Most Fuzz fans like some Big Muff action, in fact for some players it’s the only variety of fuzz they use. Since first introduced in 1969, there have been a number of distinct varieties produced over the years, as best summarised by the following Milestone overview:
Key Milestone Big Muff Timeline
These have different degrees of complexity and different components and controls. I love to quote the ’Kitrae’ / ’Big Muff Page’ - which cites that ’The typical Big Muff Pi circuit is made up of 46 components : 4 transistors (Silicon), 22 resistors, 13 capacitors, 4 diodes, and 3 potentiometers’.
The first Big Muff pedal I ever acquired was JHS’s Muffuletta pedal which delivers 5 of the above flavours, plus a special High Gain JHS variant. The Muffuletta delivers - Civil War, Black Russian, Red and Black Pi, Triangle and Ram’s Head. I currently have around half-a-dozen proper Big Muff variants alongside an equal number which are evolved from the same sort of circuit.
I am a big fan of the JHS Modded versions - and whenever I see an EHX pedal I like the look of, I wait for the JHS modified version of that to materialise. EHX first introduced a Nano version of the Big Muff back in 2013 - a version of the NYC Reissue pedal - which is funnily the last in the above timeline. In fact the pedals seem to have been launched somewhat reverse-chronologically - with the Green Russian and Op-Amp following the NYC, and now the earliest ’Triangle’ version just announced yesterday.
Of the above I have the JHS modded versions of the Op-Amp and Green Russian and am still considering whether I should be adding the original Nano Pi. The superb ThorpyFX Fallout Cloud is based on the Triangle version, and I really like that, so I’m definitely getting the JHS Triangle Mod when it appears - I’ve mocked up the most likely format above. JHS just gives you more - while usually retaining the core default and just adding a couple of voicing options and controls on-top. If you like the original EHX version, there is no reason why you would not want the more versatile JHS version - and if you don’t like the original, JHS’s additions often help you achieve a more appealing tone - it’s all win-win for me.
Below I focus on primarily the modded versions - bar of course the just announced Triangle version.
Pedals are listed / pictured in chronological origin order which happens to be reverse-chronological for when these were released:
This is the one that started it all back in 1969 - or a version thereof - beautifully smooth and singing. Only just announced, so no sign of a JHS Modded version yet - but that will surely come! I have mocked up the version above as to how I think it might look. This is definitely a must-have for me - both as a Fuzz fan and Big Muff fan in general.
A version of the late 1970's OpAmp version - as loved by Smashing Pumpkin's Billy Corgan.
The JHS Mod adds Left-Hand Gate Toggle Switch, and Right-Hand Mids Control Knob
Left-Hand 3-way Gate Toggle Switch
Right-Hand Mids Knob
A version of the celebrated 1994 Green Russian Muff, the JHS Mod adds two Left-Hand Toggles for Synth Modes and higher or lower intensity / gain in each mode. The added Right-Hand knob controls Gain Feedback:
Lower Left-Hand 3-way Mode Toggle Switch
Upper Left-Hand 3-way +/- Intensity Toggle Switch
Right Hand Gain Feedback Knob
The first Nano released was actually of the most current larger Muff pedal - or a version of the 'NYC Reissue' Muff, the JHS Mod delivers 3-way voicing toggle on Left-Hand side of pedal, and Gate control knob on the right:
Left-Hand 3-way Voicing Toggle Switch
Right-Hand Gate Knob
In writing this post overnight, I've decided to add the Nano Muff Pi to the collection also - in its JHS Modded version - meaning I will now have 3 of the JHS Modded Muffs above, and will of course get the Triangle one when it's ready - Josh obviously needs to decide what the modifications should be.
I much prefer the JHS style knobs and the extra washer on the footswitch etc. - if nothing else it just feels that the stock versions have been lovingly refined in their JHS formats. As previously stated JHS retains the stock / default tones and gives you more on top. You can see above how the prices vary, and it may not be practical for some players to acquire the pricier modded versions - but I'm fortunate that Andertons stock these here in the UK.
All of these are legendary pedals in their own way - you certainly don't need all - some will have a tonal preference towards Triangle, Green Russian or OpAmp - I actually love and use all those different tones, while others will be more selective. It's great to see the old gang back together again!