I first came across Robert Keeley pedals around 4 or 5 years ago. I’ve since owned a number of Keeley products (compressor and Vox wah wah) but the modified BOSS BD-2 is the only Keeley pedal I’ve purchased twice.
Regardless of what my thoughts are of other BOSS products, the stock BD-2 sounds good straight out of the box – Keeley then modifies the pedal by changing various components which includes the addition of his trademark blue LED. The aspect I really appreciate is the addition of a bass boost switch.
This is a typical BOSS pedal where ease of use couldn’t be simpler. Level (volume), Gain and a single tone control allows you to dial in a variety of overdrive flavours. A flick of a toggle switch engages the bass boost.
The modified BD-2 sounds very similar to the stock BOSS product which isn’t that surprising. The pedal has some good overdrive tones available – you can simply use it as a boost or you can dial in some thick overdrive if needed, to the point where it actually sounds like a fuzz pedal. The pedal is fairly transparent and didn’t colour my basic sound too much at all (especially with the Bass Boost off). To be honest, the transparency aspect was a significant reason to why I purchased the pedal in the first place.
I used this as my main overdrive for a long time, often linking to another distortion pedal for solo breaks. I considered running two of these pedals side by side – one for rhythm and one for lead because it sounds so good through an already nice clean valve amp. I prefer the Bass Boost function engaged as it slightly fattens up the sound, which worked really well with my Strat/amp configuration.
I wouldn’t say this pedal is an overly sweet overdrive. I personally think the pedal has a somewhat harder edge to its core tone compared to other overdrive pedals, but that’s just my thoughts.
I’ve owned two of these Keeley modified Blues Drivers over the years. Some of the best times I’ve enjoyed as a guitarist was using this pedal as a boost for my Hiwatt Studio/Stage and 4×12 cab. It sounded huge!
Seeing that the core of the unit is a BOSS pedal, you could nuke this thing and it’ll still work. I’ve never had a problem with any of my Keeley pedals. And the Keeley customer service is very impressive.
I have no need for an overdrive pedal at the moment but if I did, I reckon this would be very high on my wish list. I may consider a few alternatives (it’s fun to experiment), but I’m a big fan of this modified pedal and it’s quite likely I will own another at some stage. The lead tones really are quite special. Overall it’s a very good product, that would suit the majority of pop/rock/blues guitarists and is a nice but subtle improvement on the BOSS original.