I guess every guitarist trying to nail Gilmour sound must have a real obsession for the big muff.
Let's see which muffs I used through time, with pros and cons.

Big Muff Pi NYC

This is the first muff I ever used and I got it in 2011. I think it is, in his own way, a good pedal. I used it for several years because at that time I was a student, so I couldn't afford almost any pedals. It has an excellent sustain, but it also has a "boomy" character and it's quite noisy, so you have to play well with the guitar volume to stay as clean as possible. For this reasons I never managed to boost it with an overdrive. The good thing is that is cheap compared to any other muff: you can find it used for around 50€. For that price is really an option and combined with a good modulation it can do its job.

TONY SAYS

It's not suggested unless you have a really tight budget, because it's really difficult to get Gilmour tones with this.

Big Muff Pi Sovtek "Black russian" V8

The price of this muff is raising, but it's still affordable. I got one in the early 2015 and I used it for a couple years (and I could still use it since I kept this even if I preferred other muffs over it).

I think this pedal is really close to the ram's head, but it has more mids and less sustain, so it's suitable for almost any era. It works good alone (ideal for "The wall" tones) but with a warm overdrive you can get close to "Delicate" and "PULSE" tones.

Here's a little demo:

TONY SAYS

It's really a good muff, even if probably you should consider some other muffs, such as Civil War or Green Russian clones, FOR smoother TONES.

Vick Audio 1973 Ram's Head

At one point I started thinking one of the tones I've always wanted to nail is of course "Comfortably numb" (hopefully I'm not the only one). I did some research on the web and that was also the moment when I discovered Gilmourish and his Big Muff Guide. I also found this shootout by Reverb.com

Clearly the choice was between these 3 clones: the Vick Audio brings you a faithful tone at an affordable price (less than 150€ in UK). It looks like there are many valid clones out there, like the Electronic Orange Pig Hoof

TONY SAYS

That's a MUST. One of the best clones of the Ram's Head, in my opinion. It's a reliable pedal at home and on stage.

PLUS: 1590B Enclosure (MXR Type)

Buffalo FX Patriot

The obvious step after nailing "The wall" distortion tones, is the PULSE/DELICATE quest: that smooth and fat and powerful sound that enchanted me since I first listened to PULSE. Since Gilmourish.com has always been my reference for Gilmour tones, I trusted Bjørn when he said the Patriot is the closest thing to the Civil War (that's written also on Buffalo-fx.com). Actually the Patriot gives you an incredible gain and volume which are awesome, but, in my opinion, make this pedal not much versatile. Finally I found a limiting factor in the output volume: I had to keep volume at 8:00 o'clock, so I the gap between no volume and too boost was too small (Steve suggested to change the default pot (100k) with a 250k, but doing so nothing changed).

TONY SAYS

Although this is an excellent Muff, it was too difficult to keep in pedalboard due to the volume issue.

Anyway I can say it doesn't sound like a Civil War: it's more like a boosted muff, and this can obviously be a pro, since you may be able to use it without adding any pedals like comp or drive.

PLUS: it has jacks on top and this pedal is so fat to stand on its own, it doesn't need a booster.

Earthquaker Devices Hoof Fuzz

As it happened for many pedals i tried, some one talked me about this pedal, but the occasion to try it came when I found a used Hoof.
Finding the right clone here was difficult and expensive, but I can tell for sure I really got close with the Hoof Fuzz

.

I no longer have this pedal, but I think I'll get another soon (probably the "cloven" version, which has a little more gain), after trying the last few pedals in my wishlist.

This pedal work perfectly alone, but it also blends better with a booster.

TONY SAYS

The SHIFT control, allows you to boost mids, so you can go from Electro Harmonix tones, to Sovtek with a lot of gain and mids (although it doesn't have the rough power of the Green Russian). PLUS:1590B Enclosure (MXR Type) and jacks on top

Wren & Cuff Caprid

I was focused into my Sovtek quest, but I saw an opportunity and I couldn't miss it.

I found this pedal used here in Italy and there aren't many, so I said to myself: "I really have to try this".

It seems the Caprid was the result of mixing all of the Ram's Head circuits (there were 4, they say).

It convinced me more than the Vick Audio, but I can say the choice wasn't that easy.

See my full review and comparison here.

TONY SAYS

It has a bit less gain than the Vick Audio, and when you keep a note and use the tremolo arm, you get that particular decay I always heard in the studio version of "Comfortably numb".

PLUS: The box recreation is awesome, it has even the on/off switch, and of course they added the 9V DC input jack.

Wren & Cuff Box of War

Being amazed by the Caprid led me to buy the one pedal that seemed the only true replica of the Civil War.

This is a really good pick if you're planning to recreate Gilmour tones with the same pedals chain: this pedal won't give you the PULSE tones of his own.
You'll have to combine it with other gear like Gilmour did:

  • The DG-20 pickups, which give you a mids boost (EXG 0, SPC 8)
  • Compressor, like the CS-3: don't believe every legend about CS-2!!
  • OD Boost (the most important): this could be the Tube driver, but also the TC Spark Boost and the Ibanez TS9 (and TS10 of course) can do the job!
  • EQ: always boost mids especially if you use fender amps
  • Chorus: the Boss CE-2W is an excellent choice

And if you want to be meticulous you can add a Rotary Simulator like the BOSS RT-20. This will boost mids and volume and will add another pinch of chorus.

See my FULL REVIEW of the Box of War.

TONY SAYS

With the right chain you can get to DELICATE/PULSE tones, but it's also suitable for other eras, especially "The wall", by using single coil pickups and opening the "Tone" knob a bit.

PLUS: jacks on top.

Electro-Harmonix Nano Bass Big Muff

I accidentally came across this video of JJ Tanis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WO6fjpJaNY, which is a comparison between a Bubble Font Big Muff and the Nano Bass Big Muff.

It seems Electro-Harmonix used the Green Russian as reference when creating the Bass Big Muff.

It convinced me more than the Vick Audio, but I can say the choice wasn't that easy.

This may be obvious, since the Sovtek pedals are always been loved from bass players, because of their smoothness.

I checked the Gilmour Bible (Gilmourish of course), where I found Bjorn confirms that the Bass Big Muff (not the nano) is incredibly close to the Green Sovtek.

I saw the price and I thought it was worth a try. And I'm not disappointed at all!!

I was amazed by this pedal because I have been able to recreate tones for all Gilmour eras!

I'm definitely going to keep this pedal!!

See my demo of the Nano Bass Big Muff HERE

TONY SAYS

It's really a good pedal at an incredible price (85,00 €)

PLUS: the mojo of a vintage pedal but the relaiability of a modern circuit give you a fantastic and dead quite pedal!

Mojo Hand FX Iron Bell

According to Kitrae HERE, this muff is a variant of the Skreddy P19.

They're both based on a Ram's Head Circuit, but they are modified: there's less mids scoop.

The Iron Bell also features a "COLOUR" control, which allows you to control the amount of mid frequencies in the signal.

See my demo of the Iron Bell HERE

This pedal is very versatile and allows you to cover different eras, in particular Animals/Wall/Gdansk/Division.

It's a wonderful pedal and it's in my main board at this time (april 2017).

TONY SAYS

It's not cheap but you can find some used for about 140€

PLUS: very quiet, very versatile