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  1. #1

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    Hi!

    I am looking for a good distortion pedal to use in some jazz gigs. The RAT would be my first choice since I love the tone a lot of guys can get out of this pedal (Rosenwinkel, Scofield, Monder, Frisell). But then you start reading those threads about modded vs unmodded, USA vs China, new chip vs old chip and its very confusing.

    Whats your experience with RATs? Buying a USA version and do something like Alumns mods? Get the real 80s thing for a huge price? Or there are other pedals that can get you there?

    JK gets a great sound from his Sparkle Drive (7:50)



    Thanks!

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I have what I believe is a mark 2 RAT (bought in about '89/'90 if I remember). It's not bad, the Scofield type tone is there - not too much drive, and turn the tone control completely down to it's least trebly setting. Use any other setting on the tone, and I find the sound is just too "hairy" for my taste. Try one out before buying would be my advice - you can certainly finding smoother sounding distortion units.

  4. #3

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    It got an early 90s rat2 last year for 100$ .

    Did the alum mods to cut the gain a little.

    I like it but dont use it for jazz.

  5. #4
    Besides the gain what changed with the alum mods? Was it worth it?

    Thanks!

  6. #5

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    I have a "Big Box" RAT I bought about 15 years ago. Never thought about where it was made or what's inside it--it works just fine for a lightly distorted sound.

    It's not something I use very often, but when I do, I'm reminded that I don't need to have any GAS for distortion boxes...

  7. #6
    Yeah the RAT is the thing really, love that sound. I might score a vintage one or a Rabbit clone, lets see...

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by jorgemg1984
    Besides the gain what changed with the alum mods? Was it worth it?

    Thanks!
    yeah... worth it for me.. made the pedal a little less heavy metal.
    I dont remember all the details because I changed it after a couple of days so I dont remember how it sounded before.

  9. #8

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    jorgemg1984,

    I have a rackmount Rat (two rats in a single rackmount unit with foot switch) that is gathering dust. If you're in the US (due to shipping cost) I'll let it go cheap.

  10. #9

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    Well, I take the opposite side of the fence from Mr. Beaumont. I absolutely lust after pedals! For my tastes, there are many overdrive pedals on the market that are great for jazz. I use several, depending on my mood, and specific tunes in a set. A few of my favorites are the Wampler Ecstasy, Wilson Effects Dual Lotus Drive II, and the Catlinbread Formula 5. They are capable of very subtle tone shaping, as well as providing the kind of gain found in Schofield, etc. You can find these in better stocked music stores.
    My all time favorites are built by Joe Wolfe. His company is Retroman. He builds to order, so you would have to find someone who has one to try them out.
    I have a "Dum-Box" (awkward name), which is his take on the Dumble sound. It is similar to an Ethos Overdrive, but less expensive.
    I also have a "Sybil" which contains two Fuzzface type circuits, one germanium and one silicon based. Joe uses lower gain transistors in this pedal. Some guys snicker when I set them out for a jazz set, until they hear the beautiful sustain and smooth edge they can produce.

  11. #10


    I never found this sound on other pedal than the RAT (friend of mine playing).. I keep hearing about black plague and brown rabbit - but I need to try one first.

    Will check the pedals you mentioned though!

  12. #11
    Yeah I had some classes that turned into duo jam sessions with him last year. He lives in Galiza now but he is a great player - but very influenced by Kurt, no doubt.

    I am crazy to get an 80s RAT... hope to get one here in Lisbon!

    Any more opinions are welcome.

  13. #12

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    If prices are prohibitive I might suggest BYOC pedals

  14. #13
    Thanks, that option is on the table!

  15. #14

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    I have a rat moded by Robert Keeley ...... worth checking out .... I don't have his web info handy but you can google him

  16. #15
    Keeley stopped modding RATs.. I think my tech will build me one or get me one already modded, waiting for his call! I will report when I have news... thanks!

  17. #16

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    he still mods rats but you have to send him yours .... although it seems the price went up !!

  18. #17

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    I would like to say something about moding pedals.
    FWIW....I have an early 80's Rat. In GREAT condition, all original etc, etc, etc.
    I'm not using it because it's not the sound I'm after. The only reason I haven't sold it yet is because every time I check out the used market prices this thing is getting more and more expensive.
    I also used to own a GREAT sounding old-ish Big Muff. One of the best I've ever heard. Used it for years and eventually retired it. At some point I ended up trading it (together with a "boutique" compressor and a couple other small inexpensive gizmos) for a used Tele!

    Back to the Rat... I find that it cuts too much bass for my taste. Mind you, I'm more of a fuzz than a distortion guy. If I was about to use it I would have to mod it to suit my needs. Which brings us to the fact that if you own a vintage/expensive/collectable pedal, it's not worth tinker with it as it looses after sale value.

    I played through the new Rat at a friend's studio. Didn't do an A/B test with mine but to me, the fundamental guitar tone and the amp tone are more important/prominent elements. They are shaping the overall tone way more than vintage vs modern Rat or any other pedal. My signal chain is very short, so maybe if I was going through more effects things would be different.
    If you don't wanna fork out a lot of cash for a dirtbox just buy a USED "new version" and go with it. You can mod it, rebox it, repaint it, put your picture on the housing etc without caring. Moding an old one is another thing altogether. People argue that those older versions sound so much better so moding it defeats the purpose of paying the extra cash at the first point.
    A friend of mine, who's very much into old amps and guitars etc exchanged his old rat with a new one plus some cash. He said he didn't hear ALL that much of a difference in his overall tone. YMMV.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by garryrenfro
    Well, I take the opposite side of the fence from Mr. Beaumont. I absolutely lust after pedals! For my tastes, there are many overdrive pedals on the market that are great for jazz. I use several, depending on my mood, and specific tunes in a set. A few of my favorites are the Wampler Ecstasy, Wilson Effects Dual Lotus Drive II, and the Catlinbread Formula 5. They are capable of very subtle tone shaping, as well as providing the kind of gain found in Schofield, etc. You can find these in better stocked music stores.
    My all time favorites are built by Joe Wolfe. His company is Retroman. He builds to order, so you would have to find someone who has one to try them out.
    I have a "Dum-Box" (awkward name), which is his take on the Dumble sound. It is similar to an Ethos Overdrive, but less expensive.
    I also have a "Sybil" which contains two Fuzzface type circuits, one germanium and one silicon based. Joe uses lower gain transistors in this pedal. Some guys snicker when I set them out for a jazz set, until they hear the beautiful sustain and smooth edge they can produce.

    Can the Formula 5 do low gain well? I've been curious about that one.

    My overdrives are a Catalinbread DLS and ZVex Box of Rock and Distortron. Though I only use them for rock stuff. They can cover low to medium gain well.

  20. #19

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    sco never used a modified one. I like the way the rat sounds but it's too '80s IMO...Like the chorus on a JC120. The zendrive style OD is much more modern (maybe 90s instead of 80s)

    It also allows chords to be played...

  21. #20
    I have read about people going to Sco concerts and sayinghe had a blue Led on his RAT so it has to be modified... I think he has several RATs and at least one has Keeley mods, I think there are some pictures of his pedalboard where you can see a RAT with a toogle switch. Ben Monder also uses a Keeley RAT and I love his distorted sound on Chris Cheek "A Girl Named Joe" record.

    Heard great thing about the Zendrive, people say its a Dumble in a box right? But I am really after the RAT vibe, I am sure there are many other great pedals out there.

    Yeah the RAT is famous for cutting the bass, that's one of the main reasons for the mods... I think I will get something modded with a lot of switches, lets see what my tech can get me!

  22. #21
    So I made my decision. Talked with my tech and several local guys that build pedals and amps. They all agreed new RATs are poorly contructed and sound fine but not as good as old ones. An exact replica of an old rat can be built for something like 30€ for the parts and they all told me it will sound much better than these days RATs.

    This is the original circuit:

    http://www.tonepad.com/getFile.asp?id=89

    But I actually settled for this thing:

    ImageShack Album - 21 images

    6 clipping options (one being the original circuit), LM308 chip, ruetz mod, feedback mod, led, true bypass, regular 9v jack and a really nice looking pedal (mine will be white, pink is not for me). Final cost 100€, buying a RAT and modding it would probably cost me the same or even more... Will report the sound when I have the pedal (2 months waiting time)

  23. #22

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    sounds cool. I've thought about buying a custom rat. You probably know that a bunch of makers already make a replica of the original with improvements and they are relatively cheap.

  24. #23
    Yeah I have heard about Freakshow Rabbit (raved by Vic Juris), Cmat Mods Black Plague, VFE Alpha Dog.. the thing is those pedals usually cost around 200€ in Europe and they don't seem to be exactly RAT clones, they are more RAT inspired pedals right? I think Monte Allums also has one.

    I wanted something that gave me the original RAT sound plus the mods. I think this guy nailed it, he tried all the mods on earth, compared old and new lm308 chips... took him a lot of time until he got this final design! And also he is from Portugal and we need to support our (struggling) economy! (A used RAT would cost me around 50€ plus the parts and tech work for the mods...)

    I hope it sounds as good as he says!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy
    Get the Freakish Blues "Alpha Drive:" Freekish Blues Alpha Drive
    I would certainly not buy this pedal if it were me, do a little research on line about these guys....

  26. #25

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    From my personal experience the brown rabbit is a sweet pedal, but maybe a bit more gain than your standard rat.

  27. #26
    I am sure the rabbit is a great pedal - as the Cmat and VFE are. But then its a matter of taste and since I cant try the pedals its tough to buy them without trying.. the one I am buying will at least give me the RAT sound in the original clipping mode. I hope it will give me much more with all the options.

    I don't know the alpha driver, Thadeus has an interesting gear blog that I read sometimes. But its a dumble overdrive, not a RAT (and for what I have read from the Dumble maniacs a zendrive is unbeatable in that department)

  28. #27

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    One od that I can certainly recommend for any jazz guitarist would be the barefoot honey bee. Very very touch responsive in that you will not even notice it's presence with a light thumb/pick but as you dig in it dirtys up into a nice mellow tweedy sound. Such a light od that my twin won't even recognize it under a 4 or 5 on the volume knob. Picked mine up used for $150. At that I feel it is a steal.

  29. #28
    The world is full of great boutique pedals

  30. #29

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    Amen

  31. #30
    Speaking of that

    Just found out a company that makes a tube screamer and a rat in one pedal... you will basically get a whole history of distortion and od in one box (it it sounds good).

    Custom Shop Gallery

  32. #31

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    Speaking of Sco, here is his current pedalboard, a picture taken at Yoshi's Oakland 2 days ago. I'm not familiar with Rat pedals but the settings suggest its being used as a boost


  33. #32
    Wow these guys are always changing their pedals! Great picture

  34. #33
    I have seen Rat pedals on ebay as low as $40.00 in pretty good condition. Didn't Carlos Santana use one.

  35. #34

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    I have a semi beat up original that Guitar Center would've given me about $75 for when I was amp shopping. I kept it. The originals are more sought after and pricey. Whether the sound difference is a matter of perception or reality, I wouldn't know.

  36. #35

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    In the SCO pic.. very interesting. The filter is "backwards" on a rat in that as you turn it down the treble increases so yeah, a boost BUT taking a bit of treble off. His is a second gen RAT (between the big box RAT and the RAT II)

  37. #36

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    With this little puppy

    I get the RAT and 9 other stomps including the Ibanez Tube Screamer ( with the same ic chip in it too as the Ibanez ) , I love it and will get another one since these are no longer made ebay has some cool deals on these everyday it seems .

    The other stomps are in my GNX4 are :

    Boss DS-1

    DOD Over Drive

    Big Muff Pie

    Guyatone OD-2

    Voodoo Labs Sparkle Drive

    Digitech Grunge

    Arbiter Fuzz Face

    And Boss Metal Zone .

    These stomps are really good too . Can't say enough positive stuff about this unit too and that's perplexing since they no longer make them .

    Easy all Peace :

    Hurricane Ramon

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Ramon
    Isn't this the navigation system on the space shuttle?

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Isn't this the navigation system on the space shuttle?
    Learning curve on this is about the same as learning how to land a space shuttle

    HR

  40. #39
    ImageShack Album - 4 images

    It's here and it sounds great!

    Next and final pedal will be a tube screamer / ep booster in one... from the same guy, I really loved this RAT.

    Thankls for all your help!

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by jorgemg1984
    ImageShack Album - 4 images

    It's here and it sounds great!

    Next and final pedal will be a tube screamer / ep booster in one... from the same guy, I really loved this RAT.

    Thankls for all your help!
    Looks nice but ... what is it???

  42. #41
    It's a custom RAT I ordered from a guy here in Portugal some months ago and it's finally here. Original chip, true bypass and lots of clipping options and ruetz mod. And a lovely desgin / finish (for only 100€ with shipping).

  43. #42

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    OK?! But what exactly are all the extra things for? A RAT has only 3 knobs and one switch...

    Anyway as you know I'm waiting for this guy to come back from vacation so I can ask him how much he will charge to make a RAT that can mix the clean signal in there. Perhaps a few other mods would be cool too so I'm curious what you got there :P

  44. #43
    There are two extra knobs - feedback and clipping. The feedback is for the "feedback mod" (google). The clipping changes between several types of clipping (original, mosfet, leds, germanium diodes, mix of original diode with germanium, no clipping section) . The switch is for the "ruetz mod" (google).

    This guy tried all RAT mods on earth and said this was the best design for the cost. His Tube Screamer also has several mods (asymetrical and symetrical and several clipping types and I will add the BYOC EQ mod) - he also said he tried them all and settled on that design. The RC Booster will be an exact Xotic clone and the last pedal no my board (number 8).

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Isn't this the navigation system on the space shuttle?

    =============================================

    The truth be told it was a flat out beeeeeach lernin .

    I am glad though it's a super machine . The difficulty was remembering what section did what because it's got a multi track recorder that can do it alone or go into you P . C . via USB . You get 4 at once recording channels that way with the USB . The the FX engine , it is extensive as can be and I love it . You can use the FX for the vocals as well as the guitar how's that ! All the phasers - flangers - chorusings - whahs - $hit howdy - - -

    Then the 10 stomps to play around with and they are are very good and true in sound to the hard wired versions .

    Midi drums machine is clean and compared to others , a real outstanding value alone .

    Input / output flexibility is right up there with the very best and another thing that confused the $hit out of the average dude to the max .

    mic input too w/phantom cool huh

    Great one manner for soloing shows , took time to realize how to use it and worth ever minute and dime spent .

    I am in the market to get another via Ebay they are there to be had at really good values .

    Now I'm eying a Roland GR55 and am trying to unload a few pieces of equipment like my Roland GR33 and a few other items to get up the $ I need for the upgrade in gear .

    It's a never ending quest that is never quenched I fear till the day I hang up my tennies for keeps and check out of this world heh heh heh heh heh .

    Easy Blood :

    Hurricane Ramon.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by jorgemg1984
    There are two extra knobs - feedback and clipping. The feedback is for the "feedback mod" (google). The clipping changes between several types of clipping (original, mosfet, leds, germanium diodes, mix of original diode with germanium, no clipping section) . The switch is for the "ruetz mod" (google).

    This guy tried all RAT mods on earth and said this was the best design for the cost. His Tube Screamer also has several mods (asymetrical and symetrical and several clipping types and I will add the BYOC EQ mod) - he also said he tried them all and settled on that design. The RC Booster will be an exact Xotic clone and the last pedal no my board (number 8).
    Ok! Did some googling.. This feedback mod seems a bit complicated I think but I think I would wanna try some diffferent CLIPPINGS. I understand that using different kinds of CLIPPING can give very different kinds of distortion. I read that the germanium ones gives a more compressed kind of distortion for example.

    But .. sorry to bother you again .. could you tell a bit more about the different clipping modes? How they each sound etc.. The original RAT uses a Silicium diode isn't that corrent? And how about this ruetz mod? I read that it gives a lighter gain with less bass response or something?

    Anyway I think I'll go for some of the mods just not sure which are the most usable?!

    Ah and let's see if you can keep it at only 8 pedals seems like you enjoy this whole gear thing a bit too much...
    Last edited by aniss1001; 02-02-2012 at 10:30 AM.

  47. #46
    Well I bought the pedal with all this stuff for a simple reason: I really wanted a RAT and this guy built me one with the original circuit, custom desgin and all the mods at the price of a new Pro Co or a vintage one with the original chip. So it was a no brainer and I like the support the local economy (in desperate needs). I might not even use all the stuff and just use the stock mode but I don't mind it's there.

    I cannot tell you yet the different sounds. I need more time with the pedal... and I am in exams right now in the conservatory. Some of them really change the distortion others are quite subtle.

    The ruetz mode gives less gain with more defined bass. It's a very noticeable difference and adds a lot of versatility to the pedal. The original RAT uses a Silicum diode you're right. My main goal was to nail the original RAT sound and I got that. All the rest is bonus

    No I will keep it the pedals as they are right now. They are actualyy 11 (small pedalboard with 3 and large one with 8) plus a BBE Acoustimax for my acoustic and a Loop Station for practice. I use and need all the pedals I have and I am settled now for a while - this doesn't mean I will never buy a pedal of course

    I am not exactly a gear expert because my electronics knowledge is limited (if you read carefullt there are some guys here who really know this stuff) but I know enough to achieve my sound. I was just talking with a fellow guitar player yesterday and he was complaining he needed to know more about this stuff because he was not happy with some parts of his sound. Of course my main focus is in music and improvisation, I am just a fast learner

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by jorgemg1984
    Speaking of that

    Just found out a company that makes a tube screamer and a rat in one pedal... you will basically get a whole history of distortion and od in one box (it it sounds good).

    Custom Shop Gallery
    DF-7 Distortion Factory | DigiTech Guitar Effects

  49. #48
    Tried once one in a friend's house and we dd some A / B with TS and RAT and the Digitech could sound fine but not exactly as good as the originals (and that guy is an expert on ODs and Distortions). But it's a good pedal.

  50. #49
    At the end of this month I'll have a clone of RAT with Keeley mod and something more, made by MissinMusic Custom Pedals (Canary Islands, Spain).
    Last edited by carlescountry; 02-08-2012 at 03:23 AM.

  51. #50

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    Hmm... Jorge (or anyone with similar knowledge) I could really use your advice again

    I emailed the guy in Bs As who builds pedals (in particular RATs). He said that he could add a circuit that mixes the distorted signal with a clean one for 100 pesos (us$23). I think I'll go for it just for the fun of it

    He didn't know about the ruetz mod but from what he could find on the internet it was pretty simple and would cost me 50 pesos (us$12). Think I'll want that too

    However he also said that he couldn't do all the clippings I asked for (original, germanium, mosfet, leds, no clipping) because of problems with space in his design. He offered to make a 2-way switch (original and ONE other type) for 50 pesos (us$12) or a 3 way switch (original, ONE other plus NO clipping) for 70 pesos ($us16).

    So I wanna ask if you have had a bit of time to try out the different clippings? It would be a great help to know which ones sound best, are most useful, etc. Or if some are very similar (redundant)? And this "no clipping" mode does it provide any gain at all or what does it do?