Bye, Bye Miss Big Muff Pi Pt. 2

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Bye, Bye Miss Big Muff Pi Pt. 2

Let’s pick up where we left off last time and meet the rest of the Big Muff family.

Muff Fuzz

The Big Muff wasn’t alone in this family. It had its share of little brothers as well. The smallest was the Muff Fuzz, a little fuzz that plugged directly into either your guitar (EH-2009) or amp (EH-2008), depending on which one you paid $18.95 for. Featuring only an on-off switch and a boost control, the Muff Fuzz delivered a mighty sound for its size. By ‘75, the price had increased to $21.95 and then to $23.95. Later editions (EH-2008) had two 1/4" jacks and came with a double-ended plug so you could choose where to plug it in. Again, these started out transistorized and became IC units sometime in the mid or late ‘70s. This model went on to cost $25.50 by mid 1978 and was later increased to $34.

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Little Muff and Little Big Muff

These two units were housed in a Small Stone-size box. The Little Muff Pi or EH-1008, appeared circa 1972 and was basically the Muff Fuzz in a floor box. The controls were the same as the Muff Fuzz with the on-off switch alongside the Boost control. It was always (?) transistorized. Around 1975-76 it became EH-1009, the Little Big Muff Pi which was a simpler version of the Big Muff with only a volume control and a tone switch. This became an IC unit later on as well. If you look inside many of the later Little Big Muff Pis, you'll find that EH put an actual Big Muff board in them and simply preset the Tone and Sustain controls.

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Sovtek Big Muff

Let’s not forget that Mike Matthews is now making a reissue Big Muff Pi under the Sovtek name. This pedal is an extremely heavy-duty version that comes in a little wooden box. The sound to me is reminiscent of Version III Big Muffs. The early models have the jacks only supported by the solder holding them to the board. Troubles abound!! Later on, they started securing them with nuts. Here's a page about the Sovtek Muffs.

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Now Electro-Harmonix has reissued an American version of the Big Muff. Check out this page for tips on telling an original Big Muff from the American reissue.

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Who really knows how many Big Muffs and relatives were made? Apparently there’s enough of them that anybody that wants one can get one. All I know is I see them advertised all the time. Version I seems to be the rarest and most expensive. Version II: Good supply. Version III: More of these than any other. If the person you’re buying from has more versions than one, try them all to find the one that best suits your taste. Even seemingly identical models can sound quite different depending on what’s inside.

For my money, nothing beats a good Version I. Mine sat in a local former music store in its box until 1994 and everyone that’s tried it loves the sound. You may have heard it on a recent Judybats disc that was recorded here in Bloomington (finally got my free copy of that, 2 years later) and also on Velo- deluxe’s "Super-Elastic" (finally got my copy of that too; thanks to producer Paul Mahern for both!). Muff Fuzzs are also fairly common and available. Little Muff Pis are only slightly rare and Little Big Muff Pis are not much more common. The Deluxe Big Muff is actually 2 effects in one so you’ll probably have to spend more money for one. Think of the money you’ll save on batteries!!

Before I forget, EH also made Big Muffs for other distributors. The most famous of these is, of course, the Guild Foxy Lady which actually predated the Big Muff Pi (but not as a Big Muff). Other names you might see are Marveltone, Electra, L.D. Heater, and Wabash. Some of these are labeled "Distortion- Sustainer" on the top.

Special thanks: Kevin Macy for the Little Muff Pi, Aaron Fleenor for the Little Big Muff Pi and Jeff & Al at Guitars O’ Rama for the Muff Fuzz.