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Electro-Harmonix Sovtek Deluxe Big Muff Pi and Nano Battalion Bass Preamp review

The venerable Electro-Harmonix unleashes a Russian-flavored fuzz and MOSFET drive for your stomping pleasure...

Electro-Harmonix Sovtek Deluxe Big Muff Pi and Nano Battalion Bass Preamp review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

EHX offers two very distinct options for adding dirt to your basslines, with the Sovtek Big Muff Pi a super-tweakable fuzz, and the Nano Battalion a small but mighty overdrive

For

  • Great value.
  • Quality build.
  • Heaps of tone options.

Against

  • Power supply not included with Sovtek Deluxe Big Muff Pi.

This year, New York’s Electro-Harmonix celebrates the 50th anniversary of its original Big Muff pedal. Known for its thundering low end, rich tonal expanse and reliably potent sustain, bassists have long embraced the power of the Big Muff and with this pair of juicy new offerings, EHX show no signsof slowing down.

First up is the Sovtek Deluxe Big Muff Pi, which seeks to integrate the classic woolly distortion of the Green Russian Big Muff Pi with the more advanced control options of their Deluxe Big Muff Pi. 

At about twice the size of your normal pedal, it includes the familiar Sustain, Tone and Volume controls, along with a Blend knob to allow you to determine how much of the effect you want to add into your mix. 

When we push the Sustain and Blend to the max, a nice, thick, ratty sound emanates – ideal for that psychedelic or desert rock sound. Beside these sit knobs for Gate, Mids Level and Mid Frequency.

If you’ve got noisy pickups, crank up the Gate knob, which opens the noise gate and allows the notes to come through cleanly. The Mids Level knob will boost or cut up to 10db at the frequency set by the Mids Freq knob, and helpful for the gigging bassist, a Mids footswitch allows you to bypass this setting. With Mids Level set to three o’clock and Mids Freq at nine, we conjure a thick, rumbling blast of distortion that feels both warm and organic. 

Finally, a Wicker switch allows you to add high frequencies to coax a greater attack out of the sound. Without diluting the distortion, high notes cut through with impressive clarity.

The only drawback is that, with a truly jaw-dropping number of tools to tweak and shape the tone, it will pack too much of a punch for some. If it’s more of a simple, overdriven sound you seek, then the Nano Battalion Bass Preamp and Overdrive pedal might be your bag.

Along with its standard all-analogue circuitry, the pedal includes Volume, Tone, Drive and Blend knobs, along with knobs for Treble and Bass. Also, a MID switch allows you to add or cut about 9db, while leaving it neutral produces no effect, and the three-band equaliser includes a three-position switch that allows you to determine where the EQ sits in the signal path. 

From a lean overdrive effect to full-blown squalls of distortion, the Nano packs amighty punch. Though both offerings are affordable, you’d be hard pressed to justify buying both – but if you’re in the market for a new distortion pedal, both options deserve serious consideration.

Specs

EHX Sovtek Deluxe Big Muff Pi

(Image credit: Future)

• Price: $149, £138
• Type:
Fuzz
• Features:
Footswitchable Mids EQ section, High Q / Low Q switch, Wicker switch
• Dimensions:
4.75” x 5.75” x 2.5” / 121mm x 146mm x 64mm
• Power:
9V battery or DC power supply

EHX Nano Battalion

(Image credit: Future)

• Price: $117.50, £112
• Type:
Bass overdrive/preamp
• Features: All-analogue circuit with MOSFET drive, three-band EQ with three EQ position modes
• Dimensions: 2.75” x 4.5” x 2” / 70mm x 115mm x 51mm
• Power: 9V DC power supply (included)
• Contact: EHX