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:



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?




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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