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Big Muff: The Op-Amp To Rule Them All

Big Muff: The Op-Amp To Rule Them All

It’s been said that in the beginning, rock was created and then perfected with a fuzz.  If you are a fan of that grungey 90’s rock like me, then you definitely jumped around a few mosh pits to some mega fuzzy tones at the hands of bands like the Smashing Pumpkins.  But not all fuzz pedals are the same.  For us at Interstellar, we loveeeee the 77-78 op-amp Big Muff by electro-harmonix. It’s epic tone producing qualities are the the foundation that we built upon for our Fuzzsquatch Fuzzdrive. 

Here’s an excerpt from Billy Corgan’s blog that describes like no one else can the vibe that the op amp big muff fuzz can brought to the pumpkins sound:

“adding the Big Muff pedal into our charge makes us appear wider and meaner than we truly are, but all this beefed up bludgeoning comes at a hidden cost…because the sound is so grossly overblown (the amps sound like they are going to explode at any second), the band sadly doesn’t sound tight at all…at first, we figure the sound of the fuzz is going to take some time for us to get used to, and because we are having so much fun playing along with them anyway that it doesn’t seem like a big deal…but after only a few days, it becomes obvious that certain aspects of what we do, little things that we take for granted (namely our focused attack), disappear in a haze once we light ‘em up…we discuss ditching the pedals for good, naively talking ourselves into thinking that we can just go back to our normal sound and compensate in some other way...we only last a couple of minutes using our old equipment before we fall to a halt, puzzled because we now sound to our confused ears boring!…we are at a crossroads, as we have made a deal with the devil (of demon fuzz) and can’t seem to go back…it is a Faustian deal for this most exciting sound that makes us deliver invincibility, but by taking away our detailed intensity, also degenerates us to a common pub band…after some discussion, we unanimously decide the (Big Muff) fuzz pedals will have stay, and we will just discover a way, as yet unseen, to make them work…we will just have to practice all the harder…"

To hear an op-amp fuzz is to hear a gritty, large and fatter sound than you will ever experience.  The history behind it starts with Mike Matthews from EH and who some call The Godfather of the fuzz.  With his electronics roots starting with an EE degree from Cornell, jamming in his own band and working for IBM he had a line on this sound in the late 60’s that was becoming wildly popular.  His uber popular Big Muff actually started off of some of his earlier works like the Foxey lady which tried to make everyone sound like Jimi Hendrix, and his Linear Power Booster (LPB1 & LPB2) which he collaborated on with another inventor to boost the signal strength of guitars so that the amps of that time, which had a ton of headroom, could be pushed into a natural overdrive.  These pedals gave way to his Muff fuzz pedal which was sold through Guild guitars and thus increased the name recognition.  The next evolution was the Big Muff which Mike self admittedly explains the name has a bit of a double meaning and built of the notoriety that the Muff fuzz got within the industry leveraging Guilds help developing the industry outreach.

Since that time the Big Muff has become another industry legend spawning numerous versions, re-fits and variations all with their own style and flair.  You could spend a lot of time going down that rabbit hole, but for our money go get your hands on a 77-78 op-amp Big Muff fuzz pedal.  And if you can’t find or afford that, the Fuzzsquatch has got your back.

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