ProGuitarShop

Germanium Muff Review

November 6, 2013

Written by Phillip Dodge

The name of the pedal is a bit of a misnomer. Once you get past that, it's nothing but fun! 

If you’ve tried any of the other Big Muffs (or countless clones) you have a preconceived notion of what a Big Muff is. If you’re looking for scooped-mids and thunderous fuzz, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for tons of tweakable options from overdrive, to distortion, to full on fuzz give this pedal a shot.

It’s got plenty of great sounds in it. Sure, it can be a “plug and play pedal.” But there are lots of fun combinations that come about from a few hours of knob twisting. The permutations of combining the two sides and playing with bias, voltage, etc. make for a really fun and rewarding time. You can get huge “singing” leads sounds, thick rhythm chunk, and sputtery-gated-velcro fuzz effects.

The overdrive side is great. You can do great classic transistor-based boost/overdrive stuff cranking the volume and the tone on the pedal, rolling off the tone on your guitar, and slamming the front end of your amp. Pulling back the tone and gain to nine o'clock and cranking the volume made for a wonderfully touch sensitive drive that responds really well to pick attack. You can also dial it in for “chimey” clean tones with just a touch of hair around the notes.

For me, the OD side is amazing (and even better when goosed by a TS-style pedal). The distortion side is good in the right settings. It’s good when reigned in, but loses definition when the gain is cranked. I think in general I don't respond well to heavy-handed gain, so it may be a personal taste thing. Both sides respond well to picking dynamics and to variations in guitar volume.

All that said, there are some opportunity costs with this pedal. Dialing in the "perfect" setting on both sides can make for a less than stellar combined sound. And making a perfect combined sound can result in just okay individual sounds. Right now I'm running the OD with its best sound (to me) and then dialing in the distortion side to make a great combined sound. I don't love the distortion sound on its own, but it works for the combined sound.

Any way you slice it, $99 for germanium transistors and this many options is a pretty great deal.

Comments

  1. Abbacus says:

    Electro-Harmonix is still a strong contender for the kings of crazy fun pedals for not a lot of cash category. Some would say not the best made or sounding pedals, but some of the coolest.

    posted on November 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm
  2. 52Tele54StratMan says:

    I’ve owned this for a few years now. It is a fantastic pedal for sure. As the review states “goosing” the OD side with a TS is great. I stumbled on to that early on. I’ve also found that I prefer getting the OD side dialed, then setting the Distortion side to a good blend with the OD. The TS “goose” takes it to the next level. I run this Big Muff on my pedal-board through an A/B into a Fender Custom Shop 1964 Vibroverb with 15” speaker and Cesar Diaz mods and a Marshall Vintage Modern. Have not found a better OD at any price. Adding an Electro-Harmonix LPB-1 (linear power booster) after the Big Muff puts the Big Muff on steroids. Sounds great through either amp or combined. Reminds me of some of the good stuff from the late 60’s and early 70’s. The bias and volts adjustment is really nice! Highly recommend this pedal.

    posted on November 6, 2013 at 2:21 pm
  3. Tim Jones says:

    I wonder how this would sound with a Boss BD2, ?? I have the muff 4 and will soon also have the BD2, hmmm

    posted on November 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm
  4. Adrian says:

    This is an excellent pedal - I don’t use my distortion side much at all - and when I do I use it as a boost. The overdrive is fantastic and I’ve compared it to the Timmy, a Morning Glory set at bright settings, and various other expensive boutique low gain drives and I love this one - it stands up exceptionally well.

    If you want a pedal that will warm up a lot, this isn’t it - I have to dial the tone down to about 3 o’clock just to make it warm enough - but even that can be a bit bitey with the wrong amp/guitar settings, so watch that.

    My only request to EHX is that they produce a single pedal with the exact setup on the OD side - their Germanium OD currently is missing the tone dial which is why I am sticking with the Germanium 4.

    posted on November 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm
  5. slavino says:

    I own this germanium4 muff and its awesome! you can get a lot of great sounds. I can play Hendrix, Pink Floyd and many other style fuzz-type sounds with it. and the best thing is…its CHEAP!!! if u have low budget and want some fuzz/muff sounding pedal, this one is your choice no.1! I love it!
    last time i used distortion side for my vocals and u know what…sounds great! :D

    posted on November 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm
  6. MrK says:

    Own it and it’s great! I Use it in my 20+ pedals setup and the OD Side is like adding a Channel to my vox ac15, changing dynamica and tone. The distortion Side is my least favourite, it does produce a great big wall of distortion which is great but not in every song. I combine it with a OD-3 and a t-rex tonebug disto in front of it, which rocks the OD Side.

    It also sounds great with a POGII and a flanger bedore the Od Side to make some awesome Hammond like sounds.

    posted on November 7, 2013 at 1:49 am
  7. steve C. guitar says:

    —->people,  this is a great pedal !

    posted on November 7, 2013 at 2:15 am
  8. Jerry Burrus says:

    Not to be contrarian, but I owned this for a while and then sold it on eBay.  I don’t think this is a very useable pedal.  The OD side is weak - you HAVE to use it combined with another OD to get it so sound like anything more than a wussy, tame half-clean/half-OD thing.  The fuzz channel is brittle and harsh on its own.  Almost useless.  The only cool feature of this pedal is the VOLTS knob, which gave great sounds when turned down over a high gain setting.  Just my two cents.

    posted on November 7, 2013 at 3:04 am
  9. mattyboy says:

    because im a better guitarist then everybody,im more qualified to discuss pedals then everybody..simple..this is a great pedal..and not $350 like a jhs pedal..it $99…buy it!..buy like 5 and give them to your pals..but get them from pgs or your a loser and suck at guitar

    posted on November 14, 2013 at 2:22 am
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