A History of Violet
The violet ram’s head Big Muff is one of the most desirable and collectable Muffs of the ‘70s. There is clarity in the lower midrange frequencies that almost sounds like a low-pass clean blend to my ears, and this enables guitar chords to come through the filth and sizzle and also allows bassists to retain the thunder, even at high gain settings. Until now, one could shell out a grand or two for a clean example of these rare beasts. Luckily, Tomkat Pedals has resurrected the violet ram and fortified the sonic DNA with some seriously nutritious supplemental circuit tweaks.
Let me start off by saying the graphics, build quality and hidden extras alone are worth the price of admission. You won’t find another pedal with naughty light-up nipples and the coy expression on these pinup girls’ faces alludes to the vintage muff mammary glands endowed within. Full-fat doses of swollen hefty tones are on tap.
Lilac-tating on Supple Signal Sources
My first test involved a Deusenberg Fullerton TV with a humbucker in the bridge and a P-90 in the neck position. I like to run Big Muff-style circuits into a clean tone platform, so I patched this mighty white box into the clean channel of my solid state Orange CR120 and engaged. With the Lift switch in the down position, the Violet Muffer is pure vintage Muff with way less extraneous noise and way more output on tap. Crackling harmonics embellish searing fat single note legato lines à la Robert Fripp. Huge doom-laden power chords crack the landscape with every pummeling strum. The sustain goes from dirty fuzz boost fully counter-clockwise, to searing fuzz-stortion at full whack. While it doesn’t saturate like my “tall font” green Russian Big Muff did, the Violet Muffer has way more midrange and cut. The Tone control is classic Muff as described. It can be muffled and fat or white-hot needle-sharp and all points in between—very versatile.
Flicking the Lift switch to the up position is like summoning an underworldly demon beast. It essentially takes out the first pair of clipping diodes; I had to turn the level knob way down to compensate for the low end and volume injected into my amp. Immense is the first word I can use to describe it. Immense, open and detailed. As I mentioned before, there is almost a perceivable clean blend that is applied to the lower frequencies. One of the most common complaints regarding Big Muffs is the lack of cut and output when used in a live band context. The Violet Muffer sounds as open and exposed as the naked lasses depicted on the laser-etched face of the unit. It is a full frontal fuzz assault of the highest order.
What We Like: Huge Rickenbacker-style TV knobs I can control with my foot, flawless construction, a taller enclosure than most and a seriously wicked tone makes for a complete knocker of a fuzz pedal. Speaking of knockers . . . never mind. Liam Sparke’s ‘50s tattoo flash artwork and the dual blacklight nipple LEDs are seriously brazen and stylish—just like the tones on tap. Opening up the unit exposes one of the most glorious gutshots in pedal history. The component layout and circuit board shape creatively continue the visual experience of the Violet Muffer, leaving no aspect of this standout stomper uncustomized. There is absolutely nothing not to love about this pedal. This is what artisanal boutique is all about and the price seems impossibly low for quality this high—big knobs, big sound and big fun all the way.
Concerns: Absolute zero.