There are many compressors on the market at the minute. Each manufacturer producing their own versions of classic ones as well as coming up with new ideas and tones. For me however there has only ever been one company that I would use for compression and that is Keeley.
I have had the Keeley on my board for many years now and have always used it, just as much as I use distortion and delay. All I will say is that compression is a very personal effect. What works for one player may not work for all, and it depends on the guitar, the amp and the other pedals in the chain.
The pedal is roughly the same size as a boss pedal so it will fit onto most boards with ease and is powered with a standard 9v battery or power supply. The dials are super easy to use and very obvious, and there is a blue LED on top which you can see on stage under lights, but if anything this could be a little brighter but this isn’t the end of the world. The power socket is at the top of the pedal. Like all of the Keeley pedals it is built to last, great strong construction and a nice clunk to the foot switch.
So why should you buy the 2 knob over the 4 knob? I bought the 2 knob because I simply couldn’t afford the 4 knob version when I bought it. The 2 are very similar and are based on the same circuitry. The 4 dial version just simply has attack and clipping level on the front of the pedal whereas the 2 dial only has sustain and level. This being said the 2 dial version has clipping and attack levels, but doesn’t have the dials. If you take the back plate off the pedal those controls are inside. So you can see that both of the pedals are in fact almost identical, but one of them has all the controls on the face of it. The main issue that I had with the 4 dial was the price that you pay for the extra dials. It is a lot more money, and would only be worth it if you used compression a lot and used a lot of different settings on a gig.
The sound of the compressor , for me, is the best one I have used. It has a lovely smooth attack and the clipping isn’t too harsh. It stacks really well too, either before other pedals in the chain or at the end, either work well. I have always been used to having it at the front of my chain, after wah and tuner, before all gain based effects. It works with clean sounds making it nice and funky, but if you increase the sustain and level it works well as a clean boost. With distortion, with the sustain set low it smooths everything out, with the sustain even higher it really squashes the sound, giving it a much richer sound and a really nice bite to rhythm ideas.
Overall this is a great piece of gear that will improve the tone of your playing. It works well with clean tones and gain based effects, either prolonging sustain, improving attack or smoothing out funk popping lines. My advice would be to go and try out some compressors as what has worked for me wont necessarily work for you and if you are thinking of buying the Keeley, try both the 4 and the 2 knob versions. If money is no option, go for the 4 knob, but bare in mind that the circuitry is almost the same in both.
Pros: Easy to use / Good size / Affordable price /
Cons: Top mounted power socket / LED brightness