Well, there isn’t much I can tell you about Keeler Design. I had never heard of them before getting their pedals for testing. Their range has ODs, distortion, fuzz and a wah pedal. The drive pedals share their look and have a nice sparkle finish. They are handbuild in the USA. Do NOT mistake them with that other pedalbuilder/modder!
Looking at the design and look of these pedals, 1 word immediately pops into my head: “simple”.
Simple in a good way though! Clear looks, clear layout, simple name. There are 4 controls. The Volume control has a serious amount of output, the Fuzz is your gain control, going from cleanish to all out fully saturated fuzz settings. The Tone control has sufficient range to tweak the pedal to match your amp and guitars. Finally, the Texture control is where it's at for this pedal! More about that later though. The pedal has true bypass switching and the build feels solid. I think the 9v DC input is not in the easiest position being just next to the input.
The pedal in use
Let's not mess about, the Keeler Design Kick is probably the most versatile classic sounding fuzz pedal I have ever encountered!
Fuzz pedals are a mixed bag, I love how they sound but often that's in the hands of other players. I sometimes ‘struggle’ getting a fuzz pedal to sound right. I know that the beauty of fuzz pedals is because they can sound totally ‘off’ but still sound amazing. With the Kick however, I felt at home from the 1st time plugging in. Well, it was the 2nd time to be honest because I had it behind a buffer first and that did not sound right.
Classic setup for this, guitar into fuzz into old Marshall and off we go. Getting the Kick to sound good was actually pretty easy. I found some great tones with minimal fiddling. With the Fuzz control set around 1:00, I found an amazing range of tones. The Texture control is what makes this pedal so versatile. At low settings it gets you very gnarly, spitting tones, from around 11:00 on, it starts to smooth out, adding overdrive until you get to a thick fat tone at the max setting. With the Tone control you can further shape the sound you are getting. Unity gain on the volume control was around 11:00 so there's plenty of boost available. That being said, if you dial down the Fuzz control, the Kick works really well as a boost pedal. This was probably what surprised me most about the pedal.
With the Fuzz control turned up to about 4:00, you are getting a whole other set of tones as the Texture control now responds differently. Things are pretty wild now but you are still able to totally control your sound. Clean-up from the volume control is excellent and allows you to get right back to a spanky clean tone, impressive stuff this.
Finally, I must say that the Kick sounded amazing when used with humbuckers. The Texture and Tone controls allowed me to tweak it after swapping from my Telecaster to my Les Paul and it sounded great. Very big and fat with huge amounts of sustain. I picked up my ES335 and found myself playing some Eric Johnson stuff. Well, I tried to play some Eric Johnson stuff, what was I thinking? The tone was there though!!
Unexpectedly, the Kick was the highlight out of the 4 Keeler Design pedals I got to test. Overall these are really good pedals with plenty of tones but the Kick is a home-run. It's a very versatile but still classic sounding fuzz and yet I was able to get great tones with minimal fuzz (pun intended).
- More info: Keeler Designs Kick - High Gain Fuzz