Big Muff

Perhaps it was a vain attempt to revive my youth as a guitarist or maybe I was just getting sick of synthesizers and a laptop screen… Either way, I recently became the owner, once again*, of a lovely early 90’s American Vintage ’62 reissue stratocaster in candy apple red.

I obviously needed a whole slew of things to go with it such as an amplifier and various pedals and I started off by making a favourite from the aforementioned youth:

-THE CLASSIC BIG MUFF-

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Obviously one of the greatest aspects of the original is the enclosure, but considering the difficulty in cutting and folding sheet aluminium at home I decided to use a generic hammond die cast enclosure. I happened to have the one I used lying around my workshop which unfortunately had a few extra holes from previous incarnations as different pedals. I tested everything on a breadboard as I usually do before making up a PCB. I added a few modifications, adjustable midrange in the tonestack and switches to select between different diodes in the two distortion sections. These worked fine and so I made up a pcb without much hassle. I like pcb mounted everything if possible and used footprints for alps RK09 pots and basic C&K switches.

As it happens, the pcbs arrived and I had made a few (stupid) mistakes. The sustain and output volume pots were routed the wrong way around. Down is up, Up is down – Damn. I also didn’t make a connection between two of the gain stages. Anyway, easy kludges as I didn’t have any of the right pots on hand and so used Alps RK24 units I had around the workshop. I wound up useing 2N2222 transistors I selected for high gain and 1N4148 and FDH333 diodes for the distortion stages. I also didn’t have a footswitch so left that out for the time being, who turns their distortion off anyway?

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There were so many variations over the course of the long Big Muff life so it is hard to pin down whether it sounds ‘right’ or not, but testing with a friends 60’s Melbourne made Goldentone was very pleasing indeed.

*I owned a 1984 Fender American Vintage ’57 Reissue stratocaster in two tone sunburst and loved it to death. It had to be sold a few years ago do to numerous circumstances, such is life.

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