Wren and Cuff Box of War – A Big Muff Civil War Clone for Boutique Muff tones

Okay, let’s enter the boutique zone for a while (don’t worry, I definitely can’t afford to live there!!) with the Wren and CuffBox of War‘ which is a Big Muff ‘Civil War‘ clone.

Unfortunately we don’t have our own Guitar Gas video demo for the Box of War, so I grabbed this very good demo from Pro Guitar Shop. Take the couple of minutes to check it out, it’s worth it…

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End Date: Friday Nov-8-2019 0:52:31 PST
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For those who are not into Big Muffs, here’s a very quick overview of their history. But, the information surrounding the history of the Big Muff is a little confusing, so this is what I can gather from my limited research.

Wren and Cuff Box of War

Wren and Cuff Box of War

For over the last 40 years or so, they have fallen into several major categories of product design.

Originally you had The Triangle Big Muff (1969-1973), The Ram’s Head Big Muff (1973-1977), The Red and Black Big Muff, the Russian made Civil War Big Muff versions (1990s) and The USA New York Reissue Big Muffs.

The Wren and Cuff Box of War is a clone of the Russian made Civil War Big Muffs.

So as you can probably guess, the Big Muff lineage is surprisingly deep and has a rich and colorful history. If you want to look into the history of the Big Muff a bit more, which BTW is fascinating, I totally recommend this site… www.kitrae.net

The Wren & Cuff Box of War (BoW) pedals are hand-made in the USA, in a place called Westlake Village, CA. The owner and founder is a guy by the name of Matthew Holl, and as with a lot of the boutique pedal makers, started building pedals as a part-time hobby.

Through word of mouth, Wren and Cuff started gaining a solid reputation for building high quality effects that could produce a pristine sound and could handle the beatings and heavy workload from Weekend Warriors and Pro Musos. The business started to gain some serious momentum and now the company is going from strength to strength.

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Okay, so the Box of War retails at about $240, so for me this is expensive for one pedal! But, we can’t forget that it is hand-made, using quality components, and the effect is sublime, so the price can be justified (Well, that’s what I tell my wife!!!).

The custom-built outer steel casing makes the Box of War heavy, which makes them similar to the older Sovtek Muffs, and apparently a lot of painstaking research has gone into the creation of this pedal.

All of the original capacitor and resistor values have been used to get the components and circuitry as close as they could (some capacitors and parts are no longer available) to the original version, and according to other reviewers, this pedal is extremely close to the older Russian made originals.

The controls are…

  • Volume
  • Distortion
  • Tone

…and honestly, that is all you need, because once you find that soaring lead sweep-spot you can just leave it and go into tonal nirvana, and Whoa, what a beautiful place that is!

The Input, Output and power supply sockets are all at the top of the pedal.

I would describe the tone as full, a Muff with a ‘Fuzzy‘ type of tone, but it’s still extremely clear, in that I can play a full 6 string chord and still hear all of the nuances. It doesn’t mush up and get all flabby at the bottom strings, but has very good bass definition.

The Box of War produces thick, powerful and articulate fuzz, and it makes my Strat single coil bridge pup sound awesome and sustain for days. So now when I play Comfortably Numb, I feel like I can play just like David;-)

Actually, the Wren and Cuff Box of War has a reputation for nailing the later David Gilmour lead tones. David actually uses a Civil War muff (on and off) to this day.

So,  it’s nice to know that when emulating a hero, that you are tonally in the right ballpark.

The controls are actually very interactive with the distortion going from almost a light OD to full-out balls to the wall Muff tones. One thing I didn’t expect was, this pedal cleans up and does light distortion really well, it’s excellent with the Distortion at about 1/4 the way up, giving warm, almost woody tones which works great for chords and noodling Hendrixy type of licks.

Wren and Cuff Creations Small Foot Box of War

End Date: Sunday Nov-10-2019 5:06:51 PST
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So it’s quite versatile with at least 3 nice, very usable settings, low, medium and full on, all sounding great.

The Tone knob definitely gives a good sweep too. Although I found, for the tones I like, I needed it set to at least the midway to about 2 o’clock, to give me that dynamic clarity and sparkle that lets my notes ring out.

On that note, I first used this pedal with a 12″ Cannabis Rex (Eminence) speaker, but was struggling with the heaviness of this speaker, but once I switched to a generic Greenback styled speaker, it was much clearer and responded a bit better. Speakers do make a difference!

Overall, am I happy with the $240 outlay of capital (I am a family man with not a lot of spare cash to burn).

So Yes! A great pedal that delivers vintage Sovtek Civil War Muff tones in spades, and I am sure this pedal will last me for decades, and honestly if you keep the pedal over the long haul then it actually pays for itself, rather than buying cheap pedals that will need replacing every 12 months or so, which is a great way to lose money!

For you muff fans, I present the Wren and Cuff ‘Box of War‘ for your bedroom rocking!

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About strataminor

Born in Brisbane I am a bedroom guitar player, although having played in front of churches (tough crowd!!) for quite a few years so some understanding of band dynamics, timing, gear (private use compared to public use) and melodic structure, instrumental breaks (okay leather pants solos....) and of course amps! Besides from my love of guitar and the G.A.S that goes with it (hey email me I am always offloading gear!! lol) I love languages, and can converse in basic Japanese, and study biblical Greek. I live in Logan with my young family (so not heaps of time at the moment) and will be contributing gear reviews based on a lot of gear I have or still currently have.

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