Seeing a wide, three knob black box on the floor of any stage will tell you exactly what you can expect to hear. The Pro Co RAT 2 is one of the most popular and most refined distortion boxes at the moment. This effect pedal has achieved that type of status within the guitarist community ever since it first appeared, and that was a long time ago.
From that point on, guitar players around the world realized just what kind of quality this pedal brings to the table, and many of them have chosen this exact one as their main source of face-melting distortion. Our job today is to take a closer look at the Pro Co RAT 2 and try to describe you just what kind of performance you can expect to get. By the time we’re done, chances are you will have enough reasons to check one of these out. It just might be what you were looking for all along.
Check out this demo vid from Reverb.com and then we’ll crack into our more detailed review.
Pro Co RAT 2 Review
First built in the ’80s, RAT distortion boxes didn’t take long to reach the top. Pro Co took a big gamble with the original RAT box, but it paid off in so many ways that it’s hard to even count them. Their initial success wasn’t accidental, but no one guaranteed that the next model to follow will have the same type of reception. There’s more than enough brands which miserably failed to deliver a successor to a popular model, thus chipping away a decent chunk of their own reputation. That wasn’t the case with Pro Co. As a matter of fact, almost every single RAT pedal was an instant success.
When they were in the process of designing the initial RAT box, Pro Co wanted to build something different. This didn’t only apply to the sound of the pedal, but to its overall appearance as well. The result is an enclosure that is anything but standard if you compare it to modern Boss-like units.
In a way, this unusual format made it appealing to those who were interested in something unconventional. The whole pedal is made of thick steel, which you can abuse regularly without it failing on you. This claim was proven numerous times by now. Even though it’s pretty hefty for an effects pedal, RAT units are traditionally rather simple in nature.
What you have is a fully analog circuitry that delivers quality in all aspects, from performance to durability. As you would expect, these come with true bypass as standard. The controls are limited to three knobs. You have a Distortion knob, Volume knob, and Filter knob to work with. Distortion controls the amount of gain that is pushed into the signal like you can see on so many other pedals. Volume is self-explanatory, while Filter is technically the Tone knob.
The only difference here is that bass and treble ends of the spectrum are reversed. That means that turning the knob to the left, you will get more treble while the opposite gives you more bass. The quality of knobs is great, which makes them rather responsive. The foot switch is a heavy duty unit that can take a lot of abuse and still keep going. In other words, Pro Co RAT 2 is built like a tank.
Before we jump into the sound, we have to briefly mention controls again. One of the absolute best things about Pro Co RAT 2 is how sensitive the control knobs are. It takes really tiny adjustments to completely change the tone. While it does require you to dial in the tone with more care, you also get a much wider range of tones to play with. Speaking of which.
Depending on what type of tone you are after, Pro Co RAT 2 can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s not about it being good or bad, it’s more about how different it is compared to the competition. For the most part, you can get anything from a slight overdrive layered on top of a clean channel, to full blown distortion that is infused with what appears to be an endless amount of gain.
Sure, there are other pedals on the market which can be described with these same words, but RAT 2 packs the type of heat those pedals can’t match. As you start opening up the signal to more gain, the tone becomes fuzzier and eventually hits a fully saturated distortion. At no point is there a lack of signal integrity. On the contrary, all of that gain is nicely contained within the signal, making this one of the more consistent models you can get at the moment.
The ‘color’ RAT 2 brings to its users has become a trademark of sorts within the guitarist community. So much so that a large number of popular bands have decided to use it to record some of the more notable albums out there.
Watch this video review by Intheblues looking at the Rat 2.
Pro Co RAT 2 is one of those effects pedals which you either love or dislike. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. With that said, it is definitely one of the most iconic stomp boxes made in past several decades. The fact that Pro Co hasn’t changed much about these pedals is all the proof you will ever need for their performance. In order to truly appreciate what RAT platform has to offer, you need to plug yourself into one and run it for at least an hour or so.
That is a minimal amount of time it will take you to roughly go over its range. Anything more detailed than that can take weeks to figure out properly. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the cost of this whole experience falls within the affordable category. Pro Co kept the prices right in that sweet spot where you are tempted enough to invest in one, while it’s also a bargain at the same time. What more could we ask for?