Utech Records Rat Licker Pedal

A collaboration between IdiotBox Effects and grindcore outfit Dead Neanderthals yields an interesting take on the classic RAT recipe.

Handy blend control. Even raging settings have ample bass. Sludge and dBs for days.

“Dry” signal muddier and less distinct than bypassed signal. Little nuance past the first third of the distortion trimpot’s throw. Two screwdrivers necessary for dialing tones.


Utech Records Rat Licker


Designed by IdiotBox Effects’ Matt Shea in collaboration with Utech Records duo Dead Neanderthals, the Rat Licker is driven by LM308 and TL072 chips and aims to expand on the classic Pro Co RAT recipe by pairing the usual distortion, filter, and volume controls (here they’re internal trimpots) with an external wet-dry blend knob. A fourth trimpot boosts the input signal.

Tested with an Eastwood baritone, a Les Paul, a Jazzmaster, and a Mustang PJ bass variously driving a Vibrolux Reverb, a Vibro Champ, and a Fender Rumble 200 bass combo, the Licker’s sonics proved of a piece with its thorn-bramble artwork. The distortion trimmer piles on shockingly aggressive, thick grind almost immediately past minimum, while taking the filter control much past full counterclockwise (where there’s ample treble and mid content for more straight-ahead rock, punk, or indie applications) balloons your signal with domineering corpulence—especially if you’re not using your bridge pickup.

Recorded with an Eastwood Sidejack Baritone DLX’s Curtis Novak JMWR neck pickup into the Rat Licker, a Gamechanger Audio Light reverb, an Ibanez Analog Delay Mini, and a ’76 Fender Vibrolux Reverb miked with a Royer R-121. Audient iD44 interface into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.

  • 0:00-0:17 — Rat Licker bypassed
  • 0:18-0:36 — Rat Licker engaged with distortion trimpot 1/4 turn up from full counterclockwise, filter and direct trimmers completely counterclockwise, volume trimmer at noon, and blend at 25 percent.
  • 0:39-0:58 — Same trimmer settings with blend at 50 percent.
  • 1:00-end — Same trimmer settings with blend at 100-percent wet.

The volume trimpot ups the dBs in tandem with higher blend settings and can absolutely bombard your amp when both are maxed—a big plus if your amp gets meaner as it’s pushed. Blend capabilities may disappoint some players, as—even at minimum blend—the “direct” signal not only lacks a fair amount of the treble and high-mid content from the source signal, but is also slightly muddied by extra low-mids. However, if droning, bludgeoning, rafters-rattling mayhem is your bag, the Licker can work its filth in many useful directions. Perhaps best of all, if you’re either a bassist or play in dropped tunings, you’ll love that even massively distorted settings maintain their low end quite admirably.

"I don’t like any type of art that has to be explained."

Photo by Scott Friedlander

The profoundly prolific guitarist leads his band of tricksters through a surrealist sonic exploration of deep, esoteric rhythms and intricate interplay on Thisness.

On his new album Thisness, Miles Okazaki is credited as playing guitar, voice, and robots. If you imagine that the reference to robots is some sort of artsy kitsch—like trapping a Roomba Robot Vacuum into a tight space to sample its struggles as it percussively barrels into the four walls—you’re very far off the mark. Okazaki—who has an elite academic pedigree with degrees from Harvard, Manhattan School of Music, and Julliard, and currently holds a faculty position at Princeton University (after leaving a post at the University of Michigan, to which he commuted weekly from his home in Brooklyn for eight years)—wasn’t kidding.

Read MoreShow less

See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

Submit your own artist pick collections to rebecca@premierguitar.com for inclusion in a future gallery.

How does a legacy artist stay on top of his game? The pianist, hit singer-songwriter, producer, and composer talks about the importance of musical growth and positive affirmation; his love for angular melodicism; playing jazz, pop, classical, bluegrass, jam, and soundtrack music; and collaborating with his favorite guitarists, including Pat Metheny and Jerry Garcia.

Read MoreShow less