Deucetone RAT: Product Reviews
In this review we are going to focus on ProCo’s flagship product, the “DeuceTone” RAT for the guitar player.
Before we get started I would like to tell you a little about ProCo and the development of the ProCo Rat. ProCo was founded in 1974 By Charlie Wicks and the original Rat was developed in the basement of the original ProCo facility in 1978, and quickly became one of the most sought after fuzz tones on the market. Since then ProCo has moved it operations to the old Gibson factory, where they have developed several new pedals in the Rat line.
Since it’s introduction, The Rat has perhaps become ProCo’s most recognized product to guitar players. These pedals have been used by such musical giants as Jeff Beck. John Scofield, Billy Sheehan, Joe Walsh, Radiohead, Elliot Easton, Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, just to name a few.
Right out of the box you are going to notice a few things about the DeuceTone that sets it apart from the majority of distortion stomp boxes on the market. The first thing that will grab your attention is the durability of this unit. This thing is one heavy duty pedal. It is built to withstand years of being kicked around and abused on the road.
The next thing that will pique your curiosity is the fact that there are two sets of controls and two stomp box switches. These are labeled “Channel A” and “Channel B”. Unlike almost all other pedals on the market, The DeuceTone is a two channel distortion pedal. Each channel has the capability of working independently, or you can cascade them and use them in tandem for tremendous versatility and effectively triples your options for tone manipulation.
Each channel has three control knobs labeled “Distortion”, “Filter”, and “Volume”. These are essentially the same controls you will find on all “RAT” pedals. The control surfaces on the DeuceTone are very smooth and consistent. These are quality potentiometers with just enough resistance to make them easily controllable. Let’s take a quick look what each of these controls will do for you.
Distortion—This control is pretty self explanatory. This is the control that adjusts the level of gain through the pedal, thus increasing or reducing the level of distortion.
Filter—This is basically a tone control in a reverse setting. If you turn this baby clockwise you will roll of some of the treble frequencies giving you a deeper chunkier tone. It is important to note that this works exactly the opposite of a treble tone control. For instance, when you turn an amplifiers treble tone control clockwise, you will gain more treble. With the filter control you will get less treble.
Volume—Again, this is a pretty self explanatory. This control adjusts how strong the signal will be when it leaves the pedal and enters the amplifier or mixing board. (Go ahead and turn it up!)
I know what you are probably wondering now. If the controls are like any other RAT pedal, and there are five different single guitar RAT pedals, which one is the DeuceTone going to sound like? Well, I am glad you asked, because this is where we get to the heart of what sets the DeuceTone apart from any other distortion pedal on the market. The DeuceTone does not sound like any one single channel Rat. Actually it gives you the sounds of three distinctly different Rat pedals that would normally buy as single pedals. These Rats are the “Vintage Rat”, the “Turbo Rat”, and the “Dirty Rat”. Furthermore, The DeuceTone features a brand new RAT sound that is unavailable on any other unit. ProCo introduces the “Clean Rat” as the newest member of the Rat family.
Selecting which rat you want is very simple. There is a toggle switch in the back of each channel that allows you to choose one of three different rats for each channel. Channel “A” allows you to choose between the Turbo, Vintage, or Clean Rat. Channel “B” lets you choose between the Turbo, Vintage, or Dirty Rat. These features make the DeuceTone the most versatile distortion stomp box I have ever had the pleasure of using. There is something here to please everyone from the heaviest of the heavy metal players to the bluest of the blues players.
Hooking Up the DeuceTone
As I mentioned earlier, the two channels can be used independently. You can actually hook up two guitars separately and run them both through the DeuceTone at the same time. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that you are the lead player for the band. Your rhythm player gets off of work late and shows up just in time for the gig. While setting up he quickly realizes that he forgot his distortion pedal. There is no way to get him through the gig without some thick and heavy distortion. Luckily you have the DeuceTone! You decide to use one channel for most of your lead work you hook his guitar through the other channel. Using the separate “in” and “out” jacks for each channel you run each guitar to two separate amplifiers. Through the DeuceTone your band rocks the house! Your rhythm player is grinning all night because he never sounded so good. Everyone is locked in and you are a hero.
One more note regarding the possibilities setup. Once your rhythm player buys his own DeuceTone, the dual channel option is also helpful if you play two different guitars with different distortion settings. You can have them both hooked up at the same time, and play them through the same amp or different amps as your music dictates.
However to get the most versatility from this unit you will probably want to use both channels in tandem with the same guitar. ProCo has made this a very simple feat. Just hook your guitar into the input on channel “A” and then go from the output of channel “B” to the amplifier or mixing board. Through bypassing the channel “A” output and the channel “B” input the pedal becomes a dual distortion workhorse. You can then set up two different Rats with two different settings. Since each channel has its own on and off switch you essentially get four sounds to work with. The first is the clean signal from the guitar by turning off both DeuceTone channels. Being a true bypass effect the DeuceTone will have no degrading effects on your signal in this mode. From this point you can set each channel to a desirable setting. This gives you three more tone setting to choose from. Channel “A”, Channel “B”, and the summed sound of channel “A” and “B” combined.
Summing both channels can be a little hard to get used to, so ProCo has made a settings guide that they posted on their website. You can also see this same settings guide at the bottom of their downloadable owners manual. Using this guide you can get a great feel for the versatility of this unit and it also gives you a great reference point for finding your own settings. When you do find some settings you like, be sure to send them to ProCo for consideration for their updated settings guides. This is a great chance for you to share your sound with other guitar players around the world.
How Does it Sound
I receive e-mails every month from people asking my opinions on distortion pedals they just bought, or they are planning to buy. I have tried many of them out over the years and I always ask one question back to the authors of these inquiries. Can your pedal define you as a original sounding guitarist in every type of music you play? Or is it designed to make you sound like another guitar player. You ultimately have a choice to make as a guitar player. You can find your own sound and be original, or you can be a “cookie cutter”, and thus unoriginal, guitar player. Until I had the chance to play a “Rat” pedal, I have never played with a distortion pedal that I felt could really define my guitar playing and set me apart from the rest. So far I have found all of the “Rat” pedals to be better in durability and sound quality than most others on the market; however, the clear separator is the DeuceTone’s awesome flexibility. It’s what truly makes it stand head and shoulders above any other distortion stomp box I have ever tried. It is now a part of my guitar rig, and it is not going to be collecting any dust anytime soon!
The more I play with the controls on the DeuceTone, the more I feel that this is the distortion pedal that can please almost everyone. Whether you are a jazz, or country player who wants just a little overdrive to add some edge and color to your sound, or a metal head that would prefer a sound closer to brutal insanity, this is your pedal. This is truly the Jekyll and Hyde of distortion pedals.
In closing, I’ll admit that I’ve never been a big fan of distortion pedals. This is the pedal that changed my mind. The DeuceTone gets the “Guitar Gear Heads Approved” award for 2004.
Written by Gary Allen
Copyright © 2004 Allen & Halberg Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved Guitar Gear Heads™ is a Trademark of Allen & Halberg Publishing, Inc.
Keeping that in mind, I am posed with reviewing PRO CO’s brand new addition to the Rat family, the Deucetone Rat.
Here’s the lowdown: The Deucetone offers two analog channels, which can be run in independent stereo or one can cascade the channels for even more tone flexibility. The layout is basically like two Rats put side by side, with three controls for each channel, typical of all members of the Rat family (i.e. the Original, the Rat II, Turbo Rat): distortion, filter, and volume.
On the back of the Deucetone are separate in/outs for each channel, as well as a three-way selector for each channel. Channel A’s selector includes: Turbo Rat, Vintage Rat, and Dirty Rat. Channel B’s selector includes: Turbo Rat, Vintage Rat, and Clean Rat. There’s also a mini jack provided for an external DC power supply (not included), and a “no tools necessary” 9-volt battery compartment on the bottom of the Deucetone. (9-volt battery not included.)
The layout is quite simple, but there are a lot of options within that simplicity. For the review, I used three different electric guitars: a Fender American Standard Stratocaster (w/3 single coils), a Gibson Les Paul Standard (w/2 humbuckers), and a Gibson SG Classic (w/2 P-90s). Amps used were a Marshall JCM 2000, Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier, and an old, clean Fender practice amp. In reviewing the Deucetone, I have decided to break this down into three different categories:
Ok, if you’re familiar with the Rat and PRO CO already, you probably know that this baby is nearly indestructible. This thing, as the press release states, is “built like a tank.” The only major complaint with the model we received (an early issue) is that the 3-way switch on the back tends to stick out a little far of the casing (making it more apt to break), but after talking to PRO CO founder Charlie Wicks, this has already been brought to PRO CO’s attention and is being worked out.
Playability & Layout
The Deucetone is very simply laid out. If you ask my opinion, this is a good thing in pedals. It’s much better to not have to worry about fooling around with ten million knobs when you’re out on the road playing a gig in the middle of nowhere at some bar with a gravel floor. There are three knobs per channel (as mentioned above): distortion, filter, and volume. Channel A has a 3-way selector containing: Turbo Rat, Vintage Rat, and Dirty Rat. Channel B has a 3-way selector containing: Turbo Rat, Vintage Rat, and Clean Rat. I would usually plug it in so I could have the option of cascading both channels, so I would go into the input of Channel A and out the output of channel B, but the option of independent stereo operation is great, too – that’s a matter of personal preference and playing situation. What’s also helpful is that the footswitches are close enough together that you can click them both simultaneously with no trouble, yet they aren’t so close together that you always click them simultaneously. Someone was thinking!
The Original Rat was pretty revolutionary when it came out nearly twenty-five years ago, with many competitors trying to copy that “Rat” sound, but not quite making the cut. To this day, the “Rat” sound is virtually the same, offering massive amounts of distortion and sustain at any volume level desired. The Deucetone is one of the most versatile distortion pedals that I’ve had the pleasure of using. There are so many possibilities with this thing! The fact that there are basically three channels within each channel, and you can cascade two of those together, makes this pedal down-right great! Want a death metal distortion? How about a light blues overdrive? How about an in-your-face MC5-ish, dirty/clean sound? It’s all very possible on this pedal. Crank the distortion up for endless sustain or turn the filter all the way up for a warmer, more round tone. Cut the filter back and you get more definition and bite. No matter which amp/guitar combination I tried the Deucetone through, I was able to find a setting that pleased me. The Vintage Rat tones were very round and thick, with loads of sustain, yet not as much definition as the other channels, but plenty of warmth. The Turbo Rat channels offer more punch than the Vintage Rat, for a tone that’s similar to an overdriven Vox AC30. Turn the gain up on the Turbo Rat channel and you’ll get plenty of harmonic distortion tonality, with a bit more midrange crunch than the Vintage Rat. The new sounds are the Dirty Rat channel and the Clean Rat channel. The Clean Rat sound is well defined and reminiscent of an old Fender Tweed amp cranked and overdriven, where the Dirty Rat channel is more reminiscent of a Marshall Plexi cranked. Although these channels’ sounds are similar in ways to the aforementioned amps, they are in no way imitations. These tones are very “Rat-like” and very distinct and original. It’s no wonder that players such as John Scofield and Jeff Beck use the Rat as a defining element to their sounds.
The Deucetone Rat is a very versatile pedal, offering a large array of tonal possibilities and nearly indestructible construction. This piece of gear has already become a favorite of mine, but everyone has different ears. You can try this and nearly every PRO CO product at your local music store.
In addition to the Rat line, PRO CO is one of the world’s largest makers of audio interconnect products, with each being handmade at the PRO CO factory in Kalamazoo. Stop by your local music store and check out the Deucetone and other PRO CO products.
Written by Chad Houts