That's a lot of supery deluxey talk there ....
I've been wanting to build the basis of this pedal all year but Covid kinda put a stop to that as I just couldn't find time to play around with these things like I would like to.I kept putting it off also because I wasn't sure if it was worth the effort.
Since I've been on a bit of a RAT kick lately with several different Savage Toecutter versions including a signature one and my huge experiment with all my RATs I thought I'd finish off the year getting this one done to see if it works like it did in my head?
I've wanted to add, or insert a Big Muff style tone control into a RAT circuit for ages as it's such a great tone control and if there's one part of a RAT that always seemed .... lacking, it was the simple passive tone control or low pass filter which essentially just rolls treble off. It works well and is well designed in/for the circuit but I've always wondered what a more active high pass/low pass filter like a Big Muff has would sound like in this great circuit.
Another reason I've held off is that all my "RAT friends" who try "new and improved" RATs, which vary from cheap to VERY expensive, always dump the "improved" ones quickly saying they don't keep the essential wonder of the original RAT. Some of these people have tried many new "RATs" but keep going back to their original (or my Toecutter) after sometimes spending A LOT of money on boutique hype. I figured maybe there was no use in trying to "improve" this circuit. Maybe people who use them just want ..... a RAT?
But then wondering got the better of me and I figured it was a days work that could be wasted so, why not just make it and see.
So, I built a Toecutter PCB and a Big Muff tone stack and cut into the Toecutter circuit before the original tone control, ran the signal to the BM stack, and then back into the Toecutter circuit after the original tone control. The original RAT tone stack is only 2 components (it's passive remember) or 3 if you count the pot, whereas the BM tone stack is 5 parts, unless you want the recovery transistor, which it turns out I did as the BM stack does take more signal away and it sounds ... sluggish even with the buffer stage that follows.
So, with a little bit of tweaking to move the frequencies and mid scoop around in the original BM stack I finally settled on a little filter that sounded good and still pumped plenty of output, which, gets fed into an output buffer anyway but I found the stack more sensitive and reactive with the transistor included.
The thing is, I REALLY like the RAT with a BM tone stack. It makes it a whole new distortion and can go from huge dark bottom end to full shreaky RAT treble and everything in between. I wish I'd done this sooner.
I built another PCB and tone stack and decided to make this prototype with full Savage Toecutter deluxe switching, which means 3 types of clipping (Si/LED/Asymmetric Ge) and a shape switch for cleaning up lower gain settings, and a maximum (volume bypass) footswitch, although I have used a momentary switch in this one (which makes more sense to me) and then I thought, "why not add a boost with active tone control after the distortion?" so ..... well I did. The boost/tone control can be used independently or kicked in to add more. The double gain/tone controls make for a very complex and variable overall control with 2 distinct tone/gain settings with the stomp of a foot.
I'm going to play around with components a little more early next year and see if there's a different result but I think this Toecutter with BM tone stack is going to be a thing. This ones pretty crammed in and took a lot of hand wiring so maybe a "standard supa deluxe" being a Toecutter with BM stack might be the way to go, at least in this size box.
It was good to finish 2020 on a high. At least in pedal world anyway.