Sound — 10
I currently use a Shine Custom Tele (also a Richwood Tele and a Strat) with a Seymour Duncan SH-6 (bridge) into a Dunlop Wah, followed by my Rat and a GLX Super Chorus, into a Peavey Bandit 112 (early 90s version). Also, i use the distortion channel on the bandit occasionally to get kick-ass feedback. I have noticed no significant noise with using the Rat alone or with the rest of my pedalboard when i use good leads with Neutrik jack plugs, however lower-quality leads might produce a slight hum or hiss. After trying the Rat with my wah, it sounds as if they were made for eachother; the sometimes shrill quality of the Dunlop wah is balanced with the smooth and thick distortion (bordering on fuzz) of the Rat. My chorus blends equally as well, particularly when the EQ is slanted towards high freqiencies (take a look at any Boss chorus, you will see what i mean). With the distortion pulled down to around 1 o'clock and the filter at slighty above zero, the Rat produces sounds pleasingly similar to the fantasic guitar sound on the first Foo Fighters album (which is why i was tempted to buy it in the first place). With the distortion maxed out and the filter at 9 o'clock, it produces a creamy and harmonic fuzz that compliments both rhythm and lead work with consistent sustain, similar to Pat Smear's signature sound. Between 9 o'clock and zero on the distortion knob, the pedal becomes less useable because the output becomes pretty much clean, but slighty above 9 o'clock is ideal territory for punchy and aggressive rhythms, working with single coils as equally well as humbuckers. I recommend using this pedal as a standalone distortion rather than a boost; such a basic application would be a waste of such a good pedal! I also noticed that, when other distortion is added, it produces strong but tasteful feedback which i have had no trouble in icorporating into my music. Very handy if you are a Nirvana/Radiohead/Pixies fan! Make sure you keep an eye on your settings if using for a whole show, because the knobs are often move around slightly when you engage the pedal with your foot and arent being careful.
Overall Impression — 9
I play a mixture of alternative rock, power-pop and punk (think PUSA, The Manics, The Foos, Green Day) and this pedal is everything I could want; It has the warmth and sustain of a Big Muff with the subtlety and minimalism of a DS-1 which I have fallen in love with. It really has to be heard to be believed (basically, I aint just kissing ass, it's just this awesome! ). It would be interesting if Pro Co made a version with an EQ just to see what other sounds I could achieve, otherwise this pretty much hit's the spot. If this were stolen or lost I would buy several more just to pelt the guy Who stole it in the first place. There are other pedals that come close to this kind of sound, but only this pedal nails it so I'm pretty much obligated to get a new one if this is stolen or goes missing. Sure there will be more expensive, more versatile, more hard-wearing distortions out there, but for under 60 quid this is pretty darn good. It does take getting used to though and at first I wasn't struck by it, but you do get used to it fairly quickly.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The pedal comes with a 5-year warranty against any kind of damage (intentional or otherwise) which pretty much says it all! I will probably still use this pedal 10 years down the line as it is reassuringly weighty, and with removal of it's cover I found the case to be very thick, which will help significantly against pitting around the footswitch due to excessive stomping! However, perhaps the footswitch may need replacing after a while as these can wear out quickly no matter how well-made they are. I don't feel it would be neccessary to have a backup unless you were in some extreme hardcore touring punk band and trashed the crap out of your equipment every night. For normal use, I'm almost certain the one unit would last ages. I aren't too sure about the durability of the control knobs, however, because they are positioned right under where your foot will come down at speed to engage the pedal, which could damage the pots after a while.
Ease of Use — 9
I had heard that this pedal requires some serious tweaking, so i was amazed when i got a perfect sound from it straight away! Each control (distortion, filter, volume) covers alot of ground sound-spectrum wise, there are ALOT of different sounds you can achieve from this pedal by making only small adjustments. I didnt recieve a manual with mine, which is fine seeing as a manual would be pretty pointless given the ease of use! However, if this is going to be someone's first pedal then perhaps basic instructions are necessary.