The Gloamer by Pigtronix deserves a spot on your pedalboard if you want nostalgic and vibey textures from your electric guitar.
How the Gloamer manipulates your signal is fun, beautiful, and sometimes frustrating. But in that frustration, you find beauty and inspiration that genuinely connects you to your music in ways a traditional delay, tremolo, or modulation pedal can not.
While the Gloamer isn't for everyone, and may not be used on every song, what it brings to the table is unique and special. I want to keep this on my pedalboard for when I want to expand my playing into exciting and emotional sonic territories. If you're on the fence, try it out because it's worth it!
The Pigtronix Gloamer is marketed as this otherworldy vibe machine. But the question is, does it bring something new to the table that a regular delay, modulation, or tremolo pedal can’t?
If you are wondering if the Gloamer lives up to the hype or is simply a really expensive auto-swell pedal, you are in the right place.
I’ve put this pedal through its paces over the past week and have strong thoughts.
Let’s get started!
First Impressions of the Pigtronix Gloamer
I’m going to be candid, when I first plugged in the Gloamer, I was slightly disappointed. The swells were wonky, not smooth, and it felt like the pedal kept cutting out just when I started to get in the groove of the music I was playing.
I was nervous because Sweetwater sent me this unit to demo, and I thought I’d have to inform them I wouldn’t review this pedal.
However, I read through the Pigtronix manual. I started diving deeper into how the Gloamer pedal works and quickly had an “ah ha” moment.
I approached this pedal like I was playing a delay with a volume pedal to create swelling textures. However, I quickly realized that I had the wrong expectation of what this pedal was supposed to do.
I soon realized that the Gloamer is an envelope filter for your guitar. I now understood why they titled it a “Polyphonic Amplitude Synthesizer” pedal. I’ve since grown to love what this pedal brings to the table, and the vibe this brings is unlike other delay and modulation pedals on the market.
What does a “polyphonic amplitude synthesizer” actually do?
When you approach the pedal as an envelope filter, you’ll understand how to get the best sounds out of the Pigtronix Gloamer.
The Gloamer affects the attack and delay of your guitar’s signal, which may be a foreign concept if you have little experience with synthesizers. The volume swell comes from how fast or slow you set the attack, and the decay brings the sound down from the loudest signal peak to a sustained level. As the guitar signal drops below a specific volume (set by the sensitivity knob), the Gloamer turns off and is ready for another go.
So instead of the effect of swelling and tremolo coming from either a repeating of a singular note or a sine wave volume effect, the Gloamer reacts to each attack and doesn’t produce any delays. So when you are playing through the Pigtronix Gloamer, you must be mindful of creating space between your attacks for the best results.
This gives the sound quality of the Gloamer an analogy, digital vibe that can invoke a sense of nostalgia when you play. It’s funny because I compared the Strymon Timeline with the Gloamer, and the Gloamer sounded more digital (even though it’s analog). In contrast, the Timeline sounded more analog (even though it’s digital).
So it’s not cutesy marketing lingo calling the Pigtronix Gloamer a Polyphonic Amplitude Synthesizer; it’s exactly what it is. It’s not a delay or a tremolo but an envelope filter that responds to monophonic and polyphonic material and turns your guitar into a morphing and moody instrument.
- It produces sounds that inspire creativity and experimentation
- It elevates other pedals in your signal chain
- Doesn't take up too much pedalboard space
- Built like a tank
- It's hard to wrap your head around at first
- It's a niche pedal with a specific use case
- It's expensive
Gloamer Controls Overview
At first glance, the Gloamer controls seem weird. You have four pink knobs that make sense (I wasn’t sure about the compressor at first). Then you have two blue knobs which seem backward (shouldn’t attack come before delay?)
However, once you wrap your head around each control, you’ll quickly realize that each plays a crucial part in coaxing tons of sounds out of the Gloamer.
From my testing, I’ve quickly grown to love what the Gloamer can produce, but it wasn’t until I began to understand the knobs and what they are actually there for.
The Pink Knobs
I’ll first cover the pink knobs on the Gloamer. These knobs are the secret sauce to unlocking touch sensitivity, reactiveness, and amount of the tasty Gloamer effect.
The volume knob controls the master output of your effected signal. I found the best use for this was to adjust it when turning on and off the Gloamer to ensure that you don’t get drastic changes in volume.
The blend knob mixes the Gloamer tone with your guitar’s direct signal. The higher you turn the blend knob, the more you will hear what the Gloamer is doing.
If you want a pure, unadulterated swell, then crank that sucker until it doesn’t turn no more. If you want to add movement and intrigue to solos, chord progressions, or arpeggios, back it off until you find the right “seasoning.”
The compression knob was slightly confusing to me at first. I mean, it’s cool to have an optical compressor to mess around with, but what does this knob have to do with volume swells?
Well, I’ve found the compressor is crucial to helping prevent the Gloamer from prematurely cutting off your Gloamer and having your signal drop to silence.
When you engage the compressor, you increase the sustain of the threshold the Gloamer remains active. So if you want a longer volume swell cycle, you will need to increase the compressor. If you want a shorter cycle, decrease it.
However, you have to be aware if you crank the compressor, you won’t trigger the Gloamer with additional attacks before the signal falls below the threshold. So you will hear picks and strums at full volume, which can be very distracting and undesirable.
The sensitivity knob sets the cutoff for the Gloamer to kick in and reset. The higher the sensitivity, the quicker the Gloamer reacts and the longer it will stay engaged.
If you are playing the Gloamer with the blend knob 75%+, you will need the sensitivity knob cranked; otherwise, it will be hard to produce a signal.
The Blue Knobs
The blue knobs is how you control the envelope filter and create your swells, tremolos, stutters, and pulsing sounds.
These knobs are dependent on you dialing in your pink knob settings accurately.
When you have the decay engaged, The Gloamer brings the guitar signal back down to the level in which the attack will re-engage. This is how you create stutter, pulsing, and tremolo effects with the Gloamer.
The attack is the swell. Very long attack times will gradually build your volume up to its peak. While fast attack times will have an immediate swell to the peak.
When you combine the speed of the attack time with the rate of the decay, you unlock tons of sounds and textures that can be gentle to downright alien-style weird.
The Gloamer Tone Dissected
For the next section, I’ve included some audio samples of what the Gloamer can do. I recorded the Gloamer through a Supro Delta King 12 amp that was mic’d by a FET-47 clone going into a UA Apollo Twin X. The guitar used is a Fender Vintera ’60s Jaguar Modified HH.
Smooth Volume Swell Effect
Classic volume swells that Gloamer excels at.
Legato Sustain Effect
This effect gives a certain reverse delay sound. You can also hear what happens when you pick a note before the Gloamer resets (10 seconds)…not super pleasant.
Various Tremolo effects
Various Sonic Textures
In this demo, I used a Walrus Julia to feed into the Gloamer, and then a Strymon Timeline and Neunaber Wet Reverb.
Gloamer vs. Other Pedals
The Pigtronix Gloamer is it’s own thing. However, I wanted to compare it to other popular guitar pedals to see how it stacks up and differentiates itself from normal tremolo and delay pedals.
Gloamer vs. Strymon Flint
First up, we have a comparison between the Gloamer Tremolo sound and the Strymon Flint. I noticed that the Gloamer has a more stuttered, jagged delay-like pulse compared to the Flint.
Another thing while playing is the Flint Tremolo doesn’t have a cut-off. It keeps going as long as you have a signal. So I found that sometimes if I hit a note at the wrong part of the swell cycle, it wasn’t as smooth as with the Gloamer.
Check it out for yourself.
Goamer vs. Strymon Timeline
I wanted to test the Gloamer against a swell delay. So what better pedal to use than Strymon’s Timeline?
Honestly, the swell delay that the Timeline produces and the pick-triggered volume swell the Gloamer produces are very different.
The Pigtronix Gloamer’s sounds come from the shaping of the attack and decay, while the Timeline is some sort of feedback delay. The Timeline is more “washy” and picks up string scrape.
Check it out for yourself.
Gloamer vs. Standalone Compressor Pedal
Since the Gloamer comes with a compressor, I wanted to compare it to a standalone compressor pedal and see how it stacks up.
The compressor pedal I had on hand was the JHS Pulp n Peel. I did my best to level set against one another, and the Gloamer’s compressor did a fantastic job holding up to the JHS.
You could use the Gloamer as a standalone compressor pedal if you want to save some pedal board space and money.
So does the Pigtronix Gloamer bring the ethereal goodies that need a permanent spot on your pedal board? Yes and no.
If you’re looking to push your guitar tones with fun textures, swells, and synth-like pulses/stutters, then you’ll love playing around the Gloamer. If you’re a traditional player looking to play some clean jazz or overdriven blues, look elsewhere.
However, my gut tells me you’ve found this article because you want something to inspire and push your creativity to new heights. In that case, you should buy the Gloamer and have some fun!
You can check out the current prices of the Pigtronix Gloamer at Sweetwater today.