I’m sure all of you know that the Pig Hoof is my favourite Big Muff pedal. In fact, I like the pedal so much that I asked Electronic Orange for a unit tweaked and customized especially for my setup. I’m without doubt too impartial for a review, so consider this more of a presentation of the new “yellow label” Pig Hoof MkII.
The original “red label” Pig Hoof is based on a mid 70s EHX violet ram’s head Big Muff (see my review of the standard Pig Hoof here). These pedals had a bit more gain, lower end and volume, than their predecessors. Quite nasty beasts.
After using the Pig Hoof “red label” for some time and experiencing how it worked in a band setup, stage and studio, I noticed a few things I wanted to change. The 70s Big Muffs has very little mid range, which sounds awesome when you play alone but the tone has a nasty habit of drowning in a dense band mix. Our music is drenched with keyboards, organs and backtracks and I often got feedback from the most eager fans that they had a hard time hearing my guitar.
I asked Jan, the man behind Electronic Orange, to make a version of the “red label” that was more suitable for both recording and for blending with boosters, which meant that it had to be tamed considerably. Enter, the Pig Hoof MkII “yellow label”.
What we did was essentially cutting the low end to eliminate most of the low frequency rumble. On a recording, you usually cut everything below 100Hz anyway (or perhaps up to 200Hz) and too much going on in the lower frequencies will only cause a muddy tone. The pedal still has plenty of fatness.
We’ve also rolled off the gain considerably. This was important for me because I always use a booster with the Muff for my live sounds and the booster is always set for a mild breakup. I prefer this rather than having the Muff handling the gain alone. It makes the overall tone sound bigger and more balanced and it also drives the amp and its tubes a bit harder, adding a bit more compression and mid range.
The MkII also feature a trim pot (located on the circuit board), which allows you to adjust the resistance or amount of gain. This means that you can increase the gain for low output pickups and bedroom setups or roll down the gain for high output pickups and more aggressive boosters and amps.
The difference between having a trim pot for the gain and just adjusting the main gain control, is obviously that you can fine tune the gain structure but it also gives the gain control a much wider sweep. Rolling the trim all the way down, boosting the volume and leaving the gain at 3 o’clock produces a warm and dynamic overdrive that I‘ve never experienced from any other Muff. Set the trim all the way up and you’ve got a Muff that creeps into the wild fuzz territory with a super saturated distortion with lots of harmonics.
Compared to the Cornish P1, the MkII has less gain and lower end. However, I think the MkII sound more balanced and perhaps even a bit more open and transparent. Still, they’re in that same ballpark tonewise.
Compared to the Civil War and green Sovtek Big Muffs, the MkII is a whole different pedal and perhaps hard to compare. The Sovteks has a much more saturated tone with considerably more mid range, lower end and gain. However, the MkII blends better with boosters and has more of that vintage 70s vibe to it.
If you do decide to order a Pig Hoof MkII, then keep in mind that this pedal is specifically tweaked for my setup, preference and playing style. I’m sure some will experience that the pedal doesn’t work as good or perhaps not at all, compared to other models. Still, that’s pretty much the case with any pedal. Personally I love it and think Electronic Orange managed to create a Big Muff model that doesn’t sound like any other on the market.
Check out ElectronicOrange.cz for more details and ordering info.