• Robert Keeley D&M Drive review

    Robert Keeley D&M Drive

    In this review I’ll be looking at the brand new D&M Drive from Robert Keeley. Promising to deliver mids-humped boost and saturated distortion, and the option to combine them, the D&M Drive offer a wide palette of tones suitable for most setups. Here’s my review.

    If you’re like me, you’re probably waiting eagerly for each new episode of That Pedal Show. Dan and Mick are not only capable of making everything they touch sound like gold but, and more importantly, they have a passion and enthusiasm that’s incredibly inspiring.

    I’m sure they inspire a lot of pedal makers too and the D&M Drive by Robert Keeley is designed in collaboration with Dan and Mick. Do we really need another overdrive? Probably not, and the guys also points that out in their description but the D&M sure offer something new and different.

    The D&M Drive is a dual overdrive. The left side of the pedal, Dan’s side, offer tons of saturated gain, with an impressive clarity and rich harmonics. Unlike the typical modern mids scooped metal distortions or the more classic mids-boosted Rat, the drive side of the D&M is perfectly balanced and cuts through nicely without sounding boxy or overwhelming. 

    The right side, Mick’s side, is a boost with lots of headroom and a nice mids-hump. Actually, boost is perhaps a bit misleading because although it has the ability to clean up nicely, there’s plenty of gain on tap. Tonewise it’s somewhere between a Klon and Tube Screamer although with lots more low end and the mid range sounds more balanced.

    Each of these sides can either be used alone or stacked. Crank them both and get some really sick super distorted tones or, set them up much like your favourite overdrive and EQ adding a bit of both for some really smooth creamy tones. 

    A mini toggle switch allow you to switch places of the two sides. Having the boost run into the drive, adds a nice mids boost to your saturated distortion and evens out some of the bright overtones and adds quite a bit of sustain. Place the booster after the drive and use it as a very subtle EQ.

    Personally I like the Boost side best. Perhaps because I often prefer low gain overdrive over distortion but as much as I love the Klon and Tube Screamer, I’ve always found them too middy and they lack some low end. The D&M boost is incredibly well balanced and it really adds a lot of punch and confidence to your tone and playing. It probably sound best on a fairly mids scooped amp, like a Fender or Vox, with single coil pickups but it shouldn’t scare off Marshall and humbucker players either. 

    The Drive is perhaps a tad too bright for my taste but I’m surprised by how well you can hear all the nuances and harmonics. High gain distortions often sound too overwhelming but this one allow you to pretty much crank the gain up all the way and still retain much of the characteristics of the tone.

    My favourite setup is probably the Drive with a fairly moderate setup, with the Boost placed in front of it adding a bit of mid range and compression.

    So the verdict? Well, I really enjoy the D&M and although there are similar pedals out there, the D&M is well thought out and cover a lot of ground. Wether you’re a bedroom player or needs something versatile for your cramped board, the D&M offer great sounding tones and pretty much any drive tone you need. Check out robertkeeley.com for more.

30 Responsesso far.

  1. Jason says:

    Hey Bjorn – I know sound is subjective, but do you think the boost side would sound too mid-humped with a strat through a Marshall JTM60 (at least according to your preference)? Thanks. Love your website!

  2. Tom Scioscia says:

    So, how would you rank the Mick side for running a Muff into?

    • Bjorn says:

      I haven’t tried that but I would imagine if you set it fairly clean, you’d have a Muff tone with a slight compression and considerably more mid range, which is close to David’s Pulse tones.

  3. Wouter D says:

    Thoughts on the D&M Drive in front of a VOX AC15 (Greenback)?
    I find the drive side sound rather flat sounding, even a bit fizzy. Not well balanced and warm/smooth sound like in many reviews and video’s.
    I haven’t have had the opportunity to play it with the master volume crancked so I run the amp on low volume (don’t want to scare the neighbours). Maybe that’s part of the problem?
    Suggested settings?
    Guitar: Epiphone G400 (all stock).

  4. Alex says:

    Hey Bjorn! What I’d like to say is that the guitar solo at the beginning is amazing! Very tasty, smooth gilmour’s tone. How did you get this squeeze sound? Was it a compressor or just the tubes compression? As I understand, you played it with a lead channel in the amp, pulled down the guitar volume, didn’t you?

    By the way, what do you think about using a compressor with a lead channel? I play home throught a 3-channel preamp (AMT SS-11B) with two 12AX7 tubes.

    • Bjorn says:

      You mean the Pigs bit? That’s just the DM into the Laney so what you hear is pretty much the DM’s compression and gain. I do use the Laney’s gain channel with the gain backed almost all the way off for a bit of extra compression and mid range. My opinion is that you should use compression with gain amps or pedals with care as you pretty much add compression to an already compressed tone.

      • Alex says:

        Thank you, got it!
        I meant your guitar solo at the beginning of almost all your reviews:) It’s absolutely genious… I’d like to listen to the whole recording or the song.
        So, did you use a compression pedal or a big muff there?

        • Bjorn says:

          Oh… That’s a short snippet, no more than what you hear, that I recorded 10-12 years ago and that I ended up using for these YT clips. It was an idea I had and recorded with Garageband so I think I actually used some guitar stuff in Garageband.

          • kevin says:

            Thanks. I’ve heard that snippet a thousand times now, and always assumed it was classic Floyd. That explains why Shazam doesn’t recognise it. HaHa.
            On a related topic, I’m always impressed by the sound and video/caption quality of your gear demos. Did you ever write about how you go about it? I have read you use Apple Logic, and a Shure mic slightly off centre, but what about the Audio Interface, syncing video/audio, captioning.

  5. Raihan Krishna says:

    Hi, can you tell me more about the ‘characteristic’ of the Drive side? For example ‘its based on a crancked Marshall’ or something like that. Or maybe its something fresh?


    • Bjorn says:

      Is similar to the OCD, which again is a cross between a Marshall JCM800 and a Tube Screamer. The D&M Drive has a bit more top end than the OCD and a tad less mid range.

  6. Brad Roller says:

    You think you’ll be using this any time soon on your board? Hey btw, an article about the PowerBooster would be awesome when you get some free time ;)

    • Bjorn says:

      I don’t know. I’m rearranging stuff aws so I might but I’m very much on the Tree of Life and OCD at the moment… I’ll see what I can do about that article :)

  7. KEITH says:

    I LIKE IT!!! I do wish you’d talk in your reviews like you used to though. I miss your explanation​s, and comments! But you da boss!!
    Peace y’all, KEITH 🎸🤡

    • Bjorn says:

      Thanks Keith but I do prefer to have just some text… for now anyway :)

      • Brad Roller says:

        I think Keith is saying, we dig your accent dude lol

        • Bjorn says:

          Ha ha, yeah well…

          • KEITH says:

            Spot on Brad! We like to hear you talk!

            • Bjorn says:

              I hear you :) I’m very comfortable with the current format but I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks for the comments guys :)

              • KEITH says:

                To be serious, it seems to be more informative when you explain the pedals settings, and features, as well as the gear you’re using . However, I understand the time constraints involved. But the graphics you use to to show what amp, other effects, and settings are just slightly too transparent, and at tines difficult to read . I rewind, and stop, but still have a difficult time seeing the text on the mobile site. I only have one computer, and it’s for recording, so I only connect it to the internet to update drivers, and firmware. But still like the voice, you’re getting a little ling in the tooth to suddenly get mic fright! Haha 😁
                I won’t bug you about it again, but maybe you could make! the text a little more opaque?
                Peace Bjorn, Keith 💜🎸 🤡

                • Bjorn says:

                  I’ll stick with the graphics for now as I don’t have lots of time to edit and record these reviews. I’ve found a “formula” that works timewise and I get the info across together with the written reviews but I’ll try make the graphics easier to read. Thanks for the input!

  8. Cesare Bertagna says:

    DAVID G!!!📣

  9. Sutil says:

    Robert Keeley nailed it with the Darkside…
    this pedal is a joke… not that is bad… it’s literally a joke from Robert… I mean a “That pedal show” pedal? If this isn’t kissing ass I don’t know what is…

    • Bjorn says:

      But is it really any different from the Dark Side? I mean, that’s a pedal based on the tones from an album and they use the name. The D&M Drive is based on the taste and preferences of two well known guitar enthusiasts. I don’t really see the difference. What’s important is how it sounds and whether or not you like it. It’s easy to see how people who have no interest in a fuzz and a bunch of modulation effects don’t like the Dark Side. It all comes down to taste and what you need to get the tones down. Regardless of what it says on the label.

    • Pete W. says:

      Robert has been a fan of their show and during conversations the idea of doing a pedal for them came about.
      It took a lot of conversations and he and his team put in features that Dan and Mick specifically wanted.
      Robert takes great pride in his work and his effort shows in the product.
      I have one and it covers a lot of ground. Don’t focus on the marketing, that is just Robert celebrating some people he likes. (Typical for him if you know him.) The pedal is one of the best out there of this type.

      • Taylor Hutto says:

        Exactly. Agreed! Maybe some can see it as cheesy, but Dan and Mick have both been using Keeley’s modded Blues driver, and tube screamer, for years. It seems only natural. It’s an amazing pedal, and for some, it’s a great tool! It’s orange color is a staple on my board!

  10. Pete W. says:

    Killer! Robert Keeley really nailed it with this one! He’s been producing so many great pedals lately.

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