To celebrate their 50th anniversary of making pedals, Electro Harmonix recently released the pedal that’s surely been their biggest success – the Big Muff Pi. Obviously, I had to check it out. Here’s my review of the Triangle Big Muff Pi.
The Triangle got its name from the original 1969 layout of the pedal, with the three controls forming a triangle on the large chassis. Read more about its origins and history on the Big Muff Page.
David Gilmour is perhaps best known for using the so-called Ram’s Head Big Muff (named after the ram on the logo). He got his first Big Muff just prior to recording Animals and it’s pretty much been his main distortion, or fuzz, unit ever since. Including on the recent Rattle That Lock tour.
In the mid 90s, his setup featured a (Civil War) Big Muff made by Russian company Sovtek, after EHX founder Mike Matthews moved production to Russia for a brief period. The pedal was a huge part of David’s PULSE tones and it was once again featured on the Rattle That Lock tour.
So what about the Triangle? David did use one during the summer months of the extended On an Island tour in 2006. Including the filming of the Royal Albert Hall shows that got a DVD release. It is seen laying on top of the Pete Cornish pedal board in loop with a TRex Replica delay. Possibly used for Echoes and the organ/guitar duet jam.
Read more about David Gilmour and his Big Muffs here.
A few months back EHX released Green Russian. A faithful reissue of the early 90s green Sovtek tank. To be very honest I was surprised over how good it sounded and it’s been one of my favourite Big Muffs ever since. Read my review of the Green Russian Big Muff here.
The Triangle is housed in that same Nano-sized chassis, with a grey finish and letters paying tribute to the original pedal. Like all classic Big Muffs, it features controls for gain, tone and level and the pedal runs on either 9V battery or adapter.
This is a loud pedal. In fact, it’s one of the loudest Big Muffs I’ve ever played. I started with all the controls at noon, with the Reeves Custom 50 amp fairly loud, and it felt like a wild horse trying to run me down!
I’ve had the chance to play a couple of original Triangles and they all sounded different. Some of the clones I’ve been using sound more like a Sovtek – very dark and tamed. I’m guessing EHX didn’t try to reverse engineer a specific pedal for this one but rather capture the essence of those early Big Muffs. Perhaps leaning towards a Ram’s Head.
Compared to the Green Russian, the Triangle has a much more scooped mid range. There’s a lot more gain on tap and noticeably more low end. Did I mention that it’s loud?
The volume control seem to produce unity level around 11 o’clock and at that setting, you get all of those fuzz-like harmonics. Turn the volume up higher and the pedal starts to drive the front end of your amp. It sounds more compressed and the pedal soon get that familiar violin-like smooth sustain.
The low end and gain can be hard to control on certain amps and you might find it a bit too aggressive with hotter pickups but you can easily roll back the gain below noon and still get a nicely saturated tone, with lots of sustain and character.
The only thing I could put my finger on is that it sounds slightly gated with the gain setting set high. Perhaps it’s a result of how it interacted with the amp settings I used but chords sounded a bit choked. Hard to hear but more a sense I got when I was playing.
Personally I prefer using Big Muffs with less gain and low end for recording as they’re easier to tame and record without too much hiss and rumble but I’m sure EHX didn’t have my studio setup in mind when they designed this beast.
So, the big question is – is the Triangle capable of replicating David Gilmour’s tones? I plugged into my old Deluxe Electric Mistress (yes, David used the ’76 model) and to my ears at least, it got me very close to those early 80s Wall tones.
That low end rumble and the throaty, almost hollow sounding tone just came pouring out of the speakers and I love how you really need to work with the pedal to control the feedback and make that a part of your tone.
The Triangle might be a challenge on the more mids scooped amps, especially if you’re trying to replicate David Gilmour’s tones (read more about choosing the right pedals for your amp) but regardless of how close this actually is to the original Triangle, this one should appeal to every Muff and Gilmour fan.
I’m not going to start a debate over clones here but EHX offer some serious competition with this new line of Big Muff reissues and it’s about time. A huge applause to EHX for finally embracing their Big Muff heritage! Now, we can only hope for a Ram’s Head…
Visit ehx.com for more.