Turbo RAT: Product Reviews

Guitargearheads.com

June 26, 2005
Written by Daniel L. Halberg

If you have been following GuitarGearHeads for any length of time, you know that we are big fans of ProCo’s line of RAT distortion pedals. Through our relationship with ProCo we have evaluated the classic Vintage RAT, the RAT 2, the screaming “You Dirty RAT”, and the mother of all RAT pedals, the Deucetone. As such, you can imagine my dilemma as a reviewer when I received the “Turbo RAT”. I mean, what more can I say about this line other than, “Pick one! They are all awesome!” However, I was in store for a delicious sounding surprise when I actually plugged the Turbo RAT into my rig. Two words, “Overdrive Nirvana.”

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Construction

This pedal has the same phenomenal construction quality as its near siblings. Black steel enclosure, industrial quality switches and pots, and military grade circuit boards. As with all of ProCo’s pedals, it will probably outlive you! The inside is accessible via a small panel that is held by convenient thumbscrew. Opening this panel reveals the battery compartment and circuit board. Battery changes are simple and the inside contains a plastic battery holder for a 9V battery that prevents it from rattling around the inside of the case. The interior was clean and precise—which was expected from our previous experience since all RAT pedals seem to be built like tanks!

Features

A very extensive discussion on the feature set of the Turbo RAT can be found on it’s product page, as well as the manual and some sound clips. In summary, however, are the the pedal’s specs:

Specs:

  • Input Impedance: 1 Megohm Power
  • Requirements: 9 V Battery or external DC power Supply (RPS-1)
  • Output Impedance: 1 Kilohm
  • Maximum Gain: 60 dB
  • Dimensions: H 3-1/8″ x D 4-1/16″ x W 3-1/2″
  • Equivalent Input Noise: -110 dB
  • Filter: 6 dB/octave low-pass
  • Maximum Output Level: 2.8 V (P-P)
  • Weight: 1.7 lbs./0.8 Kg.
  • Current Consumption/Battery Life: 7.8 mA/100 hours
  • Shipping Weight: 2.0 lbs./0.9 Kg.

This pedal will plug into ProCo’s RPS-1 power supply that is designed for 120 VAC operation; however, a single 9V should get you about 100 hours of life. Other available power supply options should work as well.

There are three dials on this unit from left to right, Distortion, Filter, and Volume. Simply, distortion manages the gain setting (i.e., volume coming into the pedal), volume manages the volume of the sound coming out of the pedal, and filter is a “high-cut filter” that essentially works like a reverse tone knob.

One of the features I love about RAT pedals is the true bypass circuitry. When you click this pedal off—it is actually OFF, avoiding the dreaded “tone-suck” that happens with lesser quality pedal designs.

Sound Test

To use a cooking analogy, remember that the secret to a good sauce is the right amount of seasoning—too much and you can spoil the pot. Where the RAT and RAT 2 dominate the hard core, gain driven, “Marshall Stack” tone and the “You Dirty RAT” can surely cause your guitar to burst into flames, the Turbo RAT genuinely occupies a unique sonic space. Where the latter two are heavy distortion that you can back down into overdrive, the Turbo RAT is a velvety smooth overdrive that you can push into a crunchy distortion range.

Like I’m sure you’ve experienced, I have purchased overdrive “blues” type pedals before and have had mixed results. I have always been seeking a way to “dirty up” the sound without making it muddy or overly noisy. You sort of want the chords to be crunchy without pushing too far into distorted tones. Clean tones coming out the same setup should be very clean if only slightly rough around the edges. This allows you to switch back and forth between rhythm and lead without forcing you out of the pocket to dance on pedal switches.

I tried this pedal through an Atomic Tube Amp (driven by a POD XT on a clean tone), a Marshall AVT20, a Tascam portable CD-Trainer, and a portable recording system—all with outstanding results. I was especially impressed with how quiet this pedal is when NOT playing, this is, no annoying hiss at reasonable gain levels.

I really loved playing blues tunes using this pedal, it gave my guitar the perfect amount of edge without being trashy. It’s versatility extended easily into classic and contemporary rock as well. I’m not a country player, but the Turbo RAT probably has a couple of tricks up its proverbial sleeve for my honky tonkin’ brothers and sisters. Finally you are looking for a good overdrive pedal for your bass guitar, this pedal would probably be worth a serious look.

Conclusion

I am a huge fan of ProCo’s products and the entire line of RAT pedals. The Turbo RAT is no exception. This pedal has exceptional tone, especially when driven through a tube amplifier. If you need a versatile pedal that produces a smooth overdriven tone to a crunchy distortion without going overboard, this pedal is perfect for that sonic range. I suggest you try one, I think you’ll be as impressed as me. So until we say otherwise, all pedals in the ProCo line get our coveted GearHead “Appoved” sticker. The Turbo RAT has certainly earned one for 2005.

Written by Daniel L. Halberg

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