Other guitar-y things

Keeley “work stations”: Augmenting pedal board essentials


I tend to keep my pedal board to the classic effects:

Wah (Dunlop Cry Baby mini) OD (Boss Blues Driver) Fuzz (currently a Big Muff) Tremolo (Boss TR-2) Delay (Carbon Copy) Reverb (EHX Oceans 11)

In addition, I have a Boss tuner, a Boss looper currently not in the chain, and a Strymon Iridium (for silent playing and recording).

Like I said, pretty much the classic effects for rock, blues, soul, country, etc. I also recently added a Truetone Route 66 OD-Compression pedal, which is cool. The OD, though described as TS-like, is quite similar to the Blues Driver, I find, and it has a blend knob so it's more versatile, imo. So now I use the BD mostly as a booster.

I want to try to keep the pedal board compact-ish, but I've been thinking it might be nice to add one multi-effects pedal to provide some of the more, imo, "esoteric" effects for when I'm in the mood to get a little wacky - rotary speaker, phaser, phlanger, univibe, octave, etc.

And that's when I discovered this pedal, which just might fit the bill. The Keeley Monterey.

Essentially, it's Hendrix in a box. Sounds like a decent, responsive fuzz (which I think I prefer to the Muff type), plus phaser, univibe, wah/auto-wah and octave.

I could replace my mini wah and Big Muff with this one pedal (plus an "outboard" expression pedal), freeing up an extra space/power outlet, PLUS add some of the effects I'd like to add so I could tap into them when I wanted to.

Another option is this, which of course is essentially David Gilmour in a box.

Different fuzz type, but very versatile as well. But for my purposes, I think the Monterey might be the better choice.

Only concern is about how these kind of all-in-one work stations might mess up my preferred signal chain, or at least provide less flexibility on pedal order, although both allow switching the order of the fuzz to before or after the other effects.

I'm dying to try these out now that stores are opening up again here.

Anyone have experience with either of these Keeley pedals?


FYI - Here's my Truetune Route 66. I'm still learning how to use (and not over-use) compression, but it's a great pedal. Very good OD. Why doesn't every pedal have a blend feature?


Not with these pedals, no. But my past experience with Keeley stuff is that it's thoroughly professional and well-designed and implemented, particularly from a technical point of view. Inputs and outputs are tolerant enough of impedance and levels that either box should play nice with your other pedals, wherever you put them.

I've heard online demos of both pedals, for whatever that's worth, and they would certainly be attractive to me if I were in your situation. My particular experience with Keeley pedals is that they tend to sound a little generic - that is, there's little adventure or "personality" in them: ie, they're voiced and have control parameters to prevent their getting overly wacky or sounding "bad." But in both these examples, you are specifically looking for sets of sounds which define genres, with the intention to use those sounds within established boundaries. (Because, you know, 50 years down the road from those fellers, all those sounds are completely mainstream.)

To my ear, those pedals do those sounds very well. That you can re-order the fuzz is crucial, and goes a long way to alleviating pedal order conundrums. But there's more to order than just that. In your setup, my default position for either of these pedals would be between the Blues Driver and the tremolo - so you'd have the choice of

• OD -> Fuzz -> workstation-modulations -> tremolo and onward
• OD -> workstation-mods -> Fuzz -> tremolo and onward.

That's probably good enough. It puts the Dark Side's delay (if you opt to use it) ahead of your trem and other delays, which may not be optimal (if you use the others at the same time, and you likely wouldn't), but in practice is probably only slightly different in effect than having it after the trem.

The one potential downfall I see (and it's less a downfall than a denial of an option) is that you can't usefully get the workstations' fuzz before your Blues Driver. Fuzz -> overdrive and overdrive -> fuzz are two very different things, both with their applications - though you have to do a lot of knob re-adjusting when you switch the order. You can test for this with your current Big Muff and Blues Driver (if you haven't already) by setting them up in both orders and twiddling the knobs in every conceivable way in both positions. It's possible they'll sound terrible in one order and great the other, though it's more likely you'll find something to like in both positions. You'll probably prefer one configuration over the other - and if turns out to be BD -> Fuzz, then you're well set for either Keeley workstation.

But if it's other way (Fuzz -> BD) - and it's such a great sound you'd hate not to have it - the workstations will present an order problem, because you'd have to move the BD to after the workstation, putting it after all the workstation's modulations. That's rarely ideal.

The workstations would arguably be more versatile with separate ins and outs for the fuzz and modulation sections, which would reduce order anxiety by leaving all options open. The next best way to do this is via a send and return between the fuzz and mod sections, which is what Tavo has done with the BS-301 (between the Atomic Brain and the delay). It's a royal pain-in-the-butt to integrate, needing an insert cable - but it lets me order those elements where I want them. (From the description of the current Dark Side, it looks like earlier versions had that TRS insert point - and that it was little understood or little used, so that users continued to clamor for a simple order-switching button. And I get that.)

Ultimately, of course, you can't really evaluate the pedals except at home in your own rig. Even a test in a store (if you can find one with both pedals, under COVID conditions, where you can bring in your pedalboard - or use their similar pedals - to test the configurations) will be inconclusive.

My solution: order both of them from a big-boxer with a 2-4-8 week return window (whatever they have), and make sure to take obsessive care of the pedals while you have them. Or buy examples on Reverb which have already had the retail-to-used depreciation kicked out of them, so that after your testing you can re-sell them. I do it (all too) frequently, and actually break even or come out a little ahead on the pedal game. (Also, while guitars move slowly, pedals sell refreshingly quickly.)

Another option: join Pedal Genie (look'em up) and put those two on your wish list. You pay a monthly subscription to try 1 or 3 or unlimited pedals at a time, cost-free. If you don't bond, send it back (I think they pay the postage for that); if you do, you get a used price from them for the one in your hand or they can send you a new one instead at a discount. Pedal-of-the-Month club, more or less. I was a member for about 6 months in 2018, but I liked more pedals than I didn't...so it cost me money!


Thanks, Prot, for the comprehensive reply. Pedal Genie! Ha! I never knew there was such a thing. I'll look into that.

Yes, the first version of the Dark Side pedal has the in-outs, but the newer version has a switch-order button on the chassis. Don't think the Monterey has that, which is odd, but it does have an internal switch switch.

What I could do is put the Route 66 OD->Fuzz/Effects->BD, which gives me the option of adding OD before or after fuzz. Having said that, I currently have the OD into the Big Muff, which I like, though I don't think I've tried it the other way. I'm actually awaiting delivery of a small Mooer EQ pedal and a univibe, so I need to do some reordering of pedals anyway. I may end up using the EQ pedal as a boost (at least sometimes) which frees up the BD to go back to it's previous life as an OD pedal. The univibe could end up being superfluous if I were to go with one of these Keeley pedals, but that would likely be a few months down the road anyway. And if I needed to move other pedals out to make more room, the Oceans 11 actually has a pretty decent tremolo setting and delay (with tap tempo!) - features of that pedal I had neglected to explore until just recently. I prefer having a dedicated trem pedal because I like stomping it on when the mood hits me. One of my favourite effects.

Anyway, lots of things to explore and options to mess with - and that's half the fun!

Thanks again for your thoughts. Always appreciated.


Sorry man. I didn't know.

Register Sign in to join the conversation