Andy Timmons. The name alone should conjure an aural "picture" in your head. The touch, the smoothness, the sustain...somehow it's just perfect!
Robert Keeley. The name alone should conjure an image in your head of an innovator and a brilliant designer. I'm lucky enough to call him "friend"!
It was only a matter of time before these two tonal titans had a meeting of the minds to craft something wonderful. And wouldn't you know it; they'd been quietly doing EXACTLY that for the last two or three years. The end result: the HALO Andy Timmons Dual Echo. By now, you've probably seen MANY videos about this pedal...and hopefully mine was one of them. But in this blog, I want to do a bit of digging to find the potential origins of Andy's HALO sound and how his execution of it has evolved into the HALO. So let's start by answering THIS question: when did I first become aware of Andy Timmons?
Back in the day (and by "day" I mean 2010-11...maybe) Xotic Pedals had a fairly active YouTube presence with "Reality Web Video". These videos featured prominent players that used their pedals and were MOSTLY posted to their website. At the time, Xotic were THE pedals to have for "those in the know". And on the BB Preamp page...this Andy Timmons video was there.
I didn't know the name of the song he played at the beginning (it's "Electric Gypsy" in case you're wondering) but I loved the phrasing, the melody and THAT TONE!
Andy does a small rundown of the rig in the video but nothing too detailed. But it was clear that Andy had an ear for good tone. There must be something in the water down in Texas...
You'll hear in the clips that Andy is indeed using a good amount of delay in his sound. Knowing what I know now, the Halo sound IS there! The echoes envelope the guitar and cascade in such a way that it's as if he has a dense reverb on as well. I don't know EXACTLY what he's using to create the delays but he does mention the TC Electronic G-Force. But there's also a Line 6 Rackmount POD in there as well...
The most likely "true" Halo sound may have come a bit later and with far less complicated equipment.
At 3:57, Andy highlights his Dual Memory Man setup!
I don't remember when I first saw this video but I think this is really where the Halo echo sound was at it's most refined. Andy uses two "big box" Electro-Harmonix Deluxe Memory Man pedals in series. Doesn't it look like he has door handles or drawer-pull handles affixed to the knobs?
Those who know will get why he went for the dual 4Memory Man setup. Bucket brigade-based delay pedals have a vibe and the Memory Man has long been favored for it's uncanny ability to blur the line between BBD and Tape-based echoes.
As Andy mentions, he's achieved this sound also using tape echoes. But Tape -based delay is not the most road-friendly. They're bulky and temperamental. Hence, using the pedals.
One of the things the Memory Man did NOT have, and in some versions still doesn't, is Tap Tempo. Although the hard-set BPM for the dual echo is a relatively universal sound sometimes there is a need to switch up the BPM of the delay time. And it appears that those handles mentioned earlier are indeed strapped to the Time knobs of the Memory Man pedals. Not exactly "gig friendly". Though I'm sure Andy had it all worked out.
But as technology evolved, so too did Andy's rig...
This may be what some would consider the "end" of the search for the Halo sound. I would debate that but that's beside the point.
In this early episode of That Pedal Show, Daniel Steinhardt visits Andy before a gig in London. This is where I first got to REALLY hear the Halo sound, thanks in part to well recorded audio for this video.
Thanks to technology, in the shape of Strymon's Timeline pedal, Andy Timmons was able to take his signature "halo" sound on the road in a more compact way.
Sure, the Strymon Timeline is one of the "big" Strymon pedals but it's quite a bit smaller than two Memory Man pedals and significantly smaller than two tape echoes.
The package in and of itself is more friendly for touring; a big time plus! And, during the video, Andy does explain that he sets it up to sound like his Dual Memory Man setup. Perhaps this was the moment where Andy realized he could achieve his tone with a GOOD digital pedal? I can't say. I don't know Andy, nor have I gotten a chance to ask.
But recent interviews suggest that Andy may have been feeling like he was compromising or carrying around more than he needed. Despite his mind-melting technique, Andy very clearly likes to keep his rig simple and straight-forward. The Timeline was too much.
Here comes the Keeley Crew...
After putting their heads together, Keeley & Andy Timmons gave us the Halo; a pedal with Andy's signature Dual Echo dialed in PERFECTLY from the minute you open the box PLUS a few other beautifully tuned tricks up its sleeve!
With it's five delay "Rhythm" settings (I prefer to think of them as Modes), the Halo is a toolbox of the tried-and-true delay devices: digital, BBD analog and Tape.
The format is similar to that which is used for the glorious Eccos Delay & stunning Hydra Reverb/Tremolo: full Stereo I/O, expression pedal input, remote switching capable AND a secondary layer of Alternate Tone-shaping controls. It's entirely possible to create pretty much and "standard" delay tone you want! And when I say "standard", I mean that you're not going to get pitch-shifting repeats or sweeping filters...it's all killer, no filler here baby!
If you've read this far but haven't taken the time to watch MY video yet I would recommend that you watch it first before reading on. I'll give you some time...
Done? Cool. On with the blog.
When I say that Halo might be the perfect delay pedal I don't say that flippantly, I say it with sincerity. From the moment you call up Preset 1 and turn of Side A you are swimming in Andy's Halo tone, repeats dashing back and forth across the stereo field and decaying in a uniquely musical way that never intrudes on your playing. You know from that first strum you're in for a GOOD time.
Once you leave the warm embrace of the Halo and explore modes like the Dotted Eighth Digital or Stereo BBD you get a sense of how much work went into tuning each mode to sound not only like the "real deal" but maybe even better than them. I had a lot of fun trying to create a "broken" analog delay sound with the pedal and have my own Digital preset saved alongside the Halo sound. I don't need a massive amount of delay sounds for what I do (at least not yet) and the Halo covers all of my current needs.
Everything is so easy to navigate and dial in. There are no menus or complicated MIDI messages needed...just turn the knobs, press & hold, and save! What could be better?!
You simply must try it for yourself! You will have so much fun.
Wishing you Great Tone & Happy Stomping!
Hey there! You read my whole blog. Thanks so much!
If you enjoyed yourself, Subscribe to my email list and get new Blogs & Videos sent direct to your Inbox.