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View Full Version : New to compressors - about to get a Keeley 2-knob


Craftmatic
02-04-2012, 09:09 AM
I'm getting a used 2-knob Keeley compressor with internal trim pots at a good price (apparently from what I've read, the earlier models didn't have the internal pots). I've always been curious about this pedal, partly because of it's reputation and partly because it's one of those things so many people have had and seem to have put to good use, especially country Tele players, so it's always been on my radar. It seems to make sense to use a comp with single coils, at least to my mind theoretically speaking, since IMO humbuckers compress enough on their own, but my knowledge about compressors is quite limited thus far. I've only used a compressor briefly - I got a cheapie Behringer at a trade show for free and it was always too "squishy" for me. Maybe I didn't understand how to use the settings, but there seemed to be no point on the attack knob that didn't attenuate the the initial signal noticeably, in a bad way.

I read 2 posts from a TGP member on 2 different Keeley comp threads that implied that people use compressors (like the Keeley) to make up for their amps' shortcomings. What he wrote was that thought his amp was so good that he didn't need one (except that his amp OR the Keeley was out being repaired at the time he wrote each of the posts so it wasn't a conclusive statement). I hope that I don't use it to make up for my amps' shortcomings and wind up ignoring the fact that one or all of my amps might need work by my tech, which they proabably do (new tubes, speakers, tweaking, etc.). I've been holding out on that stuff because of money - but instead I buy a new pedal (somewhat impulsively)! I hope this wasn't an unwise choice.

Heady Jam Fan
02-04-2012, 09:21 AM
Lol, that sounds like something I might have said ;)

I had a Keeley 4 knob for a while, it was a really nice comp, but I couldn't get enough volume out of it with the pickups I use, but I do currently have a similar compressor on my board.

I tend to go back and forth between really enjoying a comp and disliking them. I think some people use them to help a subpar amp, but I think they have other uses. I found myself in this situation a while back and when I upgraded my amp, I couldn't find a use for a compressor at the time. For a lot of styles, a good, at least slightly pushed, tube amp with alnico speakers will have enough compression.

While I don't play country, if I delve into that stylistic vein, I think a compressor really helps articulate the notes. I also use the compressor for jam (a la phish). But I don't use it for classic rock.

I dont think you can judge compressors from a Behringer honestly. The Keeley will be much nicer, so it is probably a good purchase, but IMO, amp/guitar upgrades are always more important than pedals.

Craftmatic
02-04-2012, 11:22 AM
Lol, that sounds like something I might have said ;)

I had a Keeley 4 knob for a while, it was a really nice comp, but I couldn't get enough volume out of it with the pickups I use, but I do currently have a similar compressor on my board.

I tend to go back and forth between really enjoying a comp and disliking them. I think some people use them to help a subpar amp, but I think they have other uses. I found myself in this situation a while back and when I upgraded my amp, I couldn't find a use for a compressor at the time. For a lot of styles, a good, at least slightly pushed, tube amp with alnico speakers will have enough compression.

While I don't play country, if I delve into that stylistic vein, I think a compressor really helps articulate the notes. I also use the compressor for jam (a la phish). But I don't use it for classic rock.

I dont think you can judge compressors from a Behringer honestly. The Keeley will be much nicer, so it is probably a good purchase, but IMO, amp/guitar upgrades are always more important than pedals.

Yes, Heady, it was you! Thanks for your additional comments on my thread. I know you are right about amp upgrades, but the tech I always use takes too long and I can't afford him right now. The Keeley comp was, I guess, a gear "bucket list" item for me and it was at a good price so I felt compelled. I'm sure many TGP'ers know what that complusion is like. I need to at least try it. I can always sell it without taking a loss.

BTW, what amp or amps or amp upgrades do you have that made the comp seem unnecessary?

Heady Jam Fan
02-04-2012, 11:44 AM
Yes, Heady, it was you! Thanks for your additional comments on my thread. I know you are right about amp upgrades, but the tech I always use takes too long and I can't afford him right now. The Keeley comp was, I guess, a gear "bucket list" item for me and it was at a good price so I felt compelled. I'm sure many TGP'ers know what that complusion is like. I need to at least try it. I can always sell it without taking a loss.

BTW, what amp or amps or amp upgrades do you have that made the comp seem unnecessary?

Lol - I am glad I could recognize my opinions! Which admittedly change sometimes, especially when I look at my earliest posts here.

I know what you mean about feeling compelled to try certain gear - you know you won't stop thinking about it until you try it, so you might as well bite the bullet if you find a good price. A Keeley comp is pretty easy to sell as you mentioned.

Over the past couple years I have owned a handful of Fender amps from a Princeton 65, 2 SCXD's, 2 Blues Juniors and a '65 Bassman.

The Blue Juniors were heavily moded. Some of these mods include BillM basic mods, line out, speaker upgrades (I used Eminence Swamp Thang speakers), tube upgrades (such as Ruby tubes), upgraded output transformers (on had a Mercury Magnetic and the other had a BillM Low-Profile). The tubes, speaker and OT upgrades made a huge difference, the BillM basics added some tonal improvement as well, but less important IMO.

I only own the Bassman now and it has 12AX7A preamp tubes (quieter than normal AX7's), Lafayette Amperex NOS tubes (Lafayette was England's Radio Shack in the 60's or so, they are 6L6's from that era), an Eminence Red Fang speaker (I also have a Blue Dog from Weber that I have been testing and sharing with others), a Line Out for wet effects to PA, PPIV (post-phase-inverter-master-volume) and the Bass Channel was moded to a dirty channel with its own master volume.

People sometimes seem to use a compressor on an amp that doesn't get good natural compression or if they keep the volume too low to compressor. Also, it can add fullness to thin sounding amp. So worst case scenario would be a solid-state, thin sounding amp with a ceramic speaker, a compressor could hypothetically be a bandaid for some of those lacking qualities. IMO, this doesn't compare to a good amp, which is the palette for the remainder of your tone.

The Blues Juniors where the first place I really realized that I was sometimes using a compressor for something my amp was missing. I pretty much swore off compressors for a while, but I play a lot of Jam and a Ross compressor is pretty ubiquitous (after 2 TS9's) - I use it for the effect of adding midrange and smoothness rather than making a thin amp sound more full or a solid state less bitey. A comp is also a great tool for a song like Sultans of Swing or for songs that have a lot of alternating between picking and chords, especially with hammer ons and pull offs, which is probably why the Keeley is popular in country (though I suspect I would need it less if I had better control of my dynamics in these situations).

Basically, I think a comp can be really helpful as an effect for certain styles, but I suspect that adjusting something in an amp could make a comp unnecessary for some 'always-on' users (unless it is just a required tool for that style).

What amp are you using? You mentioned you wanted to change tubes and speakers - what would you switch too?

Reckedtrek
02-04-2012, 12:04 PM
Or sometimes you just want the sound of your guitar through a good compressor into your already good amp.

bobbyatomic
02-04-2012, 12:10 PM
What Reckedtrek said.

Craftmatic
02-04-2012, 12:41 PM
What amp are you using? You mentioned you wanted to change tubes and speakers - what would you switch too?

I use certain amps for playing and practicing at home and other amps for playing out. My main home amp is a Fargen Custom Blackbird 30 head with a matching pine cab with a G12H30 Anniversary. If you don't know about it, it's based on the blackface sound, somewhat similar to a DR but it has four 6V6s rather than two like a DR so it's got more bottom and a higher amount of headroom. It also has a mid control along with the treble and bass and consequently has much more midrange capacity than a typical blackface Fender. I know the 6V6s are NOS but I don't remember which because I just let my tech put in whatever he liked. I am at least the 4th owner and though it looks minty, it has needed repairs 2 or 3 times and still needs more. About a few weeks after the last repair the volume knob started to not sound right between the virtual Fender numbers 1 to 3 on the dial (or 7 o'clock to 9 o'clock on this amps numberless face). Instead of the volume getting lower it first gets very nasaly and then when it's supposed to be "off" it still has amplification only it's low volume very muddy distortion. So I play it set at 9 o'clock which is still too loud for the family upstairs (I play in the basement) when they are home. Like I said I just can't deal with waiting another 3 months and spending more dough to have it repaired, unfortunately. It's an amazing amp espcially (like most) when it's cranked.

My second "home" amp is a Marshall hybrid combo, an AVT50 with a preamp 12AX7 and a SS everything else. It's my "distortion-as-maxed-as-I-want-at-low-volume-on-the-dirt-channel" late night amp when I want to just jam with my Les Pauls by myself while the family sleeps. It also sounds great on the clean channel during "daylight volume" when the family is at school or work, especially with my Teles. In this mode, the clean channel has plenty of compression already and I wouldn't be using a comp with it. This amp is too big to lug to jams and gigs so....

There's the Peavey Classic 30 which I'm quite sure needs a whole new set of JJs because it sounds dull and nasal as heck. It did the original JJ tube upgrade when I got it and haven't done a tube change in at least 4 years!After originally trying 7 different speakers I went with the G12H30 again. This is my main gigging amp, along with my Tweed Deluxe clone for dirtier nastier gigs/jams. As I said the C30 needs new tubes ($) and the Tweed clone has another G12H30 type speaker in it, the Eminence Wizard, which is too efficient and loud a speaker (the loudest Eminence makes) for a 5E3 circuit running at it's "sweet spot" in a small club. So I was going to get the Tungsten T12Q that are used in the Tungsten 5E3-based Cortez for a sweeter sound at a lower sensitivity rating (less loud/efficient) but that money just went to the Keeley comp!

I also have a '65 BF Tremolux which I barely ever play because even though it has been serviced twice by 2 different, great techs, the original 10" speakers sound old and dried out and very nasal and I don't have the money or room to get an additional 4 ohm cab setup and/or don't feel like changing out the original speakers.

When I land a steady day gig, these matters will be taken care of....and maybe I'll still be using - and liking - my new Keeley 2-knob comp (which will arrive Monday according to USPS tracking).

stratguy23
02-04-2012, 12:44 PM
I used to have a Keeley 4 knob Comp. The Keeley Comps are great, but I sold it because once I got my Divided By 13, it became unnecessary. It just seemed to kill the dynamics the amp has (duh I know), I think comps work great with amps that don't have a lot of sustain inherently, so it may work well for you, and it is definitely a good one to try, just as a benchmark.