Hello Effect Pedal listener, this is Wright. Thank you to all you awesome listeners and subscribers. If you enjoy the show, please leave a 5-star rating, or even a review, in your favorite podcast app. Ratings and reviews go a long way in helping new people find and enjoy Effect Pedal too. I’m sure you hear that from all the podcasts, but it’s really true. So thanks again for your support. And now, on with the show.

(Harp sound)

Many people have a band that they got into “before everyone else” did. But does it count if you first heard about them on MTV? Does being on a national, even international, platform like MTV disqualify them from being undiscovered? Probably. But in this case it was the so-called alternative rock show 120 Minutes, which was on relatively late at night in the 90s, so besides me, not that many people were watching. But those that were watching in the spring of 1991, like me, saw a really trippy video by a band called The Smashing Pumpkins. 

("Siva" guitar intro sound)

That video was for a song called “Siva” from their first full-length album Gish. It was a gritty, noisy-in-a-good-way, and in my opinion, underappreciated record. Besides the “psychedelic bordering on creepy” imagery in the video, what really grabbed my attention was the distortion-heavy twin guitar attack. It checked a lot of boxes for me: the riffs and solos were interesting, there were dynamic shifts from loud to quiet and back again, and the distortion itself had a really great fuzz sound.  

("Siva" guitar solo sound)

Fast forward to the summer of 1993, right after I had graduated from high school. The Pumpkins had moved on to a major label and put out their second album, a virtually flawless one called Siamese Dream. There was more polish to this album. The grit of Gish was left behind. Siamese Dream exploded. Everyone knew The Smashing Pumpkins then. Now everyone heard what I heard, that killer twin guitar attack, but still with that great fuzz distortion. That fuzz was courtesy of an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi effect pedal.  

(Sound of theme song)

My name is Wright Seneres and this is Effect Pedal. This is a podcast and art project dedicated to guitar effect pedals. In the universe, there are countless numbers of these pedals, creating an infinite number of sounds, and opening up worlds of possibilities for guitar players.  

In the early days of rock and roll, using cheap or damaged amplifiers and speakers with the volume cranked up created this noisy, distorted sound, with the peaks and valleys of the signal waves getting clipped off. Link Wray is famous for punching holes in his amplifier speakers with a pencil to get that sound. With an effect pedal, we can achieve that sound with electronics, and without resorting to damaged equipment. With a Big Muff, you can get that fuzz distortion sound without damaging your equipment. 

The Electro-Harmonix Big Muff Pi guitar pedal that I own is from around 2008, known as the Re-Issue New York City version even though it’s not actually a reissued product. And not to be confused with actual reissues from 2019, the Op-Amp Reissue or the Nano Big Muff Pi. The Big Muff dates back to the late 60’s, when legend says Jimi Hendrix bought one of the first ones at the famous Manny’s Music Store in New York City. It was in the arsenals of a lot of your favorite guitarists from the 70’s and mine, like David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, Carlos Santana, and Ace Frehley from KISS. John Lennon too. And more than just the Smashing Pumpkins in the 90s and beyond, like Dinosaur Jr., the Black Keys, and the White Stripes.  But my favorite Big Muff story is that Tony Peluso, the lead guitarist in the Carpenters, used a Big Muff for the absolutely fuzzed-out solos in “Goodbye to Love”. When you absolutely, positively need to fuzz out, don’t take it from me, take...

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