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Big Muffs, Fuzz Faces, Tube Drivers, Rats, and Pete Cornish Pedals - What are the differences in tone?

Fuzz Face. Ram's Head Big Muff. ProCo Rat. B.K. Butler Tube Driver. Pete Cornish P-1, P-2, and G-2 - David Gilmour has used each of these pedals for his high gain lead tones at various times in his career. How are they different? How are they similar? This is a simple comparison with sound clips to illustrate what each of them sound like. There are clips of each pedal alone, and paired with other effects the way David would have used them. When listening to the raw tones of each pedal through a clean amp, some do not sound that different from others becasue of the unique voice of the Hiwatt amp and speakers the tones are filtered through. You can hear the different sonic characteristics of each if you listen loud on a good sound system or with earphones. When combining these pedals with an overdrive, comp, or equalizer the way David did, it is very difficult to tell the Big Muffs, Cornish pedals, and Tube Drivers from one another - do a blind listening test and hear for yourself!

That just goes to show that any of these pedals can be used to good effect for Gilmour lead tones. It also begs the question - why did David use several different combinations of effects in the same live rigs that do not really sound that different from one another. I think the answer is because they each feel different when you play them. The way you play through a Tube Driver is different than the way you play through a Big Muff, for example. I have found that my pick attack is heavier or softer, and I use different pick and harmonic dynamics depending of how the fuzz or overdrive pedal I am playing through reacts. Depending on my mood and the sound of the room I am playing in, I may prefer one over the other. I don't think David is any different.

In order to hear the core tones of each clearly, I did not use any modulation effects (chrous, flanger, et cetera). I picked Gilmour's Time solo and Take A Breath solo to use for these examples because they cover a wide range of positions on the guitar neck. This was not an attempt to duplicate any studio recording or live tones, although many of these clips sound similar to Gilmour's 2006 and 2015/16 tour tones. All the effect settings and signal chains used are from David's 2006 tour, except the P-2, Rat, and Civil War Big Muff, which are from the 1994 Pink Floyd tour. All clips are recorded using a Stratocaster with Syeymour Duncan SSL-5 bridge pickup into a Reeves Custom 50 and a 4x12 Hi-Tone Eclipse speaker cabinet loaded with Hi-Tone Crescendo "A" and Celestion G12-75 speakers. NOTE - if you use a different amp and speakers than what I am using, you may not hear the same tones. The type of amp and speakers used makes up a huge part of the tone.

Fuzz Face - The Fuzz Face was one of the first fuzz pedals ever made. It most likely originated as a modification of a Colorsound Tonebender, which was itself an evolution of the Maestro Fuzztone circuit. David Gilmour used Fuzz Faces extensively from the time he joined Pink Floyd in 1968 and throughout the 1970s. His first was a Germanium based Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face, then changed to the Silicon version sometime in 1971. He stopped using them in the 1980s, but they can be heard all over the classic Pink Floyd albums like Meddle, Dark Side of The Moon, Wish You Were Here, and Pink Floyd:Live at Pompei. I have included clips here of an original silicon Fuzz Face and a few of my favorite modified Fuzz Face circuits - the Analogman Sunface, Phil Robinson Silicon Phuzz, and Skreddy Lunar Module.

mp3 Time solo with Silicon Phuzz > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Time solo with Skreddy Lunar Module > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Time solo with Analogman Sunface > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Fat Old Sun solo with Fuzz Face > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Take A Breath Solo - Fuzz Face and delay only

mp3 Muted Chords - Fuzz Face and delay only

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Fuzz Face > Future Factory Delay

 

EHX Ram's Head Big Muff - The Electro-Harmonix "Ram's Head" Big Muff is a fuzz/distortion pedal that David Gilmour used heavily on Pink Floyd's Animals, The Wall, and The Final Cut albums, as well as many live concerts. Gilmour's most famous solos using this pedal are in Comfortably Numb. Electro-Harmonix reissued the pedal in 2019.

mp3 Time solo with Ram's Head Big Muff > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Take A Breath Solo - 1973 Violet Ram's Head Big Muff and delay only

mp3 Muted Chords - Ram's Head Big Muff and delay only

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Tube Driver > Ram's Head Big Muff> Future Factory Delay

 

Sovtek Civil War/Green Russian Big Muff - The Sovtek "Civil War" Big Muff is a fuzz/distortion pedal that David Gilmour used heavily on Pink Floyd's 1994 Division Bell tour, captured in the Pulse Concert video and live album. It was also used on David's 2015/16 Rattle That Lock tour, and can be heard in the David Gilmour Live at Pompeii concert film. Electro-Harmonix reissued the pedal in 2017 as the Green Russian Big Muff, and in 2018 released a deluxe version called the Sovtek Deluxe Big Muff.

mp3 Time solo with EHX Green Russian Big Muff > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Time solo - Tube Driver > EHX Green Russian Big Muff > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Take A Breath Solo - EHX Civil War/Green Russian Big Muff and delay only

mp3 Muted Chords - EHX Civil War/Green Russian Big Muff and delay only

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Tube Driver > EHX Civil War/Green Russian Big Muff > Future Factory Delay

 

Pete Cornish P-1 - The P-1 is a rugged custom made version of the Ram's Head Big Muff circuit with a built in Cornish buffer. It was built into David's 1977 Cornish pedalboard, most likely as a backup for his Ram's Head Big Muff. It was also in his 2006 Cornish Mk2 pedlaboard, used for some performances of Comfortably Numb. Pete Cornish has been selling these by custom order since 2005.

mp3 Time solo with Cornish P-1 (sustain 1:00) > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Same as above but with sustain set to maximum

mp3 Take A Breath Solo - Cornish P-1 and delay only

mp3 Muted Chords - Cornish P-1 and delay only

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Cornish P-1 > Tube Driver > Future Factory Delay

 

Pete Cornish P-2 - The P-2 is a slightly different version of the P-1 with more mid range in the tone circuit. It was used on the 1989 leg of Pink Floyd's A Momentary Lapse of Reason tour, and used prominently in the 1990 Knebworth concert. Pete Cornish makes these by custom order.

mp3 Time solo with Cornish P-2 (sustain 1:00) > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Same as above but with sustain set to maximum

mp3 Cornish P-2 and delay only

mp3 Muted Chords - Cornish P-2 and delay only

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Compulator > Cornish P-2 > Tube Driver > Future Factory Delay

 

Pete Cornish G-2 - The G-2 is another take on the Big Muff circuit, but modified heavily so it sounds like an overdrive with a sweet midrange. The tone sounds like something in between a P-2 and a Tube Driver. It was built into David's Cornish Mk1 pedalboard used for the Live 8 Pink Floyd reunion in 2005, and built into his Mk2 pedalboard used for his 2006 solo tour. Pete Cornish makes these by custom order.

mp3 Time solo with Cornish G-2 (sustain at maximum) > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Take A Breath Solo - Cornish G-2 and delay only

mp3 Muted Chords - Cornish G-2 and delay only

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Compulator > Cornish G-2 > Tube Driver > Future Factory Delay

 

ProCo Rat - The Rat is a classic distortion pedal that has been in production since 1978. David used one in the 1990s for many one-off performances and for a few songs on the 1994 Pink Floyd tour, like What Do You Want from Me?. It has a distinct boosted mid range, unlike most of the other pedals on this page.

mp3 Time solo - Tube Driver > Rat > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Take A Breath Solo - Rat and delay only

mp3 Muted Chords - Rat and delay only

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Tube Driver > Rat > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Tube Driver > Rat > Boss GE-7 Equalizer > Future Factory Delay

 

B.K. Butler Tube Driver - The Tube Driver is an overdrive pedal that can do light drive tones and high gain overdrive distortion. It was first used by David around 1993 and has been his primary overdrive and distortion pedal since then. It can be heard prominently on The Division Bell, The Endless River, and David's On and Island and Rattle That Lock solo albums. These sound clips illustrate its use as a high gain distortion.

mp3 Time solo with 911 Tube Driver > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Take A Breath Solo - BK Butler Tube Driver and delay only

mp3 Muted Chords - BK Butler Tube Driver and delay only

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Compulator > Tube Driver > Future Factory Delay

mp3 Take A Breath Solo with backing track - Compulator > Tube Driver > Boss GE-7 Equalizer > Future Factory Delay

 


Below are some older setups and sound clips from the original version of this page.

Below are sound clips of some of the pedals David Gilmour gear has used for his lead fuzz/distortion solo tones from the Animals era to today: Ram's Head and Civil War Big Muffs, the BK Butler Tube Driver, and the Pete Cornish G-2 and P-2. This section is designed to illustrate what the differences are so it can be determined which effect was used on which song. Descriptions of each pedal are in this section.

I should also note that although there seems to be a popular belief that David used Pete Cornish effects like the P-1, P-2, and G-2 heavily, David's gear tech, Phil Taylor, has stated that is not the case. He said this in a reply to a poster on David Gilmour's website blog, circa 2008.

BK BUTLER TUBE DRIVER, RAM'S HEAD BIG MUFF, CORNISH G-2 - Clips play in that order. The Tube Driver drive is set to max to get it into distorted overdrive territory. The Ram's Head is pure vintage Big Muff tone, and the G-2 brings a tone that is sort of in between the two. Strat with SSL-5 bridge pickup and CS'69 neck pickup into a Fender Twin Reverb.

mp3Lead tones ............mp3Chords and rhythm

RAM'S HEAD BIG MUFF and CORNISH P-2 - The Ram's Head is a darker and grittier tone with the mids scooped out of the tone by the circuit, perfect for David's late 1970's tone through the 1980s. The P-2 is a much smoother and brighter tone with more mids, good for David's late 1980's though 1990s tones. Strat with EMG-DG20 pickups into a Fender Twin Reverb.

mp3Leads. Clips in this order: Ram's Head Big Muff then P-2 ............mp3Chords/Rhythm. Clips in this order: Ram's Head Big Muff then P-2

RAM'S HEAD BIG MUFF, CORNISH P-2, and CIVIL WAR SOVTEK BIG MUFF - Same pedals as above but adding the "Civil War" Sovtek pedal. It is darker sounding like the Ram's Head, but with more bottom end, and more mids, but not as much as the P-2. Strat with EMG-DG20 pickups into a Fender Twin Reverb.

mp3Comparison Clip - Clips in this order: Ram's Head Big Muff, P-2, then Civil War Muff

Cornish Gilmour Pedlas

PETE CORNISH PEDAL COMPARISONS - Here are clips comparing the P-1, P-2, and G-2, using the settings shown above. Strat with SSL-5 bridge pickup and CS'69 neck pickup into a Fender Twin Reverb. The P-1 has been used on The original Wall tour and the On an Island tour. The G-2 was used for the On an Island studio recording and tour. The P-2 was in David's touring board for the second half of the Momentary Lapse of reason tour, likely as a backup for David's "Civil War" Big Muff, which was his primary distortion pedal. Read my reviews of these three pedals here.

mp3Gilmour Licks - P1, P2, G2. Bridge pickup, then neck pickup at end ............mp3More Gilmour Licks - P1, P2, G2. Bridge pickup.............mp3Chords - P1, P2, G2. Bridge pickup.

mp3Tone Pot Sweep - P1, P2, G2. Bridge pickup.

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