• Electro Harmonix Ram’s Head Big Muff review

    Gilmourish - Electro Harmonix Ram's Head Big Muff

    Electro Harmonix recently released the last of their Big Muff reissues and probably the most anticipated. The Ram’s Head. The original pedal defined David Gilmour’s late 70s and early tones. Here’s my review. 

    It’s exciting to see how Electro Harmonix is embracing their legacy with these reissues. The Big Muff has been cloned in every way possible by countless brands – and yes, I have many favourites among them – but to me, the Big Muff is synonymous Electro Harmonix. 

    David Gilmour started using the Big Muff around 1976, with the recording of Animals. It was a natural transition from having used the more overdrive sounding germanium Fuzz Face and later, during the Dark Side of the Moon era, the slightly more aggressive silicon transistor Fuzz Face. 

    The Ram’s Head Big Muff was David’s main distortion pedal for the Animals tour, his 1978 solo debut, the recording and touring of the Wall and Final Cut. Read more about David Gilmour and the Big Muff pedal here

    The Ram’s Head was introduced as the second generation Big Muffs in the early 70s. It got its nickname from the ram head graphics on the chassis. 

    The first models, with red graphics, had a distinctly brighter and more aggressive character compared to its predecessor, the so-called Triangle. Later versions of the Ram’s Head, had violet graphics and more gain and an overall smoother tone. 

    EHX’s new Ram’s Head reissue is based on the mid 70s Violet Ram’s Head, with the familiar controls for volume, gain and tone, as well as true bypass switching, led and 9V powering.

    Electro Harmonix has done an amazing job with all four reissues (the fourth and perhaps not as Gilmourish – the late 70s OP amp model). They’ve managed to capture the true essence and character of each original model and some serious competition to the boutique market.

    Tonewise the Ram’s Head is very close to the mid 70s Violet. It’s got a lot of gain, a nicely balanced low end and that slightly compressed and smooth character. And it’s loud! Probably one of the loudest Big Muffs I’ve played. 

    You can instantly recognise the classic tones from Wall and Final Cut. Especially with a Stratocaster and a Hiwatt style amp. There is a distinct string definition and the sustain is rich yet easy to control. Adding an Electric Mistress and a bit of rotary brings you straight into the super modulated tones of the Wall. 

    The pedal require a bit of tweaking though. Depending on the pickups and amp, the tone control seem to have a narrow sweetspot. Too low and with the gain high, the pedal gets a tad too saturated and mooshy. Rolling up the tone control too much doesn’t really solve it, so you need to find the right balance between the volume and gain.

    Rolling back the volume a hair, really brings out those rich fuzz harmonics and opens up the whole character of the pedal. 

    So, how does the new Ram’s Head compare to the other reissues? The Triangle is darker, with a distinctly scooped mid range and much more low end. The upper frequencies seems a bit too compressed, while the Ram’s Head sound more balanced and open and slightly brighter. 

    The Green Russian is a slightly different beast, with more mid range and an overall more mellow gain character. It’s more modern sounding perhaps, fitting a wider range of gear and tones. The Ram’s Head is much more aggressive and raw. 

    Should you get them all? Well, why not? Still, the Ram’s Head is definitely the more vintage or classic sounding and perhaps best suited for David’s late 70s and early 80s tones.

    The Green Russian is spot on the 90s tones in particular. The Triangle is somewhere in between. That being said, all three can easily cover all of your David Gilmour Big Muff tones. 

    See ehx.com for more. 

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33 Responsesso far.

  1. Robert W Horton says:

    Hello,
    pedals fine. It’s silent when using my humbuckers. And using single coils when turning away from board.
    I’m just not use to single coil noise. My rat ocd make the same noise.
    I use it but with my humbuckers for now. No noise. Thanks.

  2. Michel Giroux says:

    Excellent review Bjorn!
    How does this Big Muff Rams Head reissue compare with the BYOC Large Beaver,(which you’ve rated very highly in your gear guide)?

    • Bjorn says:

      The Ram’s Head Large Beaver is much more controlled I think. One of my all time favourites is the Triangle LB but that’s a very different pedal. This new reissue has a lot of gain and low end and a disctinct fuzz-like character to it. The LB perhaps easier to blend with other pedals but as I said, it’s more controlled.

  3. Henry says:

    Hi Bjorn! great guitar player! How would you describe the new Ram´s Head against the Green Russian and which one do you prefer?

  4. Johny Foster says:

    We’ve Just waited for this review! Thanks! Compared to triangle reissue, does it sound unique for gIlmour tone? Or is it a different beast?

    • Bjorn says:

      They’re very similar and you can easily use both for your Gilmour tones. Between the two I would go for this one though.

  5. Gonzalo says:

    Hi Bjorn:
    Nice job.
    How does it go on small / bedroom setups?

    • Bjorn says:

      Depends on the amp but in general I think it holds up pretty well. The fact that it’s slightly darker than most Muffs and it’s got a lot of gain allows it to maintain much of its character even on lower volume.

      • Gonzalo says:

        Thanks for response.
        I use a small transistor 10W park and sometimes, i use guitar rig for recording, using my pedalboard and amp emulation on guitar rig, and souns good.
        I have de Green Russian.

  6. moon says:

    Bjorn I’ve been following u for about a decade now and i gotta say this is some of the best i’ve heard you play. this pedal seems to have a seriously good compressed sound, like u get all the nice bite you want at the attack of a note but it instantly rolls off into an incredibly smooth mid-high bump almost like a cocked way maybe 40% to toe, it’s a very great tone for those long melody solos where you want the limitless sustain, this honestly sounds like the best pedal for that very specific muff tone out there right now

  7. Chris Gala says:

    Soooo, the real question is, is it one of the better replica muffs? How does it compare to the. Pigs Hoof, Vicks ’73, etc.

    • Bjorn says:

      Actually it sounds very different from all of them. The thing about the Ram’s Head is that you can pick up 10 different vintage pedals and they all sound different. The Vick is very versatile with the mids booster. The Hoof has got a nasty character that I personally like very much. The new Ram’s Head sound bigger. Any colour you like :)

  8. Jose says:

    I Björn, would you recommend the Ram’s Head for use it without a boost over the other reincarnations (russian, triangle)? Thanks

  9. Todd says:

    Your site is such an excellent resource – thanks for all you do and keeping it up to date. I’ve been hoping you would review this pedal. Do you have any videos that demo your base tone (with no effects)? I was looking at your various amp settings pages, and didn’t find any. I’d sure like to hear the tone you’re starting with. Thanks again!

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks! Yes, go back a couple of vids and you’ll find me strumming some clean tones before the effects. I’ll be sure to do that in future vids as well.

  10. Robert W Horton says:

    Good day bjorn,
    We’ll said. Couldn’t agree more.
    I’m just waiting until ehx makes this reissue ramshead a deluxe ramshead with a noise gate in it same as the deluxe bug muff nyc
    And the deluxe big muff sovtek. I have all 3 and love the deluxe nyc. But need the midrange so using the deluxe sovtek for my twin reverb amp.
    Love the hormonics and drive of the ramshead but don’t want to tap two pedals for a seperate gate pedal. Switcher is to expensive at this time for me. So hopping for a deluxe big muff ramshead pedal by ehx. I also keep my pedals at waist hight so I have to tap with my hand not my foot.
    Thanks for the review and demo bjorn.
    My question is to you,
    What’s the quietest sss pickups not noiseless for a strat that gets closest to the 70s gilmour sounds.
    Same question for pickups for a telle for the animals sounds.
    Thanks.
    Rob h

    • Bjorn says:

      I guess all passive single coils are noisy. Some more than others perhaps… It’s just the nature of the design and the fact that the poles are exposed without any cancelling. In my experience though, you can eliminate a great deal of the noise with a bit of shielding inside the guitar, proper cables all the way through and proper powering. Adding a Big Muff will add more noise but that’s the pedal. Not the pickups.

      • Robert W Horton says:

        I’m using my epiphone less Paul pro 2 with pull knob pickups that go from humbucker to single coil.
        The only pedals that get noisy when in single coil mode are the muffs and the rat and the ocd a bit. All other pedals no noise at all. Guess I have to just get use to it. Ive Always played on humbuckers so not use to the noise. I’ll adjust I guess lol. I wish gilmour played only on humbuckers lol.
        Do you know if any humbucker that sounds close to a single coil without the noise?
        Thanks a million for your input bjorn.

        • Bjorn says:

          Well, again, high gain pedals will have more noise. And build, the quality of the components etc will make them more or less noisy than others. People often get confused when they hear David using a Muff and there no noise but on an album, that’s edited and on stage, he’s using high quality shielded gear and he’s using different techniques to hide or eliminate noise, like turning away from the pedalboard and amp, palm muting, volume control etc.
          The closest you’ll get is a P90. They’re noisy but there are some noiseless or active models out there as well. And a PAF will sound somewhat similar to David’s SSL5 bridge pickup.

        • KEITH says:

          Robert, I mentioned Fralins pickups in a reply to one of your posts, and may have a solution for you. They make vintage Strat pickups the cancel noise in a way that doesn’t disrupt the tone like most npiseless singles do. ( Bjorn, he has reinvented them since you tried them.) They are called split rails, and you can read about them at Fralin Pickups.com. I think his pickups are as good as they get, and you can get some input from really picky guitarist on The Gear Page, by searching Fralin Pickups. He is highly respected, and I tried to get a set for Bjorn to review, but it was such a long process that I eventually gave up, but am getting ready to buy some of his 57 humbuckers, and will broach the subject again, so hopefully there will be a review at some point. Anyway, I think the split-rails are perfect for you!!
          Peace all, KEITH

      • KEITH says:

        I’d like to add my 2 cents to this post. I believe you mentioned before in another post about a gate on the Ram’s Head? I doubt that will happen. I have a Castledine V2, which is a modded VRH, and I run it with a battery to keep the RF to a minimum, and notice no noise issues. I don’t think batteries change muff tones, like they do vintage Fuzzes, but power supplies are known to intercept RF, especially Daisy chains. While it’s not noiseless, Fralin’s Pickups Vintage hots are the same output as cs69s, but far superior both in quality, and sound, and are very quiet compared to the many pickups I’ve tried.
        Bjorn, Lovely clip, I saw EHX’s promo the day it was released, and emailed you a few days later. It sounds great, but I still think the V2 is very close to DGs #1. Stu is noted as one of the best in the business, and they’re evidently selling very well!
        Great as usual, KEITH

        • Bjorn says:

          Hi Keith, no there’s no gate on the Ram’s Head. I don’t recall mentioning that. There is however, a bit of compression on the Triangle reissue, which doesn’t do much for the noise but it rolls off some of the high frequencies. I know you love your Stu V1. I have yet to try one. I guess we all have our favourites and I still hold the Pig Hoof very high, although it sounds very different from most Ram’s Heads that I’ve tried. Between the new EHX reissues, I think the Green Russian is in a league of it’s own.

          • KEITH says:

            I wasn’t talking about anything you said, I was replying to Robert Horton’s post, as he has posted twice that he wished the new Ram’s Head would be issued with a noise gate. If the noise is that bad, I’d take it in for a new one, and see if it’s that the pedal has an issue, or, if he’s using an adapter, he should try a battery, as his power source may be an RF magnet. I know that you know EHX isn’t going to put a gate on an old muff circuit, just trying to help Robert solve his issue.
            Hi-gain pedals are noisier than lower gain pedals, but set up properly, shouldn’t be so noisy that he finds it unusable.
            Peace, KEITH

            • Bjorn says:

              Oh… a bit fast on the trigger there I guess :) Yes, you’re absolutely right. High gain pedals are noisy by nature but it can be faulty too.

  11. Paul Ewing Blog- STOMP BOX STEALS says:

    Retro-Sonic have recently released a clone of the old EH Flanger. It is totally convincing too.

  12. izzy says:

    Hello Bjork, great review as usual!!! I have a question, how would you score this pedal? is this reissue between your favorite “Violet Ram’s Head” such as the Electronic Orange Pig Hoof? Regards.

    • Bjorn says:

      It’s a different beast compared to the Pig Hoof. The Hoof is probably even more scooped and not as saturated. This one’s louder, has more agin and it’s not as scooped. I don’t know. I think it sounds very very good and I’d no issue with using it for recording or touring but personally I think the Green Russian would score higher. As would the Pig Hoof.

  13. Michael McGinnis says:

    The only place I go for gilmourish type pedal reviews. I have my green Russian thanks to you. Now it looks like I’m going to have this one as well.

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