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View Full Version : Russian VS. USA Big Muff


elkym
08-21-2007, 12:55 AM
Okay, okay, so it's been addressed before I'm sure. Can we hear it again?

Votes for and against and why...

BigMuffPI
08-21-2007, 02:03 AM
Both are rubbish imo...

There are so many other great Muff-pedals out there, as BYOC Large Beaver.

mike@nortoncable.com
08-21-2007, 07:24 AM
I have a green russian 95-96'- sounds grainy & heavily saturated. Very thin sound. and the usa reissue I bought sounds fat, milky, not as saturated, less volume gain.

ironpyro
08-21-2007, 09:53 AM
The russian sounds terrible. I honestly don't understand the fascination with them. I guess it's the billy corgan fans, but you're not gonna get "that" sound with the russian muff unless you pull a few studio tricks.

The USA reissue muff isn't bad for the $. It at leasts gives you a tone that is similar to the vintage muffs. The russian doesn't even come close. The black russian how ever is dirt cheap. And the nice thing about all of the muffs (with the exception of the late 70's early 80's IC muffs) is that they all to this day use the same circuit. So you could buy a black russian and spend a few extra bucks on upgrade components and potentially modify it to any version of muff you want.

Angle Loss
08-21-2007, 10:03 AM
You can't say "russian" without specifying which one. The later green (bubble letters) and black ones I don't care for. However the early blue/silver and early green (tall thin font) sound much better than the later ones. Just like the American ones which differ (triangle, lamb's head, NYC, etc), so do the russian ones.

Out of all the different ones I had, my early Russian beat out everything---that was until I built one. I made a homemade muff from a generalguitargadgets board and traced my blue/silver muff and made some changes to what evolved into the best sounding muff I've ever had (beat out the vintage stuff).

If you are savvy with a soldering iron, building a custom one (figuring out your favorite values with the tone control, gain amount, etc) is a lot of fun. Similarly, you can get a small box usa muff and mod it easily and have a better than original sounding unit.

John Phillips
08-21-2007, 10:13 AM
The russian sounds terrible. I honestly don't understand the fascination with them. I guess it's the billy corgan fans, but you're not gonna get "that" sound with the russian muff unless you pull a few studio tricks.

The USA reissue muff isn't bad for the $. It at leasts gives you a tone that is similar to the vintage muffs. The russian doesn't even come close. The black russian how ever is dirt cheap. And the nice thing about all of the muffs (with the exception of the late 70's early 80's IC muffs) is that they all to this day use the same circuit. So you could buy a black russian and spend a few extra bucks on upgrade components and potentially modify it to any version of muff you want.I thought that. but it's so much work - you'd probably want to replace the pots, the switch, the jacks, and all the wiring as well as the components that don't sound so good... and possibly rehouse it too :) - that even though I could have done it, I just got rid of it and got a Frantone Sweet instead. (Which is not a direct clone, but is a better pedal anyway IMO.)

FWIW, I had a non-'true'-bypass black version, and it was the worst tone-sucker I've ever come across, and the only pedal I've ever got rid of largely because of that. It was so bad even running it after a Boss pedal didn't cure it completely.

re-animator
08-21-2007, 10:15 AM
out of todays muffs:

black russian:

throaty, wooly, and of course fuzzy. IMO, this works much better as a bass distortion


silver USA:

much richer and fatter... more of a "violin" type effect, with a very rich top end that muffs are known for.

mike@nortoncable.com
08-21-2007, 10:16 AM
The green ones are great- Get one and tweak it right. I dialed mine in and taped the knobs down with gaffers tape.. YOU Can get smashing pumpkins wall of fuzz sound with russian muffs, you need 3 layers to get it. Not 1.

ironpyro
08-21-2007, 11:39 AM
The green ones are great- Get one and tweak it right. I dialed mine in and taped the knobs down with gaffers tape.. YOU Can get smashing pumpkins wall of fuzz sound with russian muffs, you need 3 layers to get it. Not 1.

Exactly. IMO all of the russian muffs sound the same. green, black, or blue. Thin. raspy. gated. no sustain. Not at all like the trademark sound of any of the american made muffs.

ironpyro
08-21-2007, 11:40 AM
I thought that. but it's so much work - you'd probably want to replace the pots, the switch, the jacks, and all the wiring as well as the components that don't sound so good... and possibly rehouse it too :) - that even though I could have done it, I just got rid of it and got a Frantone Sweet instead. (Which is not a direct clone, but is a better pedal anyway IMO.)

I'm not sure how original Corgan's one is/was - the Creamy Dreamer pedal which was supposedly the one he used on Siamese Dream was a 'modified' Russian, but I've heard varying reports as to how much - from basically being totally rebuilt, to just being rehoused, and all points in between. I'd buy one to find out, but they go for silly prices...

FWIW, I had a non-'true'-bypass black version, and it was the worst tone-sucker I've ever come across, and the only pedal I've ever got rid of largely because of that. It was so bad even running it after a Boss pedal didn't cure it completely.

You don't need to change any pots. Just a handful of resistors and capacitors.

John Phillips
08-21-2007, 11:55 AM
You don't need to change any pots. Just a handful of resistors and capacitors.Well, you probably don't need to change the pots, but they're extremely crap quality - like the switch, jacks and wiring - and if you're going to bother upgrading the pedal you might as well do the job properly IMO. In the short time I had mine - which admittedly I bought used - one pot, one jack and finally the switch broke. I thought about replacing the switch with a better 'true' bypass one and curing the tone suck at the same time, but the quality of the rest of the thing put me off so much that I really didn't want to have any more invested in it at that point - even doing the jobs was a pain, at least one other wire broke each time - so I just put in the cheapest one I could find and sold it.

funkycam
08-21-2007, 11:56 AM
I have a black russian. It is far from thin raspy or gated.
Thick & warm.
Build quality is garbage tho & the jacks are pcb mounted :(
The pots in particular just feel crappy

NoFi
08-21-2007, 12:39 PM
I'm not sure how original Corgan's one is/was - the Creamy Dreamer pedal which was supposedly the one he used on Siamese Dream was a 'modified' RussianSorry but that is a myth. The Creamy Dreamer was bought by Billy Corgan in 1999 sometime when a story was printed in the Toronto Sun about a teenager (jeff doucette) who took his electronics hobby and turned it into a "business" of pedal building and moding (under the name "sustain punch"). That guy Jeff Doucette was in fact "borrowing" ideas from the diy community on how to modify BM to make them sound more like the smashing pumpkins records. So the creamy dreamer was out well after the SP had released siamese dream and melon collie. They used the creamy dreamer during the arising! tour... no one really seems to know if it was used in the studio to record the following records.
I dont care much about the SP but it's just a pain to read this incorrect statement again and again.

I agree the best thing to do is to take the time to modify or build a big muff of your own. It is true the russian version is different from the trademark big muff tone but it's not bad per see : I would say the russian circuit is better to use as a tight distortion for chords and the reissue USA one is better for that thick sustaining tones when playing leads (or very noisy chords).
But really it is my experience that the big muffs made at the moment under the sovtek brand (black muff) or the EH brand (the big one) are very dissapointing except maybe for soloing or noise making. They have a very "non smooth" sound, an annoying harsh electric buzz thing in the highs that's quite hard to dial out, and have too much gain for my tastes. I have an early russian green one i really like, and i also liked a 76 Ram's head i sold a few months ago, they were a lot more versatile. The newer ones are probably more usable with a dark setup, if you dont mind tweaking your amp so that it fits to the pedal, or if you dont mind spending your time playing with the volume pot on the guitar to tame the gain.

I did not try the last EH little big muff, but it is supposed to be good.

BTW, all sovtek and EH BM are now true bypass from the factory.

John Phillips
08-21-2007, 12:42 PM
Sorry but that is a myth. The Creamy Dreamer was bought by Billy Corgan in 1999 sometime when a story was printed in the Toronto Sun about a teenager (jeff doucette) who took his electronics hobby and turned it into a "business" of pedal bulding and modyfing (under the name "sustain punch"). That guy Jeff Doucette was in fact "borrowing" ideas from the diy community on how to modify BM to make them sound more like the smashing pumpkins records. So the creamy dreamer was out well after the SP had released siamese dream and melon collie. They used the creamy dreamer during the arising! tour... no one really seems to know if it was used in the studio to record the following records.
I dont care much about the SP but it's just a pain to read this incorrect statement again and again.
Sorry... that's the sort of thing I usually complain about too :( - although I did at least say 'supposedly' :). If you read it enough times in enough places on the net, it must be true...

Original quote deleted.

mike@nortoncable.com
08-21-2007, 01:14 PM
I think the creamy dreamer sucked.

Anyway in defense of the Green/Black russian muffs. They're not supposed to be smooth. Its a raunchy mr.nasty fuzz pedal.. Its grind is what Grunge was/is. Its a good NON 1000's of dollars costing solution for quick easy sound garden out of the box. Everyones first mistake is comparing it to the 1970's NYC/Rams head circuit. Its not a triangle muff folks its a $59 square wave fuzz box.. They only sound good for bashing put power chords and the dynamics are shoddy at best. Its not a soloing pedal either.. The fuzz engine doesnt articulate single notes well thus making soloing sound like poopy.

Green Big muff= rythm pedal.
Anyone who has one would know not to solo with it.

Andy J.
08-22-2007, 01:27 PM
I have a black russian. It is far from thin raspy or gated.
Thick & warm.
Build quality is garbage tho & the jacks are pcb mounted.

+1, thick and warm is exactly how I'd describe my black Russian. I have a new LBM, too, but it don't play nice with my other pedals, so it's on the block... The black Russian doesn't have to play nice, since it only sees studio use nowadays, used by itself.

Angle Loss
08-22-2007, 05:31 PM
I find that statement about all russians being gated, thin, and raspy silly. Even the difference between the Lamb's head, original and ri NYC, Silver/Blue, and two different version Greens I had were not that different in terms of circuit. The NYC and and Lamb's Head have more midrange (from the tone control) and the Russians tend to have slightly more dip in the mids. The rest of the circuit structure is basically the same with a few minor parts variations. All and all it is not day and night. I found all of them to be cool, but some I liked better (s/b, early green and lamb). The later green was thinner sounding, but the earlier green one was the fattest of all the muffs I had including the Lamb's head.

Just the very nature of the tone control allows you fat and woolly to sizzle-ly depending how you dial it in.

elkym
09-03-2007, 09:55 PM
So I got a Russian. I think I'll end up modding it...

kujoalt
01-04-2010, 12:16 PM
I thought Billy Corgan used a 70's American Big Muff...He also used a Fender Blender, which could be confused for the Russian, I think...

zombiwoof
01-04-2010, 01:47 PM
Anybody notice that the Russian Muffs have been discontinued? I saw an Ebay ad in which the guy said that they weren't made any more, and I was about to send him a message about it, and decided to check the New Sensor site, and he was right. No longer listed in the products pages, except under "discontinued products". Surprised me.

Al

H.P. Lovecraft
01-04-2010, 02:50 PM
Yeah, the Black Big Muffs are no longer made. SOmething to do with them not being RoHs compliant and unable to be sold over seas.

Corgan just recently posted pics of his Big Muff used in the early years and its a V4 Op-Amp Muff.

The Creamy Dreamer was basically the mods currently being offered by Ron at RonSound under the name HairPie.

Myself, I prefer the USA RI Muffs and I think the person who built Frantone pedals was the one who initially designed it. But, I could be wrong on this.

IAE
01-04-2010, 03:01 PM
You can't say "russian" without specifying which one. The later green (bubble letters) and black ones I don't care for. However the early blue/silver and early green (tall thin font) sound much better than the later ones.
This is not quite100% accurate. I'll explain why, They all use the exact same parts regardless of fonts or pots or switches or enclosures, the variation in sound you hear from one pedal to another is the same variation you will hear if you have 10 ramsheads lined up or 10 version 6 3034's lined up. ALL big muffs sound different,even the ones built with identical parts.
All green and black ones sound as similar as any two big muffs can!
The CW big muffs do sound slightly different but they are almost identical in components values too although used metal can trannies,but metal can trannies dont offer anything special that plastic ones dont.

Theres variation in parts,like slightly different lookign resistors, in all the sovteks but they are all carbon film resistors. The only value differences between the green and black is 3 resistors vary in value slightly, and the difference is negligible.

The sovtek muffs sound real bad IMO, they are horrible things. Som epeople like them though.

I have a very early green one and a 2000 black one and one of the last black ones to be made and they all sound basically the same...as close as any two same model muffs can sound. Some of the components look slightly different but they are all silicon transistors, carbon film resistors and ceramic caps.

BTW, sovtek no longer make pedals, only tubes. you may still find some black ones in stores but once they're gone that's it, there will be no more.


The current 2008 revision of the NYC is great,an absoultely brilliant pedal!



Also for that billy corgan sound you will want an IC big muff, that is what he used, this is now verified! You wont get it out of a transistorized muff!

wyatt
01-04-2010, 08:30 PM
BTW, sovtek no longer make pedals, only tubes. you may still find some black ones in stores but once they're gone that's it, there will be no more.


To be correct, Sovtek was never anything but a brand name. They don't make tubes, Reflektor is the OEM tube manufacturer for all the New Sensor-owned brands (Sovtek, EH, Tung Sol, GEC, and the American Svetlana brand) .

I love my old '94 green Russian BMp. Absolutely massive sounding with the tone rolled back. It sounded like a wall of Marshalls ready to explode, more like a OD/fuzz combo. As one rolls the tone clockwise, it because brighter, more fuzz-like and eventually can be an ice-pick in the ear squarefuzz. Never played any of the latter Russian BMp's. The US RI was more of a straight fuzz, probably a better all-around fuzztone, but can't at all to the massive, thick, "Marshall on 12" overdrive tone of the Russian.

The rest all are just fuzzes, a tone that gets old to me pretty quick. I like fuzz as an effect for a song or two but not as a base tone. The only of BMp I like besides my Russian is the uber-raunchy tone the op-amp models provide.

Angle Loss
01-04-2010, 10:18 PM
Originally Posted by Angle Loss
"You can't say "russian" without specifying which one. The later green (bubble letters) and black ones I don't care for. However the early blue/silver and early green (tall thin font) sound much better than the later ones."

This is not quite100% accurate. I'll explain why, They all use the exact same parts regardless of fonts or pots or switches or enclosures, the variation in sound you hear from one pedal to another is the same variation you will hear if you have 10 ramsheads lined up or 10 version 6 3034's lined up. ALL big muffs sound different,even the ones built with identical parts.
All green and black ones sound as similar as any two big muffs can!
The CW big muffs do sound slightly different but they are almost identical in components values too although used metal can trannies,but metal can trannies dont offer anything special that plastic ones dont.

Let me explain my comments from this old thread. First, it is obvious that I love the sovtek muffs more than the 70s muffs, and you appear to be of the opposite opinion--we can't really argue tone opinions, because mine is right! :p:banana ...said in jest of course!

I agree all the sovtek muffs are fairly close in circuit. For that matter, all muffs except the IC ones are. I've traced quite a few. I have found the "teh internetz" green schematics are always the late 6-screw/bubble font green and never the early thin font model. It is alright in my opinion to site circuit and sound trends by the box, because they did *roughly* change around the times of the box changes. For instance, I've had an early green with a CW circuit, and an early tall box black with a late green board. Each version has a distinct sound, though certainly there is variation between models. The most consistent to least would be (black/late green, Civil War, early green). I've had dozens of sovteks to compare side-by-side as well as tracing.

This is even true among 70's muffs. Of the three Ram's Head muffs I had, two sounded similar (very distortiony and not fuzzy) and one was very low gain and articulate. We can see back then that general changes happened to the line which again *roughly* follow the box changes. Exceptions would be like having a Ram's Head in a NYC black and red box. (IAE, though I am replying to you, I know you know this--you are a sick man like me!...but for the sake of the forum discussion I mention these things). So it is a valid observation to make generalizations by box type for sovtek muffs.



Theres variation in parts,like slightly different lookign resistors, in all the sovteks but they are all carbon film resistors. The only value differences between the green and black is 3 resistors vary in value slightly, and the difference is negligible.

This is true for the late green and black muffs. But it is not at all true for the CW muffs and especially the thin font greens. 3 resistors will not get you the difference.

The early thin font/older 4-screw box muffs vary the most from the sovtek series. Pot values are not the same, clipping low pass filters vary a lot (I've noted 4 different values even within the thin font green series. Transistor hfe even in one muff can range from 400 to nearly 800, which can seriously affect the gain and tone.

In the sovtek series, they did as you note change resistors (not a big deal), cap type (a bigger deal), transistors (type-not so much a big deal, gain-a big deal), pot value (a big deal), power filtering (talk about lazy internet tracers...has anyone actually recorded a correct value?), and diode type (probably not a big deal). Some of these will make a difference between versions, but I maintain the circuit difference is more than you suggest---from the ones I've personally owned and traced. From the internet schematics, yes, those three resistors are negligible, but they are not accurate to the earlier sovtek muffs.


The sovtek muffs sound real bad IMO, they are horrible things. Som epeople like them though.

I do! The early Greens (thin font) and the Civil War are my favorite muffs of all. I am usually disappointed with the Ram's Heads and 70's muffs (opamp excluded, I love my 3003 opamp/tone bypass).


I have a very early green one and a 2000 black one and one of the last black ones to be made and they all sound basically the same...as close as any two same model muffs can sound. Some of the components look slightly different but they are all silicon transistors, carbon film resistors and ceramic caps.


I guess compared to 70's muffs they would be in the same family... but I haven't ever heard a early green to sound like a black (maybe I'm a little more compulsive about these than most people...)

Your two could sound similar, but of the dozens of sovteks I've had, the only ones that have sounded consistently similar are late (6-screw/bubble font) greens and the blacks. They are very close in circuit, and many of the [box] transistional models are exactly the same inside. Just about every late green and black I've had pretty much sounded the same. This cannot be said of Civil War and especially the early Greens. They simply do not sound like the later ones, though they are somewhat (relative to the 70's muffs) close in design. The early greens vary a lot--more than any other version of the muff. I had about 12 or 13 come through my hands in 2009 alone.

IAE
01-04-2010, 10:41 PM
When I traced my early green sovtek it had those extra caps that the civil wars have...you know, the ones you cant tell the value of without a meter and they dont actually do anything besides act as jumpers anyways!?!?!? i can show them on the PCB. These caps where later replaced by jumpers. Anyways, it sounded the same as my 6 screw little box black one, same values asides from the three transistors I mentioned. So thats an early sovtek and a 2000 sovtek being the same. The later 2006 one had the same values also.

I think my green sovtek came just after the civil war ones.
Sovtek started in 91 but I'm not 100% on when the first sovtek muff was released.

Sovtek just weren't consistent IMO (neither was 70's EHX though), they had four versions of the big switch and 2 of the inner shell that it mounts too,3 PCB layouts, going from layout 1 to 2 to 3 then back to 2 and that's the one they stuck with till the end. They constaly made minor changes to the boxes then major changes, then they used small switches then finally they TB'd the little black ones.

Most peoples complaints is that they arent TB and use "weak" plastic jacks. Well I TB'd mine with the stock switch, I just omited the LED but you can still keep that if you millenium it. And the jacks have always seemed strong enough to me.....it makes me thnk there's some clumsy clutzes around that stood on their cords and snapped the jacks.