ProCo Rat2 Distortion Pedal – Classic for a Reason!

The RAT pedal is described as, “The Sound of the Underground“, and was designed in the Pro Co Sound factory in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan by Charlie Wicks, who sadly passed away just recently.

The Rat first started out in 1978 and soon after was being used by some prominent artists, such as Pink Floyd (ala Dave Gilmour), Jeff Beck and a truckload of others… and the rest, as they say… is history.

Okay, so lets have a look at the Rat2 Distortion pedal in action. Here is a short video we shot with Darren playing his made in Japan Fender Stratocaster fitted with Seymor Duncan 59ers into a Peavey Delta Blues 1 x 15 amp.

The particular pedal in the video was made in 1995 in the USA, it has a pot code of R1379507 and it has the original LM308 OP AMP Chip, making this one of the older, more sought after models.

Pro Co RAT '82 Large Box (6872

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ProCo Rat pedal with a LM308 chip

ProCo Rat pedal with a LM308 chip

The RAT2 pedal is instantly recognizable, with its ‘flat black‘, box like steel chassis and glow in the dark white branding.

ProCo Rat

ProCo Rat

It has a circuit board layout and features large CTS pots, the infamous LM308 chip (The LM308 chip is part of the magic, giving it a gritty blend between fuzz and distortion), and its true bypass.

The classic RAT is pretty simple with three control knobs:

  • Distortion
  • Filter
  • Volume

The Distortion control not only adds more gain as you turn the knob clockwise, but also adds slightly different nuances from gritty, badly brought up distortion to saturated fuzz style tones The Rat pedal will take you from scorching face melting metal leads to nice blues overdrive.

The Filter, which is a 6db octave low pass filter – (I so totally took that from the ProCo site!!)  which works opposite to nearly every other pedal, in that when you turn it clockwise (or to the right) it rolls off the treble, or more accurately increases bass frequencies.

Turn it to the left and it rolls off the Bass frequencies, and therefore increasing the treble. In this regard it is very similar to the Tone Cut control on a vintage Vox amp.

ProCo Rat2 distortion Pedal RAT 2 Newest Version Fedex 2 Day Shipping! NEW UNIT!

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The Volume control is, well, a Volume control. Turn it up it gets louder and turn it down it gets quieter.

ProCo Rat Input jacks

ProCo Rat Input jacks

The rest is pretty standard, mono input and outputs, 9V jack which is a 9-Volt tip positive 1/8” plug DC power supply, in other words, it’s a different jack socket than your typical Boss pedal so you will need to get a separate power supply if you’re powering up this pedal without using the battery, and a battery compartment on the backside of the pedal.

And, as mentioned, it is all housed in the same indestructible flat black steel casing with the white ‘Glow In The Dark‘ graphics, that are now iconic.

Now I won’t go on, but I liked this pedal a lot. I would say though that this pedal doesn’t clean up so well, but it is not designed as a low gain boost.

I personally think this pedal is meant to be driven with the Distortion about midway onwards, and I gotta say when it is, it just sings.

Now I am wary of hype, and I have bought many pedals based on hype, but the RAT by ProCo is famous for a reason, because it just sounds great with anything, Strats, Teles or Les Pauls.

I did find that if you roll off the bass frequencies too much, it does get a bit harsh and fizzy, which is not my bag at all. I keep the Filter at about 11am so I am getting some treble, which helps in keeping the tone thick and ‘creamy’ (I got that from a yoghurt ad on TV!!).

ProCo Rat Pedal with LM308chip pots

ProCo Rat Pedal with LM308chip pots

I found though, it didn’t stack so well with my BWM OD pedal, but was a great standalone pedal, pushing my 5 watt tube amp into saturation. Otherwise, I loved it, and you won’t lose money on a US made RAT pedal, so not a big risk if you want to buy one just to see if you like it.

ProCo Rat pedal with LM308 chip closeup

ProCo Rat pedal with LM308 chip closeup

Before I leave off, the newer, Made in China, Rat’s are a lot cheaper than the US made models  (depending on the deal you get) that don’t feature the LM308 chip, and they do have some mixed reactions, whereas the original US made Rat pedals seem to get rave reviews, and will tend to keep their value!

Vintage Rat 1978 Tone Control Distortion Boost Preamp Clean Boost Fuzz ShipWW

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Vintage Pro-Co Big box rat pedal! One of the last ones produced!1983-84 N.O.S. !

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Vintage 1983 Big Box Proco Rat Distortion Pedal, Original LM308N Chip

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Pro Co 1986 Vintage RAT (6521

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Vintage 1983 ProCo Rat Distortion Effects Pedal Big Box Original LM308 IC Rare

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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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