Updated: Sep 15, 2022
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The JHS story goes like this: They wanted to pay homage to the Muff but couldn't decide which version was king, so they just made a pedal that could do it all. I LOVE this concept and it is also the approach they took with their amazing #Bonsai which gives you different versions of a Tubescreamer in one small pedal.
And as they say on the JHS site, their indecision really is our gain.
Firstly, there are the standard Volume, Sustain and Tone controls, but things get interesting with the 4th control. The Muffuletta has 6 differently voiced 'Muffs' selectable by the bottom right knob. You have a choice from left to right of:
*The Civil War '91-'93 V7
This has more mid range, a brighter overall tone and less gain. Users: Sonic Youth, R.E.M.
The Russian '99-'09 V8
Less clarity and less low end. Users: Black Keys, Muse.
Pi '77-'78 V3
More aggressive. Users: Frank Zappa, Billy Corgan, Jack White.
Triangle '69-'70 V1
More low end while remaining articulate. Users: Santana, Gilmour.
Ram's Head '73-'77 V2
Scooped mids, less gain, darker. Users: Gilmour
Their own take on the circuit with more low end and mids.
Now, I just had to test out some of these of course and I was in the lucky position to have at hand the Electro Harmonix reissue of the Triangle, Russian and Op-amp Pi. I thought this would be a great starting point to check out how the sounds really compared.
I was very impressed with the Triangle in particular, both the Electro Harmonix and the JHS versions had gorgeous singing mids and I honestly don't think I could tell them apart in a blind test. The Op-amp (Pi '77-'78) wasn't far off either and had the more aggressive gain structure due to that op-amp clipping that is indicative of this version. With some tweaking and time, I'm sure these pedals would be indistinguishable.
The interesting pedal for me was the Russian reissue. EHX' is based on the mid '90s version and JHS' is based on a '99-'09 version and they really are very different. The EHX Russian has great low end and less gain than, for example, the Triangle - check out the video to the left comparing those.
The JHS, as stated, has less low end and clarity. So these couldn't really be directly compared. However, as the JHS setting sounded similar in description to the EHX Russian Reissue, I decided to compare those two and found that, again, the JHS pretty much nails it.
Here's a video of these comparisons. The Muffuletta starts at around 5:50.
So, overall I've got to say I've been very impressed with the Muffuletta. JHS is a company that seriously knows their pedals - the history of them and their tone. I can tell you this much, the Muffuletta has replaced my Triangle, Russian and Op-Amp reissues, not because it's actually any better, but because it can do what all of those pedals can but all in one box. As I say in my video, I'd much prefer to have one 'Muff' on my board rather than three.
The price of the JHS at the time of writing is around £200 new, with the EHX Triangle around £100 and the Russian and Op-amp around £70. So if you want just one Muff then you can get cheaper than the Muffuletta, but if you want variety, then the JHS pedal is hard to beat.
*Descriptions taken from JHS website: