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David Gilmour and the Pink Floyd Big Muffs

Gilmour Touring Big Muff

Article written in 2010

THE DAVID GILMOUR / PINK FLOYD BIG MUFF PI DISTORTION SUSTAINERS - In the long list of great rock and roll guitarists associated with the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour is one of the most well known and accomplished users. A 1970s V2 "Ram's Head" model seems to be the version he preferred to use the most, both in Pink Floyd, and for his first solo album. A Big Muff was prominently used on Pink Floyd's The Wall double album, including the legendary Comfortably Numb solos, as well as the massive and aggressive Big Muff tones heard on the 1977 In the Flesh tour for the Animals album. David's long time backline tech, Phil Taylor, said he introduced David to the Big Muff in 1974, although I do not believe David started using one regularly until around 1975 or '76. After that, the Big Muff appeared on many notable Pink Floyd / David Gilmour works:

1976-77 - Animals album and In The Flesh tour

1978 - David Gilmour's first solo record, David Gilmour

1979-81 - The Wall studio recordings and live performances

1983 - The Final Cut studio recordings

1987-1988 - the Momentary Lapse of Reason studio recordings and 1987-88 tour

1988 Delicate Sound of Thunder live album

1994 - The Division Bell tour

1994 - Pulse live album

2001-02 - the Meltdown concerts

2006 - the On an Island tour

2015/2016 - the Rattle that Lock tour

*1980s - early 1990s - It is possible that some of Gilmour's guest solos on other artists songs from this period featured a Big Muff, but he mostly used a Boss HM-2+Mesa/Boogie amp or a ProCo Rat in this period.

Note - for a very thorough and comprehensive guide to all of the gear David Gilmour used in these periods, look no further than Gilmourish.Com. Also check out the wonderful Tone From Heaven website for a comprehensive look at David's gear from the Division Bell-Pulse era, On an Island, and David's custom Pete Cornish effects rigs.

David Gilmour Big Muff Sound Clips - Above is a video showing various ways to use a Big Muff for David's 1977 Animals tones and below is a selection of various Gilmour solos using the Big Muff Pi, in this order: Dogs solo live from Oakland California, Dogs solo from Animals studio album (both 1977), Mother solo, Young Lust solo, and Comfortably Numb solo (all from The Wall 1977), Final Cut solo and Fletcher Memorial Home solo (from The Final Cut in 1983), On an Island second solo (this may actually be a Tube Driver) and the intro to Sorrow (from A Momentary Lapse of Reason in 1987).

mp3 David Gilmour Big Muff Pi Solo Selections 3.9MB


David Gilmour Big Muff Pi David Gilmour Big Muff Pi DG Muff

Shown above - A stock Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi from 1974 (left), and one of David Gilmour's 1970s Big Muffs (right)

Dg Ram's Head

Shown above - David Gilmour's 2015 rehearsal pedal board with his first Big Muff from 1974, with DG ORIGINAL label on top. The red LED is an after-market mod.

THE "DG ORIGINAL" BIG MUFF - According to Phil Taylor, that very first Big Muff Pi he gave to David "has often been preferred for most things" over others David owned. This original unit was likely David's main recording fuzz box from 1976-1983. It is often seen with the label DG ORIGINAL on top. In 1974 or 1975 Phil purchased another 1974 Big Muff for David to use on tour. It did not sound exactly the same as the original and Phil became aware that the component values of Big Muffs were not consistent from unit to unit. That is a well known fact to Big Muff collectors today, and one reason why they became so collectible, but was a frustrating problem for a musician needing a backup Big Muff. Trying to find two that sounded identical was a challenge, and thus Phil had the second one modified to sound the same as the first.

Animals Rehearsal Board

THE PETE CORNISH BIG MUFF MODIFICATIONS - In 1976 effects rig legend Pete Cornish created a new pedal board for David to use on tour, shown above in a photo from the Animals song book that was taken during London rehearsals for the In the Flesh tour in late 1976. Pete was asked to modify the Big Muff David wanted to take on tour to get it up to modern standards. He replaced the potentiometers and foot switch with higher quality parts and and added a buffer to make it compatible with the routing system he designed and built into the pedal board. This Big Muff is the one shown in the photo above. If you look closely, you can the extra screw on top that holds the buffer in place inside the pedal, and a black foot switch, rather than the standard silver one. That Big Muff was used on Pink Floyd's 1977 tour and the 1987-88 tour. It can be heard all over the Pink Floyd live album The Delicate Sound of Thunder. I believe this is also the DG ORIGINAl Big Muff, as it has the same knobs and after-market black foot switch as it did later in 2006 when the DG ORIGINAL label was added to the top.

I introduced David to the Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi in 1974. He liked it, and he has continued to use one ever since. David has tried many of the different incarnations and models over the years, but his original has often been preferred for most things. Finding another that sounds the same is not easy, I have even placed six in a row that externally appeared to be identical to his original, and they all sounded different. Often, when you look inside, some components and values are different... - Phil Taylor. Guitar Player, January 2009

You will note that this Big Muff features unique skirted knobs, similar to the type of knobs used on the old Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face pedals. EHX used at least 10 different knob types on the V2 Big Muffs, but never this type of knob. Pete replaced the stock potentiometers with higher quality pots, but these new pots had round shafts. The original E-H knobs fit D-shaped shafts, so they could not be used. Pete was using Fuzz Face knobs with round shaft holes and grub screws in his effects rigs at the time, so David's Big Muff was fitted with those. These same knobs can be seen in Brian May's Queen gear, and various other pedal boards Pete Cornish built for other guitarists at the time.

I asked Pete Cornish if he thought the Big Muff he modified in 1976, and used on the 1977 tour, was the same one that David used for the 1987-88 tour, and he thought it was. However, he has made the same modifications to several Electro-Harmonix Big Muffs for David Gilmour. These are two that I know of:

• David's original 1974 Big Muff, first seen on Pink Floyd's 1977 and 1987-1988 tours, at the Bray studio rehearsals for his 2006 On and Island tour, and used for the 2015/2016 Rattle That Lock tour - identified by the Fuzz Face style knobs, rivet one top to hold the buffer inside, black footswitch, and DG ORIGINAL label on top. When it was seen in 2015 a red LED was added, and the black footswitch was replaced with a silver one.

• The Big Muff displayed at Pink Floyd's Their Mortal Remains exhibition in 2017, identified by the Fuzz Face style knobs, rivet one top to hold the buffer inside, standard footswitch, and no LED.

David Gilmour Ram's Head Big Muff

Shown above (left) David Gilmour's Big Muff and Electric Mistress from the 1977 In The Flesh/Animals tour board
(middle) The same Big Muff used for his 1986-88 rig. (right) I believe this is the same Big Muff (with DG ORIGINAL
label), on top of his tour pedal board seen at the Bray Studios rehearsal in 2006, along with a Triangle Big Muff. Note
that the Big Muffs in all of these photos have the same Fuzz Face knobs and same after-market black footswitch.
The extra screws on top (circled) are to mount the pcb of the Pete Cornish buffer built into the pedals.

Shown above - A Ram's Head Big Muff on David Gilmour's 1984 pedal board.

DG Muff Knobs...DG '86 Muff...

Shown above, left to right - The Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face style, skirted grub screw knobs seen on the Pete Cornish modified Big Muffs are replacements added by Pete when he replaced the pots in Gilmour's Big Muffs. They were also used on Pete's custom pedal boards from the late 1970s. The middle photo is another Pete Cornish pedal board from this time with the same knobs (thanks to Rafal and Pete for verifying the knobs)

DG Big Muff

Shown above - David Gilmour's 2015 tour pedal board with his original 1974 Big Muff, labeled DG ORIGINAL

DG Big Muff

Shown above (left) A Ram's Head Big Muff in Gilmour's Farmhouse Studio in Sussex in 2015 and David's original Ram's Head (with DG ORIGINAL label)
(right) A Big Muff seen in Gilmour's Hove studio in 2017

Shown above (left) David Gilmour's 2016 tour pedal board with his original 1974 Big Muff, with red LED added and DG ORIGINAL label.
(right) Another Cornish modified Big Muff displayed at Pink Floyd's Their Mortal Remains exhibition in 2017.


GILMOUR'S TRIANGLE BIG MUFFS - David owns several V1 "Triangle" Big Muffs, and used a Triangle Big Muff for his 2006 On An Island tour. It was mounted on top of his pedalboard and used for the funky middle section of Echoes, heard on the Remember That Night and Live in Gdnask concert videos. This first version of the Big Muff got its nickname from the triangular layout of the control knobs. It is unknown if David has ever recorded in the studio with a one, but a Triangle with an LED added was seen on a testing pedal board in 2011, and a different one in his Medina studio in 2017.

Shown above - David Gilmour's 2006 tour pedal board with Triangle Big Muff on top, and a testing pedal board in 2011

Shown above - A Ram's Head Big Muff and Triangle Big Muff from David's Medina studio in 2017


THE BIG MUFF CIRCUIT - Phil Taylor purchased several other V1 and V2 Big Muffs for David Gilmour throughout the late 1970s. Each had varying versions of the circuit inside, resulting in them sounding slightly different from each other. Even though the topology of the circuit pathways (those silver lines you see on the back of the circuit boards) were exactly the same on all Big Muffs, it is the electrical values and type of components used that defines the sound. Why were there so many different variations of the circuit, you may ask? Well, Electro-Harmonix bought circuit components like capacitors and resistors in bulk to get the best prices. Often the availability of components with a specific electrical value from one bulk purchase to the next were different, so the componenst with the clostest value to the one neede were bought instead. To accommodate this, they would simply revise the schematic to work with components EHX had on hand. For example, if 470pF capacitors used in the gain stages were not currently available, but 430pF were, those would be used as a substitute for the next production run.

This resulted in numerous versions of the circuit - over a dozen variants for the V1 Triangle Big Muff and nearly twenty for the V2 Ram's Head. Hundreds to thousands of each circuit variant were made. Some sounded only marginally different from the others, but several of these sounded significantly unique. Most of those 1970s Big Muffs sounded very different from the modern Big Muffs in production today. So which circuit was in David's #1 Big Muff? There at least five Ram's Head variants in 1973, and four in 1974, so we can't know that without actually seeing the circuit. Unless Phil Tayor (author of the Black Strat book) decides to make a comprehensive David Gilmour gear book some day, we may never know.

Shown above - selection of 1973-74 Big Muff circuits showing the wide variety of component types and values used, making them sound different from one another.

Suffice it to say, those 1970s Big Muffs came in a very wide variety of sounds. Although all had a distinct character that identified them as Big Muffs, the sound of those variants ranged from clear or muddy, fuzzy or crunchy, high gain or low gain, deeply scooped or moderately scooped mid range, chunky bottom end, or fat, thundery lows. Out of the many Ram's Head Big Muffs I have played, one of the few that really stands out among the others to me, and one that sounds exceptionally Gilmourish, is the Violet Big Muff circuit, manufactured around 1973-1975. It was a very common circuit variant from that period, with the typical huge, dark V2 sound, crunch, and grit, but it also had a clarity unlike many typical Ram's Heads and a tight low end. The Electro-Harmonix Ram's Head Big Muff reissue from 2019 was based on this circuit. A vintage 1973 violet from my collection was dissected and measured by EHX. That involved carefully de soldering and removing the capacitors, resistors, and transistors from the circuit board and measuring the electrical values. Many of the components ended up measuring very differently from the printed values. The resulting replica sounded nearly identical to my original, and I highly recommend it for Gilmour tones.

The EHX Ram's Head Big Muff (2019) is a faithful reissue of a 1973 "violet" Ram's Head circuit,
which is likely similar to the circuit in David Gilmour's original Ram's Head

Another Big Muff circuit variant from the 1973 period, one I simply call the '73 Ram's Head or the Brick Muff, also reminds me of some of the more aggressive Big Muff tones I hear on the Animals tour and The Wall. However, the most accurate sounding 1973 variant I have played is an earlier one (schematic shown below) that sounds the closest in my rig to Gilmour's The Wall and The Final Cut tones. I have seen this exact circuit in the standard Ram's Head enclosure, as well as the circle face (all red color, all black, or all blue) logo version. It was also used in the Marveltone Distortion Sustainer, an OEM version of the V2 Big Muff made by EHX for Targ & Dinner in the mid 1970s. I have owned several of them, and each sounded relatively the same. The primary difference between this variant and the "violet" circuit variant is that all of the collector resistors and the limiting resistors are 10k. Nearly all the other values are identical to the violet circuit. It did appear in some Big Muffs with the violet or blue ink, so technically it can be called a "violet". It also sounds very close to the Pete Cornish P-1, a custom made Big Muff.

Even if I am right about that, going by the printed component values alone will not get you an exact copy of what David's original sounded like. Many of the critical components from 1973 were often out of the specified tolerance to begin with, and as the parts aged over the years, those values changed even more. For example, nearly all the 470k resistors in my unit actually measure closer to 540-550k, and the 470pF capacitors measure closer to 560pF. Many of the small value resistors measure 1-2k higher than the printed value, et cetera. All those differences are enough to alter the sound compared to the sound of a replica made using the schematic values alone. Without measuring each component in David's actual Big Muff, it is just a guessing game.

............Mistress Mystery Page. .... . .

THE PETE CORNISH PRECISION FUZZ P-1 - David has occasionally used Big Muffs custom made by Pete Cornish in his touring rigs. These have been referred to by various names, such as the Custom Fuzz, Precision Fuzz, Cornish Fuzz, P-Fuzz, or PC Big Muff. They were all essentially custom made versions of Big Muff circuits with Pete's improvements. He had some prior experience with the Big Muff before working with David Gilmour. In September 1973 he built a pedal board for King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp that included a Guild Foxey Lady fuzz pedal, which was simply a rebranded Triangle Big Muff made by Electro-Harmonix.

Before going into more detail, let's get this out of the way. There is a popular belief that David was a heavy user of Pete Cornish effect pedals. There indeed have been a few Cornish effects built into his live rigs throughout the years, but those were mostly used as backup pedals or alternatives. How much actual use they saw is debatable, but Phil Taylor said this in a reply to a poster on David Gilmour's website blog, circa 2008, who asked "which delivers the 'true' Floyd tone, the Pete Cornish P-2 or the newer G-2?".

Neither. David has almost never used Pete Cornish distortion pedals - a popular misconception. He has them in pedal boards, but only as alternates to his favorites, and as separate pedals. He has tried them (as he has many other makes: Rat, Boss HM2, etc.), but his choice is nearly always EH Big Muff, BK Butler Tube Driver, and, in the earlier days, a Fuzz Face or a Colorsound Overdriver - Phil Taylor

What I can say for a fact is that David did use a Cornish P-2 in his 1989 and 1990 Pink Floyd rigs, confirmed by the signal chain router visible in those concerts. It can be heard in both the Pink Floyd Live in Venice and Pink Floyd Live at Knebworth 1990 concert videos. David also used a Cornish G-1 for the 2005 Pink Floyd Live 8 reunion. He also used a Cornish P-1 briefly for his 2006 On and Island tour.

Likely the most well known of the Cornish custom fuzz pedals in the Gilmour world is his Precision Fuzz, or P-1 as it is known today. It was one of the first "boutique" custom made Big Muffs. Pete has given various accounts about when and how this originated. In a 1995 issue of Guitarist Magazine he said "March 7th, 1976 was when the very first drawings were done for the first board I built for Dave – that included a Cornish Custom Fuzz..." He has also said "The first version was called the Precision Fuzz and was unbuffered...The current P-1 is a buffered version of the original Precision Fuzz. Later after many mods and buffer additions for use a stand alone pedal it became the P-2. As these are gradual evolutions I don't have any specific dates."

Based on what other P-1 owners have told me Pete told them, he has given a variety of different accounts about how the Precision Fuzz originated, and a variety of dates - 1976, 1982, 1999, and 2007. He has stated the Custom Fuzz inside David's 1976 pedal board is the same as the P-1 sold today, and that the P-1 was "an exact clone of David's favorite Big Muff". He has also referred to the P-1 as his "original 1982 Precision Fuzz," and the P-1 "is my 1982 version of the pedal currently known as the P-2 following several tonal/gain changes over the succeeding years". Another time he said his "work on the Muffs was done in January 1999...and you can purchase one any time you like - it's called the P-1", which seems to contradict his other statements.

When I asked Pete about the origin of the 1976 custom fuzz/P-1 he gave me this account. Phil Taylor, David's backline tech, sent him seven Big Muff pedals of various makes and models. Each had a slightly different circuit inside, giving each a slightly different sound, as was common at the time. Out of this group, Pete said Phil asked him to select the one he (Pete) considered to be the best and to reproduce the sound for David. It was to have the following improvements: add power supply de-coupling, RF filtering, add unity gain buffers to the curcuit and bypass to maintain a constant high impedance signal load, improve the reliability, and reduce the PCB size, using the highest quality components that were available at the time. Pete then selected one that sounded best to him and created and new PCB layout, using the original component values, with all of his improvements. I have heard this same story relayed by Pete to other several other people I know, but he told one person it happened in 1999, and another that it happened in 2007.

Regardless of which story is the correct, true lineage, in 2006 Pete Cornish made a small run of the original Custom Fuzz/Precision Fuzz/P-1 in pedal form to sell to other musicians. It was simply labeled as "Custom Design" on the enclosure. Another short run was made in 2008 when it was renamed the P-1. Eventually the P-1 was added to the regular Cornish pedal line in 2013. It included a high quality double buffer and was built in a much sturdier enclosure than the stock Electro-Harmonix Big Muffs. Although Pete does not like to call what he makes "clones", the P-1 is very much a mid 1970s Big Muff circuit at its core, and a very good one. Having played the Cornish P-1for several years, I have found it to be remarkably similar in tone to some of my original 1973 era Violet Big Muff circuits, so I think the basic circuit component values are similar to one of those. The only notable difference is that the P-1 has significantly more gain on tap than any of my originals.

The EHX Ram's Head Big Muff reissue (2019) has a similar sound, as do many Big Muff replicas like the TopTone DG-1 (based on the Cornish P-2), Stomp Under Foot VRH (a violet Ram's Head clone), MJM Foxey Fuzz (a violet Ram's Head clone), Wren and Cuff Caprid, and Electric Orange Pig Hoof. The EHX Deluxe Big Muff (2014 model) can also be set to sound very similar to the P-1.


sdfsdfGilmour P-1

Shown above, left to right - A pedal version of the original Pete Cornish Custom Fuzz/Precision Fuzz. This one is owned by John Roscoe (, and labeled "Custom Design". It was the first pedal version of the Custom Fuzz, built in 2006, and offered for sale to the public later that year as the P-1 shown in the middle photo. The one in the rack on the right belongs to David Gilmour, used in the control room of his Medina studio. These Cornish pedals have a plain, industrial look, but they are perfect for the hard life of a touring musician's gear, where all that matters is sound and reliability.

As stated previously, a Pete Cornish Custom Fuzz/P-1 was built into the 1976 pedalboard Pete made for David. A photo from Pink Floyd's In the Flesh tour rehearsal taken in late 1976 shows David's 1974 original Big Muff pedal on top of that pedalboard. It did not have the DG ORIGINAL label at the time, but it had the same Fuzz Face knobs, same rivet on top, and same black foot switch as it had in 2006 when it was first seen with the label. It was connected to the send/return jacks, along with an Electro-Harmonix Electric Mistress flanger. Tour photos from January through March 1977 show the same Big Muff was used throughout the tour. How much the Cornish Custom Fuzz/P-1 built into the board was actually used by David for the tour is unclear. It may have simply been used as a backup to the real Big Muff. It is also possible that David used both for the tour, with different settings for each.

In late 1977 the Custom Fuzz/P-1 was removed from inside the pedal board and replaced with another real Big Muff circuit. Some people have assumed the DG original Big Muff used on top of the board was the same one later built into the board, but that is not correct. The touring Big Muff has been seen intact, in its original enclosure, repeatedly since 1977. Pete does not simply drop a pedal into his custom pedal boards and plug it in. He removes the circuit from the original enclosure and integrates it into his pedal board power supply, buffers, and switching system. Pots have to be desoldered, power section altered, et cetera. My guess is this replacement was another Big Muff from David's collection that was modified to match the sound of his original 1974 Big Muff, or simply another similar sounding stock Big Muff.

Gilmour live in '77 ... Gilmour live in '77 ... Gilmour live in '77 .. Gilmour live in '77

Shown above - Photos from January-March 1977 from Pink Floyd's Animals/ In the Flesh tour showing David's original "Ram's Head" Big Muff (right) and Electric Mistress (left) mounted on top of David's Cornish made pedal board during Pink Floyd's tour of Europe. These are the same Electo-Harmonix pedals seen in the London '76 rehearsal photo. The pedal board also included a built in Cornish Custom Fuzz (P-1) for a short period.

P-2 P-21994 pedal board

Shown above, left to right - Gilmours 1990 Knebworth pedal board with hand made Pete Cornish P-Fuzz (Precision Fuzz), a closeup of the P-Fuzz (simply labeled "Big Muff"), and the 1994 Division Bell rig with the P-Fuzz

Cornish P-1Pete Cornish P-2

Shown above, left to right - An early Pete Cornish P-Fuzz (Precision Fuzz), and later version re-named the P-2 Fuzz, and a modern P-2 in a slightly different enclosure. Offered for sale to the public, the two P-2 versions on the right included a built in double buffer and a larger enclosure. Pete considered this an improvement over his original 1976 Custom Fuzz

Even though the Cornish P-1 did not last long in David's 1977 pedal board, and seems to have been absent from Gilmour live rigs for close to 30 years, it made a return in the 2006 Cornish Mk2 board used for David's stellar On and Island tour, Documented in the Remember that Night DVD and Live in Gdansk CD and DVD. That said, I think David's primary pedal for that tour was the B. K. Butler Tube Driver, not the P-1.

THE PETE CORNISH PRECISION FUZZ P-2 - At some point after 1982 Pete created what he considered an improved version of the original Precision Fuzz, with an improved tone control, less mid range scoop, and thicker lows. It had a passive treble cut control, similar to an electric guitar tone control. This evolution of the Cornish custom Big Muff was called the P-Fuzz or Precision Fuzz in its early incarnations, and later renamed the P-2. It was housed in a small gray hammerite enclosure. David added one to his giant touring rig for the 1989 leg of the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, replacing the Ram's Head Big Muff. It was likely used for all the high gain solos, although there is no way to know for sure. Another version of the Precison Fuzz in a black enclosure replaced the gray one for David's 1990 Knebworth rig. It is documented that it was used for all the high gain solos in that concert. David blended the Precision Fuzz with the drive from a Mesa/Boogie Studio Preamp, which was used as an overdrive in his signal chain. It was used in a similar manner to how David later ran a Big Muff and Tube Driver together for a blend of the two sounds.

The black Precison Fuzz (P-2) appeared again for the Division Bell tour in 1994. Simply labeled as "Big Muff". The pedal was probably there as a backup for David's Sovtek Big Muff, as signal chains indicate it was not used for the main tour. It did not include Pete's buffer system, as David's custom pedal board already included the necessary buffers. An updated version was offered for sale to the public with Pete's dual buffer system around 2001, and is now simply known as the P-2. Around 1992 Pete also made one for Lou Reed.

THE PETE CORNISH G-2 - There was yet a third evolution of the Big Muff circuit created by Pete Cornish, the G-2 Fuzz. This version sounded very different from the P-1 and P-2, utilizing Pete's superb double buffer design and Germanium diodes, rather than Silicon found in most Big Muff circuits. Even though the circuit architecture is Muff-based and uses the same pcb as the P-2, I would not even classify it as a Big Muff sound. The component values are heavily modified, giving the G-2 more of a very unique overdrive-dirt pedal tone, with a very smooth and warm, amp-like distortion. It blends perfectly with a Tube Driver for many of David's Live 8 and 2006 tour lead tones.

The G-2 was in David Gilmour's effects boards from 2002 until around 2010, probably as an alternative to the Tube Driver. Phil Taylor has stated that most of the high gain guitar solos heard on the 2006 tour, documenetd in Gilmour's Remember That Nght and Live In Gdnask DVDs, were the Tube Driver. The P-1 was sometimes used for a few songs, like Comfortably Numb. I'm not sure the G-2 was used at all on that tour, but according to Pete Cornish, it was used for the Pink Floyd Live 8 reunion in 2005. The Live 8 solos could have been the Big Muff in David's Cornish board, but they sounded like the G-2+ Tube Driver combo to me.

For both the "Big" solo's, Money and Comfortably Numb, David Gilmour used the Pete Cornish G-2 as the main distortion, which was a departure from the Big Muff. Quite Frankly they were phenomenal tones on the Live 8 set. This incidentally was the same set up for the Strat Pack DVD - Pete Cornish

It is worth noting that each of these Cornish pedals originally included 'Fuzz' in the name, but after a debate began online about what constitutes a fuzz, muff, or distortion, Pete dropped the word fuzz and kept his simple alpha-numeric nomenclature as the name. Different people may have different opinions about what "fuzz" means, but these circuits are all simply different ways of amplifying and distorting a guitar signal.

G-2 FuzzCornish G-2

Shown above, left to right - An early Pete Cornish G-2 Fuzz, and a later G-2 version in a different enclosure with "fuzz" removed from the name


A CONFUSION OF MUFFS - Since Phil Taylor had a second Big Muff modified in 1974 or 1975 to sound exactly the same as David's original 1974 Ram's Head Big Muff, I assume that is the one that replaced the Cornish custom fuzz/P-1 in David's Cornish board in late 1977. I would also assume that the Cornish P-1/Custom Fuzz/Precision Fuzz sounds similar to David's original, but based on what Pete Cornish told me and others, that was not the case. However, according to Mike at AnalogMan, when he met with Phil Taylor in 2006 at one of Gilmour's On An Island concerts in New York, he got the straight scoop about David's Big Muffs. According to what Phil told Mike, the Cornish Custom Fuzz built into David's second pedal board sounded exactly like David's original 1974 Big Muff. According to an account I was told from someone who visited the Cornish shop, the schematic he was shown of the Big Muff circuit Pete Cornish traced for for the P-1 even has "David's favorite Muff" written on it. This begs the question - If the original custom fuzz sounded exactly like David's original, why was it replaced and why did David use one of his original Big Muffs on tour so often?

There are also several other Big Muffs used in David's later Cornish-made pedal boards - the revised 1978 Animals board, The Wall recording studio board, the small Wall touring boards, and the 2006 Cornish made Mk I all-tube buffered board. Each lists a Big Muff as a built in effect. These are usually labeled "Big Muff" in the effect chain lists from Pete Cornish and other sources, and labeled "Muff" on the pedal boards. The P-1 was originally labeled as a Custom Fuzz. We do not know if these were stock Big Muff circuits, or simply more circuits modified to sound exactly like David's original.

Any Big Muff at this time could have been modified to sound similar to another. It simply required using the same value resistors, capacitors, and similar diodes and transistors. Granted, the components had sloppy tolerances at the time, so to make an exact clone, each component needed to be measured to get the exact values, and use components of the exact same type. Even using the values marked on the components without measuring, one could get very close. Phil Taylor could have had any number of stock Big Muff circuits modified in this manner for David, all having his preferred sound.

Gilmour Cornish Wall BoardGilmour Cornish Wall Board...Gilmour Cornish Wall Board....

Shown above - The large Animals pedal board built by Pete Cornish to house and control David's pedals, modified for The Wall shows with a built in Big Muff. Note the "MUFF" label attached to the boards were sometimes used to describe the Pete Cornish custom fuzz pedals with circuits based on the Big Muff. We do not know if these were stock Big Muff circuits in these late 1977-1981 boards, or circuits modified to sound similar to David's preferred #1 Big Muff. Knob settings in the photos may not be David's actual settings, but if they are, and the pots are oriented in the standard position, these would be the settings:

Volume: 9:30 / 25%
Tone: 12:00 / 50%
Sustain: 4:00 / 90%

Gilmour Cornish Wall BoardGilmour Cornish Wall Board...

Shown above - The small front stage pedal board used for the second half of The Wall show, also with a built in Big Muff. Note the tick marks on the middle photo, used to set the knob positions for the shows. The low volume and sustain settings seem to indicate the pots may have been wired in reverse of standard, but the fact that the sustain and tone positions are reversed from where they are on the actual pedal makes it hard to determine where the zero true points would be. Since it is unlikely the volume pot was set at nearly ten, if wired in reverse, I surmise that the pots are all oriented 90 degrees counter clockwise in the board. This would also explain why Pete ran the name labels vertically on this board (they are oriented properly on the large Wall board shown above). This would make the knob settings:

Volume: 10:30 / 35%
Tone: 1:30 / 65% (treble left/bass right)
Sustain: 1:00 / 60%

Gilmour '87 Effects rig.....

Shown above - Bob Bradshaw photos of David Gilmour's 1987 touring rig with a Ram's Head Big Muff on the upper right of the pedal board. This is the same touring Big Muff seen on top of the Animals pedal board in 1977 (Thanks to John Roscoe, host of Tone From Heaven and Bob Bradshaw for the photo).


Shown above - Video captures of the touring Big Muff with black foot switch from a 1987 back stage tour crew film. Note the white tic marks indicating David's settings. The original EHX pots (potentiometers) and knobs were aligned differently from each other, and the tone pot was wired in reverse of modern Big Muffs. Pete Cornish aligned and wired all of the pots in the same modern orientation when he replaced them, so below are the actual 1987 settings for the Momentary Lapse of Reason tour.

Volume: 10:30 / 35%
Tone: 1:00 / 60% (treble left, bass right).
Sustain: 10:30 / 35%


Note that the sustain is relatively low on the Big Muff, and using the muff alone will not get you very close to some of the high gain lead tones heard on the tour. That is because David often blended the Big Muff with an overdrive to smooth out and EQ the tone, as well as using a Boss GE-7 to fine tune the EQ of the Muff. For this tour he used a TC Electronic Booster + Line Driver & Distortion (BLD) and a Mesa/Boogie rack head to blend with his high gain distortions, like the Muff. The gear and settings above are what I use to replicate those tones with the Big Muff.

.. Astoria Big Muff...OAI Triangle Big Muff

Shown above - The photo on the left is from the 1988 Pink Floyd tour, showing the DG original Ram's Head. In the middle is a blurry screen capture from of what appears to be a Ram's Head Big Muff, spotted on the floor of Davids Astoria floating recording studio during the On An Island recording sessions in 2006. To the right is another 2006 screen grab of David's Triangle Big Muff from the Remember That Night DVD.

Thanks to - Mike/Analogman, for relaying his conversation with Phil Taylor in 2006. Pete Cornish, for answering my many annoying questions! Bjørn Riis, for additional info and our many emails on this subject. Phil Taylor, for intruducing David to the Big Muff, eventually resulting in Comfortably Numb, which sparked my love of Pink Floyd, my addiction to everything Big Muff, without which the Big Muff Page and this website would never exist.









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