I hooked up the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi tonight through the computer to see what it sounded like (and to make sure that it worked). That was a lot of fun. Running it into the computer, I was able to match it with various virtual amplifiers using Amplitube 2, and discovered, much to my surprise, that the best match (at least to my ears) was with a clean solid state amp with a 1×12 speaker cabinet. Not at all what I expected.
I think I’ll be using this pedal to boost my signal for leads using my Stratocaster. I like sort of a crunchy sound on the Strat for rhythms, but need something a little wilder, with more attitude, for the lead breaks. This pedal more than delivers in that regard. I’ve heard some people complain about the Russian made Big Muff Pi’s, but I have no real complaints. I think the secret to any piece of gear is to stop whining about what it can’t do and figure out what it can do. What I liked most about the Russian Big Muff Pi was that if I backed off on the volume on my guitar I could really manipulate the dynamics of the distortion simply by adjusting my playing. I could go from a mostly clean sound with a bit of a distorted edge to it all the way to a roaring distortion, just by playing light or hard. And if I needed that extra roar, I could always just bump up the volume knob a bit.
My signal chain live with this unit is going to be Guitar / Big Muff / Alembic F-2B pre-amp / A.R.T. SGX-2000 / BBE 462 Sonic Maximizer / Carvin FET-350 power amp / Behringer Ultrastack BG412V speaker cabinet. I figure most of my effects will either come from the SGX-2000 or will be inserted into its effects loop. Personally, I think this’ll be a great rig. Of course, I won’t know until I get it put together. I’m still lacking the Behringer cabinet, and I need to get an X-15 Ultrafoot controller for the SGX-2000. But I think it’ll kick ass.
The core of that sound, though, will be the Big Muff ran into the Alembic pre-amp. I’ve only tinkered with this pedal for an hour or so, but I’ve already been blown away by the possibilities. I love the smooth but huge distortion that I can get from my Strat with the Big Muff Pi. And if I need anything more refined or modern, I can always use the distortions on the SGX-2000.
All in all, I’d say this was a damned good purchase. I’m glad I stumbled across it.