Tone­mak­ers: Robert Kee­ley

This month we speak to the com­pres­sion con­nois­seur and main squeeze at Kee­ley Elec­tron­ics

Guitarist - - Contents -

1 What was the first pedal that you built and how did the de­sign come about? My first de­sign, in 1999, was a dig­i­tally con­trolled ana­logue de­lay and tuner, all-in-one box. It was a lit­tle am­bi­tious (I hadn’t even cloned a Fuzz Face at that point!) but I built it in or­der to check enough boxes for a dig­i­tal de­sign col­lege class I was tak­ing. It used a mi­cro­pro­ces­sor and had a key­pad where you could en­ter the mil­lisec­onds [of de­lay time] for the bucket bri­gade chips. I tried to build a Fuzz Face af­ter that but gave up!

Af­ter­wards, I built the Kee­ley Com­pres­sor – the first pedal I went to mar­ket with. That was in­spired by Trey [Anas­ta­sio] from Phish and was based on a Ross Com­pres­sor. 2 What’s your best sell­ing pedal and why do you think that is? Our best sell­ing pedal, since the ear­li­est days of the com­pany, is the Kee­ley Com­pres­sor. It’s what I’m known for, as well as ef­fects mods. Our new com­pres­sor has been sell­ing about a thou­sand per month. It keeps the lights on! 3 Which notable play­ers/bands have used/are us­ing Kee­ley Elec­tron­ics ped­als? Some of my heroes like Adrian Belew, Peter Framp­ton and Billy Gib­bons. It was very re­ward­ing to hear that some­one I ad­mired like Wal­ter Becker had four or five Kee­ley com­pres­sors. It’s also the peo­ple that reg­u­larly go out and make mu­sic, that aren’t nec­es­sar­ily so fa­mous, that ex­cite me too, like Ed­die Heinzel­man and some of the newer play­ers like Daniel Donato – he’s got the D&M Drive and the Cav­erns ped­als. 4 Is there any­thing new on the hori­zon with Kee­ley Elec­tron­ics? We’ve had a lot of suc­cess re­cently with the Work­sta­tion se­ries of [mul­ti­ef­fects] ped­als. Some of our new re­leases are two units in one, like the D&M Drive. We have a com­pres­sor and over­drive combo pedal called the Aria com­ing out and a new over­drive, de­lay and re­verb – I think we’re go­ing to call it the Duet. There’s also a stereo de­lay, called the Stereo World, that we’ve been putting to­gether re­cently for the NAMM show. 5 What new pedal trig­gers your GAS most now? I re­ally ad­mire the big­ger engi­neer­ing com­pa­nies like TC Elec­tronic, Chase Bliss Au­dio, Source Au­dio and Stry­mon be­cause of what they can cram to­gether in such a small pack­age. I also love JHS, Jack Deville’s Mr Black ped­als and Brian Wam­pler’s ef­fects boxes – great brands! 6 What ped­als are on your own ef­fects board? I’ve been hav­ing a blast with our newer re­leases; right now on my board I’ve got a Com­pres­sor Plus and a D&M Drive go­ing into a Dark Side and from there I go to the Cav­erns and an Omni Re­verb. Af­ter that I use a 30ms [Au­to­matic Dou­ble Tracker] to split the sig­nal into two amps. 7 What’s your favourite vin­tage pedal and why? I love the nu­ances of vin­tage ger­ma­nium fuzzes; they’re al­ways fun be­cause they’ve got so much char­ac­ter. I don’t know if I have a favourite pedal, but I re­ally love the Mu-Tron III. From an engi­neer­ing per­spec­tive it’s re­ally in­ter­est­ing be­cause it reads your play­ing at­tack – it’s so dy­namic and ex­pres­sive. 8 If you had a three-pedal ‘desert is­land’ ped­al­board what would be on it and why? I would have our Mon­terey pedal, the new Aria pedal and the new Duet pedal be­cause they’re all de­signed to go in a chain – like a pack­age. Be­sides that... I would have to have a Mu-Tron III, a Line 6 DL4 and a Boss Blues Driver. 9 What are your favourite ef­fects pedal mo­ments to be heard on record and why? Dark Side of the Moon is top of the list. The phas­ing, flang­ing and fuzz tones that David Gil­mour used were very, very cool. There’s not a ton of ef­fects pedal sounds, but the sounds are so pro­found that it kind of set the stage for any­thing af­ter it. 10 What’s your best tone tip? I’ve been think­ing about this a lot re­cently. I’ve no­ticed that gui­tars don’t al­ways sound their best with the vol­ume and tone all the way up. If you give cer­tain ped­als a lit­tle less sig­nal they do some­thing dif­fer­ent. It doesn’t work in ev­ery case – for ex­am­ple, with com­pres­sors, gen­er­ally – but the tone can be dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent.

Lis­ten with your eyes closed and use your ears! Also, use a de­cent power sup­ply - I can’t state enough how im­por­tant that is. It’s worth spend­ing money on a de­cent power sup­ply, rather than another pedal.

The Kee­ley Elec­tron­ics Cav­erns pedal is used by Daniel Donato

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