I was a little late to Matt Pasquerella’s Stomp Under Foot (SUF) superior range of mostly Big Muff Style Compact Enclosure Fuzz Replicas. Besides the original - Electro-Harmonix’ Mike Matthews, I consider Matt to be one of a quartet of the leading proponents of the Muff sound - alongside Marc Ahlfs of Skreddy Pedals, Matthew Holl of Wren and Cuff, and Mike Vickery of Vick Audio.
The first SUF pedal I properly encountered was the Dirt Preacher - courtesy of a Nick Jaffe demo - as below. I’m a huge fan of Fuzzy-Drive style pedals - and the Dirt Preacher seemed to sound like that perfect combination of Tweed Amp + Fuzz. I loved it on first encounter and was fortunate to acquire an ex-demo one off Reverb.com very early on.
My second proper SUF encounter was with the Hellephant Silicon Fuzz - that slightly rangier / more aggressive style of Silicon Fuzz Face. I don’t normally go for 2-knob fuzzes - almost always preferring 3 or even 4-knob extended range varieties (invariably including Bias). In this case though there was something in the timbre and texture of this fuzz that really appealed to me and as such was acquired pretty quickly too. I believe mine sports 2N222A transistors, while the more recent Iron Tusk replacement for the Hellephant sport BC239 transistors.
Ironically the two fuzzes I have from SUF are 2 of the less likely ones, as Stomp Under Foot is best known for its Muff clones. I particularly like the 4-knob varieties - with an ever-so-useful 4th Mids control knob. There are 3 x 4-knob Muffs right at the head of my SUF priority wishlist - the Civil Unrest, Red Menace and Violet Menace. Stomp Under Foot is also very well known for its Skinner Box LM308 Rat clone - which has long been considered one of the finest of its ilk. In terms of my own pecking order - I also have the Big Ear Woodcutter on my wishlist just ahead of the Skinner Box - but I will likely have both eventually. For the Skinner Box the current model seems to have Black knobs - which doesn’t look as good as the previous White Knobs / White Text version - as pictured here!
Also featured here are the sort of Black Russian Muff style Demorgon Fuzz, Stoner/Velcro Style Sonic Generator, rare and discontinued Supa Dirty Rooster Colorsound Muff style fuzz, and Son of a Bee - Bee Baa Style fuzz.
These are all excellent sounding fuzzes in my opinion - and as mentioned, particularly handy in the 4-knob editions. Some of these are obviously discontinued now - but you do see most fairly regularly in on Reverb.com. I have a number of shifting priorities as always - but will look to secure the 3 x 4-knob Muffs in particular - with the recently discontinued Red Menace at the head of that list.
Here follow the individual details :
One of a trio on my priority wishlist alongside its Red Menace and Violet Menace siblings - or respectively Civil War, Triangle/Green Russian, and Violet Ram's Head style muffs. Each of these has a highly useful 4th 'Mids' knob which obviously adds significant versatility and helps your Muff Fuzz cut through in the mix. The Civil War is the first of the slightly smoother Sovtek Russian-style iterations of Muff - from V4 onwards. Note that the very first editions of Civil War pedals were labelled as 'Sovtek Red Army Overdrive' but these have exactly the same circuits and components as the pretty much concurrent 'Sovtek Civil War' editions. Obviously a classic David Gilmour sound - rendered superbly by the Pete Cornish P-2 Fuzz too, while the Buffalo FX Patriot II is just slightly ahead of the Civil Unrest on my acquisition list - as I'm going through something of a Buffalo FX phase at the moment. The Civil Unrest though will be in the collection soon enough.
This Flipside Music exclusive is described as a punchier, more mids and more gain Russian era Big Muff - which I'm equating with the later Black Russian varieties. You get the classic Muff 3-knob topology of Volume, Tone and Sustain - and a somewhat slightly more richly flavoured Russian Style Muff. This still sounds great, but is down in my pecking order - below all the more versatile 4-knob varieties. I have classified this as a 'nice-to-have' while most of the others listed here are more 'essential' at least for me!
I still love this first of my SUF acquisitions - with its beautifully textured Tweedy-Fuzz style tones. This is a Hybrid Fuzz significantly evolved from a Muff style circuit - featuring here 3 silicon and one germanium transistors. I see this pedal as somewhat adjacent to my True North Rocky Mountain Fuzz - the latter of which provides a slightly more cutting texture and articulation. They are both what I term as 'Fuzz-Drive' pedals sounding like a really well balanced mix of Overdrive and Fuzz - where you can obviously crank up or temper the constituent fuzz portion in the tone. Nick Jaffe introduced me to this pedal - and it probably needs to go back up on the rotation again fairly soon!
I've mentioned several times on this blog that I generally don't much favour the original / simpler 2-knob iterations of fuzzes - although I do have a few. I much prefer a third Bias or Tone knob to give me more variety, and help me get the right mix of tone and texture. In this case though Matt has engineered a slightly aggressive Silicon Fuzz to work very well with the 2-knob topology, where the 'Fuzz' knob is just amazingly calibrated and gives you everything from fairly subdued overdrive to a monstrously ripping, gnarly fuzz at its peak. Like the best of the silicon fuzz faces - the Regulus VIII varieties in particular - this can deliver a really vibrantly and visceral fuzz experience - which can be one of the most exhilarating fuzz tones to play with. I own the early 2N222A transistor variety Hellephant - while its replacement is the BC239 Iron Tusk variety!
This sort of Triangle / Green Russian Hybrid Muff seems to have been recently discontinued - which puts it at the very top of my SUF acquisitions list. As with all SUF pedals these come in a variety of artworks - and the one I like best is the one pictured up top! One of the flagship 4-knob SUF Muff pedals - but understandable somewhat in the shade of the more popular Civil Unrest and Violet Menace varieties. There aren't too many of these doing the rounds as such - so I need to pin one down relatively soon - or play the endless waiting game on Reverb.com! I've had the opportunity to acquire one of these a few times now - but my ever-shifting priorities have always gotten in the way. It will undoubtedly happen someday soon though!
This of course featured in my recent 28 Best Rat Style Pedals roundup and is widely considered one of the very best of that type. This has been on my wishlist for a while - but is not necessarily top tier in priorities - as I have around 20 Rat Style pedals already in the collection. If you're looking for an authentic LM308 ProCo Rat style original experience - then this is one of the very best straight up clones. There is very little between this and the Big Ear Woodcutter, but for some reason the latter is slightly ahead on my wishlist. I will most likely possess both eventually though.
This is often equated with the Queens of the Stone Age / Josh Homme kind of Fuzz tone - where Josh uses a number of pedals in combination to get his core texture. In some ways a sort of Stoner / Doom fuzz with vague Big Muff underpinnings, but leading to a sharper velcro style texture at the extremes. It's a pretty great visceral / textural fuzz, but not quite in my top-tier SUF wishlist. Lots of players really like this variety though - nice-to-have for me currently.
This is a relatively rarity - the 4-knob edition of a Colorsound Jumbo Tone Bender style fuzz - actually Colorsound's only Big Muff Pi circuit variety. I quite like this, but it is pipped by the trio of 4-knob Muffs already mentioned. Falls under a nice-to-have for me. Super cool though if you come across one at the right price! I certainly would not mind having one of these - while it's acquisition will likely be rather opportunistic if and when it happens.
And so the 3rd of my favoured 4-knob Muff trio alongside the Civil Unrest and Red Menace. This is based on one of the earlier editions of Ram's Head Muff - the 1973 Violet Ram's Head variety - of which I already have an Alchemy-Audio-modded version of the recent EHX compact reissue edition. I'm certainly not lacking in Ram's Head varieties - while this is another excellent variation on that genre which I consider highly worthy and it will be entering my collection in the not too distance future.
I'm a big fan of Roland's Bee Baa Fuzz sound - and already have the Anarchy Audio variety - with the Basic Audio version also on my wishlist. I would put those 5-knob varieties slightly ahead of this one - while I still really like this one too. Another nice-to-have Stomp Under Foot edition - but one that I'm actually quite likely to hunt down at some stage in the future.
If you're a fan of Big Muff Style Fuzz Pedals - then Stomp Under Foot is a great place to start your exploration - particularly courtesy of its extended-range 4-knob editions. I of course own all the recent EHX Compact Big Muff Reissues - all in either JHS-modded or Alchemy-Audio-modded edition - with additional controls and added range.
I have several Big Muffs with Mids Controls / Mids Boost - and it's a consistent complaint with Big Muffs that they can sound muddy and can get lost in the band / audio mix. Which is why the addition of a mids control is usually a good call.
As mentioned several times in this review - my favourites here are the extended range Muffs - in particular Civil Unrest, Red Menace and Violet Menace. Next I would place the trio of Dirt Preacher, Hellephant and Skinner box - of which I have the first two. The Demogorgon, Sonic Generator and Supa Dirty Rooster are all intriguing 'nice-to-haves' - while I personally am more likely to snap up the 10th / Bonus Round variety - Son of a Bee - Bee Baa Style Fuzz.
Matt is very evidently a connoisseur of Big Muffs - and his range contains many a players' favourite iterations of those tones. For me this is a great mix of quality, form factor and price. And these are generally some of the very finest fuzz pedals available - I certainly need to make a more concerted effort to snap up a few more from the range.
I'm quite well covered for Skreddy at the moment, but could do with a few more Stomp Under Foot and Wren and Cuff iterations to round off the reference collection.
Do you have any favourites here - or did I perhaps overlook one or two essentials?