The Four Horsemen: Keely's New 4-in-1 Series

King Solomon of Israel once mused that there was nothing new under the sun. And it's hard to disagree with this sentiment...ESPECIALLY in the pedal world! Everything that has been made has been made over and over again. So what really is "new"?

I don't think I can adequately answer that question here.

Despite this existential conundrum I still get excited when a new pedal shows up at the door. And I get REALLY excited when that pedal comes from the legend that is Robert Keeley!

Before I was even ready for my 2024 to start, I had FOUR demos lined up with Keeley. That task, although ultimately a fun one, was certainly daunting. Being that all four pedals are essentially distortion/overdrive/fuzz pedals how could I showcase them in a way that let's their strengths shine through. I think I did a pretty good job BUT I'll let you all be the judge of that. So let's explore the four pedals and see what they can do...

Let's start with my favorite: the Super Rodent.

This pedal combines a ProCo RAT with a BOSS SD-1. Both are very strong interpretations of the two pedals with the RT mode being the "stand out" of the my opinion, at least.

But I will give props to the SD mode. Although it could easily have been just another "TS-style" mode, this one feels like its a bit more aggressive. It certainly would serve Zakk Wylde well...if he were still using the SD-1.

On that note, it is pretty cool to do the Zakk Wylde thing with the SD mode and the Nuno Bettencourt thing with the RT mode!

Although I'm mainly using the Super Rodent as for the RAT sound (the BEST I've played, mind you) my FAVORITE hybrid mode on the Super Rodent is this: put the Drive in SD mode and the Tone in RT mode.

I find that this sound is great for getting a smooth gain boost for liquid lead tones. I'd recommend running the Level control fairly high, putting the Drive between 11 & 2 o'clock and adjusting the Tone control lower than 10 o'clock. Take this setting and run it all in front of a crunchy or fairly distorted amp. The idea is to make the Bridge pickup MELT and sound smooth and buttery! It's a heckuva sound that I think you'll love.

These days, the Super Rodent is on my church pedalboard and serves as the highest gain sound I use. It's fantastic for single note lead lines and the highest energy rhythm sound for chords. AND...I can even roll my volume knob back a bit to get less compression from it.

Next, the Muse Driver or the Mk3 Driver. Yes, the name was changed LITERALLY the same day I'm writing this blog. So what's the deal here?

Another successful partnership between Keeley and Andy Timmons, the Muse/Mk3 Driver is the be-all-end-all Blues Driver! I've played the BOSS

BD-2 more times than I can remember and I've NEVER loved it as much as I do in this form.

What's cool here is that the modes are not two circuits but two flavors of the same circuit. The AT mode is Andy's preferred Blues Driver tone, tuned for his humbucker equipped guitars. And the RK mode is a Germanium fueled beast that keeps the full range of the OG circuit. Both are stellar!

It's hard to NOT go overboard in my praise of this pedal. As a humbucker player, I often feel like pedal companies neglect me. Not out of any malice or dislike for humbuckers but more because I feel lots of builder just prefer single coils. That's cool. I get it. But with Andy spearheading this new take I'm happy to have a great mid-gain overdrive MEANT FOR HUMBUCKERS! And more than that, this thing cleans up like a freakin' champ.

Between the two clipping modes, I'm 100% an RK fan. That germanium clipping is just BONKERS good! A little extra hair and compression with a very pleasing clean, I could vibe with that for hours.

This one is also currently on my church pedalboard. I set it up as a colored boost that will crunch up if I really smack the guitar string. It's a different flavor of clean tone that helps differentiate parts in a song.

Now onto the pedal that will prevent you from wasting money: the Blues Disorder. Inside this pedal you'll find circuits inspired by the Fulltone OCD and the Marshall Blues Breaker. Even though Fulltone is back and the Blues Breaker was reissued, this is a great option.

I find the Blues Breaker side of the pedal (the BB mode) to be FAR SUPERIOR to the classic Marshall pedal. Whereas the Marshall is notorious for its measly output level the Blues Disorder fixes this significantly. Not only that, there is FAR MORE gain available on tap. You can easily get Blues Breaker sounds but even get closer to old-school Marshall sounds like the JTM45.

After playing this, the Marshall Blues Breaker reissue is irrelevant in my book.

So how does the OC mode sound? Well, it sounds great! Does it sound like an OCD? I don't know. I have yet to compare it to my v1.4 OCD from 2008...but I will very soon. I will say this: the OC mode is fantastic on its own BUT is made more versatile when you pair the OC Drive mode with the BB Tone mode! The BB Tone-stack softens some of the "harsher" frequencies for a smoother sound that doesn't lack for cut or articulation.

It's this combination that I use most of the time. I generally run the Drive around 1 o'clock and adjust the Tone and Volume to the amp I'm using. Some amps need darker settings and lower volume levels.

I'm not surprised that most folks are excited about this one. It seems to be the most popular amongst players. And in this case, the crowd is well founded in agreeing. It's a fantastic pedal.

Lastly, the Angry Orange; a pedal for that is ALL ABOUT THE DIRT!

One side is a BOSS DS-1 and the other is an Electro-Harmonix Big Muff. The result? A dirty, nasty and gigantic sounding pedal!

If you think you dislike both of these're wrong. Every shortcoming of the DS-1 and Big Muff has been addressed here. The DS mode has a USABLE Tone control and the MF mode is full without imploding on itself.

Everything just works!

So, how am I using this?

Well, this one is not currently seeing active use.

This does not in any way mean the Angry Orange isn't good. While it isn't my favorite of the bunch it is certainly the most fun! Whenever I feel the need to riff around I plug into this. It doesn't currently fit into my church playing needs. But could it one day be incorporated into a Cockeyed Optimist setup? Ab-so-lutely. Thick, meaty...a veritable wall of sound. If you want to have the best DS-1 you've ever had, get this. If you want a new flavor of Muff, get this.

This pedal shows that when it comes to refining mods, Keeley's still got it!

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