Since I've been working on some new Big Mudds lately I thought I'd do a run down of what I make and why. There's a couple more versions coming soon, but this seems like a good place to show the different versions I currently make.
The Electro Harmonix Big Muff, which was originally released in the late 60's as a sustainer and is probably the most copied circuit in the fuzz clone world right now. There's a bunch of great Big Muff clones out there from Ronsound to D*A*M, Blackout, Pete Cornish and BYOC. One of the reasons there's so many, apart from the fact that a GOOD Big Muff is a GREAT effect, is that there are SO MANY Big Muffs to copy.
It's common knowledge and well documented that consistency "problems" were common throughout EH production history and the Big Muff was no exception. I have seen many EH products with caps and resistors "hanging off" circuit boards from the factory and have personally traced out many different Big Muff circuits over the years, and I haven't been doing it that long really. Most people break down the Big Muff evolution into categories based on artwork design and circuit changes, which "mainly" happened with these artwork designs although it's common to find one circuit in a later (or even earlier) design enclosure. We mainly break these periods into Triangle, Ram Head, V3, Op-amp, Russian and re-issues, but there's MANY, MANY Big Muffs in those categories and EH have consistency issues with component values well into the 2000's. I have personally seen at least three different "US Reissue" Big Muff circuits.
So, what does this mean ? Well, it means that if you buy a vintage "Ram Head" you may get a great Big Muff, or you may get a pretty average one. While the circuit has remained essentially unchanged since it's inception, component values and types changed can effect the tone dramatically. More bass response, less mids, more gain, less clarity, harsh fuzz, creamy mids and bottoms ........... the list goes on and on, and they all sound like Big Muffs.
To me, this is the fun of the Big Muff circuit. It can be so many pedals and most clones are different according to these "rules" Some "cloners" build one version of a certain type, others build a different version, some are the same, some are not. I personally build MY FAVORITE versions of each model. My favorite Ram Head, my favorite Civil War etc. To say one clone is "BETTER" than another one is just silly (providing it's a decent clone) because, like the originals, they vary in tone and what's good for you, may not be for someone else ? I like a "tight" "clear" Big Muff with not too much flabby bottom end, hence I like the Ram Head but I see merit in most other versions as well. Having said that, most clones are "comparable" with in the version they are cloning. Meaning that most Triangle clones sound "like" Triangles, most Civil War clones sound "like" Civil Wars etc etc.
So, that brings me to my Big Mudd series. I started this whole thing, like some other cloners by modding some of my personal Big Muffs to get a better tone for me. The first clone I made for sale was the Screaming Muff. It was a "triangle" with a Screaming Tree boost built in. I was (and still am) obsessed with the little EH Screaming Tree (LPB, Mole, Screaming bird etc) boost circuit and wondered what it would be like to combine the two. I ran the boost after the Muff as I like the way it "cleaned up" the fuzz and gave a little boost for solos. I picked the triangle as I thought it would suit me best, but modded it for slightly more mids and bottom end.
Since I was still searching, I added a mids cut and boost switch to try and fine tune that tone. The boost operated independently from the fuzz so you could use it as a boost, a fuzz or both. Due to demand and enquiries, I will be re-issuing this pedal in a slightly different form under a "Screaming MUDD" name.
While it seemed to be an almost instant success (I had orders before I'd made any ?) I only ended up making nine of them as I was politely asked by EH to stop making them as they didn't like my use of the word "MUFF" on my product.
While this project was short lived, it gave me the passion for making my favorite Big Muff circuit and making different versions of this hallowed pedal until I found my holy grail.
This search, which is still ongoing has led me to make most versions of the Big Muff circuit in my quest and I will keep searching, and offering them to you for sale. Stay tuned.