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Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

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Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby S.Crow » Tue Apr 20, 2021 7:39 pm

I picked up an EH Big Muff recently and whilst I like the sound, used with my Yamaha with 3 SC pups the noise level is more than I like.
Compared to my drive and distortion pedals, the background noise is noticeable from about the 2 position versus 5+ for the other pedals.
Is this typical for this pedal?
Do people use noise gates to reduce this type of noise or just live with it?
I’m wondering if I’d be better off with a more modern fuzz or does this just go with the terrain?
Any recommendations for a replacement that isn’t boutique pricing?
Thanks
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby CS70 » Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:32 pm

Yes, very high gain pedals are the reason noise gates are used with guitar playing :)

It's not that the Big Muff is noisy per se - it is no more, no less than any other pedals.. but since what it does is that it boosts the input signal, amplifies in order to clip it, add whatever Tone you've dialed and finally boosts the output again, any little amount of noise will be amplified to sky levels. And single coils will have noise unless you're on the moon.

Having buffered pedals afterwards can increase the highs making the noise even more noticeable. You can try to use an EQ pedal before or after and see what it does.

Also really be careful of anything that can picked up by the single coils: away from computer monitors, lamps - anything really.
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby Murray B » Tue Apr 20, 2021 8:48 pm

I had a Double Muff for a while - it didn't strike me as being excessively noisy compared to anything else I've used over the years. I haven't used any fuzz / high gain pedals that I would be able to describe as quiet - but they may be out there....

Single coils are a pain for high gain sounds in general though unless you have noiseless pickups / have shielded the guitar very well / fitted a noise cancelling coil in the cavity.

Shielding / Noiseless pickups have been covered in other posts recently so have a dig around the forum, but it's not easy to get pristine high gain sounds from standard single coils. A guitarist I used to play with used a noise suppressor pedal to effectively silence the guitar when it wasn't being played - it worked okay for him as the noise wasn't that noticeable compared wall of guitar coming out of the amp when he was playing.

I've gone down the noiseless pickup / hum cancelling circuit route and not looked back. Some would argue that the guitars lose a little tone compared to the standard pickup types (I agree) -but it's a compromise I'm happy to make.
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby S.Crow » Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:12 pm

Thanks all.
It's likely that my next guitar will have Noiseless pickups as I used to have no problems with the Lace Sensor Gold in my 90s Strat Plus.

I wanted to get the lay of the land to see whether I should return the Muff within the 30 day window.
I will keep it as I like the tone.

My Yamaha isn't particularly well shielded I think, but I am going to replace it so don't plan on modding it.
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby Wonks » Tue Apr 20, 2021 9:45 pm

I have a big muff mini and that isn't particularly noisy. It's a pedal that uses a lot of gain to get a high level of clipping - it is a fuzz, not an overdrive or distortion - so it's going to get quite noisy if you turn the gain up quite high.

Turn the guitar volume right down and all the noise you hear with the BM on is created by the pedal, not noise from the pickups. With the BM gain/sustain and tone at at 50% and the volume set for parity with the bypass level, you really shouldn't notice a lot of hiss if the pedal is healthy. If it's very noisy, then it's probably faulty. But check the pedal on it's own, with just it plugged into any common PSU in case you've got some ground loop noise making it worse (you shouldn't get this if the PSU has proper isolated outputs).
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby S.Crow » Tue Apr 20, 2021 10:04 pm

Thanks Wonks.
The power supply is an MXR M239 ISO but I will swap it for a Voodoo Lab tomorrow.
The setup generally is very quiet.
My concern is that it seems noticeably noisier than my boost and distortion pedals.
The distortion gets noisy on full but I don't use it like that.
The Muff gets noisy even on moderate settings.
I will try what you suggested and see if I can live with it.
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby CS70 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:17 am

S.Crow wrote:My concern is that it seems noticeably noisier than my boost and distortion pedals.

Yeah it would: a boost adds only a moderate amount of gain, and possibly only in certain frequency bands; a distortion pedal doesn't add gain at all per se: it changes the signal shape by other means, but the peak level can just as well be the same.

A fuzz is like an overdrive on steroids, or like having three one after the other. :D

Which is why even at low-ish settings it will gain up the signal (and any noise) much more than other pedals.
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby S.Crow » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:34 am

Thanks CS70, that's useful to know.
I'm going to give it the "Wonks Test" this morning. :)
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby Wonks » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:41 am

CS70 is wrong here, a distortion pedal does add gain. :headbang:
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby CS70 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:59 am

I remember hearing Keeley talk about how the point of many distortion pedals is that you could reshape the signal without boosting it.

I haven't seen all the distortion pedals in existence and I hear there are a few but I will leave you to your certainties ;-)
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby Wonks » Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:31 am

Lets start with Keeley's own Filaments distortion.

https://robertkeeley.com/Keeley-Filamen ... Distortion

"Three stacked gain stages". Must be a misprint. "Tube amp high gain" Another misprint.

There may be some pedals that don't use gain to create a distorted signal; digital bit crushers for a start. But without any gain, you'll get a quiet fuzzy signal that doesn't add any sustain or increases feedback. Which is what 99% of distortion pedals do.

The Boss DS-1 in Boss's own words:

"In 1978, BOSS engineers changed all that by developing a unique distortion circuit for the DS-1 that produces tight, hard-edged gain with rich harmonics while retaining the unique characteristics of different guitars and playing techniques."

That 'gain' must be another typo.
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby CS70 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:43 am

Right, so according to you the only _way_ to distort a signal is to add gain. Ok. :lol:
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:52 am

I don't know of an analogue distortion or overdrive pedal that doesn't generate it's distortion (and overdrive is also distortion) by overdriving a component or group if components*. The resultant clipping may limit the output and thus the overall gain of the pedal.

* I'm sure there are but certainly the likes of the Big Muff use gain to drive the distortion circuit
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Re: Is the Big Muff a noisy pedal and is there a quieter fuzz that does a similar job?

Postby Wonks » Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:52 am

You obviously can't read, CS70. If you did, you might learn something.

Wampler pedals video on overdrive and distortion. Technical bit starts at around 12.10.

https://youtu.be/5iM6ZdDLRP8
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Re: Big Muff / Small Noise. :)

Postby S.Crow » Wed Apr 21, 2021 9:55 am

I tested this morning with a simple chain and got different results.

Big Muff (with MXR M239 ISO) – Vox MV50 Boutique – Headphones

The Muff is quieter than my drive and distortion pedals in this combo so at least I know it isn’t faulty.
I then put it into a Yamaha THR5 amp and it sounded fine there also.
Result. Thanks all. :thumbup:
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