A compact fuzz inspired by the "ram''s head" Big Muff Pi
|Download Example 1
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
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.
Street $145 - Stomp Under Foot - stompunderfoot.com
|Tone Games 2010: 30 Stompboxes Reviewed
||Next in DIRTIER: T-Rex Mudhoney II|