Tym Savage Toecutter

Yep, another new, well, re-issue Tym effect.

The original Tym Toecutter was made in pretty small numbers back in late 2009/early 2010 and then the Big Muds really took over my pedal building world. I must admit that back then I didn't really "get" the Pro Co RAT and I've always had trouble making stuff I don't really love. There just doesn't seem to be the enjoyment there, but, in the intervening years I've come to love the RAT circuit especially when my friend Tone told me I was using it wrong ....

I am someone that gets a new distortion or fuzz and turns the gain on full and then adjusts the volume to suit, which is normally on full too. Tone said "you turn the volume on full and then bring in the distortion as your level, then adjust the filter to suit" It changed the way I looked at this circuit.

I'd always thought the RAT was too .... metallic for me. I preferred a nice Big Muff or Dist+/DOD250 but using the circuit as a boost with dirt changed the way I play it and I totally got it. I now love this circuit almost as much as the BM or Dist+/DOD circuit. 

The original PCB from the original Tym Toecutters was designed by a friend of mine for one of his uni assignments and it was a good PCB but was very difficult to wire up as he didn't really grasp the concept of effects building. It was the main reason I stopped making those as the build time was intense. I eventually got my guy who designs all my PCBs to do a RAT circuit and then, it sat here at the workshop for years ...

Tone had designed a couple of artwork plates for the new Toecutter but this pedal is pretty close to his heart as it's pretty much his constant distortion pedal for both guitar and bass, so it had to be something HE wanted on the floor in front of him, and since I'm never really in a rush to do anything, we just kept waiting until it was "right"

Tone eventually sent through this artwork based on the classic Australian amps called Savage. These were made by Soundlab Musical Instruments in Abbotsford, Victoria during the hey day of solid state power and while they look cool, they were anything but. You don't see many around today as most of them caught fire. The designs were typical transistor designs of the day but were built with almost no regard for component ratings or thermal designs. They were typically 85-100W with common transistors driving most, or all of the way up to typically a (rather optimistically) pair of 2N3055 PT's with little regard for voltage/current and no regard for how hot everything gets when squeezing the life out of components with NO heat sinks. You do see them in clips and live footage of Australian bands back in the day and I'm pretty sure the first time I ever saw one was in the Saints Stranded clip. I've always meant to ask Ed about that one.

This may all seem like a bad omen to name something after but we're never one to shy away from a good laugh and it is such an iconic Australian amp design that it was itching to be done.

So, with a new PCB and new artwork it was time to re-launch the Toecutter.

If you've followed me this far you're probably interested to know what's really inside? This is my version of the original "white face" RAT from the early 80's. It is generally accepted as being "the nicest" RAT although there are quite a few good RATs in my opinion. 

Like the Dist+ and DOD250 this is an op amp driven circuit with diode clipping although done in a slightly different way with FET output (sometimes input too) buffer stage and a simple filter tone control. The distortion itself is filtered as well which is part of what gives this pedal its distinctive tone. 

Some component values changed over the years and the Turbo RAT uses red LEDs for clipping, but generally speaking, like a Big Muff, a RAT sounds like a RAT. 

As I've discussed in previous blogs about pedals like the Dist+ and DOD250, both of which I love and make copies of, the op amp, or IC itself is not the "magic" in these circuits and despite the LM308 having different specs like slew rate, bandwidth and use of a compensation cap, the newer RATs do a great job of being a RAT and even swapping out the original 308 for something like a TL071 or similar does not completely change the tone/performance of the circuit. Don't get caught up in ICs in these pedals. They're simple guitar effects with distortion and like the BM circuit, changing key components does A LOT more to the tone than changing the IC or transistors.

So why do I use the LM308? Well, apart from the fact that I have a pretty huge supply of old stock that I have collected over the years, people seem to like the RAT with an original LM308. So mine have them. 

My circuit is "slightly" different while keeping the vintage RAT intact and my GREEN version is essentially the same as my original white face. The RED version is the same circuit with a few extras like a clipping option switch. This gives you the choice of the original silicon diodes, doubled up silicon diodes giving more volume and clarity and red LEDs like the Turbo giving even more volume and bottom end. 

The RED version also has a mini toggle for "shape" which is a common mod on RAT clones around the distortion filtering and gives a cleaner, more open tone with a modified bottom end. This is more noticeable with the distortion at lower settings. The deluxe version also has the volume bypass footswitch like the Fuzz Munchkin so you can essentially set a "rhythm" volume and switch this for a "lead" volume. 

Like all my stuff these are all hand made by me here in Brisbane in my custom made stainless steel enclosures so supply is always limited but like all my pedals, I am constantly making more as I get time so keep an eye on our social media for when stuff becomes available. This first (smaller 'cause I ran out of time) batch will be available from this Sunday with more coming, always more coming. 

Nov 01 2019 Written By: Tim Brennan