The Grobert Pirate is a distortion type effects pedal based on the well-known RAT. Here, no lambda copy with a small component changed here and there, we are on a real evolution with a plethora of new functions and a very largely modified circuit. Of course, the essence of the original pedal has been retained, Grobert's specialty being expanding the possibilities of a circuit to its maximum while retaining its characteristic sound signature.
The Pirate adopts a quality case which drastically extends the original controls of the historic model. One thing is certain, the controls are much more numerous than originally: Level (volume), Filter (EQ), Distortion (gain), Voice (contour / presence), Dry (blend of the signal mixed in parallel), Booster (boost). There are 2 footswitches, one for the bypass, the other to activate the boost. Finally, the pedal offers two mini-switches.
- The first allows you to activate Insane mode which drastically increases volume, gain and presence.
- The second switches between Stock mode (silicone diodes) and Germ mode (NOS germanium AAP153 diodes) for a darker sound and a less aggressive drive.
Plugged in with a Les Paul in hand, we immediately find the signature of the original model. Fans of big "in your face" sound you will not be disappointed. The knobs are responsive and the range of use is really wide. The noise is under control and it's a really fun high gain pedal to play. The Insane Mod is a big slap in the face, it brings more gain, more volume and a “squashy” attack as if a compressor was engaged. It's boomy, and perfect for punk and such. The Germanium Mod crushes, it is dirtier and softer, ideal for the harsh rock register. With the Voice knob, you act on a mod called the "Ruetz" or "4th Knob". It changes the character of the circuit to obtain a dark, thick and compressed fuzz drive, or a drive with pushed mids and presence for more sharpness and aggression. The boost is extremely effective and will allow you to reach even more muscular registers. It will be ideal for solos, this one adding binder, sustain and quite a bit of gain.
Finally, and this is once again a well-thought-out option, you can change the order of Boost and effect assignment. We will therefore have: R>B more open, more headroom. And B>R more compressed, more tunneled and closer to the classic RAT.
Overall it's a real Swiss army knife for those who like the RAT sound. Offered at a very attractive price, the Pirate offers you increased possibilities and an insolent manufacturing quality. Enough to make many brands (boutiques or not) blush. At this price and considering what it offers, it's an excellent option for those looking for the sound of the original and much more.