Keeley Compressor Review
- Pros: Excellent sound quality, true bypass and straightforward operation. Some noise, but minimal in comparison to other compressors.
- Cons: The “Clipping” (and “Attack”) controls are hidden inside the housing, so it’s not ideal if you want regular control over those parameters.
- Overall: A very capable compressor: straight-to-the-point, great sound quality.
- Amazon: Keeley Compressor
The Keeley Compressor is one of the most well-loved compression pedals around. Although it’s now available in 4-knob form, the classic two-knob version still holds a minimalistic appeal. The pedal boasts studio-grade audio and “tone tested” components, as well as true bypass when not in operation and minimal impact on your tone when it is. But is it worth the fairly sizable investment? And with a 4-knob version available (also offering “Attack” and “Clipping” control), is there any point in sticking with just two?
The Keeley Compressor is solidly-built and appealingly straightforward in appearance, with two dials (for sustain and level) and a single metallic stomp switch to activate the effect. There are actually two more options hidden inside the housing (adjusted with a flat-head screwdriver) – ideally, you can adjust these once to your desired setting and leave it so you don’t need to mess around too often. Really, the four-knob version is pretty much identical except with these extra controls on the outside, but if you’ll be using multiple guitars the ability to regularly adjust clipping could be crucial to maintaining a high-end sound. On the two-knob, the “S” (sustain) knob allows you to boost your gain and the “L” (level) control gives you control over output volume. There are more options for tweaking your sound with other pedals, but if you’re just looking for the core functions the Keeley two-knob gets the job done.
The sound quality is great overall, particularly on the highs and mids, although it’s not the best for bassists (especially those who detune) because of some degradation on the low end. That said, for guitarists the resulting tone really does feel very true to your input sound, and it genuinely is true bypass. You can use it as a straight volume boost by keeping the sustain right down, allowing you to push your amp into overdrive. Although there is a little bit of noise, it’s not as notable as with many other compressors. If you’re getting a lot of noise, it’s likely due to the sustain being set a little high.
Overall, there’s a reason the Keeley Compressor is a legend among stompbox compressors. While some players may prefer the wider, more easily accessible control from the 4-knob version, if you want the core function the two-knob option is unlikely to disappoint.
- Amazon: Keeley Compressor