There have been so many trends in music electronics that if I started counting them on my fingers, I would need the help of my toes and several other people. Some of them were quite nonsensical, but the majority were concentrated on tailoring the devices to the preferences of the guitarists. That is exactly what gave birth to the Electro-Harmonix Nano Big Muff Pi. The legendary original – a fuzz pedal that has probably travelled through most of the renowned rigs and recordings – has deserved its fair share of appraisal. Its tone has captivated the hearts of prominent musicians. But it has one downside – the size. As much as it is powerful, it has huge chassis that will not fit on the majority of pedalboards. But luckily, Electro-Harmonix were generous enough to create the mini version of the original. Somehow they managed to shove all the qualities of that legendary tone into a smaller shell and delivered Nano Big Muff Pi. If you are someone who abstained from purchasing the big ol’ Muff but always wanted to taste its sound, then you have to stay with me and get to know this tiny beast.
Even though nano pedals are sometimes hard to take seriously, Nano Big Muff Pi will force you to set everything else aside and concentrate all your energy on this tiny pedal. If you have listened to or played around with the original, you will know the drill. But those who are new to effects, might not know how much power is hidden in the small enclosure. Nano Big Muff Pi has that unique design that is configured in red, white and black color palette. Everything about its exterior is sleek and distinctive, juicing up the pedalboard quite a bit. The circuitry is exactly the same as Big Muff Pi, EHX has just shrunken its size. I still have no idea how they succeeded at that but they did. Surprisingly, Nano Big Muff Pi can be powered with batteries (which is not the case with the majority of nano pedals) and power supply. This means that you could still jam with this fella even if the world did not have any power sources left. The build quality of this unit is quite impressive, meaning that it will stick with you for a long time. More importantly, it has a true bypass circuitry, so that you will not have to worry about that nagging hiss developing in your chain. Nano Big Muff Pi (just like every pedal on the market) has input and output jacks that connect it with the rest of the chain. As you can see, the main focus here is the versatility delivered through simplicity.
The pattern of lucidity continues in the control section as well. Replicating the Big Muff Pi, the nano version has the same package of knobs. Three black encoders are mounted on the white surface on top of the pedal, making it easier to see what is going on in terms of settings. They provide you with precision that is so essential for refining your sound to perfection. In order to grasp the full potential of the pedal, you have to understand the functionalities of each knob. And that is why I am here.
The control panel starts with the Vol knob, which sets the level of the output and, thus, intensifies the distortion. The higher settings you employ, the richer and heavier the effect will be. Next we have the Sustain, the sweetest and most wonderful knob of all. This tiny control modifies the amount of sustain and distortion, making sure that your gnarly notes are everlasting. The ability to mess around with sustain is what adds that unique flavor to the character of this pedal. Let’s not forget the Tone, which determines the nature of your sound. You can either accentuate the treble and play around with brightness, or you could enhance the bass response and make your distortion more distinctive. And, of course, we have a footswitch that activates the pedal or puts it in true bypass mode.
The sound of Nano Big Muff Pi is why I rambled for so long in the first place. All of the efforts from Electro-Harmonix would have simply been in vain if they had not been able to incorporate that legendary tone into the small circuit of this version. Luckily, they managed to create something that sounds exactly the same as our beloved Big Muff Pi. This tiny apparatus can produce mind-blowing distortion that has that soul-pleasing fuzzy nature. Its sustain is unbelievable and allows you to dive into those soaring leads. Both high and low frequencies are well-defined and distinctive, adding extra character to the mix. Nano Big Muff Pi truly breaks the rules of nature and takes you to parallel universe of distortion. It might have some noise at maximum settings, but such hiss is natural with powerful distortion pedals. You can simply throw in a noise-gate and you will be good to go. If you want to rock any stage and captivate the crowd with ambience, then you cannot find a better choice than Nano Big Muff Pi.
What could be better than your favorite pedal in a smaller size? I guess nothing at all. Once you fall in love with certain type of sounds and find that perfect feel you had been looking for, it is hard to switch the pedal completely and move on to something else. That is why it always brings joy when brands decide to reincarnate legendary tones in a more convenient package. Nano Big Muff Pi is the best example of that. It packs the beloved punch and delivers jaw-dropping performance no matter what. If you do not like fuzzy distortion than you might want to pass on this one. But if you are keen on such gnarly sounds, there is no way you will not like this pedal. Good luck!
Click here to view more from 10 Best Distortion Pedals.