For the past few decades, guitar players and effects pedal addicts have always pitted the Keeley Super Phat Mod vs the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver, often with varying conclusions. After all, the Phat Mod is considered as the best clone of the BD-2, but with some added upgrades. However, even with these improvements, the popularity of the Blues Driver hasn’t waned a bit and remains a favorite among blues players all over the world.
When the BD-2 was introduced by Boss in 1995, the rock and roll landscape was already shaped in favor of the phenomenon known as grunge. Even after Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain left our world, grunge was still going strong and punk was also poised to continue dominating the decade with its power chord-driven, guitar solo-less music.
But the visionaries at Boss knew that the people would sooner or later be digging deeper into the origins of present day rock and roll. They particularly expected the new generation to venture further into blues territory, while past songs and artists in the legendary genre will be experiencing a comeback to take command of the airwaves.
True enough, 1995 turned out to be a great year for blues music as the charts accommodated albums by the likes of Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughan with unprecedented hospitality. Although this didn’t translate immediately to the Blues Driver’s success, the BD-2’s versatility fueled its emergence as one of the most popular guitar pedals in years to come.
The affordability and great tone of the Blues Driver also gave rise to a burgeoning guitar pedal modification movement in the early 2000s, with Robert Keeley leading in the frontlines with his highly in demand “Keeley Mod” pedals. This paved the way for the Keeley Super Phat Mod, which is actually more than just an upgrade of its predecessor the BD-2.
Pedal comparison: Super Phat Mod vs BD-2 Blues Driver
Boss BD-2 Blues Driver
Warm, creamy, crunchy and transparent. These are the usual words that guitar players use to describe the BD-2, making it the perfect guitar pedal for blues music. Although this versatile stompbox can provide a wide range of sound that can satisfy the needs of various musicians, the Blues Driver also has other uses while working seamlessly with other pedals.
The tube amp simulation capabilities of the BD-2 can cover extensive genres and can emulate any style from Jimi Hendrix to Tom Morello. However, it is also favored for its capacity to respond to differing dynamics, nuances and volume changes.
Some guitar players have been using the BD-2 to enhance their clean tone, by turning the drive all the way down. This is very useful in helping your entire effects chain to cut through the mix smoothly, by letting the signal flow with accuracy and clarity.
Moreover, the BD-2 can be used to maximize an amp’s natural breakup, which let’s guitar players find that sweet spot in the amplifier. This natural breakup usually occurs when the amp’s tubes have reached the point wherein the clean sound is starting to produce a natural drive. Mixing the gain, level and tone knobs on the Blues Driver can achieve this much-coveted sweet spot.
Keeley Super Phat Mod
For 15 years, Robert Keeley tinkered with the BD-2 before launching his full range overdrive pedal which he named the “Keeley Super Phat Mod.” By upgrading some of the components, Keeley was able to create a pedal that is vastly inspired by the Blues Driver, but with a warmer and cleaner sound.
He equipped his overdrive pedal with a “Phat Mod” option which provides two levels of bass response, with the first mode dedicated to clean tone, while the second mode produces a beefed up “phat” sound.
The Super Phat Mod is versatile as well, as it could serve up some tasty blues tones with minimal overdrive, or even go to metal territory that would definitely make Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath proud. With this Blues Driver-inspired pedal, you can go for a more nasal-sounding tone or utilize its aggressive mids for a crunchy sound that bites really hard.
Super Phat Mod vs BD-2 Blues Driver: Which is better?
After comparing the sound and capabilities of the Super Phat Mod and the BD-2 Blues Driver, guitar players find it more and more difficult to discern which one is better than the other.
One would easily judge that Keeley’s pedal is an improvement of Boss’ Blues Driver, but loyalists will beg to disagree, claiming that the BD-2 is already perfect in design and requires no further tweaking.
Some musicians have claimed that the Super Phat Mod has a more organic sound, while BD-2 users defend the pure blues sound that the Boss stompbox could offer. One thing that both Super Phat Mod and Blues Driver owners can attest to is the full, rich tone that both overdrive pedals can offer.
The strength of the BD-2 pedal lies on its unique ability to react dynamically to various playing pressures, as well as act as an enhancement for your entire rig’s clean sound. On the other hand, the Phat Mod boasts a more refined tone that will work perfectly in today’s modern sound and highly-evolved audio capabilities.
Whether you wish to grab a Keeley or a Boss overdrive pedal, your decision should depend on your taste. It would be great to test both pedals side by side first before making any purchases, to make sure that you will take home an overdrive pedal that is perfect for your style.
And if you have some extra cash to spend, why not incorporate both stompboxes in your setup? Combining the Super Phat Mod and the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver can unlock a ton of sonic possibilities beyond blues and rock music.