OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – What do the greatest guitar players on Earth like Peter Frampton, Eric Clapton, Brad Paisley, John Mayer, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Nancy Wilson of Heart and so many others have in common?
They all count on this Oklahoma City business for their sound.
This is Keeley Electronics.
The first Keeley guitar pedals were born out of Robert Keeley’s garage more than 20 years ago and word started to spread.
“I think there was a group of musicians here and there in Nashville had started talking and people like Gordon Kennedy got songs to Eric Clapton and that led to meeting people like Peter Frampton and then Brad Paisley. And so in the beginning days with those guys and like John Mayer, the word got out that we had a couple of pedals that sound pretty good,” says Keeley.
“Every guitar player loves pedals because they give them some different sounds,” says Kent Ogle. “Maybe you want your guitar to sound a little spacey or maybe you want it to sound a little punchier and you get a little distortion.”
“It’s really rewarding when it inspires music, you know what I mean, and that’s the coolest thing is that our sounds are getting better and better, and we find ways to excite people to make more music and that’s so rewarding,” says Keeley.
The Keeley compressor guitar pedal is the best selling item on the Ebay of musical instruments called Reverb dot.com and are now in music stores all across the country.
“Robert spends a lot of time kind of designing these circuits,” says Scott Starns, of Edmond Music. “He’s got an incredible ear for designing these sounds that people just think of. It’s hard to describe a sound and create something like that but Robert’s got this magical knack for. We call him the mad scientist because he can take a lot of the elements of ideas for sounds and recreate them in a pedal format.”
From quality local bands working their way up, to the biggest names playing stadiums, Keeley pedals are being punched in show after show.
“Inspiration for a pedal design comes in two ways,” says Robert. “Since I’m an engineer, I try to provide solutions so I’m constantly thinking what could I do or what could I offer to help this guy be able to create on stage? Or in the studio sometimes, quicker, faster or more creatively and how can I get the pedals to be more expressive or reveal your intensity through the dynamic of your playing?”
“That’s great because every guitar player, it doesn’t matter what style of music, whether it’s country, classic rock or hard rock or Christian artist playing in these big worship houses, he has so much available, so many sounds available. There is something for everybody,” says Starns. “He’s a very versatile builder. He doesn’t really specialize in one thing. I think that’s why he is so popular.”
Robert’s success has led to other start ups in the state that are making their mark too.
“It’s cool to see Oklahoma City and Oklahoma kind of latch on to the effects pedal world,” says Robert. “So, there are several other pedal companies and music related companies around here now and it’s very exciting to get together with them and share because sometimes they worked for me in the past, so they have their own place now. So it’s really cool to see.”
Robert and his team at Keeley Electronics, pedaling their way to the top of the charts from right here in Oklahoma City.