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The Rat: let's see what all the fuss is about

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by tele-bastard, Oct 17, 2020.

  1. Lawdawg

    Lawdawg Tele-Afflicted

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    Have one, like it. It's more versatile than I originally thought and you can get some decent low gain sounds from it. That said I use mine for straight crunch tones and it works great for that.
     
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  2. Manual Slim

    Manual Slim Friend of Leo's

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    It’s my favorite way to make a guitar sound like a mouthful of gravel and nails. I love me some Rat.
     
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  3. teletail

    teletail Tele-Afflicted

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    I know it could result in being shunned by the guitar community, but neither The Rat nor the Tube Screamer ever did anything for me. I had a friend who lent me his Tube Screamer because he couldn't believe I'd never tried one. I was like, "Meh."
     
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  4. TokyoPortrait

    TokyoPortrait Friend of Leo's

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    Hi.

    I have a modern Rat. I like it a lot. As someone pointed out, it’s more versatile than you might at first expect.

    I’d never really considered a Rat. Ages ago someone said to me, something along the lines of, “Rats, yeah, 80s hair metal.” Doesn’t really matter if he was correct or not, the image stuck, the damage was done. Much later though, I discovered Rats are one of the few pedals considered to play nicely with Vox AC Top Boost channels. So I got one, just to try. Yep, works really well and I discovered I really like them.

    Currently off my board though, as I’m messing around with a Fuzz Face clone and Danelectro’s The Breakdown. But, it’ll come back at some stage.

    Pax/
    Dean
     
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  5. PastorJay

    PastorJay Tele-Afflicted

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    I have a T-Rex Soulmate, 5 pedals plus a tuner in one enclosure. Has a TS style and a Rat style (the Mudhoney) pedal. They stack really well together. I use either for a little bit of dirt and a slight boost (Rat style first through a Vox style amp, TS first for Fender amp) and the second pedal for more dirt if I want saturated chords or leads. They're really nice together.
     
  6. bendercaster

    bendercaster Tele-Afflicted

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    I love the Rat. Yeah, it can get a little ratty, and doesn't have girth of something like an OCD, but it just sounds right through my Vox and it cuts through the mix like nothing else. With my Tele, I get a great boosted lead sound on the bridge pickup and a tight fuzz on the neck pickup without having to mess with the settings.

    I recently rearranged my board and experimented with different settings on the Rat, comparing it to a newly purchased OCD and an MXR classic distortion. The OCD sounded great at higher gain, but had this nasty sizzle at lower gain settings that the Rat doesn't have. So, the OCD went back. Now I have the MXR Timmy for low gain and the Rat for high, and if I need something a little thicker, running the Rat into the Timmy gets me there. I got to try it out at band practice yesterday and it sounded great.
     
  7. unfamous

    unfamous Tele-Meister

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    Rat first. I use the rat for heavy tones, the MXR for low gain, except when I use the rat for low gain and the MXR the heavier tones.
    M
     
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  8. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Rats love to be boosted. The classic combo is the TS into the Rat because the Rats mid point is a bit lower than the TS (850Hz). For those who have never heard this, go to the 29:30 minute mark in the TPS video above if you want to here how the magic TS into Rat sounds. It’s a super grainy example but it gives you the idea. I bought a Rattler because of that video. It’s how my rig sounded in the 90’s. I had one Rat set for mid-lead gain, another rat set for almost crunch, hit the TS to push those into really nice lead tones. It was a country band so not a lot high gain stuff back then. With my current rig my rat likes a BD-2 in boost mode.
     
  9. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    Actually, the overall frequency response of the Rat and TS are quite similar, with a peak at around 1KHz when the tone control of either one is around 12:00.

    Go here for the overall frequency response of the Rat.

    Go here for the overall frequency response of the TS.


    The real difference is that the Rat comes more to a pronounced peak, whereas the TS has a more gradual rounding.

    Also, since the TS has an active tone circuit vs. the Rat's passive tone circuit, it will actually push the peak higher than ~1KHz, to maybe just a little under ~2KHz, when the TS tone circuit is set to max.

    Now, go here for the gain-dependent freq. response of the Rat - at low gain, the peak is a bit above 3KHz, at mid gain is around 1.5KHz, and drops down to around 800Hz at high gain. Along with the peak dropping to a lower frequency, there's also an increase in amplitude of the frequencies lower than the peak, too. IMO, this perfectly illustrates how the Rat gets both bassier and less bright as the gain goes up.

    So, even though the Rat and TS have a pretty similar overall frequency response, they behave a bit differently as you turn their gain and tone controls up or down. IMO, TS into Rat, if you like that sound, is what I would call complimentary, and is a perfect argument as to why it's probably more beneficial to stack two dissimilar drive boxes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2020
  10. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Yeah, I guess everything falls under the ol “if you like that sound” column and lord knows no OD pedal is for everyone. I am surprised to learn that a TS and Rat are considered similar with regard to frequency response. The broader Q of the TS in that peak frequency makes sense and probably explains why there is a perception of ‘filling a void’ when stacked.
    Then there is the whole amp/volume variable and my experience using TS into Rats is only through two, BF Super Reverbs (for about 8 years) and 1-12 BF Princeton’s (5 years, I guess). The low end the rat would show the Supers (already a bottom heavy amp) would sound great at low to mid gain settings and like flat tires on a muddy road at lead gain settings. Keeping the rats throttled back a bit and using the TS to tighten the low end while boosting it into the higher gain just really seemed to work. I loved that sound. My current, humble little rig doesn’t get along with TS pedals for some reason but the BD-2 fills that role perfectly. It’s more dynamic and cleans up enough to just run things from the volume knob.
     
  11. Axegrinder77

    Axegrinder77 Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

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    Yeah they are meant to sound.. Well.. Ratty.

    I keep my turbo rat on the board. I have more boutique pedals for the smooth "expensive" sounds. Sometimes you want something that sounds kinda rough though, especially in a mix. The thing about rats is you will never experience any issues cutting through. It's very useful for certain styles too. I like hitting rhythmic staccato style stuff, where smooth isn't the solution.

    It's satisfying when you can't punch the bass player or annoying guy in the audience in the face. Instead, you just hit them with some rat.
     
  12. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Afflicted

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    Well yes, I heard many people complaining about the RAT tone.

    Over the usual personal taste, of course, I think that most of them had the wrong RAT circuit (clone or not) or - more important - the wrong chip.

    The original RAT is born with the LM308N and has been designed around that chip to use its distortion / clipping character.

    More recent RATs used notably the OP07DP chip, and - I know that it can be surprising, but trust me - the tone of the drive itself, the harmonic content and sensivity, have nothing to do with the LM308N.

    Many years ago, I compared OP07DP, LM308N, LM741N, TL071, TL081 in the original 1981 Rev. B RAT circuit, and speaking about the overdriven tone, my personal rating was :

    1 - LM308N : the best sounding, some kind of violin tone.
    2 - LM741N : interesting.
    3 - OP07DP : an ordinary, common sound.
    4 - TL071, TL081 : unpleasant odd-harmonic content in the highs.

    But it's me, OK ? :D

    -tbln.
     
  13. stantheman

    stantheman Doctor of Teleocity

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    Jeff Beck used a Rat forever in fact he might still be using one.
    "Blow By Blow" is all Rat set in different increments throughout the record so I've been told.
     
  14. Lies&Distortion

    Lies&Distortion Tele-Afflicted

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    Don't have a real ProCo Rat but I really like the VFE Red Wolf I got last year. Works well with the Pathfinder that I play most of the time, always go back to it after rotating pedals. Built like a tank/watch, quiet, adaptable.
     
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  15. Telenator

    Telenator Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    [QUOTE="tubelectron, post:

    4 - TL071, TL081 : unpleasant odd-harmonic content in the highs.

    [/QUOTE]

    #4 This was my complaint.

    Moved on.
     
  16. redchapterjubilee

    redchapterjubilee TDPRI Member

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    I wanna know more about this guy. Is the overdrive side before or after the Rat side?
     
  17. 11 Gauge

    11 Gauge Doctor of Teleocity

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    #4 This was my complaint.

    Moved on.[/QUOTE]

    The TL071 is a jFET input op amp with a much higher slew rate than what is in any Rat. It's the single 'package' version of what you'll find in pedals such as a Marshall Bluesbreaker or Klon Centaur (TL072), so it really comes down to circuit particulars, and their applications.

    Anyway, you won't find the TL071 in any factory Rat. It was just subbed in as part of tubelectron's personal experiments.

    The LM308N found in the Rat has a stupid low slew rate, and has its bandwidth further limited by an external compensation capacitor. These are the two key ingredients that allow it to behave more like a good guitar amp - limit the frequency response to behave like an amp, especially as things go into clipping.

    For some users, IMO the Rat is just kind of...intuitive. For the rest of us, it requires a bit of twiddling around to get it dialed in, to find a sweet spot. I'd say that as a general rule, if you're using brighter pickups/guitars, there's generally more of a learning curve. Also, since the tone control is wired backwards, and it is odd in that you need to add more treble as the gain goes up, that it is really easy for it to be counterintuitive.

    ...I primarily use a Rat with a VR or SR, with a few different Teles. The pickups in those Teles are all a little different, so I usually have to tweak the Filter control on the Rat, and usually more than just a smidge. On the less common occasions that I use a guitar with PAF-type pickups (e.g. more output, considerably less bright), I usually have to spend some time resetting all the controls on the Rat - knock the gain down, knock the treble down (because it gets brighter as the gain is dropped), and then also typically adjust the volume, too.
     
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  18. tubelectron

    tubelectron Tele-Afflicted

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    Sorry :oops:, I should have wrote instead : "A Ge booster/overdrive followed by a RAT 1981 Rev. B", because yes, the Ge booster/overdrive is placed before the RAT.

    From L to R :
    - the 1st knob controls the volume of the booster/OVD.
    - the 3 SW tailors the tone of the overdrive.
    - the 3 last knobs are the usual RAT controls.
    - the Blue pilot FSW engages (or disengages) the booster/OVD.
    - the Red pilot FSW engages (or disengages) the RAT.

    [​IMG]

    -tbln.
     
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  19. TwangBrain

    TwangBrain Tele-Meister

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    No fuss, it's just a great distortion/fuzz. It didn't get crazy popular and ubiquitous for no reason. Even the earlier models are quite flexible and easy to dial-in various sounds...and they just plain rule!!!

    I'll also add that the earlier models are some of the very few distortion pedals out there that can actually sound usable and good with the settings at maximum.
     
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  20. black_doug

    black_doug Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I’ve owned a TS but never really liked it, and ended up selling it.

    However, I really like my Rat clone from Jam Pedals. I use it with an OD in front of it, an original T-Rex Møller.

    John Scofield uses a Rat with his AC30.
     
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