Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

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Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby dlab » 30 Nov 2011, 23:11

I have one. I don't quite care for its sound right now and would love to make it stop sounding like crap.

Anyone have any favorite modifications / component replacements they'd like to share?

Obviously there's a ton of room in the enclosure so I was thinking about adding a clean blend and maybe momentary feedback switch too.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby azrael » 30 Nov 2011, 23:13

You'll have to be more specific about it. what makes it "sound like crap"?

Some of the Black Russians are very close to the Civil War Russians..
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby tonight, we ride » 01 Dec 2011, 00:01

The first two links resulting in a Google search for "Big Muff Mods" are a pretty good place to start:

http://rkerkhof.ruhosting.nl/Taas/Mods/Big%20Muff.htm

http://www.premierguitar.com/Magazine/Issue/2009/May/Electro_Harmonix_Russian_Big_Muff_Pi_Pedal_Mods.aspx

I've done the Creamy Dreamer mod to my Black Russian Big Muff. It's a combination of the Emitter Mod and the Resistor Mod, so i put each one on an individual switch. It made it louder, and creamier, but the thing is still a white wash of noise when trying to play amongst other instruments. Just my experience. What you're trying to do with the pedal will change what the best mod to it is.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby MrSparkle666 » 01 Dec 2011, 05:47

The Black Big muff is a great sounding circuit on it's own. If you think it sounds like "crap" then maybe you just don't like muffs. The biggest thing you can do to alter the sound is decrease the values of the two caps in the feedback loops that are in series with the diodes. You can also pull the first set of diodes to turn it into Colorsound SupaTonebender. This link will tell you everything you need to know.

http://www.kitrae.net/music/big_muff_guts.html

I've found it to be the most accurate and comprehensive description of what does what on the Bigmuff.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby culturejam » 01 Dec 2011, 15:33

I think the best mods are to make it true bypass and also to add a 9V power jack. Mine sounded good as it was, so I didn't muck around with the circuit.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby dlab » 01 Dec 2011, 15:56

Thanks all for the responses. Mine's already true-bypass (did they ever come like that standard?) I'm definitely going to add a jack, but I'm pretty certain I can figure that out without instructions :-)

As far as my particular problem with it, I find it's just entirely too muddy unless the tone is all the way up and then it's piercing my eardrums. Mr. Sparkle might be right - I don't particularly love Big Muffs. That said, I do happen to love a lot of the tones that Dan Auerbach gets on the Black Keys stuff, but I can't seem to make MY Muff do any of that.

But anyway, I'm not sure how much I $$$ I could realistically get for the pedal, so I figure might as well try to turn it into something that I have use for...
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby dlab » 01 Dec 2011, 16:06

MrSparkle666 wrote:The Black Big muff is a great sounding circuit on it's own. If you think it sounds like "crap" then maybe you just don't like muffs. The biggest thing you can do to alter the sound is decrease the values of the two caps in the feedback loops that are in series with the diodes. You can also pull the first set of diodes to turn it into Colorsound SupaTonebender. This link will tell you everything you need to know.

http://www.kitrae.net/music/big_muff_guts.html

I've found it to be the most accurate and comprehensive description of what does what on the Bigmuff.


When you say "first set of diodes," you mean D1 and D2 or D3 and D4?
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby RnFR » 01 Dec 2011, 18:16

I just totally reworked a buddy's black Russian. I got it done last night. it now is much gainier(doomy!), has more usable sounds, and just plain has more "character" than it did before- its a lot more fun!

the emitters of q2 and q3, I changed to 120R, with 22uF bypass caps. just solder them to the resistors. the resistors going to the base were changed to 15K. diodes were changed out for red LEDs, with a DPDT to add a parallel Si to each stage for an assymetrical mode. diode filter cap on q2-.047, q3-.47. Q4's emitter resistor is 500R, with a 470p cap from C to B. for the tone control, I used something similar to the pharaoh version, with a couple differences. .01 - 470K to gr, 20K pot(highs) - 1n2 to gr. the 50K pot adds way more usable tones than the pharoah, and there is less extreme mid scoop. the cap on q1 was changed from 470p to 680p. I might put this on a switch to go from 270p to 680p, because you could get some chunky metal tones with it lower. you can definitely get those black keys sounds with it higher, though. in and out caps changed to 10uF, all other coupling caps .22(would've used .47s, but I'm running low. I don't think it made much of a difference). 100uf filter cap. totally rewired, new switch, pots, jacks, knobs, true bypass. I think that's it. it definitely has more transistor distortion goin on, and doesn't sound as spongy and diodey as it did before. I definitely like it better, it sounds mean as hell! we'll just have to wait and see if my buddy is as impressed- he's using it for the first time at a show tonight! :lol:

this was my first muff modding experience. it was a lot of fun, I'm definitely going to try and come up with a more refined version sometime in the future.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby CHEEZOR » 01 Dec 2011, 19:10

Thanks MrSparkle666, Thats an awesome link that I hadn't come across before. :)

RnFR, do you think there is any possibility of a sound clip? I did some of the mods that were in that Premier Guitar article posted earlier. They were interesting, but I wasn't thrilled with the results. I have one of the American Big Muffs and I love it, but the Russian one has never been my thing I guess.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby tonight, we ride » 01 Dec 2011, 19:17

I'm seconding everything CHEEZOR is saying (Thanks for the link MrSparkle 666 and a request for a sound clip RnFR)! You guys are making me want to pull that thing off the shelf and give it an overhaul like... NOW! I have a special kind of A.D.D. where it's hard for me to focus on anything written after the word "Doomy." Instead of reading further, i just want to make it happen.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby RnFR » 01 Dec 2011, 19:20

I'll try and do a little something on my iPhone.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby RnFR » 01 Dec 2011, 20:29

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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby CHEEZOR » 01 Dec 2011, 20:51

Holy crap! That was quick! Thanks!!! It sounds really good! I might have to give those mods a try. :) I'll have to dig out my Black Russian sometime soon. :thumbsup
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby tonight, we ride » 01 Dec 2011, 21:04

Wow! Seriously... I was about to post a reply saying "no rush on the sound clip" but you beat me to it! Thanks a bunch RnFR! Gonna have to try this one for sure.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby tschrama » 01 Dec 2011, 21:46

The balck russian BMP was my first muff and it never did sound particular good to me. best mod I ever did was to put on on-off-on switch in place of the 9V DC input, and wire so I could choose betwen 1uF-47nF-100nF input cap. My black russian BMP also had high emittor resistors, limmiting gain. Bypass those with a wire or 100Ohm resistor, together with the 47nF input cap.. Great sounding muff 8)
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby RnFR » 01 Dec 2011, 21:49

no problem guys. I had to go down to the basement to get my laundry out of the dryer, anyway. I hope its doomy enough! :mrgreen:
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby azrael » 02 Dec 2011, 09:03

Not all Black Keys stuff is Green Muff, Dan also uses an Ibanez fuzz, and a Maestro.
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby dlab » 02 Dec 2011, 22:10

Thank you all for the input, have a lot to think about now... will update this thread (at this rate, in a couple of months) when I figure out what to do and finish it...
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby RnFR » 10 Dec 2011, 02:33

here is a link to the schematic for my mods-

http://apocalypseaudio.blogspot.com/201 ... s.html?m=0
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Re: Best Mods for a Black Russian Big Muff?

Postby andythewitt » 23 Apr 2012, 19:16

Reviving an old thread to say that I performed RnFR's mod on a friend's Black Russian Muff and I think it sounds fantastic. It makes me want to buy a muff PCB so I can build one from scratch. I haven't added any switches or modified the tone stack yet, but even with the original control the pedal seems to have more presence. The stock tone control still cuts mids but it doesn't seem as bad. I had previously installed a tone bypass switch, and with the bypass engaged it sounds massive. It's very thick sounding and the top end has an interesting character that I personally haven't experienced from another pedal. With the tone bypassed and the volume and sustain cranked, it actually starts to oscillate a little bit. I'd say it's pleasing, and it can be easily stopped by backing off the knobs a little or engaging the tone control.

I think I'll modify the tone stack after a show we have coming up this Thursday (it's definitely fun to have some impact on how my bandmates sound... I got so tired of his guitar disappearing whenever he stomped the stock pedal). I'm pretty sure he'll primarily use it with the tone bypassed. Adding a switch to toggle between different Q1 caps is a good idea, though I just have a 680p in place right now and it doesn't seem too flabby. I also tried asymmetrical clipping diodes and liked it, but probably not enough to permanently add a switch. I also want to try putting in diodes with higher clipping thresholds like green LED's, but the reds nail a pretty good tone here.

Thanks RnFR for putting this concept together and posting it. I had done some research on mods but this was the first thing I ran into that sounded exciting. I'm glad that I performed it. It was more desoldering than I had ever done, but it was worth it.
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