The Russian Big Muff Pi is a variation of the classic American Big Muff. There have been many revisions of the Russian Muff. Mine is version 8 in the black, small-box. Though for a small box, it still takes up quite a bit of real estate on my board!
The Muff has the usual simple control layout, consisting of Volume, Sustain and Tone.
The knobs seem to feel almost loose. They are securely attached, but they are extremely easy to turn. (This may be due to the fact that I got a second-hand unit.) A small nudge will turn the knobs so I lightly marked my settings!
Other than than that, this pedal feels very solid and sturdy! Good build quality.
The pedal has three controls; Volume which controls the output level, Sustain which is the amount of gain, and Tone, which sweeps through a wide range of high end and mid control.
Finding a good tone is as easy as twisting the knobs and playing. It doesn't get any easier!
The Muff produces a singing, fuzzy distortion that only a Big Muff can. It's similar to the American Muff, but has a smoother gain character with a bit less sustain. While the American Muff gets very raspy, gnarly and bright, the Russian retains a more "polite" distortion tone, even with the tone knob cranked up all the way.
But worry not fuzz seekers, this guy can still get plenty aggressive and cut through with a searing tone. Turning the sustain to about 2:00 and the Tone all the way up executes some bright and cutting, yet thick classic Muff tones. Knock the tone all the way back and you've got an almost boosted lower mid section. It's almost counter-intuitive, in that the tone knob still seems to boost certain frequencies when backed all the way counter-clockwise. Cool!
I found that the Big Muff excelled at that classic Muff tone, only with a twist. Big and fat, layered gain that sustains for days. Great for Gilmour-ish leads or a wall of Pumpkins style fuzz! Using the pedal as a boost for an overdriven amp was not beneficial at all, but that's not what the Muff was designed for. It's meant to be fuzzed out and played loud!
I was able to pull one other cool sound from the Muff by dialing back the Sustain a bit and running it into a BB preamp with the gain set low to moderate. This resulted in crazy, compressed oscillation that seemed to feedback and sustain without even playing the guitar! Fun stuff!
Bassists also like the Russian Muff because it adds a cool fuzzy edge to their sound while keeping the punchy low end intact.
Though the Russian Muff has been discontinued, i highly suggest trying to grab a used one. They are a blast to play. Unique, singing overdrive that is a classic for a reason! I might have to buy an American Muff now because they are so addicting
The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff PI Russian is a distortion pedal that is one version of many different Big Muff PI guitar pedals. The pedal is an analog one and has a 1/4 inch input and 1/4 inch output and is overall simple in make up. It is powered by an Electro Harmonix power supply and since this is what I use with it, I'm not sure what other types of power supplies will work with it. This isn't a rack mountable piece of gear.
The make up of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff PI Russian is easy to follow overall and I can't envision that anyone would have too many problems understanding how to use this pedal. The pedal has three parameters in the form of knobs for volume, sustain, and tone, three parameters that are widely seen on all sorts of different distortion pedals. That is all there is to this pedal and although I haven't seen a manual for it, I can confidentiality say that you don't need it to figure out this pedal.
The sound of the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff PI Russian is definitely respectable, but when compared to some of the other Big Muffs out there, I can't say that this is one of my favorites. I like the way that it sounds and it ill definitely get the job done for a lot of situations as it has a wide sound, but isn't as ripping as the Sovtek or the USA Big Muff. I have used this pedal with a Fender Strat and a '76 Fender Twin Reverb for the most part and I feel I'm getting an accurate sound for sure. If you are interested in a Big Muff Pi and are on a budget, this is probably your cheapest option, but I would encourage you to upgrade and get one of better models that I previously mentioned as they have an overall better sound.
While this isn't my favorite of the Big Muff Pis, if you are really on a tight budget the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff PI Russian will get the job done. It is definitely a cheap price for a pedal of this caliber but I would recommend checking out all of the Big Muffs before you make your decision. All in all, a nice pedal on its own - just not when compared to other models of it.
The Big Muff Pi is a reissue fuzz box/sustainer made in Russia. Its a very different manifestation of the classic in appearance, in a sturdy black metal casing with chicken beak knobs, and comes with a cool wooden storage box. It has 1/4" input and outputs, which are annoyingly on the opposite sides from where you would expect them to be, like other effects boxes.
Dialing it in is pretty easy and self-explanatory with just a gain, tone, and volume knob. I never used the manual.
I have to admit, I don't understand what the fuss is all about with the Big Muff, or fuzz pedals in general. Its thin, hissy, buzzy, fuzzy. It is not thick, pleasing, or even musical sounding to my ears. I played with it for a while, using my Les Paul style guitar through a small tube combo, and found no usable sounds. I don't think theres anything wrong with mine, I just think the overall tone of it makes me cringe.
I will stick with my TS9 Tube Screamer for creamier sweet sustain, and other pedals for more heavy distortion. This Big Muff just does nothing for me.
Even if I liked the sound, the fact that they switched the input and output to the opposite sides from where they should be is annoying, and the lack of ac adapter capability means you will forever burn out 9v batteries in this thing. I also notice a drop in tone when switched off, so I guess it does not have true bypass. Why did they even bother making this thing???
I sold mine and had a hard time getting 30 bucks for it. They sell for 60 new. I have heard Fuzz Faces before, and ol' Jimi used one so I would probably use that before a Big Muff, though fuzz doesn't appeal to me much and now I know it for sure.
I would never buy one, even for five bucks. This one was inherited.
***WARNING: THE FOLLOWING (RATED G, FOR GENERAL AUDIENCE) REVIEW APPLIES FOR THE BLACK RUSSIAN-MADE ELECTRO HARMONIX BIG MUFF (THAT ON THE PICTURE ABOVE), NOT THE EARLIER (USUALLY MORE EXPENSIVE) TANK-GREEN MODEL WHICH MAY SOUND DIFFERENT***
This analog stompbox is something in-between a distortion and a fuzz. The controls are Volume, Tone and Sustain (which also controls the amount of distortion). No D.C. in, and the input and output jacks are reversed compared with ALL other pedals that I've ever seen or owned... Please note that although some units (like mine) were provided with a true-bypass switch, not all were... This model is no longer produced, replaced by the U.S. Big Muff which is said to sound a bit cleaner.
Well, three mere knobs... could be worse, couldn't it?
It took me some time to get used to this very dark, grainy, almost experimental kind of sounds. I rarely use it alone, most of the time I have it follow a cheap overdrive which gives the Big Muff the mid frequencies that it lacks, and the whole provides for one HUGE distorsion sound...
The way the tone knob shapes the sound is a bit surprising as you get in no time from an almost total lack of treble to a shrieking sound. This pedal is rather versatile as it goes easily from punk to vintage rock to a growling metal sound (needless to say that in the latter case you definitely shouldn't expect a sharp-edged sound -- hey, that's a FUZZ).
I've had this for 3 years now, although it's not always suitable for any situation it can be adapted to almost any style that needs heavy guitar sounds (some use it with a bass too, generally with great results). One among many versions of a true classic, always nice having one around...