As a big fan of Stoner Rock, I like heaping doses of fuzz over my guitar riffs. And although I’m a general hack on the guitar, I was excited to finally get my hands on the JHS Muffuletta.
I came across the Muffuletta when I was looking to score an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi (thanks to my love of Grunge and general ’90s Alt Rock). When I saw the prices, I realized I could get something bigger and more expansive with multiple clones built-in: The Muffuletta. In fact, the Muffuletta comes with five clones of previous Big Muff pedals with an original JHS version added in for good measure.
The Muffuletta is significantly more expensive than, say, the Big Muff Pi, as it retails at about $229, but it’s cheaper than buying six pedals at once (and it’s definitely easier to fit on your pedal board than six individual pedals).
Regardless of how you’d like to justify the purchase, I was excited to dig in.
A Brief Overview of the Muffuletta’s Features
The Muffuletta is equipped with four dials:
- Volume – The volume control packed more of a punch than I expected, so turn this carefully at first.
- Sustain – Your sustain dial here cranks up the gain and fuzz.
- Tone – Use the tone dial to reduce or increase the amount of treble that comes through.
- Clone Dial – Use this to flip through the different clones built into the Muffuletta. You have six options: Civil War, Russian, Pi, Triangle, Ram’s Head, and a JHS original.
Although it doesn’t impact the sound quality, I’m also a fan of the color palette, as the yellow pops off the matte black casing. As a bonus, the silly Muffuletta logo incorporating the other Big Muff logos cracked me up the first time I saw it. (For those who are unfamiliar with Italian/New Orleans cuisine, a muffuletta is a big sandwich the Italian immigrants created in New Orleans in the early 1900s.)
Clones Inside the JHS Muffuletta
To really hear the differences inside the Muffuletta, I played two ditties — one focused on bass and one focused on treble — and recorded them seven times—once clean and once through each of the JHS Muffuletta settings.
Our Control Ditties
To give us a relatively clean sample, I played the first two ditties through an Orange Crush practice combo with all of the dials set to medium. Here’s what came out:
Control 1 – Bass
Control 2 – Treble
Now that the controls are in place, here’s how the clones inside the Muffuletta sound:
The Civil War Big Muff
When the Civil War originally ran, Electro-Harmonix gave it a gray-and-blue design—a design that, when combined with EHX’s font choice, helped give the pedal its Civil War name.
The Civil War has less gain than the other settings, giving you a lighter version of the pedal’s full ability. You’ll also get some brighter tones and more midrange out of this one.
Some of the more popular users include John Fogerty (Creedence Clearwater Revival), Peter Buck (REM), and Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth).
Civil War Big Muff Sample – Bass
Civil War Big Muff Sample – Treble
The Russian Big Muff
The Russian Muff originally got its in name in part because of the “Made in Russia” label on the back of each of the pedals.
With a little more distortion and a little less low end, the Russian is a great pick for the DIY aesthetic. In fact, it sounds like a muffled version of the Civil War.
The Russian Big Muff has been used by guitarists like Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys) and Chris Wolstenholme (Muse).
The Russian Big Muff Sample – Bass
The Russian Big Muff Sample – Treble
The Pi Big Muff
The Pi grew especially popular in the ’90s, when it seemed like every Rock band had to get its hands on one. Although the Pi is fuzzy and dark, it does have some brighter edges that can make for some charming chords.
Be warned: Most people who latch onto the Pi wind up playing at least a handful of chords from Siamese Dream (and it’s absolutely perfect for playing “Cherub Rock”).
In addition to Billy Corgan, the Pi has also been used by Jack White, Pete Townshend (The Who), and Beck.
The Pi Big Muff Sample – Bass
The Pi Big Muff Sample – Treble
The Triangle Big Muff
The Triangle Muff got its name from the shape of the knob arrangement on the original pedal. For the Muffuletta, JHS has cloned the V1 Triangle (1969-1970).
The Triangle is my favorite by far, as it’s a little more aggressive than everything else the Muffuletta offers. It’s close to the Pi, but it has a rougher edge and a harsher attack behind it.
Some of the more popular Triangle users include Carlos Santana, John Lennon, and Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine.
The Triangle Big Muff Sample – Bass
The Triangle Big Muff Sample – Treble
The Ram’s Head Big Muff
Back when EHX ran the Ram’s Head, they placed a weird face on the bottom right-hand corner of the pedal. This earned it the “Rams Head” nickname.
Here, JHS clones the second version of the Ram’s Head, which ran from 1973-1977.
The Ram’s Head has a darker tone with less gain, which helped make it a popular choice for guitarists like David Gilmore (especially on Pink Floyd albums like Animals and The Wall) and J Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.).
Here’s what it sounds like in the Muffuletta:
The Ram’s Head Big Muff Sample – Bass
The Ram’s Head Big Muff Sample – Treble
The JHS Big Muff
I actually didn’t like the JHS Muff that much when I first played it, so I quickly jumped back to my favorite: the Triangle.
Working with it again, I’m not sure what I initially disliked about it. The JHS version is deep and powerful, with tones of fuzz rolling through its sound. And, according to JHS, this is the best option to play with a bass guitar.
Now that I’ve toyed with it some more for this review, I really appreciate it for its fuzzy attack, and I plan to use it quite a bit more in my practice.
Here’s an example of its sound:
The JHS Big Muff Sample – Bass
The JHS Big Muff Sample – Treble
JHS Muffuletta Review: Final Thoughts
The Muffuletta is more expensive than your average guitar pedal, but the price is modest if you were to go around trying to collect all of the Big Muffs on your own.
The history of the Big Muff is interesting, and, historically, the pedal’s sound changed both from model to model and year to year, especially as suppliers changed and technology evolved. In other words, two Triangles from different years could sound noticeably different.
Here, JHS has cemented the legacy of each version in the Muffuletta, as there’s one version for each pedal.
Like anything else, the value comes from however much you decide to use it. If you’re only after the sound for one EHX pedals, you’re probably better off buying it by itself for the lower price (or buying a different clone for even less).