The Sovtek Big Muff: A History In Pictures

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The Sovtek Big Muff: A History In Pictures

You think the EH Big Muff and other EH pedals went through a lot of changes over the years they were in production? Brother, it's nothing compared to the changes the Sovtek Big Muff has gone through since it's Russian reissue made the scene. Following are some pics showing the changes it's made in graphics, knobs, color, construction, and other minor details. If you've got one that's not like any shown here, by all means, send a pic and I'll add it in!

I've made some attempt to arrange these in chronological order when possible.


The earliest unit was actually called the Mike Matthews' Red Army Overdrive. Except for the name, it's the same as the first Sovtek Big Muff, with a somewhat golden green color, although it also adds a cool star graphic to the top. Like later early SBMs (Sovtek Big Muffs), it's in a case with a separate cover that must be removed before you can actually get at the real casing. The jacks are also held only by the solder holding them to the board!

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Note the neat military-style wiring harness used in these early SBMs

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Following closely was the first SBM. This is an amazingly clean example from my collection. For some reason, these early pedals had paint that was not very resistant to scrapes and abuse. As a result, many of these early SBMs look as bad or even worse than the Red Army Overdrive shown above.

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Next came the first color change. Gone was the green-gold and in was the blue & gray. Should this be called the Civil War model? Also, note that at some point the knobs were changed to the black, round ones. These seemed to be the mainstay until the black Muffs arrived on the scene.

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Eventually, the SBMs had had enough and went with the military green color. They would keep this color for several years so we'll just note the changes in the graphics of the various models. Note also that the second picture shows a SBM in a new 2-piece chassis without the overlay (as evidenced by the 6 screws as opposed to the 4 screws of the earlier models).

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Finally, EH decided on an update in the color, switch, and graphics. They changed the color to basic black and later on the knobs became "chicken head" knobs. The chassis remained the simple 2 piece affair. The switch became the standard footswitch found in many pedals:


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Ooops!! Must have gotten caught in the middle of the change. Here's a pic of another black one. I purchased both of these new from Sovtek at the same time. The first black unit has the new switch and the old labeling while the next unit has the old switch and new labeling. You can also see on the second pic that the DISTORTION control was changed to the familiar SUSTAIN control.

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Eventually, EH/Sovtek redesigned the chassis so that the black SBM was now about half the height of the early ones. You can see in these pics the difference the redesign made. They were also made a bit lighter in weight.


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This last pic is an overhead view of the early black SBM alongside the newer, slimmer version. Note also that the knobs are now pointer knobs and only 4 screws are used to hold the 2 halves of the chassis together.