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Robert Keeley Loomer Wall of Fuzz Reverb Pedal

For reverb that looms and looms ...

 

by Chris Loeffler

 

 

 

Robert Keeley’s deep dive into pedal “work stations” marked a shift from individual effects pedals to multiple circuits sharing a single enclosure for a compact, flexible platform for multiple effects that play well together. After the initial gain, modulation, and delay work stations, he turned his ears toward artist inspired workstations, like the Monterey (Hendrix) and Dark Side (Gilmour), where players can effectively tap into a comprehensive palette of tones from a major milestone or album. The Keeley Loomer furthers that tradition by recreating the luscious wall of sound perfected by Kevin Shield in the seminals shoe gaze album Loveless. 

 
What You Need to Know
 
 
The Keeley Loomer features two independent sections, Reverb and Fuzz. The fuzz side has Fuzz, Level, and Filter knobs as well as a three-way switch to select between Flat EQ, Full EQ, and Scooped. The Reveb side features Blend, Decay, Warmth, and Depth controls as well as a three-way toggle switch to select between the different Reverb modes- Focus, Reverse, and Hall. 
 
 
The Fuzz circuit is Big Muff Pi inspired, and is appropriately wooly and thick without sacrificing too much articulation and nuance.   The sustain is off the charts, and there is an immediacy to the attack that is aggressive but organic, without too much gating. 
 
 
The Volume and Fuzz controls act exactly how you would expect, with the Volume knob taking the effect from dead silent to a healthy boost over the input signal and the Fuzz knob going from gritty with Humbuckers on the lowest setting to balls-to-the-wall fuzz at the highest settings
 
 
The Filter control works like the similarly named control on the ProCo Rat, and is a variable filter sweep as opposed to the traditional Tone control that rolls off highs or lows. It doesn’t quite get as exaggerated as a traditional cocked-wah, but it does a great job of carving out the Fuzz’s position in the mix. 
 
 
The Flat mode has the typical fuzz characteristics of slightly enhanced highs and lows with a slightly reduced midrange, resulting in the most classic sounding fast mode. Single notes bite and there is little intermodulation between notes on most standard chords.
 
 
The Full mode is significantly pushed in the midrange, although not nearly as exaggerated as a Tube Screamer-type circuit. This mode is significantly more impactful on single note leads to create an incredibly full sound, but gets a bit muddy the moment you introduce more than a root and a fifth in chords for rhythm.
 
 
The Scooped mode dramatically cuts out the midrange for classic heavy tones of the 80s and 90s. It works perfectly for wall-of-sound rhythm parts, but has a hollowness that makes lead parts disappear into the mix without significant tweaking to the Filter control.
 
 
The Reverb section is where things step out of what traditional effects do and is what takes the Loomer directly into the realm of Shoe Gaze. 
 
 
The Focus mode splits the decay of the reverb into separate delay lines with different times and runs them through a four-voice chorusing effect. The result is a dreamy, studio-quality reverb pad that can sound subtly lush or almost like a sea-sick wash of waves that warble and twist underneath the core tone. The Depth control set the depth of the modulation, and get s pretty extreme without ever coming off as significantly bending the pitch a la a vibrato effect. 
 
 
The Reverse mode isn’t a true reverse reverb, which wouldn’t even be possible to execute in real time, but rather several reverse delays played in succession to emulate the effect. Additionally, there is an envelope sensitive pitch bend that warps the reverb pitch down and pulls it back to the original pitch, emulating the whammy bar of a guitar. The Depth control adjusts the amount of pitch bending, with it going from a subtle bend in at 9, a full step at noon, and even more beyond. A fun application of this mode is to run the Blend 100% and the Decay at 0% for a literal reversal of every note you play. Trippy. 
 
 
The Hall mode is truly dense and features the ever-more ubiquitous shimmer feature that feeds the reverb line into an octave-up effect for a bell-like accompaniment to the base notes. It’s not quite as animated, sparkly, or synth-like as others I have played, but it also sounds less effected and more organic and warm, which really fits the sonic theme of the Loomer. 
 
 
The Blend control takes the Reverb effect from “not there” to 100% wet for synth-like swells. 
 
 
The Decay control adjusts the length of the reverbs, and is more than enough to play a note, grab a smoke (is that even a thing in 2018?), and come back to hear the end of the note in the Hall and Focus settings. I found the Reverse mode could actually use a touch more, but that could be because of the extreme settings and applications I most enjoyed about it. 
 
 
The Warmth control is well named, as it sounds a bit less effected than a traditional EQ across its sweep, and feels more like an intelligent enhancer than a straight logarithmic band adjustment. It sweetens the lows or highs, in my experience. 
 
 
The Keeley Loomer allows for adjustment of the circuit order (Fuzz>Reverb, Reverb>Fuzz), which is interesting and certainly opens up doors to even more out-there Shoe Gazey-ness, and also features an Expression Pedal input for on-the-fly tweaks to the Depth control. 
 
 
Limitations
 
 
More of a “what if” than a limitation, if there was a way to store settings for each of the three reverbs the pedal would be even more versatile for live performances. 
 
 
Conclusion
 
 
The Keeley Loomer is a Shoe Gazer’s dream, and is filled with a brooding vibe that looks to the past for inspiration and feels ready to inspire the future with its left-of-center reverb modes that would be amazing but underutilized in tamer settings. It’s an odd statement to make about an effect designed to recreate vintage rack units, but there is a unifying character to the Loomer that is utterly original, with a lo-fi via hi-fi sonic aesthetic.  - HC- 

 

 

 

                                      

____________________________________________ 

 

Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer. 

 

 

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