were to put my finger on something it must be that I favour a bit more presence and top from a Muff. It’s not a huge problem and adding a transparent booster compensates nicely, but it may sound a bit too dark on some setups. Still the Custm Muff just as well doubles as an incredibly versatile fuzz – especially on home setups, where fuzz pedals usually sounds thin and buzzy.

So to sum it up. The Custom Muff is an excellent choice if you’re mostly playing at home and need a distortion or fuzz that maintains its tone even at the lowest volume levels. Very versatile, with tones ranging from mild overdrive to screaming fuzz. Check out the CostaLab website for more info. 



17 comments so far

  1. Shane says:

    Great review Bjorn, as always. This seems like a very versatile pedal. Thanks for including your settings, even though people will need to tweak them a bit, it’s always nice to have a starting place.

  2. Marc-André says:

    Very good as usual! I’m glad to hear your soundclip because the ones I heard from Costalab sound processed a lot which doesn’t give a proper idea of the real sound.

    It seems that if you’re looking for a PULSE tone, Costalab has two gears that can help, the chorus and natural drive.

    Thanks again Bjorn, your reviews are great!

    [Thanks! Apart from reverb and delay and a slight low cut, the clip is unprocessed. - Bjorn]

  3. mariocaster73 says:

    Great! I meet Costantino of Costalab at the SHG34 and now I have the custom muff and the moon drive. Amazing pedals!!!!!!

    Mario.

  4. Stephen Ford says:

    Thanks for the new video…fair review, I agree with you on the cheap use of the Floyd Graphics…especially when executed so poorly. Looking forward to more reviews soon! Cheers

  5. Vadim says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    Great review, great video!
    Based on the video review, it seemed to me that this pedal has a greater suply for overdrive tones, rather than for muff. On the one hand it is very comfortable and versatile. I am very interested in this pedal, so that it is fairly quiet and suitable for playin at home. However, as far as it is universal in terms of coverage of muff tone? Still, what it most overdrive, fuzz or Muff?
    Incidentally, Bjorn. Recently, several times a day I listening to your Sounds that I hear. I lack the words that could describe how beautiful it solo! I want to learn how to play!) I think that I am not one think so. Therefore, I think that you have to tell all about of equipment in this solo and how to play it, I mean tablature!

    Regards
    Vadim.

    [The Custom Muff is definitely a Muff. I did the Echoes clip because it's also capable of some very cool fuzz tones but it shouldn't be mistaken for neither a pure fuzz nor an overdrive. The boosted mid range and the fact that it's very quiet, makes it very versatile and easy to control. Glad you like Sounds! It's one of teh first songs we wrote together so it's very special to us. There wasn't supposed to be a solo on that ending. Just the chords and some strings but I layed down a few tracks and it worked very well so we decided to keep it. I was basically just fooling around so we didn't even mic the cab properly. We stuck placed a SM57 right infront of the cab and I used a Boss BD2 and Tele, I think, into a Fender Super Twin. I don't think I even bothered to set the controls on the amp... That's pretty much it :) - Bjorn]

  6. Gabriel says:

    Hi Bjorn!

    Cool review, the pedal sounds really interesting.
    And about the Floyd graphics… well, we´ve talked about this before, I feel the same way as you do.

    Cheers!

  7. DC says:

    Maybe I missed your review but how do you like the D Allen Voodoo pups as opposed to the regular CS69s or CS Fat 50s? Sorry to be off topic but another overpriced muff clone doesn’t appeal to me when anyone can build one to near exact specs in 2 hours. I appreciate your time though.

    [Check out my D Allen review here. - Bjorn]

  8. Keith says:

    I must say that while your playing is as usual fantastic, I didn’t really care much for the tone of this latest clone, and the graphics are over the top as far as target marketing goesI think I’ll stick with my Musket, and it’s versatility, and the ‘ol Fuzzface for now. on a much different, and serious note, I was relieved to hear that Brevik was sentenced to the Maximum, and Norway can try and move on from his horrific acts of cowardice. However, with a maximum of 21 years, I find it sad that he will likely live to be released at an age where he is still capable of mass chaos. To end on a lighter note, Just listened to the bootleg from the ’77 Animals tour by mamagog666 on YouTube, and WOW! What a show, hope they get the video to sync to it, supposedly it’s in the works!
    Peace, Love, and Happiness to you, and your family, Keith

    [I don't really want to comment on the Breivik case... at least not on this page but 21 in Norway means that a prisoner can be released after the sentence. However, in Breiviks case, I would assume that he ends up in detention of some sort or possibly institutionalized. Anyway, the whole case is just a joke and a sad sign of how fucked up the whole judicial system is. It's a mob rules mentality throughout and that doesn't solve any of the underlying problems that we have in our society. Enough about that. - Bjorn]

  9. Keith says:

    Sorry I brought that up Bjorn, I meant no disrespect, and mistook the legal stuff being over as a good thing. I realize now, I couldn’t possibly understand hiw Norwegians feel about it. Please accept my deepest apologies. I will stick to the sites purpose from now on. Unless you feel inclined, this apology was fir you, and I prefer it stay thay way, but that of course is up to you. I enjoy our correspondence, and hope I didn’t piss you off, as I meant it with the greatest sympathy.
    Sincerely, Keith Ckarke, ( foot inserted in mouth) Clarke

    [No offense taken at all Keith. I just want to focus on music and guitars on this site. That’s all :) I’m glad the case is over. What happened was a shock to us all and a terrible thing for the families of those who died. I think people are a bit torn on the whole thing. Some, like me, are pretty fed up by the whole thing and had hoped that although he deserves to be locked up in one way or another, we should have learned something about what has caused this situation too. It’s a bit like the recent shootings at US high schools. It’s a tragedy but it will continue to happen until someone finally starts to focus on the things that causes this to happen. At the same time as schools gets less and less funds, poverty is rising, psychiatric care is being neglected, more and more bad things will to happen because people gets desperate. More guns or bigger prisons, won’t solve a damn shit. The other half here in Norway – or perhaps the majority – would rather see him hang and never think of the incident again. The media has really blown this thing out of proportions and rather than using their journalistic integrity to ask questions about a rotten legal system they join the mob and fire up under the hatred and ignorance that lies deep in our society. Well, that’s my view and I don’t expect everyone to agree. Anyway, this post was about the Custom Fuzz from Costa Lab. I think a good Muff clone is much more exciting than this messy legal stuff :) Cheers Keith!

  10. Patrick says:

    I agree with you Bjorn….Music only nothing else on this site….
    We have similar juridic system here in quebec, canada so……..i know what you think!
    Thanks for your custum fuzz review….
    Kind Regards
    Pat from Montreal

    [Let's keep it that way. Cheers Pat! - Bjorn]

  11. Nick says:

    Hey Bjorn, must say that was a haunting passage through Echoes my friend, wonderful playing… Seems to me your reviews are just getting more and more professional! I took your advice and added the Dark Matter distortion to my board next to my Musket, and I’m so glad I did, for playing at home it is so versatile and quiet, when cranking the gain I love the way it cleans up when you roll down the guitar volume to overdrive like levels then barks fire when you run the guitar volume flat out, great pedal, thanks so much! Cheers, Nick

    [A nice pedal indeed! Very versatile. Cheers! - Bjorn]

  12. Keith says:

    Point taken, and I agree 100% that the site should be about the music! Apologies to all, I was watching the news at the time, and lost focus. So on to music. I initially thought the Costa lab sounded a little thin, and in the first two clips, especially the dry one, I still am not convinced about its use as an overdrive, but after listening to Echoes again, it does have a very nice fuzz sound, And I loved your playing, Echoes being my favorite song, by any band. Did My post about my RMCIII wah problem get through? Glad all is forgiven by you, and hopefully all the Gilmourish fans. A Momentary Lapse of Reason is my only defense.
    Peace on earth, goodwill to all, Godbless, Keith :)

    [Hi Keith. Please see my reply to your wah question above. Let me know if my suggestions works out. The Custom Fuzz is far from thin. It has a fat lower end and an overall saturated tone. I used a slight low cut for the clip (around 0-150hz) or else it would have sounded way too boomy. It's slightly darker sounding than the typical ram's head but not as smooth as the early Sovteks. That's why I found it to work nicely as a fuzz. If you want pure, authentic fuzz though, your Dunlop should be more than enough :) - Bjorn]

  13. Alan says:

    Hi Bjorn, its been a while! Great review once again, I personally feel that this pedal didn’t carry the aggressiveness that one could arguably say is in the original Big Muffs. Have you heard of the Wren and Cuff pedal called “The Caprid”? I guess it is meant to be extremely close to the Rams Head big muff (even getting down to aesthetics). Pro Guitar Shop did a review of it and all I can say is WOW, that thing has got some balls to the sound it produces haha. I thought that maybe I could share that with you and perhaps get your opinion on it.

    Thanks, Alan

    [I haven't had the chance to try the Caprid yet but it looks very promising! The ram's head has a considerably more aggressive tone compared to the early triangle and Sovteks, which is perhaps closer to the Custom Muff. - Bjorn]

  14. Fabio says:

    Hi Bjorn, this is my first comment … First of all I have to thank you thousand time for your stupend work. You are the reference, the bible for all persons that love Gilmour. Thank you again. After that I need your help: I’m getting crazy to find the perfect muff clone …. I heard and read all your reviews but till now, I couldn’t find a sure way. The Costalab clone it’s seems to be the Muff nearest of what I’m looking for ( I play essentially at home) but, this the point, is it good for the Gdank’s sound that is my mainly target ? Do you think that to reach that sound I need to have also a G2 Cornish style ? And, my last question, as overdrive have you ever tried the Green Little Wonder (Mad professor) ?… I was thinking to that pedal at the place of a tube driver that it seems to be a pedal difficult to be managed.
    Thank you very much indeed …. Have a nice Sunday.
    Fabio

    [Hi Fabio! Thanks for your kind words! Glad you enjoy my site :) What Muff you should get depends on what amp and guitar you're using. Muffs doesn't sound that good on all amps so in some cases you're perhaps better off with something a bit mpre versatile like a RAT or TC Dark Matter. A home setup often require a bit more mid boost to get that smooth tone so I think I'd go for something like the Musket or Custom Muff. These works nicely on most amps and lower volumes. - Bjorn]

  15. Exilado says:

    Hi Bjorn. I was just checking some of your reviews and trying to make up my mind about my last pedal on my “pedalboard” (yeah, it can’t really be called a pedalboard… just a handful of pedals)

    You see, I’m using the following pedals, in order: Analogman Sun Face Bc108 –> TC Spark Booster –> TC Flashback –> Mooer Eleclady. The signal then goes to my amp, a Brazilian clone of a Fender Twin Reverb combo. My guitar is a Fender Stratocaster with Vintage Noiseless pickups.

    So I’m thinking about getting a muff-esque pedal. My objective is pretty much the tone in The Wall’s “In the Flesh”. I’m down to 4 muffs as of now: Costalab Custom Muff; MojoHand FX Iron Bell’ Earthquaker Devices Hoof Fuzz; Blackout Effectors Musket. I play mostly small gigs and at home.

    Can you shed some light on the matter ? I’m worried the Costalab and the Iron Bell would sound too much like a Fuzz, not enough like a Muff. And I’m completely satisfied with the Sun Face, so I’d like to know which of these is more of a “real” Muff with In the Flesh tone in mind.

    Thank you very much!

    [Among the ones you've mentioned, I think the Hoof Fuzz is the one closest to a fuzz. The Costa Lab Custom Muff is very similar to a triangle Muff with a smooth and mild character. The Iron Bell and Musket are based on the 90s Sovtek Big Muffs with lots of mid rage and gain. These are perhaps the most versatile and they'll fit most setups. If you want the Wall tones I strongly suggest that you check out the Electronic Orange Pig Hoof as well. At least I haven't been able to get any closer with another pedal :) - Bjorn]

  16. GilmourForverer says:

    Hello Bjorn, I commanded this pedal for the following rig

    - Demeter Compulator, Pete Cornish G2, BK Butler Tube Driver, Boss BD-2, Costa Lab Chorus Lab, Boss DD-3, T-Rex Replica, Laney Cub Head & WEM Gilmour

    I look for a tone close to Delicate Sound Of Thunder and something good PULSE, how settledthis pedal to obtain?

    If one day you pass in France, do not hesitate in me contacted, I shall make you discover Paris and I pay a drink to you :-)

    Shine On !

    [Thanks! The Custom Muff should be able to give you the tones you need. It's a versatile Big Muff that nails both the early tones as well as Delicate and PULSE. I recommend pairing it up with a booster, like the BD2 for a bit more gain and character. - Bjorn]

  17. GilmourForverer says:

    Good evening, thank you for your answer, I am going to follow your advice. If I adjust this pedal as Big Muff Sovtek (= 70 %, v = 50 %, t = 30) you think that it is good? I already have a very good sound, the muff goes added what I am lacking and I want a precise regulation for this pedal

    Thank you.

    [That would be a good starting point but ultimately the settings should be set to your guitar, amp, pedals and for the tones you want :) - Bjorn]

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