Pedals

Wren and Cuff Elephant Skin Bass Distortion

I have been a longtime fan of Wren and Cuff—the company goes beyond cloning the circuit board and throwing it into an ugly or weird box that has nothing to do with the original circuit. Instead, Wren and Cuff painstakingly recreates what makes the classic circuit great, as well as the original designs, albeit with a unique twist. The Elephant Skin is perhaps a bit different in its form and function, but it still retains what is great about Wren and Cuff’s classic Big Muff designs, while adding a bit of personality and utility courtesy of Troy Sanders from Mastodon.

While Troy Sanders is the bass player, his huge riffs and chunky rhythm works are thanks to one of his favorite pedals, the “tall font” Russian Big Muff. I tested this pedal on guitar, and it sounds just as sweet and thick as it would on bass, making this a very versatile piece of kit. This pedal is a straight clone of the tall font Big Muff, with a boost circuit, labeled “XT.” I’d like to come out the gate saying that I feel like finally someone has listened to my prayers. After reviewing a good chunk of dual pedals in my time here, none have had each of their functions be independent. For example, if a dual-footswitch distortion pedal had an LFO or boost on it, they wouldn’t be independent. One would need to be activated in order for the other one to come in and out of the circuit. The Elephant Skin boost and Muff circuits are independent, which painted an idiotic smile on my face that couldn’t be wiped off. That smile widened when I switched on the pedal, as the sound that spat out was my favorite pedal in its truest and purest form; crispy, deep, detailed, and articulate.

Having just a vintage Civil War Big Muff for a few weeks on loan from a friend, any Muff I’m going to try from here on out will have a lot to live up to. According to Kit Rae’s famous Big Muff Page the Tall Font “…had the same circuit as the transition Green Civil War Big Muffs. Some first edition Tall Fonts had the exact same pcb, parts, and clear/gray plastic jacks as the V7B green Civil War.”

It goes without saying this Muff had a lot to live up to, and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint.

As many Muff veterans will tell you, pairing a Big Muff with a booster is a classic and almost essential combination to really squeeze the most out of your Muff. The Elephant Skin saves on both pedal space and power supply taps by running the thing at nine volts, and by including the two independent boost and Muff circuits in one box. Running them at the same time opens up the frequencies, giving more articulation and space to the tone. However, running the Muff solo is no slouch either, the crispy clear high end is more prominent there, as opposed to the pedal with the boost engaged, which widens up the mids and adds girth to the tone. Rolling off the volume cuts the treble and creates a dark and warm overdrive sound, perfect for rock or metal rhythms. To test out how this Muff can cut through a mix, I run it through my TC Electronic Ditto X2 looper. I rolled off my guitar’s volume and disengaged the boost for that characteristic warm overdrive, and I played a little passage for the rhythm. With that going, I flipped on the boost and rolled my guitar volume back up. The Elephant Skin cut effortlessly through the glorious sludgy rhythm, which is usually very difficult to do when playing rhythm and lead on the same pedal. To anyone looking for a versatile, well-featured, uncomplicated and well-priced Big Muff, this pedal has without a doubt won me over, and if you’re a fan of any Big Muff, I’m sure it will win you over too.

WHAT WE LIKE

Clean, clear articulate. Nice huge bottom end, wide mids, and a very crispy/detailed high end. Boost and Muff sections are independent, and sound great stacked together. Highly versatile and sounds incredible.

CONCERNS

None.

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