The Proco Rat – King of Distortion Pedals?

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The Proco Rat pedal has been a staple on many guitarist’s boards for decades now. A distortion pedal with stripped back circuitry for a no-nonsense distortion configuration. Used in punk, jazz, metal and rock bands across the world the pedal does not pigeon-hole itself as a one trick pony.  Guitarists such as Kurt Cobain, James Hetfield, John Scofield and Dave Grohl are noted to use the Rat pedal in their major releases.

The History

Pro Co engineers Scott Burnham and Steve Kiraly repaired and hot-rodded existing distortion pedals, such as the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face. Burnham decided he could build a superior product from the ground up, and designed “The RAT” pedal.

In 1978, “The RAT” was being built as a custom-order product. Only twelve of these pedals (including one prototype), commonly referred to as the “Bud Box” RAT, were produced. Each pedal was built in a standard project box, hand painted, and hand drilled. In 1979, Pro Co began mass-producing them. This iteration was built in a custom designed, rectangular sheet-metal enclosure, with an L shaped removable top/back section giving access to the internals. The top panel was labeled with Pro Co Sound “The RAT” and the three control knobs as Distortion, Tone and Volume.

In 1983, Pro Co switched to a smaller, U-shaped enclosure. Finally, in 1988, the RAT2 was introduced, which included an on/off LED. Various RAT2 circuit board layouts and wiring configurations have surfaced in the last few years, including the noted “RAT3 version A and B” all under the RAT2 moniker.

The Lay Out

The Rat 2 has three simple dials on the pedal to give that unique sound –

DISTORTION – Control the gain to punch in gritty drive all the way through to ballsy distorted tones.

FILTER –   A reverse tone-stack that lets you control the frequencies from the pedal, the slightest turn can bring your tone to a whole new level.

VOLUME – The volume control lets you dial it in just perfectly against your bypassed clean tone.

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