Everyone seems to be offering variations on the classic Big Muff circuit these days. While some are packing the pedal with all sorts of extra controls, others are sticking to the original designs with more or less authenticity. The Custom Muff from Italian CostaLab promise to capture the legendary tones with a few modern updates. Here’s my review.
I’ve done a few CostaLab reviews. Most recently the excellent Chorus Lab, which I still think is one of the sweetest sounding chorus pedals I’ve played. The bar is set high as I tackle the Custom Muff. First off, and I’m sure I sound a bit grumpy, I always get a little skeptical when I see Floyd related graphics on pedals – or any other gear for that matter. Of course, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but it comes off as a cheap marketing trick. Better to let the product speak for it self.
I’m using a Fender CIJ ’65 Stratocaster with D Allen Voodoo 69 and Duncan SSL5 (bridge) pickups into a Laney Cub12 15w stack. Reverb and delay is added in Logic.
Anyway. The Custom Muff is housed in a MXR-sized chassis, with true bypass switching, controls for gain, tone and volume and it runs on either 9V battery or Boss style adapter. A rugged construction and a nice, small footprint for the pedal board.
The Custom Muff is one of the quietest Muffs I’ve ever played. Turning the gain all the way up, still doesn’t do much to boost the noise. Placing all the knobs at noon, produce a typical Triangle tone – the very first Muff circuit from the late 60s. It’s mild, warm and smooth. However, the Custom Muff has a lot more mid range, placing it somewhere between a Triangle and the early Sovteks – similar to the Jam Pedals Red Muck. The pedal cleans up remarkably well when you roll down the gain or the guitar volume. Much like a germanium fuzz, the Custom Muff sounds just as good as an overdrive as a full blown distortion. Switching to humbuckers, in this case a pair of 57s, adds to the already mid boosted flavor and enhances the natural attack and compression.
If I were to put my finger on something it must be that I favour a bit more presence and top from a Muff. It’s not a huge problem and adding a transparent booster compensates nicely, but it may sound a bit too dark on some setups. Still the Custm Muff just as well doubles as an incredibly versatile fuzz – especially on home setups, where fuzz pedals usually sounds thin and buzzy.
So to sum it up. The Custom Muff is an excellent choice if you’re mostly playing at home and need a distortion or fuzz that maintains its tone even at the lowest volume levels. Very versatile, with tones ranging from mild overdrive to screaming fuzz. Check out the CostaLab website for more info.