Triangle Big Muffs
My love of all things Big Muff is no secret and apart from making them in most of their forms I also get to repair them, from all over the world. I have customers send me their broken Big Muffs from everywhere and it's a real pleasure to get inside and see what's going on, and what makes them tick. Obviously, my most .......... famous BM repairs was J Mascis's that led to the Fuzz Munchkin.
It's always a pretty satisfying job and it lets me find nice versions of BM's that I can use for ideas and even copy for my Big Muds.It's great plugging in those old ones and hearing the variation in tone and seeing some of the repairs done over the years to them. It's very cool bringing an old one back to life and making it sound good.
Triangle BM's are the first "version" of the Muff made from around '69 to '74 and some consider them to be the best sounding version. I'm a big fan of them myself and make two versions in my Big Mud range from one of my favourite originals. It's a nice smooth fuzz with just the right amount of everything, although, in actuality, the Ram Head is still my preferred BM.
I've had a bunch of Triangles in to be repaired and the difference in tone is amazing. Even in factory original units some go from awesome, to almost unplayable (seriously) and generally, unless the customer really wants total originality, I try and talk them into making theirs sound good, as well as work properly. There's no point in having a "vintage correct" fuzz that you can't use ?
These 2 Triangles came in around the same time and both sounded strikingly different even though both were "mostly" original. One needed a 9V adaptor fitted. It already had a hole there with a broken (or aborted?) plug already fitted and had some dry solder joints. After getting it "going" it sounded like a Triangle with a bit of growl and fizz around the edges. It has TO92 style transistors as standard which I can't remember seeing before ? Most have the TO106 style transistors that look like a little round topped button.
The pot dates are pretty early and it was in pretty good, but used condition. It stacked up nicely against other Triangles I've tried. The other one was completely different ............
It was all factory original, and sounded TERRIBLE. It was almost unusable as a BM and I certainly wouldn't use it for recording or live. It had 2N5133 transistors, which I like a lot in BM's and all the components were original and untouched ? I started measuring values and checking solder joints but everything was as it was supposed to be, Values checked (within tolerances) with what they were supposed to be so I traced out the circuit with values and realized it was all over the place. Values I'd never seen in a Triangle, values in the wrong place, or used instead of missing values, what a mess !!!
If it sounded good I would have left it but the customer wanted it sounding good (like one of mine he said) so I started changing values to get it sounding good. I did offer him the opportunity to sell it and buy another one (or one of mine) so this could be kept intact and "collectable" but he wanted the original on his board. He even asked if I could just put one of my PCB's into this enclosure ? That seemed a bit like "cheating" so I set to work making this one sound nice.
It didn't take much. The transistors were good, most of the resistors were OK and I used some original ones in places were their value better suited the circuit and used NOS carbon comp where I couldn't pilfer off this board. After a bit of mucking around it sounded great. It had that nice crackle and round bottom end of the Triangle. It was still "mostly" intact and "original" and at a glance at the PCB looked like it hadn't been molested. And now it sounded good.
These pics show you the difference in size of the original Triangle BM box compared to later boxes. I really like the size of the Triangle enclosure and have been considering making them in my stainless steel boxes. They'd make a nice "double pedal" size enclosure and not take up as much real estate as a full size BM. Hmmmmmm................