In Focus: Keeley 4-in-1 Pedals

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In Focus: Keeley 4-in-1 Pedals

Keeley 4-in-1 pedals
Words by Christopher Hockey

Keeley carry a lot of weight in the pedal world, their individual pedal being trusted on boards across the world. So their 4-in-1 pedals make them a no brainer!

Keeley fans have plenty to celebrate this month as the highly respected brand continues to roll out new additions to their fantastic 4-in-1 series of pedals. Featuring 100% analog circuits, each of the pedals in this series boast four distinct settings that cover a wide range of sounds both familiar and contemporary. Included in the series are the ‘Angry Orange’ distortion and fuzz, ‘Noble Screamer’ overdrive and boost, ‘Blues Disorder’ overdrive and distortion and ‘Super Rodent’ overdrive and distortion. Aside from this series, Keeley are also spoiling us with the new ‘Mk3 Driver’, a powerful overdrive designed in collaboration with Andy Timmons. 

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For nearly a quarter-century, Keeley have been lovingly crafting boutique pedals for an ever more discerning market. Modding and delivering some of the most mind-bending and unique effects around, all Keeley effect units are built by hand in Oklahoma under the watchful eye of legendary technician Robert Keeley himself. Robert grew up in a musical family and comes from a long line of electrical engineers, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest he was born for the job, and since 2001, he’s been proving it. 

First cab off the rank is the mean and menacing ‘Angry Orange’, a heavy-duty saturation machine cut based on two beloved circuits. Combining the legendary ‘91 Soviet Civil War Big Muff with the tried-and-true classic Boss DS1, the Angry Orange is a powerful ‘fuzztortion’ that means business. Using either of these circuits discreetly sounds as killer as one would expect, but it’s in this pedal’s previously unheard combinations of the two wherein the magic really lies. 

The Angry Orange provides two distinct forms of clipping: hard and soft. If the Clipping Switch is in the DS Position, it features Hard Diode Clipping, which provides an edgy, aggressive tone. If the Clipping Switch is in the MF Position, it uses Soft Diode Clipping, reminiscent of a vintage muffled fuzz sound. The Angry Orange also includes two tonecontrol circuits to choose from. When the Tone Switch is in the MF Position, the tone control is a scooped sounding, passive tilt-style. If the Tone Switch is in the DS Position, it also features a passive sounding tilt control, but with a different voicing. The result is four distinct tonal options, each more thunderous than the last. 

The ‘Noble Screamer’ is a pitch-perfect overdrive to end all overdrives, combining Nashville’s favourite circuit, the Nobels ODR-1, with the famous midrange growl of a vintage TS808. Creating hybrid overdrive and boost sounds has never been easier than with this pedal, which despite its bells and whistles maintains an easy to use three knob layout. Like the rest of the 4-in-1 series, the function of the Noble Screamer is very much like pedal-modelling, except in a 100% analog circuit. 

Like the Angry Orange, The Noble Screamer features an option for both hard and soft clipping, but in this case the tone switch alternates between an ‘OD Position’ and a ‘TS Position’. The OD Position corresponds with a ‘Spectrum’ type of tone control that has the ability to go from a flat EQ to a boost in the treble and bass response. In the TS Position however, you have a Low Pass Filter that rolls off the high frequencies only. 

Keeley Noble Driver

The ‘Blues Disorder’ is a smokey, sultry overdrive/distortion that brings together the highly sought after tones of the Analogman KOT and Fulltone OCD. The Blues Disorder has all the bluesy growl you’ll ever need thanks to its unique combination of circuits and is made all the more versatile by its hard/soft diode clipping options and two tone stack settings. In this pedal, the tone switch selects between an ‘OC’ setting, which features an active midrange boost and a ‘BB’ position, which emits the boost in favour of a more transparent response. 

Last but not least in the 4-in-1 lineup is the ferocious ‘Super Rodent’. A formidable blend between a RAT distortion and a Boss SD1, this pedal can handle everything from light overdrive to blazing, saturated mayhem. Like the rest of the series, the Super Rodent is housed in a sturdy aluminium chassis and can be switched between silent-buffered bypass and true bypass on the fly by simply holding down the footswitch. In the RT position, the Super Rodent’s tone control simply rolls off high frequencies, whereas in the SD position, it engages an active low pass filter, revealing more bass and treble frequencies. 

Keeley Mk3 Driver

Also new from Keeley is the Mk3 Driver, an extremely versatile and powerful overdrive packed with interesting features. It’s everything you know and love about the legendary Keeley Modded BD2 circuit with exceptionally broad tonal options. Additional controls on this pedal include an AT/RK Tone Switch that cuts lows for clarity or boosts low-end for power, an AT/RK Drive Switch that alternates between asymmetrical silicon to dual germanium diode clipping, as well as JFET Transistors, Germanium diodes and Op-Amp Gain combinations that form harmonically rich boost, overdrive, and fuzz tones. 

According to collaborator Andy Timmons, the Mk3 ‘is the ultimate expression of the clean/slightly broken-up tone’ that he’s been searching for, and “the real hidden gem here is Robert’s new modification that utilises germanium diodes instead of the original silicon for a new kind of clipping that works insanely well on its own or as a boost”. Like all Keeley pedals, the Mk3 is of the absolutely highest construction quality and is designed and built entirely in the USA. 

So, whatever your taste in overdrive, fuzz or distortion may be, it would seem that the artisans at Keeley have got you covered. With their commitment to creating new, versatile and exciting devices steeped in a rich history of analog technology firmly intact, you simply can’t go wrong with any of their incredible products. Nearly a quarter-century of dedicated craftsmanship and innovation has led to this excellent new crop of dirt pedals that are bound to impress even the most discerning aficionado, so what are you waiting for?

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