Big Muffs seem to come in all shapes and sizes these days but is it really possible to offer something new and exciting? The Rust Rod from Skreddy Pedals is one of the latest additions in the family and naturally, I had to check it out. Here’s my review.
My relationship with the Big Muff goes way back to the early 90s. At that point, you were laughed at if you entered a guitar store and asked for one. Then, suddenly, the grunge thing happened and everyone wanted one. This also coincided with the reissues from Mike Matthews and Sovtek. My first Big Muff was a green bubble font Sovtek and I’ve been in love ever since.
Marc Ahlfs knows his Big Muffs and I’m always excited when he comes up with something new. He seems to have an ear for not only a good tone but what it is that makes up a really good tone. To me, that has always been the idea I have in my head. A good tone is the combination of the pedal, guitar and amp but also the person playing, the recording and atmosphere of a venue (if it is a live recording). Skreddy pedals always seem to capture that feel and experience.
The Rust Rod is based on the mid 70s ram’s head Big Muffs. While these are known for their bright top and super scooped mid range, some of the models had a darker tone, with less scoop and more of those fuzz harmonics. The Rust Rod is no doubt a ram’s head but there’s also a bit of that early Sovtek flavour.
The first thing you notice is that the Rust Rod is loud. And I mean really loud! The volume control responds well so there’s no problem turning it down but past noon it turns into something you don’t want to meet in a dark alley…
The Rust Rod is fairly bright but the powerful tone control has a wide sweep from very dark to very bright. It doesn’t get ice picky though, thanks to the retained mid range. Still, you probably want the tone slightly lower than usual.
There’s plenty of gain here too and turning it all the way up takes the Rust Rod into a very aggressive silicon fuzz. My favourite setting is somewhere around 11 o’clock, which means that it has more gain than the average ram’s head. This also means that you really don’t need a booster with it.
There’s plenty of tone here and the sustain is unbelievable. I do think it benefits from a mild compressor though, for a bit of high end roll off and to tighten the lows. Be careful though. Too much compression will kill those super sweet harmonics.
If I were to compare the Rust Rod with other Big Muffs it would be the aggressive and huge tone of the (red) Pig Hoof from Electronic Orange and the sustain and harmonics of the Patriot from Buffalo FX. Very close to the DG1 from TopTone, and probably the Pete Cornish P1, although there’s much more gain here.
It’s not often I just stomp a pedal and instantly go “wow!” but the Rust Rod sounds amazing. There are no bad sounds here and I’ve rarely heard such detail in the tone from a Big Muff. The Rust Rod cuts effortlessly through a band mix, which is rare for a ram’s head, and it also works nicely on smaller amps and low volume. But, it is with a loud tube amp that this pedal really shine. I’m still grinning!
Check out skreddypedals.com for more details.