Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Zvex Box of Rock vs. Rat

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by vedt, Apr 18, 2011.

  1. vedt

    vedt Tele-Holic

    Nov 8, 2010
    I've been seeing the Zvex BoR show up more often, and I'm wondering how it compares to the Rat. I've seen a YouTube clip of a shootout that includes these two pedals, and the BoR seems to sound a little more amp-like. True? Would there be any need for owning both pedals?

  2. lefty73

    lefty73 Tele-Holic

    Jan 19, 2011
    These pedals are very different animals. IMHO the Rat is used in conjunction with your amp's overdrive while the BoR can be used with a clean amp. The boost function in the BoR is fantastic (and loud!) and the distortion side is quite dynamic and Marshall-like (Zachary Vex engineered the pedal to sound like a beloved JTM-45 on 11, I believe).

    You could use both, provided (again IMHO) the BoR's gain is set low and boosted by a low-gain Rat. Might make for some interesting tone combinations.

  3. Tele-Monster

    Tele-Monster Friend of Leo's

    Dec 22, 2008
    St. Paul MN
    Not even close to the same. I think the BOR blows the Rat away. Zvex has some of the best OD sounds I've ever heard, the Rat (IMO) is only good for leads. Plus with the BOR you get an added boost.

  4. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 6, 2010
    Although I agree that the pedals do sound different I don't think that the BOR blows away the Rat. The BOR serves the purpose of emulating Zach's JTM, but the Rat isn't really an emulation. When using the Rat to push the front end of the amp, it sounds stellar. It's a classic pedal that has been used on tons of recordings over the years.

  5. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 21, 2003
    Near BWI Int'l
    Yeah, they couldn't be more different.

    The Rat actually does target the "Marshall frequencies," but some people can't dial them in to their liking. It's not an "instant gratification pedal" for many users. I frequently know of guitarists who put their Rat pedal in mothballs and only find out how usable it is until years later, sometimes MANY years later.

    The Box of Rock is 3 SHO's cascaded together, with some crude design elements that are supposed to sound like a Marshall. Vex "borrowed" the "Marshall elements" from the Brown Sound in a Box II (entire tone circuit, "speaker treble rolloff emulation," interstage "treble peaking circuit") from the Brown Sound in a Box II. The differences are mosFET's substituted for the jFET's, and you get another SHO that you can switch on, if the Marshall dirt tone is not enough.

    The reason why the BoR sound more like an amp emulation is because Ed Guidry (the designer of the BSIABII) went with the treble peaking circuit and the speaker rolloff emulation that is taken directly from a Marshall design. I think Ed was more targeting plexi sounds, though. He was mainly shooting for EVH sounds, hence the name.

    Here's clips of the Brown Sound in a Box:

    ...I'm supplying those clips not because I think that the BSIABII is necessarily better than the BoR, but I think it is definitely a bit tighter sounding. IMO, the mosFET substitution in the BoR versus the jFET's in the "original" design make the BoR a bit muddy and flubby; the circuit needs to be altered to work with them, IMO.

    It's also why Catalinbread went with jFET's with their DLS, which has a similar circuit (but is nowhere near 1:1 with the BSIAB). I also think that the CB pedals come closer to amp emulation in general.

    Possibly the best Marshall-in-a-box that I've personally used is the Thor. Here's a couple of sound clips of that:

    It's the only one that I've tried that seems to really nail both the "signature Marshall amp qualities" as well as have a gain range from "medium classic rock" up to those EVH tones.

    ...The only issue with the Thor is that it is mainly a DIY pedal. You can get one built from these guys:

    It's only a little cheaper than the BoR though (about $40 vs. a new one). But you have to wait while it's built; they build them one at a time like Paul C. or similar. Also, I have no affil with OLC, so I can't vouch for their service. But the pedal sure sounds super b1tchin' Marshall to me. :cool:

  6. vedt

    vedt Tele-Holic

    Nov 8, 2010
    Yeah, I'm that guy. I used a Rat for years, loved it, then put it away for two years because I thought it was too brittle. Last week, I pulled it out of the box, only to decide it's my favorite dirt pedal again.

  7. Tele-Monster

    Tele-Monster Friend of Leo's

    Dec 22, 2008
    St. Paul MN

  8. boyatheart

    boyatheart TDPRI Member

    Sep 9, 2013
    Funny, when I had a RAT I thought the opposite, only useable for rhythm (especially palm -muted stuff). Just goes to show that all of this is totally subjective and the only way to get a satisfactory answer to the OP's question (or any other about tone comparisons) is to try it out for yourself.

    Never tried any Z-Vex pedals myself.

  9. caspa

    caspa TDPRI Member

    Mar 2, 2010
    If you're playing live/jamming a lot, absolutely rat. A rat has sounded great through every kind of amp (Marshall, Fender, Vox) that I've put it through and sat perfectly in a mix. I have also had a distortron (Box of Rock without boost switch) and always had a really hard time dialing it in to sound good when playing with other people. Sounded amazing when it was just me, but disappeared otherwise

  10. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

    Dec 6, 2010
    Holy thread bump, guys!

  11. JHVH!

    JHVH! Banned

    Apr 30, 2013
    It's how you ensure talking to some who probably isn't listening.

  12. whiteop

    whiteop Tele-Afflicted

    Nov 11, 2010
    I'm that guy too. The Rat shines in a live playing environment and it doesn't take much gain to get the magic tones. My gain knob stays between 9 and 11 o'clock.

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