My good friend Vitalii has somewhat emerged as the master of Rat Distortion with his incredibly compelling series of Bat Distortion pedals.
My first of the series was the Compact V1 Cold War Bat which delivers two flavours of Opamp - Classic Western US LM308AN, and Eastern Soviet UD1408A - which renders a little more gritty. You get 6 Clipping Modes - Boost / Soft MOSFET / Soft Ge / Hard Si / Hard LED / Hard Ge - where one of the Red LED’s doubles up as the Bat’s eye! Alongside the very much stock Distortion, Filter (High-Cut), and Volume controls.
Next I acquired the very recently featured Heavy Bat - which ups the stakes considerably with Dual Channels - each with 8 Clipping options - LED / None / Si / Soviet / Si / Hybrid Diodes / MOSFET / Ge / Bat - and separate volume controls. You can then either deploy the classic one-knob Filter (High-Cut) EQ, or a 3-Band HM-2 Style EQ - also with Clean Blend. And on top of all that you get a choice of 4 different Opamps - Classic LM208N, Soviet UD1408, Modern TL072, and Ancient KA741. The Heavy Bat is very much the Ultimate Rat style distortion - with the maximum potency and potential. And it’s actually quite a bit more than the Standard Bat + Cold War Bat.
Bat and Cold War Bat V2 Editions with added FAT Switch
Vitalii then thought I had to have the complete set of Bats - and so I now have a V2 version of the original Standard Bat - which mixes up Classic / Vintage and Modern flavours - with a choice of SC308AT and TL071 opamps.
My own Bat Trifecta above!
The Standard Bat's Controls and Clipping options are - Distortion, Filter (High-Cut), Volume, Mode : Boost / Soft MOSFET / Soft Ge / Hard Si / Hard LED / Hard Ge, Op-Amp : Vintage (SC308AT) / Modern (TL071), Fat : Fat / Stock / Low.
The one sole difference between the V2 versus the V1 is that there is now a 3-way 'Fat' switch - which very significantly beefs up the bottom end with 3 options - Fat / Stock / Low. Low is essentially the beefiest / bassiest setting and it sounds great.
In fact each of these Bat / Rats sound magnificent and have subtle but compelling differences in their various different Opamps - while all render slightly different characters and textures. With the Classic 108/208/308 Opamps sitting somewhat in the middle - the Soviet variety audibly Grittier, the Modern is Tighter and Smoother, and the Ancient is slightly Fatter and Beefier.
Each of the Opamp alternatives and each of the Clipping options is wholly worthwhile - where the latter often means you need to 're-tune' the pedal as the output can vary fairly significantly in terms of volume, EQ and frequency accent.
I find each of these pedals incredibly easy to dial in - and each comes with a plethora of sweet-spot tones where I typically like the Boost, LED and MOSFET modes the best. All the Opamps are strong - and my use of those depends largely on mood. Where of late I've particularly favoured Soviet and Ancient varieties - but I really like Classic and Modern too.
This series is very much the high watermark of Rat Pedals - the Heavy Bat in particular - which is head and shoulders above anything else that is out there currently. These are beautifully engineered pedals for superior Rat Distortion sounds. There should be something here for everyone.
I noted that a reader on Instagram commended that the Heavy Bat was a little much - while even with all those controls it is really easy to dial things in and it truly delivers the best of all Bats / Rats.
When I initially started writing this there were circa 5 V1 Cold War Bats available on the Drunk Beaver Reverb.com Store - going for $180 - those are all long since gone! Vitalii tends to make each of these in fairly small batches - the Heavy Bats in particular - which get snapped up very quickly - those are usually priced at around $220 - which is exceedingly good value! There's usually not too long to wait until the next batch materialises. While of course there are sometimes component sourcing challenges as being experienced still by the whole industry! If you're interested in one of these you really need to track the Drunk Beaver Instagram Page which has all the announcements as to when new batches hit the Reverb store.
Are you tempted by any of these?