Big Muffs can be a challenge on amps with a mids scooped character and even smaller bedroom amps. They need a bit of mid range to really cut through and get that silky smooth sustain. The early 90s Sovtek Big Muffs offered more mids and CostaLabâ€™s Sun Drive is definitely in that family. Itâ€™s been available for some time but I finally got my hands on one. Hereâ€™s my review.
CostaLab has several Big Muff inspired models in their catalog. Iâ€™ve done a review of their Custom Muff, which I think is one of the better bedroom Big Muffs out there. They also make one of my favourite chorus pedals, the Chorus Lab, which is a take on the classic Boss CE2, with a highly useful mix control.
The Sun Drive feature the familiar three controls (volume, tone and sustain) and like many of the CostaLab pedals, it feature a class-A buffer allowing an uncoloured signal to pass through. It can be powered by a 9V battery but due to the buffer, itâ€™s recommended that you power it with an isolated source.
Tonewise, the Sun Drive is sort of a mix between the early 70s triangle/ramâ€™s head Muffs and the Sovtek models. It has lots of gain on tap, rich harmonics and an overall darker character compared to the ramâ€™s head. Like the Sovteks, it has a nice mids boost and a balanced low end.
Itâ€™s really a very versatile pedal. Perhaps more so than any similar Sovtek-ish model that Iâ€™ve tried. While these tend to be quite wild and sometimes hard to tame, the Sun Drive ranges from amp-like overdrive to classic fuzz. It also works really well on smaller amps, where the mids boost and saturated gain allows the pedal to maintain its character even on the lows amp volume levels.
What I do like the most about this pedal is that the tone control is extremely dynamic and useful. Usually, when you pass noon on a Big Muff, the tone gets harsh and nasty but the Sun Drive has a very smooth sweep that interacts with the gain setting.
A slight draw back, well for me anyway, is that I do prefer Big Muffs with a slightly more aggressive tone and the Sun Drive can come off as being just a bit too well behaved. But, I suspect that thatâ€™s also part of the whole design and the pedal is probably more fitting for other musical styles than just Gilmour. It could also do with a bit more sparkle in the top but again, thatâ€™s just my taste and it also depends on the amp youâ€™re using.
Like all CostaLab pedals, the Sun Drive is very well made with high quality components and a great ear for tone. This is a versatile Big Muff and highly recommended for your bedroom setup. See costalab.com for more details.