Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi is a pedal that everybody is familiar with. No matter how long you’ve been involved with music industry, the chances are you’d encounter this particular unit quite often. It has changed history without exaggeration and made room for further, more innovative development. Throughout all this time it has been changing quite a lot, too, since modern times require whole different approaches. We’ve seen many models labelled as Big Muff and we’ve seen many copies as well. But since the brand tries to accommodate all of its customers, there’s no need for dupes (though we’d still be happy to encounter the same quality and character in other brands as well). Luckily, they decided to fill the bass market and came out with Nano Bass Big Muff Pi. This wonderful unit is a real representation of everything Electro-Harmonix stands for. It captures the feel of the manufacturer perfectly and attempts to recreate it with bass guitars as well. This puppy is reasonably priced – though it isn’t cheap, it’s still rather affordable considering its rivals. It would be worth purchasing even for the sake of the name and the tradition it continues, but it has many features that turn it into one of the best bass distortion pedals out there. I think it’s time to get serious, dig into the specific details and grasp the potential of this one!
I’ll be honest with you – Electro-Harmonix Nano Bass Big Muff Pi isn’t the most versatile bass distortion pedal out there. Its value doesn’t stem from diversity or a wide array of options. Rather, its worth is determined by its character and the sonic outcome it is capable of creating. If you have ever played with any of the Big Muffs Pi units, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But as we continue this article and approach the sonic section, even those who haven’t had that chance will be able to grasp what I’m trying to imply. But before that, let’s see what this puppy has to offer.
This bad boy was based on two legendary Big Muff Pi pedals – one from Sovtek and the other one from Electro-Harmonix themselves. Nano Bass Big Muff Pi incorporates the best qualities of both and accommodates them to the peculiar nature of your bass guitar. It can thicken up your low-end as if it were a highly-saturated bar of fat. You can achieve a wide array of tones just by messing around with controls. And though it doesn’t offer 50 different types of distortion, it’s still versatile enough for our daily needs.
What’s more, Nano Bass Big Muff Pi is featured in a rugged, sturdy enclosure. There’s no way you’ll have any issues with its build quality, since this puppy is extremely durable. The design will tell you even from far away that you’re dealing with Electro-Harmonix. Their distinctive graphics and colors always easily recognizable. The connections are quite typical: we have a standard input and output, as well as 9V DC jack for your power supply.
One of the greatest virtues of Nano Bass Big Muff Pi is that it captures the simplicity of its predecessors and showcases the same attitude with bass guitar, as well. It will take you minutes to tweak with available controls and find the sounds that suit your music. In fact, almost all the settings are usable, but of course it’s up to your taste and style. No matter how subtle or extreme you want your distortion to be – this fella will give an option or two.
I usually like to discuss controls in order and follow their layout, but in this case I think it will be more understandable for you if I start with the Dry switch. Once activated, it starts to display your original signal and blend it with the affected one. The problem here is that you can’t really alter the volume of dry sound, which limits the functionality of this switch (it’s still amazing that we have this option, though). The first knob on the panel is Vol, which adjusts the level of distorted signal (regardless of the position of Dry switch). It’s followed by Sustain, which enhances the amount of sustain and distortion simultaneously. The last one is Tone, which accentuates high-end as you rotate it clockwise. Finally, we have a footswitch that activates or triggers true bypass.
The real question in the sound section would be: does Nano Bass Big Muff Pi replicate the sound of original Big Muff? It certainly does. It isn’t the exact replica, however, it does capture the feel that we’re all looking for. It features long sustains and heavy grit at higher settings just like its bigger brother. It’s capable of producing mild distortion as well, you simply have to take things slow and start with smaller steps. This way it will add a tiny bit of effect and, thus, make your bass sound richer. The extreme distortion sounds wonderful – exactly what you’d expect from a tiny version of Big Muff. This fella truly amplifies the qualities of bass and makes sure they stand out everywhere. Nano Bass Big Muff Pi benefits from its Dry switch a great deal. It allows you to blend original and affected signals, which is the main ingredient of distinctive bass distortion. But if you wanted to, you can always turn it off and rock with the effect on its own.
As a final roundup I would say that Electro-Harmonix Nano Bass Big Muff Pi is one of the best options in general. It is particularly suited for those who like the feel of the original but don’t want to pay boutique money. Apart from being affordable and powerful, it’s also compact and will find its place even on the overcrowded pedalboards. Its simplicity will make the tweaking process really enjoyable and the sounds will take you many different universes. Try it out, explore its features, settings and sounds and you’ll see why Big Muff is so renowned. Good luck!
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