The story is, the black box was built by Warren Ellis’ brother Murray from old radio parts, in an attempt to make an Octavia pedal, but coming out as something weird and evil sounding: The Muzz effect.
In the spring of 2015 I got the chance to meet up with Warren Ellis here in Copenhagen, where he told me about this little box of wonders, and of his desire to get a back-up pedal. Previous attempts to copy it never sounding right. I said, I’d be happy to check it out, and promised to make an exact 1:1 clone, no matter how exotic the components in the original pedal would turn out to be.I received Warren's pedal in the fall of 2015 and cloned it part-for-part, releasing the 'Muzzbomb' version in the summer of 2016.
The Muzz effect itself is based on a 1970s Octavia circuit, with some departures from the vintage design, adding an extra mean and evil character to the already excentric sounds and behaviors of the old classic. The Muzzbomb can be used in much of the same applications as an Octavia. Basically it’s an octave-up fuzz effect with some ring modulation going on too..
The Muzz likes to have a fuzz or an overdrive in front of it as well as after. It’s a tool for experimentation, and the only rule is “no rules”. Warren Ellis generally uses a boutique overdrive before the Muzz, which gives a fatter sound. Putting a dirt pedal after the Muzzbox will usually emphasize the octave-up effect.
The Muzzbox features two controls. The ‘INTENSITY’ knob controls the amount of fuzz-noise and general sonic mayhem. The octave effect is present from the control dialed all the way back. With the INTENSITY cranked, the Muzz will compress the attack and give a swelling sustain, easily pushing your guitar into beautifully textured feedback tones. The ‘LEVEL’ control sets the output level of the Muzz effect. It gets very loud and brutal. Rolling off your guitar's output volume will make the ring modulation and octave effect of the Muzz cleaner and clearer.
Warren Ellis is using the Muzzbox with both violin and his trademark tenor guitars, which is why we are calling the input of the pedal “VIOLIN/TENOR” - but you can use it with an electric guitar too, of course.
For my take on a more true-to-vintage Octavia pedal, check out the Reuss Octaviaze
To add the massive clean boost of the Muzzbomb pedal to your Muzzbox, check out the Reuss SM-01 B.O.M.B. pedal.
Inside the Muzzbox (yes, there's an audio transformer in there despite the tiny footprint):
Download the Reuss Muzzbox manual here
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