This week on TPS, Dan & Mick found themselves happily locked away in a sound booth at the recent shakedown of Guitcon with none other than Robert Keeley.
Among the many topics covered in the hour and a few secrets spilled—like the soon-to-be announced Guitar Player Editor’s Pick Award for the D&M Drive—Robert took the chance to tell the story behind some of his more recent designs as Dan & Mick put the pedals through the paces. To get a sense of these Keeley current events, here’s a look at three pedals that received honorable mention: the Filaments, Caverns Delay/Reverb II, and Hooke Spring Reverb.
Going off Brand but Making a Sure Hit: The Angry Little Filaments
Fans of Keeley’s classic effects and TPS alike are probably associate Robert’s overdrive designs with mid-range distortion sounds. It’s why the Boss Blues Driver Keeley Mod, Super-Phat Mod, and Germanium Super Phat Mod pedals are pedalboard staples. As Robert shared, “If you don’t know the Blues Driver [mod pedals], you really need to try it.”
Then the Filaments came along, catching many players off guard. As Dan commented, “For me, this seems to be quite a departure from what we know of your classic tones…this is a little box of doom!” For Robert, the design was his “attempt to get mad.” The goal was to make a heavy gain pedal that was brighter, cleaner, and punched through the mid-range. After the Keeley team experimented and prototyped in the shop and on the stage, they arrived at the sound they were shooting for. Robert then noted, “We sent it out to the world, and it was just crickets. People didn’t expect us to do that!” While the buildup was slow, Robert was enthusiastic to share that the pedal has attracted more than a cult following and recently the accolade of a Top Gear Award from Premier Guitar.
Both Dan & Mick were blown away at the gain staging, tone shaping, and mid-rich EQ structure of the Filaments. As Dan commented, “With a lot of really heavy distortion pedals it’s just gain, gain gain. But here the mids are still punching through yet there’s still attack on the note. So many times when you have that much gain, it just softens the edges of the sound completely. But that just sounds amazing!”
Keeley’s Second Take on the Caverns
Robert had some unfinished business with the Caverns and came back for a second round. The Caverns Delay/Reverb II has a leg up on its predecessor in that it offers modulation on delay rates and repeats, a newly developed spring reverb sound, an enhanced shimmer, and analog-esque magnetic echo delay. The Caverns is unbelievably versatile, it can hit tight twangs in the spring or warm and warbly echoes that gracefully repeat into the distance. As noted by Robert, it is also particularly well-suited for ambient, spacious swells and swirls that demand deep and wet mixes of reverb and delay.
One of the new dynamics discovered in the Caverns II, as noted by Robert, is “when you hear these trails and what is going on in the background.” With options for imbibing the echo trails with shimmer and modulation, the caverns truly lives up to its name by giving the impression of an almost lost, expansive space.
For Dan, the brilliance was in the perfectly balanced and articulate all analog dry through signal expertly overlaid with the digital effect: “What I’m loving about that is that there’s a lot of effect there, but you’re still hearing the edges of [your gain sound] coming through.” As Robert reflected, “If we had to do it all digital, you couldn’t get that sound.”
Getting Hooked by the Hooke Spring Reverb
The Hooke Spring Reverb pedal is a vintage inspired effect meant to sound and feel like the spring reverbs found in classic tube amps. For this reason, you’ll also find onboard options for blending in tremolo, which is fitting given the blackface edifice of the Hooke. If a classic sound is not what you’re looking for, Robert kitted out the Hooke with a few unexpected options, like the Fugue-verb, which is an all wet octave up/down reverb mimicking the sounds of an organ.
For Mick, the verdict was simple: “I could play that all day.”
TPS Rig Rundown
Guitars: Fender Custom Shop ’63 Telecaster, Fender American Vintage ’62 Stratocaster.
Amps: Framus Dragon & 4x12 cabinet.Pedals: Keeley effects in this episode include: Germanium Super Phat Mod, Filaments High Gain Distortion, Caverns Delay/Reverb II, Hooke Spring Reverb, and D&M Drive.