May 10, 2018

One of the most prominent of the many stompbox manufacturers based in Portland, Oregon, Spaceman Effects has been making fine boutique effect pedals since 2009.

The company builds its products by hand in small batches, resulting in occasional explosions of “Sold Out” markers on its website’s product listings. Supplies are frequently replenished, but as guitarists quickly learn, if you see something you want, score it before it’s gone.

With a range that includes four harmonic booster and overdrive boxes, seven fuzz units and a preamp booster, Spaceman excels at dirt boxes. But the company also offers a pair of modulation pedals, including a truly liquid-sounding 6-stage optical phaser, and a spring reverb stompbox small enough to fit on most pedalboards. Many of the pedals are offered in special limited editions that feature unusual finishes, control knobs, vintage parts and more.

The Spaceman crew have backgrounds in audio engineering, production and performance, which means their pedals aren’t just designed to sound good—they also play nice when you’re onstage and in the studio.

“Spaceman is a team of musicians, artists and creators,” the company writes on its website. “We make more than just products, we make art to inspire art.

“Every Spaceman pedal is crafted by hand. We don’t cut corners or spare details. Each solder point, carefully placed component, and meticulously detailed wire is intently created with care. We believe there is a magic in this process that is unattainable by mass-produced effects.”

Let’s take a look at the company’s offerings.

Harmonic Boosters and Overdrives

The Aphelion Harmonic Overdrive is a harmonically rich overdrive pedal with an emphasis on even-order harmonics. It has a wide gain range, from light sparkle to overdriven tube-amp bliss, and is both transparent and extremely responsive to playing dynamics.

The germanium-powered Mercury III Harmonic Boost generates tube-like even-order harmonics that can be mixed in with your original instrument signal, bringing more dimension and life to tone. It features controls for Boost, Tone and Harmonics. The Mercury IV Germanium Harmonic Boost ups the ante with nine tone-shaping options via two toggle switches to gently or aggressively boost tube amplifiers.

The Saturn V Harmonic Booster is both a harmonic-laden boost and low-gain overdrive that gives an openness to the top end of the frequency spectrum. It works equally well with bass and baritone guitar. The Drive texture is comprised of a mix of odd and even harmonics, while the Boost side of the pedal is focused on even-order harmonics.

 

Fuzz Pedals

The Gemini III Dual Fuzz Generator is a discrete transistor fuzz. It features two different circuits in parallel—one vintage germanium and the other, modern silicon—to double the range of tones on tap.

If you like your fuzz bassy, the Rumblefuzz Fuzzstortion may be the dirt box you need. It’s designed to work with lower frequencies and offers warm, fat fuzz that has enough bite to cut through the mix.

The Spacerocket Intermodulation Fuzz is a discrete silicon transistor fuzz. It shines when used for single-string lead lines, with saturated multidimensional fuzz that blooms in between notes. With chords and multistring playing, you can achieve very different effects, including intermodulated, metallic and noisy robot fuzz.

The Sputnik range includes the Sputnik Germanium, an all-germanium fuzz that features vintage Soviet transistors.  It’s an extremely versatile fuzz in a compact enclosure, with three main control knobs that allow an uncommonly wide range of tones. A Filter toggle switch enables a second tone-circuit variation, effectively doubling the variety of tonal options, while the Sync/Drift toggle allows synth tones, oscillation, pseudo-octaves, 8-bit artifacts and much more when set in Drift mode.

Taking things a step further, the Sputnik II Deluxe Germanium Fuzz is an all-germanium fuzz featuring vintage Soviet transistors.  Within the Sputnik II is a plethora of tones, including smooth, gritty, vintage, modern, thick, thin, buzzy, bassy, splatty, sputtery, noisy, buttery, controlled and very much out-of-control. The pedal has been released in a limited batch and may be released in two additional smaller batches. Check Spaceman Effects for updates.

The Titan II Fuzz Machine has a discrete circuit that uses silicon transistors. Despite only having three control parameters—Level, Tone and Gain—it packs a wide array of distinct tones.

And for fans of modulated fuzz, the Wow Signal Alien Fuzz Communicator is an all-analog device that offers filter modulation ranging from subtle to extreme, with controls for Speed and Depth.

 

Modulation

If you crave deep, liquid phase tones, the Explorer Deluxe 6-Stage Optical Phaser is an optical, photocell-based phaser design, featuring six sweeping stages. It has controls for Resonance, Speed, Range, Level, Mix and Shape, which gives several waveshape options for the phaser’s oscillations.

Voyager I Optical Analog Tremolo offers a wide range of speed and depth via the Frequency and Strength controls, and a switch to select between triangle or square waveshapes allows you to dial in a smooth or choppy feel.  The pedal also features an Envelope section that responds to your playing dynamics. It includes a Sensitivity control and a selector switch to choose between Freq and Fade options. In Freq mode, the LFO speed increases with louder dynamics and slows down when playing with a lighter touch. In the Fade position, the tremolo effect will fade out with heavy playing and fade back in with lighter or sustained playing.

 

Boost

If you’re looking for a simple but versatile boost, the Atlas III Preamp Booster is a medium-gain preamp booster that is relatively clean and transparent, adding subtle color and harmonic overtones as you increase gain.

Reverb

The final effect here is the Orion Analog Spring Reverb, a true analog spring reverb. Measuring just 6 ¼ by 4 ¾ inches, it’s small enough to fit on most every player’s pedal board.

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