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12 of the Best Big Muff Style Fuzz Pedals

Big Muff Style FuzzBlackout EffectorsEarthQuaker DevicesElectro-HarmonixFoxpedalFuzzFuzz-Drive and FuzzstortionJHS PedalsOneControlSilicon FuzzStone Deaf EffectsThorpyFXWay Huge EffectsWren and Cuff+-
2018AfBlg12MuffStylePedals700

I’m fairly familiar with Big Muffs Fuzzes, seeing as my main Fuzz pedal for a while was the JHS Muffuletta - which carries no less than 5 of the vintage Muff flavours in one pedal, and adds its own higher gain voicing - a pedal which is an absolute must for Muff fans. I have also latterly been playing around with the superb Foxpedal Defector - which takes a fairly novel approach at the Muff Sound - with a core default sound based on the Russian Muff obviously - and with additional Silicon Diode and LED clipping. It has some clever tone-shaping features like the Mids control, the Pre-Gain Boost, and the Momentary Feedback you get when you hold down the main footswitch for a couple of seconds.

 

We also have the really clever parametric Fig Fumb from Stone Deaf - which has been on my wishlist for a while, and the ingenious mini OneControl Baltic Blue - which combines 3 classic Muff tones just via tone controls.

 

The listing starts with 3 JHS Modded classic compact Big Muffs - including the still-to-be-released OpAmp Big Muff. There seems to be a weird undercurrent of hate directed at Josh Scott, but I really like his pedals. I’ve seen some vitriolic trolling of JHS YouTube videos, but I still find he does some of the best types of pedal mods - namely adding more flavours and voicings. While Mike Piera is better known for smoothing out and ’fixing’ or altering the core tone. I buy a modded pedal because I like its core sound - but I want more tone controls and additional voicings. I don’t really buy modded pedals which are changed beyond recognition to arrive at some tone unrecognisable from the original. The great think about all these Muff pedals is you can totally just play with stock settings - you don’t have to activate the various mods - I really don’t understand why people have to be negative about a process of improving and adding to the core - all those JHS-modded Muffs are cool. The OpAmp version probably sounds the best to me, while the Green Russian has the most options - I would probably look to those two.

 

The Musket also does things a little bit different with some additional tone controls, while the EQD Hoof, Thorpy FX Fallout Cloud, Way Huge Russian Pickle and Wren and Cuff Eye See Pi are somewhat more conventional.

 

In any case top of my wishlist here are the OneControl Baltic Blue and Stone Deaf Fig Fumb - alongside those 2 JHS modded Muffs.

 

Authentic Muff pedals first, then listed alphabetically by brand.


Electro-Harmonix Green Russian Big Muff Pi JHS Moscow Mod - £125

JHS add a Boost toggle and a 3-way voicing toggle which gives you Low and High Gain synth-style oscillating fuzz as well as the stock default, with a further dial to increase internal feedback. I really like every Muff pedal voicing in its own way - per the Muffuletta - sure I go Triangle for low-gain, and then sometimes Civil War, Ram's Head or Russian - but I have different favourites depending on mood and material I'm playing - and this new version of Russian sounds great in its stock form - and I can experiment too.


Electro-Harmonix OpAmp Big Muff JHS Pumpkin Patch Mod - £135

Core to much of the Smashing Pumpkins' sound - this re-modelled OpAmp Muff is one flavour I don't have, and one that I'm keen to acquire post NAMM. Of the 3 JHS-modded Muffs listed - this is probably my favourite tone, and JHS adds a couple of extra gain stage settings - Low and High, as well as a Mids control dial. The Mod video is not out yet, so I've made do with just a stock pedal review for now.


Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff Pi JHS MoonPi Mod - £119

JHS modifies the stock Muff Pi with 2 additional gain stages and Gate knob - which allows you to add gated fuzz flavours to your tone. Of the 3 versions here this is the lowest cost version, and also the least appealing for me really. If I ever spot it at a reasonably discounted price I may have a flutter, otherwise I'm not too bothered really.


Blackout Effectors Musket V2 £179

Beyond the usual Fuzz | Tone | Volume dials, the Musket adds Pre Gain | Mids | Focus - the last being a sort of bias knob - all of which combine to give you a pretty wide range of Muff styles - based on and influenced by both the Civil War and Russian originals. It's a different kind of Muff - and it sounds pretty cool too.


EarthQuaker Devices Hoof V2 -£161

There seems to be a real vogue for Green Russian sound-alikes of late, and this is EQD's take on that - it sounds perfectly fine really, and has an added Shift dial over the more exact clones - but is still fairly vanilla. You might just prefer its voicing though versus the others listed here.


Foxpedal Defector - £188

This is kind of the mainstay for my main No.18 rotating (figurative) fuzz slot - it occupies that slot most of the time, although I'm going through a bit of a Fuzz Factory / Woolly Mammoth phase at the moment, so it's currently benched. It did displace the Muffuletta as the main pedal in this slot though because of its added dynamism, additional boost which I can use downstream in the chain, and its mix of Russian Muff-style with Silicon Diode and LED Clipping. It's super versatile, with some really smart features, and sounds great.


JHS Muffuletta - £209

The Muffuletta bounced my EWS Little Fuzzy Drive, but has since mainly been displaced by the Foxpedal Defector - even though it has twice the number of voicings - Civil War | Russian | Pi | Triangle | Ram's Head | JHS. I truly love the Muffuletta pedal - it's so versatile and so useful in helping you decide which are your favourite Muff flavours - I must say I like them all. Would be great if this pedal had some kind of additional stomp switch to let you circle through the voicing options while playing.


One Control Baltic Blue Fuzz - £60

As mentioned by Brett in the above video - this tiny Björn Juhl sound-designed pedal really belies its size. Through really smart Tone and Sustain controls this pedal is able to produce a combination of Pi, Ram's Head and Triangle Muff -like tones. These used to be around £130+ and are now available from select retailers at a significant discount (c50%+). By the time you read this, I will have ordered mine in already. Any of my wishlist pedals goes straight to the top if its price drops sufficiently below £100.


Stone Deaf Fig Fumb

This ingenious parametric Muff tone generating machine can largely cover most flavours of Muff - through some really smart and broadly sweeping tone-shaping controls - it really has a very broad range of tone and gain. I've had this on my wishlist for a while now and the only thing holding me back is its size sort of. If they could just make it as small as their Tremotron I would snap it up in an instant, but it's just a little on the large side for me at the moment - I do really like it though.


ThorpyFX Fallout Cloud - £185

Adrian Thorpe is well known for his brilliantly engineered pedals - particularly of the fuzz variety, and I believe the Fallout Cloud was at one stage called the Muffroom Cloud. In any case this is a beautifully tuned lowish gain fuzz - based on the Muff Triangle pedal. There's no doubting that Thorphy's pedals sound amazing and are pretty reasonably priced - I've just not yet been won over by the design of the slightly over-sized enclosures - as strange as that may sound! Definitely one for the vintage crowd! Yet the more I listen to this pedal the more I like it - moving up the wishlist now...


Way Huge Russian Pickle - £170

Yet another Green Russian clone which not surprisingly sounds pretty great even though overall the pedal is pretty vanilla - with just the typical 3 control dials. I've never seen much point in Way Huge's slightly over-sized enclosures - but if you're a fan of the Green Russian, you may prefer Way Huge's take on that.


Wren and Cuff Eye See Pi Small Foot - £199

Wren and Cuff are one of the many boutique pedal-makers who specialise in fuzz and have various takes on the many classic and vintage fuzz pedals - including some Muff-alikes - based on OpAmp and Green Russian versions. This is certainly a rougher and harder sounding Muff style pedal, and comes across a touchy fizzy in the above demo video - which largely means it's not tuned in quite well enough to my liking (player) - if you want the more original sounding Muff tones from the early era, then this is an option - I'm not sure why you would take this one over the JHS Modded PI above which gives you a little more than a tone defeat toggle. Even though I said above that I pretty much like all the different Muff voicings, it also holds true that I like the early Pi version the least - as born out too by how little I use that voicing on my Muffuletta - I do though still use it occasionally.


Final Thoughts

At the top of the Fuzz tree there are two quite different types of tone fans - the more vintage-styled / inspired Fuzz Face fans, and those that prefer the more fuzztortion sounds of the Muff. But even within that you have subcategories catered for by builders like Adrian Thorpe - supposed Muff fans who prefer their pedals sounding closer to a Fuzz Face - a la Fallout Cloud.

 

Me personally I love both pretty much equally - and I really love the sound of the Fallout Cloud too, but slightly put off by its odd enclosure - although I think I will overcome that phobia eventually. In terms of what I really like here - two from the top row, one from the second, all of the third row, and one from the bottom - meaning that I have 5 additional pedals in my sights - well 4 actually as the Baltic Blue is already on its way.

 

The most surprising pedal here for me is the Fallout Cloud which is kind of a Muff and Fuzz pedal for players who don't really like core Muff or Fuzz tones - nothing wrong with that, as I really like this smoother flavour too - just a really nice surprise.

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Stefan Karlsson
Stefan Karlsson
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