North Effects 22/7 Triangle



The History

Designed by Bob Myer as part of Electro-Harmonix bossman Mike Matthews’ quest to nail Hendrix’s almighty live sound, the Big Muff crashed onto the scene in late ’69. It marked a considerable step forward from E-H’s original Fuzz Face inspired Muff Fuzz and was one of the key designs to take The Fuzz boldly into the next decade. Indeed, if the Maestros/Tonebenders/Fuzz Faces of the sixties were hot rods straight out of the garage, the Big Muff was a roaring Detriot muscle car.

The Big Muff has remained in production in some form or other for practically all its life; bearing testament to this is its legion of influential users down the years - from D*vid G*lmour and Carlos Santana in the 70s to virtually everybody in the alt-rock/grunge explosion of the late 80s/early 90s up to Jack White and current pedalboard hero Dan Auerbach (again). Dinosaur Jr (probably my top ranked Muff manglers) even saw fit to give it a credit on a their first album.

The circuit topology has remained virtually constant (albeit with a brief foray into op-amp’s in the late 70s), but E-H were well known for making part substitutions depending on what they had on hand transistor/capacitor/resistor-wise. This may be perfectly understandable considering the availability of components back then, but means there’s a fairly wide tonal variation between units (even ones produced in a particular era). This can make buying vintage a risky proposition, and when building a clone it makes sense to base it on a good sounding unit rather than some idealised “definitive” schematic.

The Clone

Based on a 1970 "Triangle" (so called because of the triangular knob configuration), the clone is built to a high standard using heavy duty Neutrik jacks, Alpha pots and footswitch, 9V centre-negative DC jack, all wrapped up in a robust bare aluminium MXR-sized box. Matched NOS Fairchild 2N5133 transistors bring the mojo. Some swear blind that the Big Muff sounds better on batteries, so a zinc chloride PP3 comes installed - you be the judge. Switching is 100% true bypass, so it won’t sap your tone when off.

The Sound

The Triangle has been perhaps the most sought after of all the Muff variants and for good reason. The clone accurately captures the orginal's relative subtlety that makes for the most transparent and musical sounding of all Muffs. There's also more midrange to the Triangle which makes it work well in a band context and just fantastic for fat fuzzy rhythm playing. The Tone knob remains nice and usable right across the range without getting too muddy or too cutting at the extremes. Overall I'd say it's one hell of a creative tool - it's difficult to put down once you've started; recording the demo clips below turned into a very lengthy session. No Christmas cards from the neighbours this year...

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