Review of: Electro Harmonix Deluxe Big Muff Pi
Reviewed by: Gabriel TanakaRating:5On May 3, 2015Last modified:October 8, 2016
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.
- 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.
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.
The 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.
The 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