Building a better Rat trap

The ProCo Rat is a legendary pedal. It was designed by ProCo engineer Scott Burnham in 1978 in an attempt to build a better mouse trap, so to speak, compared to the pedals they were modding for customers. With some finesse, it can be dialed in as a fuzz, distortion or overdrive. It has a relatively simple distortion circuit built around a single LM308 opamp, itself now a coveted IC chip. It’s the tone on Metallica’s “Kill ’em All.” Legend has it two in a row were used for Carcass’s “Reek of Putrefaction.” Kurt Cobain, Thurston Moore, Kevin Shields, and Jeff Beck are all listed users (info from the always infallible Wikipedia). With the Rat2 in 1988, ProCo innovated again by adding what’s known as the Rat bypass, allowing true-bypass with a power indicating LED.

ProCo Rat 2

So what’s with the fucking battery cover? It sucks. Any time I see these pedals, the battery cover is long gone and the bottom is covered in icky duct tape leaving gummy residue all over the black box. The first one I got, a Rat2, was the same. Liberal amounts of Goo Gone were applied to clean the bastard. My friend gave me an original ’84 Rat. Again, no battery cover. All my friends with Rats? Duct taped battery covers.

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Minor Malpractice: Sovtek Big Muff Pi

My parental units are the best. We have Christmas every year with the whole family. Not a winter solstice, for we are not trying to refind our pagan roots, we celebrate Christmas with all the enthusiasm a bunch of atheists, agnostics, buddists, and lapsed Catholics can muster. This past year, my parental units asked what I wanted, and I wall wanted for Christmas was a Russian Big Muff. Sure, that sounds bad, but I meant the Russian Sovtek Big Muff Pi Version 7 fuzz pedal in the big green tank box with the tall logo. And they delivered, in damn fine condition. Fucking A. Thanks, eBay Santa.

Sovtek Big Muff Pi Fuzz

I’ve wanted one of these ever since Ludicra was playing Car Fest, and the bass player of Lullabye Arkestra fired up her’s, and I ran across the room saying, “What the FUCK was that beautiful noise?” Turned out to be this pedal. This particular model is coveted by bass players. It’s the same as any Big Muff, a classic fuzz on it’s own, but the capacitor values in the various fuzz stages differ enough from other models so that this is the one that can output the brown notes to hapless victims causing uncontrollable bowel movements. Plus, this version has that bad ass big green tank box, and that’s just cool. Yup, fashion beats function 28 days of month, as my friend Jamie puts it.

For more info on all Big Muffs, there’s an excellent resource here:

The whole history of Mike Matthews, and Elektro Harmonix, and Sovtek is a fascinating novel in and of itself, and a topic for another day. I had other fish to fry inside this rooskie.

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