I am, in no way, affiliated with Electro-Harmonix or New Sensor Corporation.
The information being submitted in this blog has been gathered over many years of research (which includes facts and speculation), playing, tracing, studying and my obsession with the Big Muff.
If, during the course of this blog, I have something that may be incorrect, please feel free to reach out with the correct information.
I took into consideration that component values change over time and some parts have a +/-5 or 10% tolerance so all pedals are made with parts that closely match the originals and are tested with a 1979 Telecaster, a custom amp with a Bassman tone stack and run through a 1×10 and a 1×12 cab for comparison purposes. All pedals were compared with the tone at 12 o’clock (unless noted) and gain on full.
In the beginning…
From what I can gather, the first Big Muff pedals, nick-named the Triangle due to the knobs being in a triangle pattern, were made from 1969 to 1972. I believe there are about 5-10 different versions of the first 1969 pedals that were made point-to-point on perfboard (perfboard is a material for prototyping electronic circuits) and seem to actually be the prototypes of the Big Muff.
The reason I believe this to be true is that I have seen five of these perfboard pedals and four out of the five are slightly different from each other. From what I have gathered is that Mike Matthews and, the creator of the Big Muff, Bob Myer were making slight changes with the circuit to come up with a final product. This leads me to believe that the two that are the same must be the final version of the 1969 pedals but would change once the 1970 pedals were released. Another reason that I know they changed is the 1969 pedals use some components with values that were never used again in any version of the Big Muff.
Now, on to the sound.
The 1969 Muffs have that classic wooly, slightly broken up sound on the low strings and the sweet, violin-like tone on the high strings but they do have slight differences due to the tweaking of the circuit. Also, the tone sections are a little different than the pedals that follow and are a bit more mid-scooped. Here is a breakdown:
1969 V1: The tone of the pedal is pretty balanced with just a little extra low end throughout. You can hear a loose break-up of the fuzz on the lower strings on the back end of the notes.
1969 V2: This one is a little more open in the tone of the pedal with the fuzz being tighter on the bass notes but also has a very slight dullness to the end of the low notes.
1969 V3: Very close to V1 but a bit more low end throughout giving it more of a muffled tone and a little more break-up in the fuzz.
1969 V4: Again, similar to V1 with a little more low end throughout and slightly tighter on the bass notes.
My favorite of the 1969 pedals is V1 as I find it to be the most usable and balanced with a really great fuzz tone.
Perfect for: Stoner rock, heavy blues, garage and alternative rock.
Ram’s Head, Civil War & Tri-Muff are registered trademarks of Stomp Under Foot.
Stomp Under Foot has no affiliation with Electro-Harmonix or New Sensor Corporation.