• Electro Harmonix Big Muff reissues comparison

    Electro Harmonix Big Muff reissue shootout

    Electro Harmonix recently reissued all of their classic Big Muffs, with impressive attention to details and tone. In this feature I’ll try to compare three of the more Gilmourish sounding and reveal my favourite!

    It started with the Green Russian, which probably is the most popular of them all. Not surprising perhaps as newer generations of guitarists are probably more familiar with the green and black Sovtek models. Following the Green Russian, were the Triangle and now just recently, the Ram’s Head. 

    There is a fourth model too. The OP-amp Big Muff based on the late 70s model. This one is perhaps mostly associated with early 90s grunge bands and Smashing Pumpkins in particular. It can be set up for your Gilmour tones, especially when paired with an EQ boosting the mids and rolling off the high end, but I’ve left that one out in this comparison. 

    The Triangle, Ram’s Head and Green Russian reissues are incredibly spot the original models. The smaller foot print, led and true bypass makes these a very hard competition to the boutique clones and the vintage market. Not to mention their price. 

    All three models have designs based on a particular pedal or a handful of pedals and what they’ve tried to do is to capture the essence of each original. You might be able to tell the difference between the reissue and an orginal if you’re an avid collector but for most people, and even the collector, these reissues are top of the line tonewise. 

    I’m not paid by Electro Harmonix to praise these but I think it’s important to appreciate that price alone doesn’t say much about tone and quality. My honest opinion is that spending thousands of dollars on a vintage Big Muff is insane unless you know what you’re doing. A 40+ year old pedal is a risk so if you’re not a collector and only looking for a Big Muff, then one of these reissues, or a  boutique clone, is a much better choice.

    Please share your thoughts on this in the comments field below! 

    The Triangle

    The Triangle is based on the very early incarnations of the Big Muff from the late 60s. Like the original, the reissue has a lot of gain and low end and a slightly compressed top end. It feels a tad gated or overly compressed but early original models also had this. 

    Between all Muffs the Triangle is the closest to a silicon transistor fuzz, with a typically scooped mid range and lots of open fuzzy harmonics. 

    Read my full review of the Triangle Big Muff here.

    The Ram’s Head

    The Ram’s Head is the second generation Big Muffs that started to appear in the early 70s. The reissue is based on the so-called Violet Ram’s Head from the mid 70s. 

    It’s got a lot of gain and a sparkly top end, which gives the attack that typical “click”. This reissue has a bit more low end compared to my original Ram’s Heads and the tone control has a narrow sweet spot, which can make it sound a bit too dark. 

    Although the mid range is scooped quite a bit, the balance bwteen the bass and treble and the fact that it’s very loud, makes it easy to set it up for a cutting tone, which can be more difficult with the darker Triangle.

    The Ram’s Head has been David Gilmour’s main Big Muff, both on stage and for recording, since 1976. Combine this with a bit of delay and an Electric Mistress and you’re as close as you can get. 

    Read my full review of the Ram’s Head Big Muff here.

    The Green Russian

    The Green Russian is based on the early 90s so-called tall font green coloured Sovtek, which again is very similar to the first generation Sovteks, the Civil War model. 

    Like the original, the Green Russian is noticeably smoother sounding, with less gain and a tad more mid range. It’s got a very good balance between the low end and highs and the tone controls has a wide range of usable settings. 

    David Gilmour used the Civil War Sovtek during the Divison Bell/Pulse era and for the recent Rattle That Lock tour. 

    Read my full review of the Green Russian Big Muff here.

    See this feature for more on David Gilmour and his Big Muffs

    The Green Russian is my favourite. Perhaps because I’ve always been a huge fan of the Sovtek pedals. My first Big Muff was a green bubble font model and as much as I often use a Ram’s Head for both recording and stage, I always come back to the Sovteks. The Green Russian nails the tone remarkably well and perhaps even better than the Triangle and Ram’s Head. 

    Which is your favourite? What’s your Big Muff setup? Please share in the comments field below! 

    Post Tagged with ,

37 Responsesso far.

  1. Toftaky says:

    Hi Bjorn !

    How would you rate (Overall and Bedroom setup rates) the Ram’s Head ?

    I think I will at some point end buying both the Ram’s Head and the Green Russian but I have to begin with only one of them and will probably start with the Green Russian as you advise it to me, but I am really eager to have the Ram’s Head too because of those late 70’s-early 80’s Gilmour tones that I love the most.

    One thing that “worries” me particularly about the Ram’s Head is how it behave in bedroom setups.

    • Bjorn says:

      Both will do fine on a bedroom setup if you have the amp for it. A classic era Fender or Vox won’t work. You will need an amp that has a bit of mids and compression, like a Hiwatt, Marshall, Laney Cub/Lionheart or something similar. In any case I’d start with the Green Russian as it has more mids and a hint of compression.

      • Toftaky says:

        A Laney Cub 12 is on my list, I plan to buy it in a really short time ! And then I will continue with a Green Russian, a Crayon and a TC Electronics Flashback, seems to be a good package to begin with !

        Thanks again so much for your website, for your advices, and for your reactivity ! I am learning so much (and not only about PF/DG stuff) thanks to you ! :)

  2. Stephane says:

    Hi Bjorn,

    Are there any noticeable differences with the Large Beaver ? I own the BYOC Muff and it is fantastic, I was wondering if it was worth checking the new EHX models. Thanks !

    • Bjorn says:

      The BYOC Muff has been a favoruite of mine for years. Compared to these reissues, the BYOC Triangle and RH are perhaps a bit more controlled, with slightly less gain and an overall flatter frequency response. Perhaps closer to the Green Russian than the other two.

  3. Djodje says:

    Hi Bjorn!
    First off all congrats for your nice YT channel, website and great playing! Remarkable…
    I have one question:
    I’m planning to buy my first Big Muff Fuzz and I’m in between the Nano version and one of the three models that you´ve compared on your Big Muff reissues video.
    I’m kind in a budget so I dont want to pay more that $100 for one of this pedals and basically I want a Fuzz that plays nice on live situations – I play in a band – and that can mix well with my Fender Frontman 100 amp.
    I play at home on a Katana 50w but for live / rehearsals I need a Fuzz that doesnt get too much fuzzy and inaudible on my 100w (that is a working horse) amp.
    Any words of wisdom are more than welcome!
    Cheers
    Djodje

  4. Sam says:

    Hey Bjorn!

    Couple of questions:
    1. How do these reissues go in bedroom setups?

    2. I’m putting a stereo pedalboard together that will have a harmoniser pedal splitting the signal into a couple of Big Muffs. To save on space (and money) I’ve got a Maxon Dual Boost pedal, which has 2 boosts – a straight clean volume boost in one and a “vintage” treble boost in the other. Would you recommend getting the Ram’s Head for the “clean” boost and the Triangle for the “vintage” treble boost? My thinking is the extra treble would lift the triangle out of that darkness you described, or am I way off here?

    • Bjorn says:

      1. They work nicely. The Green perhaps slightly better than the RH and Trinagle due to a tad more mids.
      2. The RH doesn’t really need boost as it has tons of gain. If anything, maybe a tad of 800Hz mids or something to make it cut through a bit more. A treble boost is really boosting the high mids, so it could work but it could also make the Triangle sound even darker as you’ll be adding more gain and compression. Depends on the amp too.

      • Sam Sherlock says:

        Awesome thanks! I’ve pulled the trigger on a couple of Minidrivers to boost the Muffs. I hear what you’re saying about the RH and gain though, I’ll be sure to test without them first. I’m running 3 Hiwatt T40/20 with a Fender Princeton Chorus mimicking a rotary cab with its stereo effects loop. Sounds mint!

  5. simalex says:

    the triangle is an explosive pedal if ever there was one. it is massively loud, but you better have an amp with mids on it. because it is big-time scooped.

    i have a MIG 50, which is a ’59 bassman clone. my suggested amp settings

    vol 4.5
    bass 0
    treble 1-2
    mids 10
    presence 1-2

    fire away

  6. Ruudpp says:

    It is special that Electronic Harmonix declassifies the entire boutique Big Muff clone by releasing these pedals themselves that in my opinion simply sound better than all clones. I have the BYOC, Buffalos, Pig Hoof, SUF muffs etc. but these EHX reissues are very good and also affordable. I have the Green and the Rams Head, I prefer the Rams Head. Is a little less quiet than the Green but has more character, also with the DG20’s. BTW, when will the V1 / V2 Deluxe Electric Mistress reissue arrive? Because those clones (Hartmann, Mooer, Longamp) and later EHX versions do not have the swirl and the character of the original Mistress. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbTHcqGe580&feature=youtu.be

  7. karan singh says:

    My Favourite Electro-Harmonix is Green Russian Big Muff Pi Fuzz Pedal and its a Awesome pedal! Sounds great on bass. Also sounds great on guitar. Gets a wide range of pleasing, useful fuzz tones.

  8. Robert W Horton says:

    My opinion,
    I have the deluxe big muff nyc, deluxe sovtek and the reissue ehx rams head.
    I enjoy the sound of the rams head most, then the nyc deluxe then the sovtek deluxe. But I use my deluxe nyc before my rams head only because of the built in gate on the nyc deluxe. I love the gate with my split humbuckers and single coils. No noise issue. I’ll take the quietness way over the rams head with single coil noise. If I use my rams head then I’ll use my humbuckers run into a boss ge7 set for single coil frequencies.
    If only their were an ehx reissue rams head deluxe with a built in gate. A match made in heaven. Hmmmm, Who would think lol.
    Thanks.
    Rock on

    • Robert W Horton says:

      If you’re wondering why I don’t use the Rams head with a Noise Gate pedal after it, then I have to press two buttons instead of one which is a problem because my pedals are at chest height not on the floor so I hit pedals while I play which is a challenge less pedals to hit the better so I’ll take the built-in Noise Gate first over the better sound unless I use humbuckers n eq.

  9. Povl Erik says:

    Green Russian for me. I have had it since it was released and the PULSE Comfortably Numb tone is really nailed with this

  10. Andy says:

    Definitely the Green Russian for me, followed by the Rams Head then the Triangle. I’m tempted to try the GR against my BYOC Rat – it seems to be the most versatile of the three and probably better for a home/low wattage set up.

  11. Alexis says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    Ram’s Head first, with the Green Russian as a very close second ! The triangle is good too, but not as pleasant to listen as the others. In fact I have all the 4 reissues from EHX and already did my choice on which one I prefer, but I was waiting for this shootout! :D
    It’s curious because I’m a huge fan of the PULSE tones, but I tend to come back to the Ram’s Head for most of my tones. I love the wild character of the Ram’s Head and those top end harmonics.
    In your demo I found the Ram’s Head to blend better with a flanger than the Green Russian, it sounded more open and liquidy. The Green Russian sounded muddy with the flanger, but I tried at home with a CE-2w and it blended very well with the chorus, great for those PULSE tones !

    And I love your new videos and reviews format, I think you also did it for legal reasons (because of claimings of a lot of vids on Youtube) but it is still in the Gilmour flavor and very inspiring for the community.
    I’m still waiting for a video and article about stacking gain pedals, especially drive and Muff pedals (for example the TD-X and the Green Russian), in the style of your videos about delay sounds, phase sounds…
    I know you already wrote an article about that, but you could share your tips and favourite settings and give us a guide, as I find stacking gain pedals the most challenging part of building a tone.

    Cheers!

    Alexis

  12. Michel Giroux says:

    Great review Bjorn!
    Question: rotary before delay?

  13. Chris says:

    Awesome overview. They should put you on the payroll, because I’m sure these reviews have moved a bunch of these pedals off the retail shelves! I have either a reissue, clone, or an original of each one (the one original is a black Sovtek from the mid 90s). I love the Ram’s Head and the Op Amp (my go-to Pumpkins, and overall grunge, pedal). I’m kind of hoping EHX does one last re-issue: The “Civil War” Sovtek Big Muff. I’ve heard its close to the Green Russian tone wise, and the Sovtek Deluxe certainly has the look of it, but a proper reissue would be cool. I haven’t heard a comparison between the Civil War and Green Muffs, so it might be redundant in the end. Again, great review as always.

    Chris

  14. Marcus V Leonardz says:

    Excellent review. The best side by side comparison i’ve seen yet! Are you familiar with the Way Huge Swollen Pickle, and how do you feel it compares to other Muff platforms? I’ve had one for several years and it sounds great, but just wanted your opinion. Thanks and looking forward to your reveal as to which EX reissue is your favorite. Take care and Happy New year!

  15. Greg Christie says:

    Thanks for yet again an insightful analysis of the Big Muff
    My favorite is the Green Russian and have set up a low cost pedal board to play around with. My signal chain currently is 2006 Fender Deluxe Power strat w/ Fishman piezo bridge and Tex Mex pu’s. Pedal board consists of Biyang X- Drive OD-8 set as clean boost, EHX Green Russian- EHX Flatiron fuzz- Donner Yellow fall delay- Donner Tutti love chorus- Biyang Tri Verb RV-10 running into a Fender Bassbreaker 007.
    Soon I’ll be adding a MXR 74 Vintage phase 90 and the Moore E-lady. Do you have any recommendations on changes or additions… thanks.

  16. John E1 says:

    Thank you, Bjorn!

    A special, Thank You!!, to David Gilmour and Mike Matthews, without whom this site wouldn’t exist.

    All great pedals, all great tones. Dang you, Mike Matthews, I’m giving you more of my money. ;<)) LOL

    Bjorn is next. Bjorn deserves a share, too.

  17. AL says:

    Any of these pedals work with a fender deluxe amp?

  18. Mac says:

    I like the Triangle with Marshall JCM800 !

  19. Jason says:

    Bjorn, another great shootout, this also marks my first posting!
    Just listening within leaping to any DG/PF reference material, I would say that without the effects, my choice would be between triangle and green: triangle if I was specifically after an earlier rendition, almost “how he would have recorded it at the time”, whilst the green is my “this is how he would have played it on PULSE”.

    The green is always the smoother, creamier of the three, the notes just sound and look like they lept out the fingerboard with much less effort. For me, the rams head sounded a little too brittle without effects, especially in the higher register.

    However, with the the mistress and rotary in there, the rams head came much more to life in my opinion, and it was harder for me to decide between triangle and ram. Green in this instance disappointed me a bit.

    However, if you did a version with a chorus as the primary modulation effect rather than flanger, I reckon the green would beat everything!

    My personal choice: well, I base my tribute on the PULSE era primarily, so the green does it for me. Funnily enough, I actually use the (not at all brilliant) US PI for earlier stuff, e.g. animals and the green for PULSE and the “anthems”. This has got me thinking about swapping the US out for either triangle or ram!

    Keep them coming!!!

  20. Gabriele says:

    To my ears the Triangle sounds quite different from the other two, almost as a fuzz indeed, while the differences between the the Ram’s Head and the Green Russian are more subtle. The second sounds a bit more overdrive-ish, while the Ram’s is pure Animals-era Gilmourish. Wonder how the three would compare with the controls all set at the same level (e.g. all at noon).
    Great job as usual, anyway!

    • Bjorn says:

      The volume control is set to unity with the dry signal and I’ve set the tone control to 11 o’clock on all three. That should provide a “neutral” setup for each.

  21. piazzi says:

    My Favorite is Sovtek Deluxe :-)

    I sounds like the green Russian to my ears but has a few additional controls and switches that expand its tonal options

    I have used the blend and the wicker switch to get it to sound very good with humbuckers

Leave a Reply to piazzi Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.