Ratings

Pros:
Tight punchy distortion tones. Inexpensive.

Cons:
Less airy, more compressed tones mean less dynamism and detail.

Street:
$72

Electro-Harmonix Flatiron Fuzz
ehx.com.com


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One of the weirder stompbox myths is that the ProCo RAT is a “metal” pedal. In truth, it’s a bitchin’ low-to-medium-high-gain distortion and overdrive—more likely to be seen at the feet of indie-rock guitar heroes than black-clad shredders. Electro-Harmonix’ Flatiron Fuzz is an homage to the RAT 2 that embodies many of the RAT 2’s best and most familiar attributes in a dirt-cheap, compact stomp.

The Flatiron excels at tight, grinding distortion when you boost the gain and set the filter control for toppier output.

I’m not sure I use RAT pedals in the most conventional fashion. But my preferences for dark, smoky filter settings and low-medium gain did highlight differences between the Flatiron and a vintage RAT 2. At such settings the EHX is slightly more compressed and less airy. The flipside is that the Flatiron excels at tight, grinding distortion when you boost the gain and set the filter control for toppier output. It’s hard to say how much of the difference is down to the LM741CN op amp standing in for the celebrated LM308 chip in vintage units. (Even dedicated RAT heads dispute the importance of the 308.) But in general, the Flatiron is a more even-tempered and predictable take on the RAT 2. It’s bristling with punchy and pleasing filthiness. And there is little doubt that many players will prefer these qualities and the smaller-than-RAT enclosure—especially at the rock-bottom price.

Test gear: Fender Jazzmaster, Fender Telecaster Deluxe with Curtis Novak Widerange humbuckers, ’68 Fender Bassman, blackface Fender Vibrolux Reverb.