Keeley Katana Review: A Secret-Weapon Clean Boost for Guitarists

FX pedals are a great way to add some flair to your guitar tone, and if you're not using them, you're definitely missing out.

We often hear a lot about reverb pedals, distortion pedals, and other types of effects that have a huge impact on your guitar's tonal characteristics.

Today, however, we will be discussing one of the unsung heroes of the pedalboard: The clean boost pedal. Sure, you could scour the internet for all the best clean boost pedals out there, or you could just read on. This article reviews one of the all-around best ones on the market: The Keeley Katana.

The Keeley Katana is a powerful clean boost pedal that can act as the "secret sauce" for just about any signal chain, for any genre of music. Let's explore what makes the Keeley Katana the perfect clean boost pedal.

We'll even discuss some considerations to make when buying this type of gear, and then look at some budget-friendly alternatives to the Katana. Without further ado, let's cut to the chase.

Product Overview

Keeley Katana

Average Overall Rating: 4.75/5


  • Pedal type: Boost
  • Analog pedal
  • Height: 1.9"
  • Width: 3.15"
  • Depth: 4.42"
  • Power source: 9V battery (sold separately)
  • True bypass

Why I like it

  • Transparent, clean boost sounds great
  • Can create tube-like saturation
  • High-quality, durable hardware that is satisfying to use

What I think could be improved

  • Can add a bit of noise in certain environments

Features & Benefits

Keeley Katana

There's a lot to love about this simple yet powerful pedal. Here are the top 4 features of the Keeley Katana Clean Boost Pedal.

Clean Boost 5/5

Let's start with the main draw of this piece of gear: How well it boosts your guitar signal. With its straightforward JFET design, the Keeley Katana provides transparent boost to your signal, causing it to hit the amp harder and create a more powerful sound.

While your amp's master volume controls will still determine the overall amplitude of your signal, adding this boost will strengthen the signal going in, which will increase the perceived volume of your playing. If you're using one of the best clean amps, it will amplify the already clean signal to the desired level.

Your boosted signal will sound louder, stronger, and more robust. You'll also notice more harmonic information in your signal, which will thicken up your guitar's tone just a bit. Use the Katana's volume knob to determine your amount of clean boost (choose from 0 to 20dB of boost).

When switching your Keeley Katana pedal from bypassed to active, you'll immediately notice that the pedal brings out some rich tonal characteristics of your guitar. Your playing will be not only louder, but also more capable of cutting through the mix with presence and clarity.

It's a hard thing to explain if you haven't used a clean boost pedal for yourself, but a little bit of clean boost can go a long way. Your guitar will be more satisfying to play, and more responsive to your flourishes and dynamics.

While the Keeley Katana doesn't technically compress your signal, it does transparently boost all the frequencies of your signal in the preamp stage, which can make your playing sound more uniform by the time it hits the amp.

The Keeley Katana has been famously used by John Mayer to help him achieve his rich, creamy clean tones that can be heard on his tracks and live performances.

Pull Switch 5/5

The Keeley Katana already sounds wonderful, but it also has a secret weapon. You can pull the volume knob out to add an extra 30 dB of clean boost. According to Keeley: the latest edition of the Katana features an "updated[...] Boost mode to offer a more robust, clear sound, giving more clarity to bass notes when engaged."

30dB is a whole lot of gain, and you'll instantly be able to hear the difference it makes in your tone. It provides a tube-like saturation for your signal, creating an ever-so-satisfying crunch that sounds great with classic rock, blues, or even heavier genres like arena rock or hair metal.

The pull switch adds this bit of grittiness by boosting the signal so loud that it encroaches upon your amp's headroom, causing some subtle distortion that sounds pretty close to genuine tube distortion.

It sounds great if you want to try an overdriven or distorted sound without completely drowning out your guitar's original tone in harmonics and overtones. It adds some edge while retaining enough qualities from your unaltered tone so that your playing remains intelligible.

I like this pull switch feature because it's simple to use and makes the pedal much more versatile overall. I can't help but headbang to the harmonically rich boost it creates, and the crowd will do the same. Try this charge pump mode for power chords, solos, or high-energy rhythm parts.

Small Footprint 4/5

Another thing to love about this pedal is that it doesn't take up too much space on your pedalboard. It's only 3.15 inches across, including the volume knob.

It also has a clean, minimalist look and straightforward controls. Because it provides a transparent boost to your signal without adding too much coloration to the tone, it can fit well into any signal chain.

No matter what signature tone you've developed, use the Keeley Katana Clean Boost Pedal to make it pop just a bit more.

Want an even smaller footprint on your pedal board? Try the Keeley Katana Mini. It's a small and affordable clean boost pedal that, while less feature-rich, is even simpler to operate.

True Bypass 5/5

This pedal has true bypass, which means that when it's turned off, it will not affect your signal chain. This is handy because your tone will remain completely uncolored and unaffected when you bypass the pedal.

With true bypass, you can easily hear the effect the Keeley Katana has on your guitar's tone, no matter how many other pedals you have on your pedal board.

This is just another factor that adds to the pedal's user-friendliness.


Let's look at a couple more great deals on clean boost pedals. These alternatives to the Keeley Katana are a great option if you want to spend a bit less for a pedal that still goes a long way.

Keeley Katana Mini

Keeley Katana Mini

The Mini Katana has similar circuitry to the original and is half the price. It even has a hi-cut switch to help fine-tune your boosted sound.

Set the switch to "hi gain" to get a more boosted, slightly dirtier tone. Alternatively, use the "hi cut" setting to mellow out your tone and preserve only the rich mids and some bass frequencies.

The Keely Katana Mini offers up to 35dB of gain, definitely an impressive amount for a mini pedal.

For those who love Keeley Electronics and don't mind taking a simpler approach to their clean boost pedal, the Mini Katana is a perfect fit.

TC Spark Mini Boost Pedal

TC Spark Mini Boost Pedal

Here's another budget-friendly alternative to the Keeley Katana Boost Pedal. The TC Spark Mini Boost provides up to 20dB of transparent boost to your signal, and it does it all for less than the cost of a night out!

The TC Electronic Spark Booster Mini is also incredibly compact at less than 2 inches wide, perfect if you're pressed for space on your pedal board.

While it's not quite as robust or customizable as the Keeley Katana, this mini boost pedal will get the job done if all you need is some clean gain for your signal. Want a simple, budget-friendly option? Then this may be just what the doctor ordered.

Xotic EP Booster Mini Boost Pedal

TC Spark Mini Boost Pedal

The Xotic EP Booster is another highly affordable mini boost pedal. It's remarkably simple and easy to use.

You can use the gain knob to add up to 20dB of clean gain to your signal, fattening up your tone and bringing out some colorful harmonic richness.

It's very transparent in its boosting of your signal, so you'll hear everything you want to and nothing you don't.

The Xotic EP Booster is a perfect choice if you're looking for a low-mid budget clean boost pedal that will give you a nice boost without much customizability.

In Conclusion

Keeley Katana

I hope you've enjoyed learning about this phenomenal clean boost pedal, the Keeley Katana. As its name suggests, it really helps your guitar cut through the mix. Use the pull knob to add even more edge to your tone with a bit of saturation or overdrive.

I could talk all day about how great this pedal is, but it's no substitute for hearing the actual pedal in action! Look up some demos or head on over to your local music store and see if you can try a Keeley Katana out for yourself.

You could even order one online and be rocking out by tomorrow night. Fast delivery sure does feel like a luxury! Experience firsthand how satisfying it is to jam out with this fun and effective clean boost pedal.

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