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Opening lick - sustain at 10 o’clock, tone at noon with Strat neck pickup. Solo - sustain full, tone at 3 o’clock up on Strat bridge pickup
Since Electro-Harmonix’ Mike Matthews introduced the Big Muff in
the early ’70s, this iconic fuzz pedal has gone through many circuit
variations, encasement fashions, and different models: the Muff Fuzz,
Graphic Fuzz, Big Muff with Tone Wicker, Little Big Muff, Metal Muff,
and, well, you get the idea.
Though everybody has their favorite model, for many guitarists the ultimate
is the early Big Muff Pi with the classic Electro-Harmonix “ram’s
head” insignia on it. This pedal is famously associated with Animals-era
David Gilmour. The original “ram’s head” model accentuates the lows
and low mids, making it perfect for bass-less bands like the White Stripes
or the Black Keys. But used editions of the original can go for as much as
$600, making it a prime candidate for reissue. Thus far, Electro-Harmonix
has failed to take the bait, leaving the field wide open for boutique pedal
manufacturers. One such company, with the cool name of Stomp Under
Foot, has risen to the occasion with their Ram’s Head pedal.
The purple Stomp Under Foot pedal comes in a solid metal casing with
three knobs that will be familiar to any old-school Muff user—Sustain,
Volume, and Tone. The case is a smaller, MXR-sized unit, which may
annoy Muff purists used to the girth and large footprint of the original,
but please players with crowded pedalboards.
To explore the fuzz realms of the Stomp Under Foot Ram’s Head, I
played a 1965 Fender Stratocaster and a Burns Steer guitar through
Egnater Rebel 30 and Orange Tiny Terror amps. I also A/B tested the
Ram’s Head with a Big Muff with Tone Wicker—the only current model
that I had at hand.
Running the Ram’s Head in front of the Rebel 30’s clean channel generated
a tone that could only be described as “ginormous.” Like the original, the
Ram’s Head emphasizes the lows and the low mids. And when I used it to
drive my Tiny Terror, the diminutive Orange sounded significantly bigger.
Part of the Ram’s Head’s tonal girth can be attributed to its basically
uncompressed nature, which keeps its distortion rich and harmonically
wide. By comparison, the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff with Tone Wicker
sounded like it was contained in a narrower space.
Sustain-wise they were about equal—which is to say they do not stop—
making this pedal perfect for Robert Fripp-like legato lines. The Ram’s
Head didn’t react as well when rolling off the instrument volume, flattening
the tone significantly, which is typical of many original Muffs.
And players that need a cleaner, but harmonically complex overdrive
sound will probably need to use a dedicated overdrive pedal. The Ram’s
Head was also happiest when played through a clean amp setting, and
any amp overdrive tended to squeeze the signal into a compressed
and less-inspired muck. But by using the Rebel’s clean channel or the
Tiny Terror set with the volume up and the gain down, the Ram’s Head
revealed all of its harmonic richness and bottom-heavy beauty.
The Ram’s Head yields a huge tone, full of analog warmth and open
overtones—particularly if you’re inclined to run your signal through a
simple, low-gain amplifier circuit. In a complex mix or a large band, you
might prefer a Big Muff model or Muff clone that slots into a less expansive
tonal space. As harmonically rich and bottom-heavy as this pedal is,
it really begs to be heard in a minimalist or power trio setting. But few
fuzzes take up room as beautifully as the Stomp Under Foot Ram’s Head.
you want the classic “ram’s head” Muff
sound with enhanced warmth and low end.
only the original will do.