Tru-Fi‘s The Rat Pack is a homage of this Maine based company to the original Rat box from 1979, which had a Tone knob (instead of a “Filter”) wired backward so that it sounded brighter when moved counter-clockwise – a quirk preserved in this pedal.
However, the Rat Pack doesn’t lack improvements over the original, in particular in the tone variety department. A three-way toggle switch lets you pick among three different voicings:
Frank is LED diodes that was used in the Turbo version of the R*t that appeared in the late 80s, more aggressive and with some more grit and bite.
The Dino is germanium diodes which I must say no R*t ever had but they should have, OMG SWEET !! Really musical and harmonic just a pleasure to play.
The Sammy is silicon diodes which is what the original had, and the rest of the components are set JUST LIKE A EARLY BIG BOX !!!
The company states that it can build this pedal with a rare LM308 Op-Amp like the original “for a few bucks.”
Hear how the Rat Pack sounds in the video below.
The R*t Pack !
When I was 16 years old I wanted to sound like Neil Young in Crazy Horse, but it just wasn’t gonna happen with the clean amp I had. I would turn it up and it sounded like a transistor radio not a overdriven beast that I craved.
In Guitar Player Magazine they had an article on how to build your own Distortion Pedal, so I went to Radio Shack bought parts and had at it. After a week, I had nothing going on and I brought it to school to show a science teacher who knew less than me. A guy in the lunch room, who later went on to be one of the greatest guitar players in the world, looked at it on the lunch room table and shuck his head in disgust – “Just Go Buy One”. What? They make these things ? I was in shock, as he walked away it hit me it was my birthday next week and I will asked Grandma for money for a D Box !!! She gave me $20 and off I went on my bike to Sam Ash in Hempstead, NY and told the guy after 20 mins of walking around too introverted to mumble anything of what I wanted. He said “Oh kid you want a R*t” – Ok how much is it, $14.95, cable $3, your out the door for 20 bucks (remember this is a long time ago). DONE !!!
I got on my bike driving faster than sound, got home, ran to the attic, plugged it in — ANDDDDDDDD. This R*t Big Box pedal made a sound that I can still feel in my bones, now I wasn’t very good but the feeling of that first distorted sound in my hands was like a TOP 5 moment in my life. It was just incredible, I was in Crazy Horse, I sounded like Neil Young. I went and ate dinner, came upstairs and stayed in the attic playing till my mother pounded on the door to go to bed.
This is my tribute to the R*t Big Box classic pedal Grandma paid for it and it started this whole journey!
The original was made in 1979, the first 100 where hand painted, I actually worked in a studio in the late 90s that had not one but two of them. A world guitar collectors owned the studio, and he had these incredible R*t handpainted big boxs.
I even put the Tone knob not Filter – TONE like the early one’s is wired backwards. Odd yes, but it is my homage to history like the original. You will see a diode toggle, that I names the presets FRANK – DINO – SAMMY. Frank is LED diodes that was used in the Turbo version of the R*t that appeared in the late 80s, more aggressive and with some more grit and bite. The Dino is germanium diodes which I must say no R*t ever had but they should have, OMG SWEET !! Really musical and harmonic just a pleasure to play. The Sammy is silicon diodes which is what the original had, and the rest of the components are set JUST LIKE A EARLY BIG BOX !!!
I still have my original – ABed them for 3 hours – EXACT ! There are a few MODERN upgrades, Tru-Bypass, and it also has a Gain mod so when you turn the gain all the way down the pedal does not turn off like the old one’s.
I love this pedal, it is aggressive, it is 70s hard rock and balls out rock n roll. You can get it built in a host of colors, and even hit the option for the LM308 Op-Amp like the original for a few bucks. They are no longer made and are not cheap IF REAL! I actually love the stock op-amp it is cleaner than the 308 but some people swear it sounds better.