I have literally hand-wired (meaning point-to-point, no proper circuit board, on perf-board) over 150 muff and muff-related pedals in the early days of Wren and Cuff, then many many more after getting proper PCB boards. Why I mention this is because as you might imagine, my ears have become very accustomed to the nuances and intricacies of these pedals.
I’ve spent many hours digging for some slight difference between a vintage pedal I love and one I’m building for one reason or another to be sure I could truly nail the sound. I’ve had my employees flat out saying, “Sorry man, I just can’t hear a difference”, then giving me the, man, this guy is crazy look. Why I mention this is to say that after all the muff type pedals built under my belt, The Tall Font Russian was the toughest pedal to nail.Why did I choose the Tall Font S****K version to recreate? After a conversation via email with an acquaintance who plays in a very successful band this quest began.In his words, after being asked about his affection for these pedals he said: “Yet to find anything close. And (after) hearing a lot of players, rarely do I like their distorted/fuzz sounds. I really think there is a reason the s****ks are so collectable. I prefer the first series green ones with the screws on the side. The series after this had them on the top. I don’t like the civil wars or any others besides the green ones. In a pinch, I’ll use a screws on the top one, but it has to be green.”
I was curious why he didn’t follow the standard, civil war muffs are the best Russian muffs belief. After some investigation I found that they’re very, very, similar in tone, parts, and values. Very close. But to me, the highs are more present and clear in the Tall Fonts resulting in an openness in the highs unique to this pedal. They’re generally not as dark sounding, which gives them a slight gritty edge not found in the war muffs. Some dislike this trait but to me there is a rudeness to them that sets the TF’s apart from the C-War.
As usual with our muff-type pedals, I found that transistor selection was very important. After removing the transistors from vintage units then testing the gains I found some inconsistencies between vintage units. After some obsessive listening tests I went with one particularly sweet sounding pedal and matched the gains as closely as possible using a mix of trannies. I also was surprised to find an important biasing resistor and a capacitor that were a much different value than stated on the components and schematic. Discovering this helped to find that sound I was looking for!
One of my favorite traits is a “boxy” quality to the sound that was the toughest thing to reproduce. Wish I had a better way to describe it, but “boxy” is what it is to my ears.
It almost sounded right, but I couldn’t get a certain growl I heard on the vintage pedal and the boxy thing still wasn’t quite right..Finally, I tested the pots and found the actual vs. stated pot values were over 30% “off” in some cases. IMO this inconsistancy is partly responsible for one unit sounding particularly sweet and another sounding so, so. In other words, those absolutely crappy pots created a happy accident. After custom tweaking those pots, I realized that this was one of the things responsible for keeping the low-mid range from getting to mucky and is also a factor in the more over-drive type quality these Russians can produce. I found the growl! The kooky valuesfound can’t be purchased as such so we have to mod each pedal’s pots ourselves to get the desired values.As far as I know, we’re the only company that goes as far as to modify the pots for a S****k clone.
This boxy-growl also helps make them particularly great on bass, and fantastic for raunchy, less friendly guitar tones ala The Black Keys, White Stripes, Mars Volta, and many others seeking a nasty F-You snarl (not saying the afore mentioned bands use these exact pedals, just using their tones as a reference). With many other desirable muffers (and our Tri Pie 70’) the goal is warm, smooth and buttery, but the TFR has a different goal in mind. There is a growl and raunchy yet truly musical sound produced by these ugly green beasts. The lows have an overdrivey compression that keeps things tight, and the highs have a rich upper-harmonic thing going on that’ll make one understand the affection some have for this pedal. The mids have the standard muff-scoop but it is not as pronounced as some of the other generations. Add to that a less gainy/fuzzy tone overall and you end up with a unique muff with a character all its own. Good stuff.
Sadly, my quest for this tone resulted in a couple of butchered vintage pedals, but the end result was worth it.
The bummer about the vintage Tall Fonts? Cheap, cheap, cheap plastic jacks mounted to the circuit-board that beg to be given a hard knock resulting in a cracked circuit board. Equally cheap pots (knobs you turn) that feel flimsy, break easily, and barely hold the knobs in place making it rare to find one with all three original knobs. Non-true bypass tone-suck, no power supply jack, huge footprint, and heavy as hell round off the list of negatives the originals carried.
In short, they could be a big pain in the ass.
So pickup your Tall Font Russian and get all the positives and none of the negatives!
Wren and Cuff J Mascis Garbage Face Signature Pedal
Wren and Cuff Garbage Face J Mascis signature pedal.
A bonafide guitar legend by any standard, his band, Dinosaur Jr., toured with and influenced many of the bands that defined the 90’s. Bands like Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Mudhoney, and too many others to count. Ask nearly any punk or grunge band from that era (and most today) if they’ve heard of J Mascis and you’ll get a look like you’re a fool for even having to ask. His association with the Big Muff is well documented as one of the main building blocks of the Dinosaur Jr. sound. So it is understandable that the muff experts at Wren and Cuff would be the ones calling when the idea for a signature pedal came about.
After more than 2 years in the making, that pedal is finally here. A part-by-part recreation of J’s number one muff since 1987, a 70’s EHX Ram’s Head, which is not just any Ram’s Head. J’s pedal is an odd bird with parts values that are “incorrect” and component values that have drifted far from their original values during its 50 year journey. On the other side of the pedal, a replication of his favorite germanium treble booster that J uses to slam the input of said muffer. And nestled in between the two is a wonderfully simple but incredibly useful tool... A second volume knob with a footswitch to let you bounce between two muff outputs!
• Faithful recreation of J Mascis’ favorite muffer
Back by popular demand, the simple, no frills bass booster that has become a sought after treasure in the bass community.
These are being made to order, and are available only through our custom shop, so please allow 7-10 days for delivery.
Hand sorted germanium transistor
True hard-wire bypass
9V battery or 2.1mm adapter
Made in the USA
You may be thinking, “Oh no, not another clean booster…”. If that is your thought right now, I don’t blame you. If you’re a stompbox junkie you probably know that there is no shortage of signal boosters out there. So what makes the Phat Phuk Bass Booster different? Well, a few things:
This booster is made specifically for the bass guitar. It was designed to accommodate tunings down to a five string’s typical low B and can be used for even lower tunings.
This booster was not made to be “transparent”. It’s not a JFET or MOSFET based booster. There are many fine boosters out there that are designed to be “transparent.” If that’s what you’re after, the Phat Phuk may not be for you. A JFET is used in the Phat Phuk however, more on that below.
The Phat Phuk is not a clone of any other pedal.
The Phat Phuk is a JFET/germanium single circuit hybrid booster. There is a double booster I know of with two independent boosts, one being a germanium, one JFET based. It’s actually a very fine pedal. Perhaps there is another single circuit JFET-germ booster out there, but I’m not aware of it.
Pink Sparkle Paint with a solid pink base coat. Then a durable clear-pink sparkle top-coat. The base coat and top-coat give a deep gorgeous finish. You gotta be a confident man to have a pink pedal, or a girl who happens to like the color pink.
Here’s what the Phat Phuk is:
A germanium/JFET booster. A unique sounding pedal which adds a beautiful sheen to your bass’ top end and a bit of grit to the overall tone. It’s a fantastic pedal for situations where you want a lift in your overall level, during a chorus or bridge for example, with a bit of bawdy bump via the germanium transistor.
One nice feature is also the more modern JFET transistor at the input which keeps the pedal impedance-friendly when it comes to active bass pickups. This helps the Phat Phuk to remain consistent whether you put a P-Bass in front of it, or a Warwick Thumb. Another recommended use: As a simple preamp when going direct into your DAW. Helps to de-sterilize your bass’s direct tone and add a little life before the signal is converted to ones and zeros.
Something else that was considered when creating the Phat Phuk B. Many clean-boosts offer way too much boost in my opinion. In any normal playing situation, including intentionally slamming the front end of a tube amp to induce the amp’s natural overdrive, one really only needs a hefty thump to get the job done. There’s nothing wrong with having a large amount of volume on tap, but a problem that can sometimes occur is a lack of ability to fine tune the amount of boost you want. When the sweep of the knob goes from zero to melt-down with one turn of the knob, it gets tough to really dial in a precise amount of boost. Also a slight bump of the boost knob (with a foot or nervous “live show” jitters) can send things out of control. I know because its happened to me. Went for the big chorus during a song, hit the clean boost (not mine, this was long before Wren and Cuff existed) and tore the heads off the people in the front, pissed off the sound man, and pretty much ruined that song. Therefore, the volume sweep was reduced with the Phatty. You still get a big gob of gain, and probably won’t ever need to run the pedal “at 11″, but the trade -off is worth the extra control. Just an example of what Wren and Cuff prides itself on: pedals that sound superior, look beautiful, can take a beating, and are made with the “real world” player in mind.
In other words: A meticulous attention to detail.
Give the Phat Phuk a try! It’s beauty is in it’s simplicity, but you’ll be surprised how often it’s on!
Check out the demo vid, but please know that it is 8 years old! The quality isn't the best, but the info is still 100% accurate.
TRULY SMASHING TONES FROM A UNIQUE ERA IN MUFF HISTORY
True hard-wire bypass
9V battery or 2.1mm adapter
Made in the USA
Talking shop about Muff-style fuzz with any guitar player that knows his or her stuff is a relatively straightforward conversation. Aside from the myriad of variants, the talk usually evolves into transistors and who used which variant.
There was a curious time in Muff history, when the circuit designed changed drastically. That time was 1978, when the transistors inside were scrapped in favor of operational amplifiers, otherwise known as op-amps, which are integrated circuits, or ICs. This particular variant was only manufactured for around two years, and as such, only a few thousand ever made it out of NYC alive.
Fast forward to 2014, and the Muff masters at Wren and Cuff have crafted the definitive version of the non-transistorized fuzzbox. They call it the Eye See Pi.
Apart from the lack of transistors, the Eye See Pi features a drastically different clipping section for a monstrously woolly sound, such as the one popularized by Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins on Siamese Dream. As expected, the sound of the Eye See Pi is different from a standard Muff circuit. While most vintage muffs are a little “sweeter” sounding, the Eye See Pi is certainly crunchier and more ballsy than a standard Muff.
In 1978, a switch was added to the back of the original, and the Eye See Pi includes this switch as well. The control is labeled as “Tone Bypass” on both old and new pedals. Essentially, it removes the passive tone stack from the circuit for a volume boost and a significantly more raw and open sound. Of course, this switch renders the tone control useless, but we’re guessing that in this mode, you won’t miss it—this switch is just too cool.
If you’re looking for a largely-untamed IC-based fuzz and distortion machine, with the ability to adapt to most genres of music under the sun, look no further than the Eye See Pi.
Wren and Cuff Eye See Pi Features:
Authentic recreation of the 1978 IC Big Muff from the masters of the circuit, Wren and Cuff