A revved-up, rodent-based circuit proves wickedly versatile.
Great fundamental RAT-like tones with useful enhancements and interesting alternative gain and EQ profiles. Compact size.
Tiny toggles in proximity to knobs make some operations tricky.
Though it gets its due in boutique circles more frequently these days, the Pro Co RAT, for all its stature as a classic, still verges on unappreciated and underrated. Maybe the fact that you can still get a relatively decent new RAT 2 for 70 bucks has something to do with the lack of hype. That's cool—car nuts don't really get excited about ubiquitous and highly functional Toyota Corollas, either. But a good, basic RAT can be a source of everything from creaky, organic, and amp-ish overdrive to searing fuzz and wooly filtered distortion. And with its new mini-sized U.S.-built Ratsbane, Wampler expands that flexibility exponentially.
RATs in the Kitchen
Brian Wampler is clearly a dedicated student and master of pedal circuitry. You also get the feeling that he's a discerning listener. The evidence for that is ample in Ratsbane's additional voice and gain options, which cleverly fill holes in an original RAT's performance envelope. Many of these additions tend toward giving the Ratsbane more focused tonalities. But the Ratsbane's sensitive controls mean you can extract many variations of those extra tones that sound alive and rich with character.
If you've ever used a RAT for more than five minutes, you'll recognize the Ratsbane's core controls. There's a master output volume, a gain knob (labeled distortion), and the low-pass filter, which, to my ear, is the key to the original RAT's multi-faceted personality. Wampler's additions to this formula look simple, but they are transformative. The small left toggle shifts the Ratsbane's gain profile. In the center, the Ratsbane assumes the gain characteristics of a vintage RAT: dry, mid-forward, but full bodied and chock full of overtone detail. To the left, the distortion is more focused: heavier on the mids and top end. It can sound a lot like bumping the presence on a Marshall, though some filter settings can render it quite nasal—no bad thing when you're trying to find a slot in a busy mix. In the right position, the Wampler re-introduces low-end and a gain boost. It lends body to lyrical and more languid soloing, though power chord riffing can sound a little more muddled.
No Tone Traps Here
The Ratsbane's alternate voice switch isn't, as you might suspect, a take on another vintage RAT incarnation like the Turbo RAT. Instead, Wampler introduces his own tailored EQ formula that gives the alternate voice a more compressed and focused output with fewer of the messier and somewhat random peaks and fractured overtones that the Ratsbane's fuzzier side can produce.
It's also a highly cooperative and cordial stacking partner for fuzzes and other distortions.
While the Ratsbane is versatile and well-rounded enough to serve as your only gain pedal, it's also a highly cooperative and cordial stacking partner for fuzzes and other distortions. At cleaner settings, it adds focus and clarity to muddy or octave-rich fuzz like Shin-ei FY-2 clones and Russian Big Muffs (particularly when situated in front of a fuzz). And experimentation with the alternate gain and voice profiles will extract copious additional fuzz, distortion, and overdrive flavors from whatever you place downstream. The Ratsbane may not be as flexible as an EQ paired with a fuzz for whittling precise tone profiles, but the wide range of subtle-to-extreme shading it contributes from five simple controls sometimes makes it feel pretty close.
Wampler's Ratsbane does great service to the RAT's legacy, underscoring its flexibility, personality, and potency. But the additional features truly enhance the already abundant character in the basic circuit. Its small size and stacking-friendly nature make it an easy fit for any pedalboard in sonic and spatial terms. The quality is top notch. And, at just 149 bucks, it delivers a boatload of tones for the price.
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Which one do you prefer?
Rhett and Zach unpack the big news for secondhand guitar sellers and buyers: Sweetwater has launched their new Gear Exchange. How does it compare to Reverb, Craigslist, and Marketplace? To find out, Zach takes the site for a spin and buys a pedal. He calls the process both “very easy” and “normal.” They discuss the pros and cons of the various used-gear outlets and share tips for not getting got when buying gear. Plus, Zach grew a mustache, Mythos Pedals is moving, and he talks about his forthcoming line of Strat pickups inspired by Hendrix’s reverse-stagger setup.
Sweetwater vs. Reverb
Get 10% off from StewMac when you visit stewmac.com/dippedintone
Expanding on the innovations of Cort’s original 8-string multiscale, the KX508 Multi-Scale II features an updated okoume body and a specially designed Fishman Fluence Modern Humbucker.
The KX508 Multi-Scale II is the second iteration of the eight-string KX508, Cort’s first multi-scale 8-string guitar introduced in 2020. Like its predecessor, the KX508 Multi-Scale II has a visually stunning poplar burl top in a Mariana Blue Burst finish. Beyond its visual appeal, the poplar burl is an ideal tonal complement to Cort’s newly introduced okoume body. Okoume is known for its light weight and ability to improve tonal clarity. It has a tight low-end and highly articulate high-end, which matches the overall sonic characteristics of the KX508 Multi-Scale II. The multi-scale, measuring 26.5 to 28 inches, offers a punchy low end while maintaining a familiar feel and tension on the treble strings, which allows for speedy runs and string-bending. Players have unhindered access to the high frets thanks to the low-scooped heel.
The 5-piece maple and purple heart neck not only provides strength and stability, aided by a spoke nut hotrod truss rod, but a strong and focused sound. The Macassar ebony fingerboard (15.75-inch radius) offers smooth playability along the 24 frets with teardrop inlays. Macassar is an ideal tonewood for high-gain applications because of its ability to cut through a dense mix. At the top of the neck, the 2 7/32-inch nut width (56.5 mm) is surprisingly comfortable for an 8-string guitar and is even suitable for players with smaller hands. The individual hardtail bridge with string-thru-body design results in greatly improved sustain, superb string separation for enhanced articulation, and precise intonation. Deluxe locking machine heads offer reliable tuning as well as easier and quicker string changes.
The Cort Sessions | KX508 Multi Scale II Electric Guitar
MSRP $1699.99 USD
MAP $1199.99 USD
For more information, please visit cortguitars.com.
The Tour Collection is defined by a minimalistic, vintage-inspired aesthetic, top-of-the-line components, and a simplified electronics configuration featuring new, custom pickups by Supro.
Available in the collection is the 16-inch-wide double-cutaway DC, the 15-inch-wide single-cutaway SS, and a 14-inch-wide Mini DC. Each model comes in three finishes: Slate Blue, Solid Wine, and Solid Black.
Every detail of the Tour Collection was chosen to achieve retro minimalism. Small diamond fingerboard inlays match 1930s-style diamond f-holes, and an undersized Throwback Scroll-style headstock achieves excellent head-to-body balance. The collection also features satin nickel hardware and custom Vintage Deluxe Grover tuners with a 15:1 gear ratio. Each model also features a simplified two-knob electronics configuration with 50s-style wiring to retain top-end clarity upon rolling off the volume knob. The neck shape in the Tour Collection is similar to the slim C-shape found throughout the D’Angelico line, but with more thickness in the shoulder to allow for snug hand fit as well as extra sustain. Medium Jumbo fret wire and a 12-inch fingerboard radius allow for quick navigation of the fingerboard while also prioritizing comfort for both rhythm and lead playing.
In 2020, Supro and D’Angelico became part of the same family of brands under Bond Audio. At that time, EVP of Product Ryan Kershaw and CTO Dave Koltai began designing custom pickups under the Supro name for the Tour Collection project.
“Supro Bolt Bucker pickups were designed to offer the tone of the most sought-after vintage "PAF" pickups from the late 1950's. Scatter wound, just like the originals, Supro Bolt Buckers utilize 42-gauge enamel wire along with a mixture of Alnico II (neck) and Alnico V (bridge) magnets to provide the perfect balance of warmth and clarity with unrivaled articulation and note bloom.” - Dave Koltai, Chief Technology Officer at Bond Audio.
Introducing the Excel Series Tour Collection | D'Angelico Guitars
All models are available for pre-order and will be in stock this holiday season. US MAP $1499. For more information, please visit dangelicoguitars.com.
The Cream Amp is a handmade low-gain overdrive pedal based on the Electra Distortion circuit.
The Cream Amp was designed to deliver full dynamics amp-like dirt to your clean and crunch amp or to another pedal in the chain without altering your tone too much. To add some grit at low volume or to make your amp sound more full, use the Drive control to set the gain and the Level control to match with your amp.
- Two knobs to control Volume and Drive
- Shielded inputs/outputs to avoid RF
- Filtered and protected 9VDC input
- Daisy-chain friendly
- Current draw: 7.5mA
The Cream Amp pedal is hand-made in Barcelona with carefully selected components and has a price of 100.00€. The pedals are available and can be purchased directly from the Ananasheadonline store.
For more information, please visit ananashead.com.