JHS PackRat Distortion – Multi-Mode ProCo Rat
In 1978, the most versatile and influential distortion pedal of all time was invented in Kalamazoo, MI: the Proco RAT. 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 mainstream product lines like MXR, DOD and BOSS. 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 Scofield, Pink Floyd, Metallica, REM, the Eagles, Jeff Beck and Radiohead.
Building on our 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. When you put it that way, $249 sounds pretty reasonable.
Let’s take a look at the controls.
The operation of the PackRat is about as simple as it gets. The “Volume” control adjusts the overall volume of the pedal. The “Distortion” control lets you raise and lower the amount of gain or distortion that the circuit produces, and the “Filter” control allows you to brighten and darken the sound of the overall effect. This is effectively a simple, low-pass filter. Lastly, we have “Mode” control. This is a stepped pot that clicks into place as you scroll through the nine legendary versions of this circuit. As you change the mode, the analog circuitry is rewired, resulting in brand new values of resistors, capacitors, diodes and op amps.
For more about the history of the ProCo Rat, click here