If any of you have ever built any pedals, you can understand how satisfying, (and addictive) it can be. Building something with your own two hands and plugging it in to hear it roar over your speakers is a feeling that I’ve yet to match. For both seasoned and novice effects builders, there is a special place for that first pedal that ever graced your unscratched workbench. Yeah it was a mess, it may have had noise issues, pots may have been wired in backwards, and it looked like an octopus orgy on the inside, but nothing can truly best that first pedal. The very first pedal I built was a BYOC Large Beaver Triangle version, and it was the third or fourth pedal I’ve ever owned. It was the first time I ever soldered a project of that size, and the first time I was exposed to resistors, transistors, and capacitors as building blocks for the sounds I know and love. I spent many hours soldering, cursing, de-soldering, and soldering again until I finally plugged it in. The sound that came from it I will remember to this day, and until now it is the standard by which how I measure all Muffs.
Since then, I have owned several Muffs, and played through countless iterations of those little beasties. If I had a dime for every Muff I’ve played, I’d most likely have a fistful of dollars, and ears full of tinnitus. As you can imagine, I am a huge fan of BYOC, and I was very excited to try out its new line of mini pedals, straight off the assembly line. They look more or less the same to their big brothers, just shrunken down a bit with a few tweaks to the circuit. For today’s review, I got my hands on the mini version of their Large Beaver Ram’s Head, to see how it stacks up to its bigger brother and the plethora of other’s Ram’s Heads on the market.
SMALL PEDAL, BIG TONES
Like I mentioned above, this pedal is quite a bit smaller than its counterparts, coming it at around the size of a Mooer pedal (a Hammond 1590A for you pedal nerds out there). The pots and footswitch are soldered directly to the PCB, which both saves space and makes it easier by cutting out the wiring that can sometimes be complicated for beginners. On the front we have the standard Volume, Tone, and Sustain pots, which work like any other Big Muff. The tone sweep on this one is a bit sweeter than I’ve heard before, with a good useable range. Most Big Muff tone controls are either too dark, boomy, or honky. BYOC’s intimate knowledge of the Muff circuit has allowed them to make a Tone control that doesn’t suck (both literally and figuratively) your tone away. It leaves just enough space for the all-important crispy top end to shine through.
GETTING A GOOD REACTION
Where this Mini Muff differs from the rest is in its feel and response. Unlike many other Muffs, this one “glues” itself to your signal; molding and melding itself to your touch. It honestly feels more like a bright, Muff style overdrive than a traditional wall-of-sound that Big Muffs tend to be. Since I was expecting a wall-of-sound Big Muff, this bothered me a bit initially. My go-to Big Muff licks didn’t work as well, and didn’t have the weight and heft I was used to. I found myself going towards faster interludes and blues licks rather than the massive riffs and deep soloing that Muffs usually command. In addition to the different feel, this Big Muff was also dead silent; you could hear a pin drop with the Sustain cranked all the way. This is very unusual even for the most boutique of Big Muffs, so I donned my monocle and started to do a bit of tonal investigating. After playing an open note, even with the Sustain cranked all the way, the strong note would fizzle out after two or three seconds. My guess is that there is some sort of noise gate or noise suppression circuit in this pedal, which (in my opinion) is ultimately detrimental to Muffs. Yes, the famous “Big Muff hiss” is killed, but the singing and endless sustain that they are known for is clamped down and cut off. To me, that’s just the trade-off of a good Muff, and I’m willing to put up with the noise for the classic Muff tone; it’s just the nature of the beast. All in all, this is a good Muff that may interest you if you’re looking for something a little different than your standard crushing wall of sound.
WHAT WE LIKE:
Crispy high end, sculpted mids, and big bottom. Lots of great crunch, reactive to your pick attack, and dead silent.
Noise suppression kills sustain, and overdrive response may not win the hearts of Muff purists.