Electro Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff Pi Review – Best Fuzz Distortion Pedal?


Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
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Last modified:October 8, 2016

Summary:

Electro-Harmonix-Deluxe-Big-Muff-Pi-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-01

The Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi is a legend among guitar pedals. With a legacy dating back over 40 years, the BMP is a long-standing force to be reckoned with. The new Deluxe Big Muff Pi has finally reached what is without a doubt the most versatile iteration yet. The classic 3-knob Muff is expanded with an Attack knob, a dedicated noise “Gate”, a Bass Boost, and a foot-switchable Parametric MIDS EQ section which is also controllable via expression pedal. This may not only be the best version of the Big Muff Pi but the best fuzz distortion pedal… period. Here’s a detailed feature rundown before we serve up some “Pi” in our Electro Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff Pi review.

Features:Electro-Harmonix-Deluxe-Big-Muff-Pi-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-02

  • Delivers all the classic sounds of the original NYC Big Muff Pi, plus extra features.
  • Foot-switchable MIDS Section helps you cut through when recording or playing live.
  • MIDS section features four controls (Mids knob, Freq knob, Q flip-switch, On/Off foot-switch) so you can fine tune your midrange boost or cut.
  • Noise gate with adjustable Gate control eliminates noise and hum while preserving your attack and original tone.
  • Adjustable Attack control adds punch to your single notes and chords.
  • Switchable Bass Boost for added bottom when you want it.
  • Expression Pedal input lets you sweep the mids in real time.
  • True bypass for maximum signal path integrity.
  • Powered by 9 volt battery or 9VDC power supply.

Visit Electro Harmonix for more info about the Deluxe Big Muff Pi.

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Sound & Performance:

I’ve always been a huge fan of the EHX Big Muff Pi, so naturally I was very excited to hear about the Deluxe Big Muff Pi. Unlike some guitarists I don’t swear by any particular vintage unit as the be all, end all version of the Big Muff. The Big Muff Pi has been released in countless variations, and Electro Harmonix continues to reinvent the “Muff” sound and expand upon its tone and feature set with each new version. (See the Big Muff Pi with Tone Wicker for another example.) Basically, the “Muff” is getting better and better, and this Pi takes the cake.

Electro-Harmonix-Deluxe-Big-Muff-Pi-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-03The first thing to point out about the Deluxe Big Muff is that it easily captures the classic Big Muff Pi sound, making it immediately worthy of its namesake. Just leave the Attack and Gate rolled down, and the MIDS and Bass Boost off, and you’ve got the original Big Muff Pi with Volume, Tone, and Sustain controls. But of course if you wanted just a Big Muff Pi, you probably wouldn’t be reading this as this pedal indeed offers so much more.

Starting with the basic Big Muff Pi settings, the first “Deluxe” feature we’ll check out is the Gate control. With a high Sustain setting you can mute the strings and still hear some background noise when you’re not playing, typical of most high gain distortion/fuzz pedals. Bringing up the Gate to just around 9 o’clock will instantly cut out any unwanted background noise. The Deluxe Big Muff Pi’s Gate immediately cleans up any noise without compromising the response and tone of the fuzz. Dialing in the Gate just a little higher ensures a very quick response between your riffs for tight stabs of saturated Muff goodness.

Electro-Harmonix-Deluxe-Big-Muff-Pi-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-04The Attack control may seem underrated at first, but it actually gives the Deluxe Big Muff Pi a very unique feel compared to other Muff style fuzz pedals. It’s essentially a volume control for a parallel signal that adds emphasis to your initial pick attack. It may be hard to hear how this is impacting your sound at first if you’re using high Sustain settings. By turning the Sustain nearly all the way down and alternating between minimum and maximum Attack settings, you’ll hear how it adds a more noticeable emphasis on your plucking and strumming. As you bring up the Sustain and listen to the Attack, you’ll find that it really helps recapture the transient response of your playing, an essential remedy for anyone who’s ever felt like Muff pedals had a dulling effect on their pick attack. It’s effect is less prominent on extreme Sustain settings, but it’s a subtle touch that shows EHX spent time carefully considering how to refine the Big Muff Pi sound. The Attack control adds an essential vitality to the Deluxe Big Muff Pi, and I find myself usually preferring to max it out for more transient articulation.

When boosting the Tone past noon for more high-end emphasis, the Big Muff Pi’s low-end is typically reduced. This may be fine in a band setting with another guitarist or if you just want a cutting treble-focused sound, but sometimes guitarists may wish for a little more low-end presence. The Bass Boost control on the Deluxe Big Muff Pi is just what was needed. I usually find similar controls on pedals being a little overbearing, but this pedal’s Bass Boost is worth leaving on most of the time, especially if you’re scooping the MIDS section a bit for emphasis on upper and lower frequencies.

Speaking of the MIDS section, this is the defining feature that makes the Deluxe Big Muff Pi a clear winner among fuzz distortion pedals and other Big Muff Pi variations. The dedicated MIDS foot-switch lets you essentially have 2 sounds on call, like say, a standard rhythm tone and a mid-boosted lead tone. And as I mentioned there’s also plenty of scooping potential thanks to the Freq knob. The Q knob gives you a choice of High and Low settings for thinner or wider tonal sculpting. You could dial in a wide mid-boosted hump or a surgically precise mid-scoop.

Perhaps the most fun feature of the Deluxe Big Muff Pi is the expression pedal control of the middle frequencies. Try setting a maxed out +10dB MIDS boost with the High Q selected. Rock the expression pedal through its sweep for some extreme filtering effects. You can activate/bypass the crazy expression effects with the MIDS foot-switch for instant access to normal Big Muff Pi sounds and wild wah-style filtering effects. You can also control this with CV (control voltage). I’d love to see a synth experimentalist running their keys into this thing. Or maybe your band’s keyboard player can hijack the pedal with CV while you take a solo; you stomp on the MIDS and shred while your band mate goes wild with the filter. The Deluxe Big Muff Pi is a dream dirt pedal for sonic renegades. Get weird with it!

I must say, this pedal is definitely my favorite version of the Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi so far. It’s obviously the most feature packed version of the “Big Muff”. It’s nearly perfect in fact. It would have been interesting to see a “Tone Wicker” flip-switch that allows you to achieve a Tone circuit free, full-range signal that could then be used with or without the MIDS section. Speaking of dream Muff possibilities, I’d also like to have seen some kind of adjustable “character” control that could adjust the looseness/tightness of the fuzz. These are just a few ideas that came to mind while thinking about where the Big Muff Pi could possibly go from here. As far as that loose, Muffy fuzz sound is concerned, this is the pinnacle of EHX Muffs. It’s great to see Electro Harmonix still tweaking the legendary fuzz pedal into the 21st century. The Deluxe Big Muff Pi contains a world of extreme fuzz textures and is a great value considering its reasonable asking price.

This pedal rocks like no other Muff before it. Electro Harmonix have done it yet again.

Electro-Harmonix-Deluxe-Big-Muff-Pi-Review-Best-Fuzz-Distortion-Pedal-05

Overall-Rating-5.0

The Electro Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff Pi is without a doubt the ultimate version of the Big Muff Pi that EHX have released so far. Rather than just adding a bunch of random extra features, EHX took careful consideration of how the Big Muff Pi could be improved. The noise gate was long overdue. The Attack adds transient emphasis. The Bass Boost makes this Muff more massive. And the MIDS section adds an infinite palette on tonal coloring and performance flexibility. I look forward to seeing if EHX can take the Muff anywhere else from here. Until they do, the Deluxe Big Muff Pi reigns supreme.

That concludes our Electro Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff Pi review. Thanks for reading.

 

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Comments

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  1. I bought one of these. Nice buy! Saves having to worry about which EHX Big Muff model to get!

  2. Jerzy Synycja says:

    I want this pedal