In 1967 the legendary Mike Matthews started experimenting with circuits for the electric guitar, and by early 1969 he had created a circuit that has become one of the most legendary, collected and mythical pedals in the history of guitar effects. With 30+ versions made throughout its almost half a century lifetime, the Big Muff Distortion/Fuzz has personally pioneered the sounds of some of the biggest bands and musical movements in history. The Muffuletta is our tribute to the legend and story of one of the greatest pedals ever invented. Let’s take a look at what makes the Muffuletta the ultimate recreation of this circuit in a way that has never been done before.
The heart of the Muffuletta is the fact that it replicates five (yes five) classic Big Muff circuits from years gone by as well as a new and original JHS version for a total of six Muff models. All executed without any digital signal processing or digital emulation. When you choose a model, you are achieving analog tone that uses real components and values found in the original units. We have selected our favorite classic versions from the pages of history and made them available in one small format pedal that is easy to understand, operate and do what it should do… replicate rare, expensive, mythical and sought after versions of this circuit with ease.
Looking at the pedal, there are four controls: Volume, Tone, Sustain and Mode. The “Volume" control works just like any other volume control allowing you to adjust the overall output of the pedal to your taste. The “Tone” control lets you brighten or darken your overall tone. The “Sustain” control is best understood as a gain or distortion control as it gives more distortion to the circuit. The “Mode” control lets you choose from our six different versions of the Big Muff on the fly. Looking at the “Mode” control you will see six icons around the lower 50% of the knob. Let's take a look at each mode and why they made the cut to be in the ultimate Big Muff tribute.
JHS - "2015" The JHS Muff is a JHS original take on the classic circuit. You will find this version more powerful, less compressed with a more haunting mid range. It is also the best for bass guitar.
73 Rams Head - “1973-1977 V2” The 73 Rams Head gets its name for the strange little elfin looking face that appears on the lower right corner of the pedal. Over the years people nicknamed this unit based on the fact that is looks somewhat like a lamb or animal. It is best known for having a scooped mid range, less gain and being overall darker. Famous users include David Gilmour (main Pink Floyd recordings), Ernie Isley (Eisly Brothers), and J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.)
The Triangle - “1969-1970 V1” The Triangle Muff gets its name from the triangle arrangement of the knobs on the original unit. It is best known for having more low-end response and being more articulate. Famous users include Santana, David Gilmour's Pete Cornish made pedal boards, John Lennon, Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine), and possibly Jimi Hendrix.
The Pi - “1977-1978 V3” The Pi Muff gets its name from the instantly recognizable red Pi symbol on the top. This is not to be confused with the later redesigned NYC version released much later in 2000. It is best known for a more aggressive sound. Famous users include Frank Zappa, Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Jack White, The Edge (U2), Beck, and Pete Townsend (The Who).
The Russian - "1999-2009 V8” The Russian Muff gets its name from the “Made in Russia” text found on the back. It is best known for having less clarity and less low end. Famous users include Dan Auerbach (Black Keys), Chris Wolstenholme (Muse), and Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails).
The Civil War - “1991-1993 V7” The Civil War Muff gets its name from the old style Civil War era font found on the enclosure as well as the navy and grey colors found on many. It is best known for having more mid range, brighter overall tone and less gain. Famous users include Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), John Fogerty, Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Mike Mills and Peter Buck (REM).
The Big Muff has an amazing history and has been used by some of the most influential guitarists ever. Never before has there been a single pedal that gives you all these different eras of it’s tone. We are convinced that the Muffuletta can fit in anyone's rig who loves dirt, distortion and fuzz, and we think it will be hard for you to disagree once you plug it in and play.
The Blue Hippo Analog Chorus returns with its famously diverse range of luscious, liquefied tones—and then some! The MkII retains the MkI’s easy-to-use control setup, which takes you from lush tone-widening to full-on rotating speaker modulation madness from the depths of the Marianas Trench. But now, there’s a Vibe switch for adding some thick vibrato goodness to your aqueous tones. Don’t wade into the water without your Blue Hippo MkII Analog Chorus!
The nature of the experience depends almost entirely on set and setting
The Bicycle Delay was something like an “Albert Hoffman moment” (to quote a good friend and guitarist Neal Casal). I sat down with no plan of where I was going but to allow myself the freedom to be open to wherever the journey took me and just document the experience. Really a strange path to travel when it involves something as cerebral as programming software. Or maybe it’s not. Maybe that’s a pure form of creativity, to use the boundaries something so matter of fact as programming as a medium for art? The result was a pedal as autobiographical as any I have been involved in. The Bicycle Delay is a physical manifestation of the experience of consciousness, letting go of the desire to control everything, and maintaining a positive attitude to leave room for a positive experience.
The more time I spent with the Bicycle Delay the more it unfolded its complexities to me. The harder I thought about what it was doing, the more difficult it was to put my finger on it. The more that I surrendered to what it was showing me, the more it set me free to be musically creative. In much the same way it took a computer to visualize a Mandelbrot Set, it took the Bicycle Delay for me to find the organic beauty in disharmony.
The way pedal behaves is also metaphoric to how I’ve been looking at life. Approach it from a negative perspective, go ahead, make it spiral downward. There is beauty in it, like there is enjoyment in picking at a scab. It’ll take you to darker musical places fitting for the vampires at night. It all depends on your mood. Bring it up, it wants to take off. Happiness in a madhouse. The most difficult and interesting stuff begins to happen when you keep it balanced. Edges of notes brighten radiantly to prominence, like the flora and fauna do when I walk Clemma in the early morning sun.
The Bicycle Delay is as organic as a computer growing from a tree. Sonically the pedal is ever changing, even turning the knobs has an amorphous behavior. Go with it.
• Circuit Design/Audio Engineer – Howard Gee
• DSP Engineer/Concept – Nicholas Harris
• Photography/Videography – Jessica Liu
• Artwork – David Medel Weirdbeard72