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 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!