The Keeley compressor is Keeley’s best selling pedal for a reason. It can be used for a wide variety of styles and guitars, offering everything from a solo boost to punchy comping.
In the world of hand made (or, dare I say it, “boutique”) effects pedals, few names carry as much weight as Robert Keeley. In addition to providing some of the best pedal mods around (his Boss BD-2 and DS-1 mods are the stuff of legend), he knows how to make a few pedals in his own right, the most celebrated being the renowned Keeley compressor.
Based on the classic Ross compressor, the Keeley is a simple two knob design (though a four knob version is available) with controls for level and sustain (just like the classic…and expensive Ross). The pedal is pedalboard-friendly, basically the same size as an MXR Dyna Comp. It features true bypass switching so as not to color your tone when bypassed and also sports the famous “bright as the sun” Keeley blue LED. It also runs off of a 9V battery if so desired, with Keeley claiming exceptional battery life for the unit.
A compressor should, in theory, improve dynamics and sustain without introducing excessive noise. The problem is that the sustain introduced by most compressors also introduces noise, especially with high gain sounds. Also, there can be a “squashed” sound that is often less-than-musical. How does the Keeley compressor stack up? The best thing I can say about it is that the Keeley offers all the positives with none of the negatives. In the 10 o’clock to 1 o’clock range it really shines. Clean sounds are defined and punchy and overdrive tones are singing with great sustain. It only gets noisy when the pedal is completely opened up. In normal usage, the Keeley really helps you cut through a mix make a good rig a professional one, with improved sustain, clear articulations, and transparent bypass.
The Keeley compressor is Keeley’s best selling pedal for a reason. It can be used for a wide variety of styles and guitars, offering everything from a solo boost to punchy comping. Combined with the Keeley BD-2 (Robert’s own recommendation), it offers a versatile and powerful combination.