In 1978, the most versatile and influential distortion pedal of all time was invented in Kalamazoo, MI. Scott Burnham and Steve Kiraly first had the idea after playing, repairing and modifying all the available distortion pedals on the market. They wanted something that didn’t exist in the then mainstream throes of MXR, DOD and even BOSS’s product line; they wanted a pedal that could go from overdrive to distortion and then all the way to fuzz. By 1979 Scott had perfected the circuit in his RAT-infested basement workshop, and the rest is history.
The PackRat is the ultimate tribute to the 40+ years of rodent evolution and its impact on the guitar’s sound. Artists from every genre have used the iconic tones in this unassuming black box to create their sounds, including Nirvana, John Schofield, Pink Floyd, Metallica, REM, the Eagles, Jeff Beck and Radiohead.
Building on the Multi-Mode pedal series that includes the Muffuletta and Bonsai, the PackRat uses the same unique digital runway system to direct the paths of 261 components through 40 individual switches. This means that when you choose one of the nine legendary or rare modes, you are playing fully analog circuits that perfectly replicate that mode, even down to the aging components (also known as component drift). If you purchased these nine hard-to-find pedals on the used market right now, you would pay around $4,000.
1. The OG V1 (1979-83)
The OG is a perfect recreation of the first production Version 1 Big Box/tone control RATs ever made. This is the model that started it all.
2. White Face V3 (1984-1986)
The “White Face” is the first Small Box RAT and is recognizable for its white filled block logo across the top of the pedal. This model has the more traditional reverse Filter control instead of Tone.
3. Turbo V5 (1989)
The Turbo RAT introduced the world to a different type of distortion by introducing LEDs to the RAT’s clipping section to produce a more powerful distortion sound.
4. BRAT V6 (1997)
In the late nineties, Guitar Center launched an exclusive “budget RAT” with big tone and some unique modifications. The BRAT is the most unique RAT variation ever made by ProCo.
5. Dirty V7 (2004)
What happens when you replace the stock silicon diodes with germanium? It gets even dirtier.
6. LA (1986)
Japanese pedal companies loved the RAT circuit and used it throughout the 1980s disguised as their latest and greatest “original” circuit. The LA Metal is one of the most interesting takes on the circuit from this era.
7. Landgraff MO’D (1999)
Swirl paint jobs and point-to-point wiring made Landgraff a father of the nineties boutique era. The MO’D distortion is one of the greatest RAT-style distortions ever made.
8. Caroline Wave Cannon
When I started the PackRat, I knew immediately what friend I was going to invite to the party. The Wave Canon is Caroline Guitar Company’s stab at making this classic circuit even better. I bought the version 1 back in 2012 and immediately fell in love.
9. JHS Mode
The JHS Mode is the discontinued “PackRAT” modification that I did to RATs for over ten years. It takes everything I love about this circuit and elevates it!