• Arc Effects Soothsayer review

    Arc Effects Soothsayer

    Muffs and fuzz are cool but sometimes you just want to plug into a pedal that deliver classic tube amp like distortion no matter what. I’ve always been a huge fan of the timeless tones based on the LM308 chip. Arc Effects recently released the Soothsayer – their take on the old classic. Naturally, I had to check it out. Here’s my review.

    The classic distortion we’re talking about is of course the RAT. The pedal first appeared in the late 70s and together with the Tube Screamer, they marked a new era for distortions and overdrives. These pedals were designed to emulate the tone of a cranked tube amp and gave the guitarist an opportunity to get these tones on smaller amps and without the hassle of moody and sometimes unreliable tubes.

    The Arc Effects Soothsayer is housed in a TRex-sized casing, with controls for tone (clockwise), volume and gain, true bypass switching and a bright stage ready led. The pedal also feature a 3-way toggle switch for different clipping stages: led, open and boutique. An internal trim pot also allows you to switch between high or low gain mode. Kind of like alternating between a Tube Screamer and RAT.

    There’s a lot going on here and the Soothsayer is definitely one of the more versatile distortions on the market. The design and circuit is high quality all the way and it’s also a fairly silent pedal, although the high amount of gain and mid range naturally create some noise.

    Let’s go through the different clipping stages. First position (from the right) has a lot of gain and a fair amount of mid range. Still the tone is very dynamic and responds well to your playing. I used this for Young Lust in the clip, as it has some of the qualities of a Big Muff. The middle position is an open clipping, resulting in a slightly louder and perhaps less sophisticated distortion. This one makes a very good overdrive and at high gain settings it gets dark and squeezed like a germanium fuzz on full blast. The last position, the boutique, is the closest to a RAT, with a warm and smooth character. In dives right into those classic tones.

    What I like about the Soothsayer is that apart from it sounding really good, Arc Effects has also manage to tackle the cons about the RAT. This one sounds much more open, still it has lots of mid range for that smooth tone. It sounds well balanced and never muddy, yet it has a great deal more low end compared to the RAT.

    As we talked about in the How to Get Killer Tone on Your Bedroom Setup feature, mid range is crucial for getting your guitar to cut through a band mix. Both on recordings but not least on stage where the sound can get pretty dense. The Soothsayer does an excellent job at this and it’s also a great choice for your bedroom setup, where typically mids scooped pedals can sound rather thin.

    So as I said in the beginning of this review I’ve always been a huge fan of the RAT and the Soothsayer is, in my very honest opinion, by far the best take on the classic pedal. In fact, I like this one better. Check out Arc Effects for more info and be sure to watch Bret Kingman’s review for more on the different settings and tones.

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22 Responsesso far.

  1. llorens says:

    Hi Bjorn, I love the RAT sound and it´s addictive, but my only issue is the noise that is famous for. In your experience which RAT clone/influenced pedal has less noise? The Soothsayer?
    Regards

    Llorens

    • Bjorn says:

      The Soothsayer is IMO the best Rat clone out there. It’s got the tone, more low end and it’s very silent. Keep in mind though, these Rat pedals has a lot of gain, mid range and compression so they will generate more noise than other pedals. It’s just the nature of it.

  2. Joe says:

    Hi Bjorn
    Congrats on a very informative site. I came across your review of the soothsayer along with Brett Kingmans and I must say it immediately got my attention. Sounds great!

    I used to own a RAT reissue and it was ok but I found it still very pedal like and thin compared to amp distortion. I got rid of it. The soothsayer though sounds more complex from what I can hear.
    Interested to hear from you if you think my assumption is correct that the soothsayer is more complex and thick in comparison to the RAT reissue?
    Thanks for your help.
    Joe

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks for your kind words! The Soothsayer is a clone of the Rat, with several different clipping modes. You got the classic tone and the option to add a bit of boost, gain and low end. Very versatile :)

  3. Jason says:

    I’m glad I took your suggestion on the Soothsayer for a RAT gain on my board (compared to other clones). I just got it today and this is the high gain distortion I’ve always been looking for!! Cheers Bjorn!!

  4. WebbMan says:

    Bjorn – I agree when you said it makes any tone sound better, and high gain settings sounding dark and squeezed like a germanium fuzz on full blast – Almost like a Phase Shifter HOWEVER, As a Blues and Jazz player I did not hear the SoothSayer bring out the dirty tube tone you spoke of. None the less, I really enjoyed the review and I could listed to your playing all day long…

    [Thanks! The tone depends on what guitar and amp you use and how you set the controls on the pedal. I think those tones are definitely there but you’d need to pair the pedal with the “right” gear :) – Bjorn]

  5. Patrick says:

    A couple of last questions while thinking about it. Does the Soothsayer sound boxy or boomy at all. And would you say this is a decent subsitute for a g-2? Thank you.

    [Not nearly as much as a RAT but it is based on the RAT and with all that mid range it will sound somewhat boxy. Still, it depends on your amp and guitar. Keep in mind though that mid range is a good thing when you’re up on that stage and want people to hear your guitar. The G2 is based on the RAT so yes, the Soothsayer is a nice alternative. You might also want to check out the Buffalo Evolution. – Bjorn]

  6. Patrick says:

    Does the soothsayer need a boost pedal in front?

    [I don’t think so. It has more than enough gain to stand alone. I haven’t tried it with a booster my self but I think you’d get a lot of noise and feedback if you did. – Bjorn]

  7. uwe says:

    Ok,

    And would you rely on the mooer black secret on a live pedalboard,i mean is it as good as the vick?

    On the moeer which setting is like david’s rat 2?
    Vintage or turbo?

    Regards and respect!
    Uwe.

    [The Mooer pedals are very well built as far as I can tell. I’d have no problem using them on a touring rig. The RAT should be set to vintage. – Bjorn]

  8. uwe says:

    Ok thanks.

    Have you tried the vick audio classic rat yourself?
    I’m surprised to see how good reviews are for the mooer black secret. Woul you rely on it for a gig? Put it in your live pedalboard?

    Regards.

    [Very briefly. Borrowed it from a friend but although I haven’t tested it on my rig it sounded great and I’d no problem using it as an alternative to my old Rat. – Bjorn]

  9. Uwe says:

    Hello Bjorn,

    I’ce recently sold a bunch of pedals and I am now looking for a straight clone of the old RAt with LM308N of course.

    I think Jam pedla Rattler is too exepensive, DG-2 Toptone also.

    Would would be your prefernece between :

    Hartman distortion LM308 / CMATMODS ratified / Mooer Black secret / Vick Audio Classic rat 85 / any otrher in the same price range?

    Best regards,
    Uwe

    [The Vick I guess. The Mooer is also very good. – Bjorn]

  10. laura says:

    Hello ,

    I’d like to recreate the rat tones from david gilmour in the division bell album. I’torn between mooer black secret and vick audio rat.

    What would be your choice?
    Regards
    Laura

    [The Vick. – Bjorn]

  11. Pat says:

    Hi Bjorn, from wich track does the third solo in the clip comes from ? It’s getting on my nerves, i know this song perfectly but i can’t find out :)
    You’re a great guitarist, i’ve purchase your album. What i saw and listen in your trailer is better than The Endless River :/ !
    Best regards, Pat

    [Thank you, Pat! That’s Pink Floyd’s On the Turning Away from A Momentary Lapse of Reason :) – Bjorn]

  12. Matt Rubenstein says:

    Hi Bjorn. I just checked out your review of the Millie Fuzz. Thanks for making us Gilmour tone chasers aware of it as it’s a very efficient way to get early Gilmour silicon fuzz face tones as well as his later muff tones in one box. I went to 6 degrees fx website and found out they also make a RAT clone. Checked out Brett Kingman’s demo and OMG. The clips from all their drive pedals really impressed me but the R3 might take the cake. I have a sneaking suspicion you are already considering reviewing it as I know how much you appreciate a great rodent:) Would love to hear how you think it stacks ups against the almighty soothsayer as I think it would be quite a heavyweight bout:) Thanks Bjorn and have a nice weekend.

    [Yep, they make some awesome stuff :) – Bjorn]

  13. Scooter says:

    Hi Bjorn excellent review and playing too! I’ve been looking for a good RAT pedal to complete my pedalboard and this is the one! thanks for all your hard work I can’t tell you how much this site has helped me to find MY sound! I might never be able to play as good as Mr. Gilmour but I like what I hear and sound like now more than ever. And that’s due to your excellent website !!!
    Cheers
    Scooter
    PS best wishes on your solo album ( I Will definitely be purchasing a copy)

    [Thanks for your kind words, Scooter! Glad you enjoy my site :) – Bjorn]

  14. Jonathan Thomas says:

    Bjorn, great review and playing, and I love your new personal site! Couple of q’s, I love Gilmour stuff, but occasionally dabble in a bit of metal and palm muting, chords and arpeggios. Will the Soothsayer satisfy that stuff? Muffs are a bit saggy when it comes to that so I wanted to know if the Soothsayer was similar or if it tightens up a bit for the palm muting.

    Finally, I LOVED Come on In and have followed your work avidly ever since those early days, do you have that and the other EP’s in lossless WAV or FLAC by any chance? I’d love to purchase them from you. I hate having them as MP3 only! Also, will the new solo album be available digitally in lossless (possibly even 24bit?)?

    Can’t wait and best of luck!!!!!

    [Hi Jonathan! I think the Soothsayer definitely holds up for that kind of stuff. I managed to get some pretty serious metal tones from it and it also sounded great for Sabbath and similar. There’s a lot of options and modes that you can experiment with.
    Thanks for all your kind words! Much appreciated! The old Airbag stuff is out of stock at the moment – digitally too, I’m afraid. We might be doing something with it later on but I’ve no idea when… My album will be available through iTunes in standard format. – Bjorn]

  15. Stefan Welbie says:

    Nice one again Bjorn.

    Your videos and recording are taking a stap ahead again…. i notised its getting more professional… thumbs up

    [Thanks! – Bjorn]

  16. e-Pablo says:

    Bjorn, Great review as always and sweet playing, I really like your tone.

    I’ve always love the classic Rat Distortion, and for that purpose I was thinking about the Jam Rattler +, I’ve never read a negative opinions or reviews about it

    And now I´m in between the Rattler + and the Soothsayer, which one do you think sounds closer to the typical Rat Distortion?

    What do you think it’s better for home studio?

    Thanks

    [Both are great and very similar sounding. The Soothsayer is a bit more versatile with more tonal options so I guess I’d go for that one. – Bjorn]

  17. Alex Mircica (Gunslinger) says:

    Great review as ever Bjorn. Nice pedal. Good alternative to boosted Muff route for small bedroom set ups.

    Bes thing is it is great to see your playing again! Thanks!

    [Cheers, Alex! – Bjorn]

  18. Brad Roller says:

    This sounds sweet! Has this bad boy found a spot on one of your boards yet ;) you know, it’s kinda sad but I never use my muffs anymore. I prefer a g2 type sound like my evolution or a rat. Since I play in different settings so much a versatile distortion is necessary and a muffin doesn’t always sound right in a modern sounding band. But you already knew this! Anyway dude great review and playing. Btw you noticed arc effects tall font Russian muff clone haven’t you? Cheers!

    [Yep, I’ve seen that one :) Not sure I’ll feature it on my boards but I’ll definitely be using it for recording in replacement for the RAT. – Bjorn]

  19. Murray Macleod says:

    Great review as always. Aaron made me a custom Ram’s Head spec Muff with mids toggle. I’m sure it would be right up your street.

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