Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Quick Hit: Electro-Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff

Quick Hit: Electro-Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff

The black sheep of the Big Muff family returns—as brash and beastly as ever.



Unique, high-mid forward Big Muff tones. Cuts through sonic clutter. Relatively even distortion spectrum. Affordable.

Some Muff fans may miss fat low end. Highest gain levels can sound thin.


Electro-Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff


Ease of Use:



Within the expansive Electro-Harmonix Big Muff family, the Op-Amp Big Muff is a true black sheep. Because for all the tone differences that exist between, say, a first-generation triangle Muff and and a bubble font Sovtek, they share a common four-stage silicon transistor architecture. The original Op-Amp Muff from 1978 dispensed with all that—substituting Op-Amps for the four transistors. It was a short-lived experiment that resulted in a very different tone signature—different enough that some Muff purists don’t consider it a real Muff at all.

The new Op-Amp Big Muff captures those sonic differences with admirable authenticity. It’s buzzier, fizzier, and more high-mid forward than transistor Big Muffs. And when A/B’d alongside an original Sovtek (the bassiest Big Muff of all), it can even sound relatively thin. Make no mistake though, through a loud amp with a 12" speaker (or four), the Op-Amp is a beast—capable of grinding, present, wide-spectrum distortion that cuts through sonic clutter more effectively than any Muff I’ve ever played. And for guitarists wishing to counteract the boomier aspects of Big Muff tone with mid-boost controls, the Op-Amp Big Muff might be the real fix they’re seeking.

Test Gear: Fender Telecaster Deluxe with Curtis Novak Widerange humbuckers, Fender Jazzmaster, ’68 Fender Bassman, ZT Lee Ranaldo Club

With a team of experts on hand, we look at six workhorse vintage amps you can still find for around $1,000 or less.

If you survey the gear that shows up on stages and studios for long enough, you’ll spot some patterns in the kinds of guitar amplification players are using. There’s the rotating cast of backline badasses that do the bulk of the work cranking it out every day and night—we’re all looking at you, ’65 Deluxe Reverb reissue.

Read MoreShow less

Amazon Prime Day is here (July 16-17). Whether you're a veteran player or just picking up your first guitar, these are some bargains you don't want to miss. Check out more deals here!

Read MoreShow less

A technicolor swirl of distortion, drive, boost, and ferocious fuzz.

Summons a wealth of engaging, and often unique, boost, drive, distortion, and fuzz tones that deviate from common templates. Interactive controls.

Finding just-right tones, while rewarding, might demand patience from less assured and experienced drive-pedal users. Tone control could be more nuanced.


Danelectro Nichols 1966


The Danelectro Nichols 1966, in spite of its simplicity, feels and sounds like a stompbox people will use in about a million different ways. Its creator, Steve Ridinger, who built the first version as an industrious Angeleno teen in 1966, modestly calls the China-made Nichols 1966 a cross between a fuzz and a distortion. And, at many settings, it is most certainly that.

Read MoreShow less

The author standing next to a Richardson gunstock lathe purchased from Gibson’s Kalamazoo factory. It was used to make six necks at a time at Gibson in the 1950s and 1960s.

Keep your head down and put in the work if you want to succeed in the gear-building business.

The accelerated commodification of musical instruments during the late 20th century conjures up visions of massive factories churning out violins, pianos, and, of course, fretted instruments. Even the venerable builders of the so-called “golden age” were not exactly the boutique luthier shops of our imagination.

Read MoreShow less