No, I haven't become one of those insufferably repetitive stoner/doom fanbois. I'm not using it for its distortion.
Quick background - I became very bored of the tubescreamer sound a couple of years back and delved into some alternatives. You can boutique yourself all the way to the very top of the pile and it's still the same circuit, with minor tweaks and cork-sniffery components that make zero difference. It's still that mid-bumping, bass-cutting sound that makes everything really easy to play and tightens everything up for fast playing. Great.
But boy is it done do death. Makes everything sound generic with icky modern attack. It also makes some amps just sound anaemic as hell.
I've modded both my Ts-type boosts with bass-bump switches, like so;
And sure it works, but not when using it as a boost. You still get that upper mid attack and all that, but now with lots of boomy low end. Great for if you're using it for an actual "overdrive" (into a clean channel) to get a fuller sound, but doesn't really work when pumping the front of a high-gain amp.
Long story short, Mr S has had a 1988 Rat for a few years now and I borrow it from time to time. It always makes me cry at how good an overdrive it is, especially for Marshall circuits. So I had to hunt down my own.
Why the "vintage" one I hear you ask? Well, contrary to the marketing, the 80's/90's Rats are different to the modern Chinese ones. I say this as a vehement anti-cork-sniffer. I've had a Chinese one, had them both apart side-by-side on my workbench when borrowing Mr S's, and the circuit is like 90% the same but not quite as identical as people think. In addition, the pot tapers are vastly different.
This means that the newer one just cannot do subtle overdrive. It's either so quiet it sounds like it's off, or it's full on doom mode. Shitty pots/knobs/parts, and just overall the tone is horrible in comparison. It's buzzy, fizzy and harsh.
Anyway, enough of a history lesson, here's the pedal;
Gratuitous gut shot;
The pot codes date back to 1987, but they didn't start making this particular model (Rat2) until '88, so it's a very early one.
Here's a quick comparison against a Boss SD-1 (which, for the record, I do like, and prefer over the OD808 circuit as it's a little flatter, with asymmetrical clipping, so feels a little more "amp-like" and not as smoothed-out)
Just a crude noodling so excuse sloppy playing. Going through my JVM and into a Marshall MF280 cab with V30's. SM57, naturally.
The first tone you hear is both pedals bypassed, Charvel San Dimas straight into the JVM.
Perhaps tricky to tell from audio alone, but feel-wise the Rat is SO much more punchy in the low mids, has a fuller sound overall. A little more strident in the highs perhaps but that can be tweaked with the filter knob. The punch and grind is particularly apparent on big chords where you can hear every note. It's perhaps more noticeable when going from the Rat back to the SD-1, the bottom end just falls out of the tone and it gets very flat all of a sudden.
If you've got a Marshally amp get a Rat