The purpose of this article is two-fold really - to celebrate my favourite Spaceman Effects Pedals that I’ve acquired to date, and to detail the nature and quality of those earlier releases that I’m still missing / chasing.
Spaceman is quite a novel brand really in many ways and has perpetuated the whole Limited Edition Fever that the pedal world seems to be increasing infected with. Each Spaceman release used to reduce me to a bag of nerves - an almost sort of auction anxiety predicated on pure FOMA!
Nowadays and since the arrival of the unlimited ’Standard Editions’ I’m much more relaxed about the whole thing - while I still get bemused how the limited editions cost up to $150 more than the base options. The Standard Edition nowadays means Silver enclosure with Black and White facia plate and non-specialist knobs, while before we had Standard - the base versions were invariably Silver or All-Black.
At the upper end of the price scale we have Limited Editions of typically Chrome or Copper treated enclosures - with White variants also being quite expensive relatively. I don’t think the maths really works out on those pricier Limited Editions - while it’s much like any other art really - that some people are just willing to pay more and some brands are happy to exploit that. There’s always been quite an arbitrary pricing strategy for pedals - where most builders don’t overly concern themselves with value - but rather what pricetag they can get away with. There was an interesting episode in The Pedal Movie - where Zachary Vex simply proclaimed that he wanted his pedals to be the most expensive in the store. While a typical consumer good is about building the very best product possible at that price level.
I like that Spaceman have different variants which appeal to slightly different people - while I’m less happy with the element of collectors for whom this is simply shelfware - or some kind of investment vehicle for later price-gouging.
Per this article I’ve acquired 12 Spaceman pedals thus far, and they are indeed mostly base Silver, All-Black or Standard Editions. I really like the default Black, White and Silver aesthetic and try to buy the best within that look and feel - occasionally I stray into some more colourful editions obviously like the Artemis Green Uranium Sparkle Edition and Sputnik I Red Cyrillic Edition.
The breakdown of my 12 is as follows :
I’m also quite fussy about the LED’s - as I prefer the multi-faceted crystal type LED vs those other types that Spaceman occasionally deploys - I particularly like the Red and Cyan variants which to me are very emblematic of Spaceman. And I really like those earlier ’S’ engraved knobs - which haven’t been about for a while. Obviously none of my own pedals have those - and the earlier edition ones that do - are typically priced at around $1000 - which is something of a non-starter when you factor in import taxes and the like - just not practical at all.
Of course Spaceman could make all of their pedals in black enclosure - and I would be very happy - I do really like my two odd ones out here though - the Artemis and Sputnik, and would not have them any other way!
Obviously here is a risk to having such a broad inventory - as invariably certain aesthetic and colour combinations are less popular and thus much harder to shift. That said the Spaceman economy is a strange thing, with rarely any pedal being entirely discontinued - as they have the habit of brining those back in further limited batches and different colour combinations - with different knobs!
I also learned with the Sputnik III release that there is a significant change internally as well as externally - as the Standard pedals nowadays seem to use a mix of SMT and THT components - while the limited editions are still entirely THT as far as I’m aware.
There are players people who run full boards of just Spaceman pedals - which obviously takes up a lot of real estate as most of these are not compacts. As with any brand - some of the pedal are more worth it than others, and I know Spaceman fans who just collect the fuzzes for instance.
Spaceman seem to be able to continually project a myth and mystique that entrances a lot of people. Many of those don't play those pedals, and for many others it's a kind of schoolyard showing off type of thing.
There are some genuine superior pedals here that stand up to anything else in the market - and for me the latest Artemis, Aurora, Gemini and Sputnik pedals have been particularly inspiring. I've obviously featured Spaceman quite a lot on this site and I'm certainly a significant fan - even if I have some reservations.
By and large though I'm very happy with all the Spaceman pedals I've acquired thus far - and I still have further targets as we shall see in PT 2 below (6 More Spaceman Effect Pedals).
First here are the individual pedal details on those that I own - in alphabetical order by pedal name :
Controls : Gain, Tone, Drive.
One of my all-time favourite and original Harmonic Overdrives - with just amazing blooming harmonic textures. I've since set up a mini capsule collection of Harmonic Overdrives - which of course includes the Aphelion, Greer Southland, and Bogner Wessex - also Vick Audio Lotus 2K - and I'm still targeting the Free The Tone Sov-2, and Menatone Simplexity Mini. While the Aphelion will always by the benchmark references and my poster-child for that genre.
Controls : Level, Clipping : D (Silicon Diode) | 0 (No Clipping) | L (LED), Gain, Tone.
Interestingly an overdrive derived from the preamp of the Voyager Tremolo - it's beautifully warm and articulate with a sort of hint of fuzz on its fringes and particularly in the two harder clipping modes. This has been a fairly recent acquisition for me, while it's been on the wishlist since it first emerged at the end of 2019. There's certainly no shortage of decent overdrives out there and I have so many different classic varieties myself - that this may struggle to get into the rotation at times. But I like it enough to consider it an essential part of my Spaceman collection.
I am spoilt for choice for killer Filter pedals really - and this is another magnificent weapon in the Filter Arsenal - with so many clever functions onboard across 7 killer Modes. This still has to fight to knock the Dr Scientist Dusk and Flower Pedals Hosta offf the board - as both of those have some additional playback smarts via their dual-footswitches. It would have been cool to have seen some of those applications on the Artemis - but it really doesn't need anything extra to recommend it - it pretty much already has the kitchen sink!
Controls : Volume, Modes, Width, Mix, Rate • ↑, Regen, Range • ↓.
Modes : LFO 1, Tape 1, LFO 2, Tape 2, Comb Filter.
Probably one of the cleverest Flangers engineered to date, and quite a different variety as such to Thorpy's Killer High-Fidelity Camoflange. The Thorpy is probably the best of the current vintage-style flangers, while the Aurora is the best in terms of modern and more experimental flangers - with a superb array of functions and incredibly smart controls. There's all kinds of weird and wonderful textures to be found here which are nigh impossible to find anywhere else. This will be going in for a few rotations on the Camoflange spot - probably some time in June.
Controls : Silicon Gain and Filter (Tone), Germanium Gain and Filter (Tone), Si > Ge Blend, Level, Phase Inversion Switch.
The Gemini III has been the Spaceman pedal I've chased for the longest time - as you can witness on this site by the many articles featuring that pedal. At one stage I even tried to persuade Joel Korte to do a variation of the Brothers pedal - but configured rather with Germanium and Silicon Channels - in line with a very similar functionality to the Gemini III. In any case Spaceman Zak saw the gap in the market and introduced the new and improved Gemini IV which I love. I would have liked to have seen a dual-footswitch version though with level matching circuit and possibly a couple more tone-shapers - so that you could deploy each of the Silicon and Germanium channels individually and in combination via those 2 footswitches - of course the Level-Matching circuit would be essential for balancing the different output levels. For me the Genii IV and Sputnik IV are both absolute must-haves and bona fide classic fuzz pedals for the ages!
Controls : Boost Level +35dB, High : 2/0/1, Low : 2/0/1, Harmonics.
This was my original template for Germanium Harmonic Booster and held down the fort for an extended period - before I acquired the slightly more dynamic / versatile Thorpy Heavy Water Dual Boost. That said I got some of the most incredible tones my pedal-chain has ever delivered with clever application of the Mercury IV. I was initially put off its larger dimensions, and tried for a long time to find a reasonably priced Mercury III compact edition. But in the end I succumbed to the IV's charm - it's a proper game-changer and a magic fairy dust tone enhancer. It's BB dimensions though make it somewhat tricky to accommodate within the current configuration of my pedal-chain - which is of course incredibly congested.
Controls : Volume, Clean Effect, Density, Tone Shaper : Mid-Scoop/Flat/High Boost, Spectrum, Emission (Gain), Gain Structure Switch: Mild/Blooming Harmonic Fuzz.
This is pretty solid Octave Fuzz, while I feel it could have done with just a touch more sizzle - in comparisons to many of Spaceman's killer fuzzes. There are lots of clever options here and it's very smartly calibrated with some incredibly well-considered controls. But like I said - some of the other Spaceman fuzzes are somewhat more zingy and more exciting - invigorating even to play!
Controls : Level, Bass : -1/2/1, Depth (Filter) : Single-Pole/2-Pole/2-Pole Resonant, Drive, Initial, Filter.
This is one of the few Spaceman pedals I haven't fully gelled with. Not to say that it doesn't produce the goods - but rather its relationship with me is not as invigorating as some of these others - and the fuzzes in particular. Also I probably take the Aphelion and Apollo a little more for a spin than the Polaris. I acquired this in the very fetching Moon-Rock edition - but to be fair it's almost at the point of being shelf-ware currently - probably need to take it for another spin again soon - and see if I can connect better with it this time around. It's still capable some seriously sweet-spot tones - but it just hasn't quite yet fuelled the same level of inspiration as many of these others have done.
Controls : Level, Fuzz (Gain) : 1-3, Tone.
This is a very undervalued and underrated classic Spaceman Fuzz - which has a surprising amount of versatility from its two knobs and 3-way Gain Switch. I'm not sure if this or the Rumblefuzz is the most under-the-radar of Spaceman's fuzzes - both deserve consideration - and this one can be had for significantly less than the 'white whale' Rumblefuzz!
Controls : Signal (Volume), Scan (Scramble/Corruption), Range (Fuzz Gain), Drift/Sync (Engage Scan), Calibrate (Tone), Filter Engage : Engage = Bass Cut + Mid Scoop.
This the only Spaceman pedal I've probably paid a little over the odds for. It was the one and only Red Cyrillic variety I encountered for sale in Europe (in Italy) a wholly pristine example which set me back exactly £654.11 including delivery - my most expensive pedal then - but obviously small potatoes compared to the CBA Automatone pricing. This is one of my favourite fuzzes ever, and even though I have its bigger sibling the series IV - I still bring this one into the rotation every now and agin - parts of it seem to have just a tiny bit extra sizzle - but both pedals are really exceptional, and the IV edition is easier and more dynamic to manipulate - even though I can operate the III's two toggle-switches with my toes - but that is slightly awkward!
Controls : Scan (Scramble/Corruption), Filter : Flat/Bass Cut + Mid Scoop, Signal (Volume), Calibrate (Tone), Range (Fuzz Gain), Drift Footswitch (Engage Scan).
Much like the Gemini IV this took the III series and enhanced it to its maximum potential. I had done a mock-up of what I though this one would look like about a year before it materialised - and I came very close, mine though had 2 LEDs - and obviously Spaceman Zak has figured how to combine those into a single faceted lens - as used on several of the more recent units. As mentioned I can sort of control the two switch levers on the Sputnik III with my toes, but it's so much easier to have the 'Drift' on a second footswitch. Both my Sputnik's are some of my most favourite Germanium fuzzes ever - and those NOS Soviet Germanium Transistors are Searingly Good!
Controls : Level, Tone, Gain.
Difficult to pinpoint this one exactly - while it's probably best described as a little Big Muffy! With sufficient sustain to put it well into that sort of territory. Just 3 controls here, but a lot of range on those and you can achieve quite a variety of tones and textures. This is probably the most undervalued of Spaceman's Fuzzes - but is a really decent modern and versatile fuzz - well worth having. Probably time I took it our for another spin again!
I've chased a number of Spaceman Targets over the years - but never encountered one of these at the right price, right condition, right place, or at the right time yet! I've come closest to getting the Wow Signal on 3 occasions but was diverted at the last minute to another high priority target and missed the chance on each of those occasions.
Where in the cycle you encounter these matters a lot - depending on available budget allocations and the sensitivity of other concurrent decisions. Pricing and Availability are of course huge factors too - with several careful considerations necessary in those areas.
My key acquisition targets here are the compact editions - and since I do have representative alternatives for the Gemini III and Mercury III - i.e. the IV Editions - it's really the Rumblefuzz that is the prime target - but so very rare nowadays and hopelessly pricey!
A couple of these have a touch flawed control configurations which is always at the back of my mind when considering them. These are still mostly appealing and it would be very nice to have all of these in the collection eventuality!
Note that other Spaceman pedals not featured in this article - have thus far failed to pique my interest!
Controls : Resonance, Level, Mix, Shape : Sine/Saw-Down/Saw-Up/Triangle/Square, Speed, Range (Frequency Focus).
I always fancied the look of this one, and it has been a serious target at times - while at those times I really thought I wanted a second footswitch though for Tap-Tempo. It's another nice-to-have for me with a good mix of Wave Shapes and some smart controls - but nowhere near as dynamic and capable as say the newer Artemis or Aurora Modulations.
Controls : Master (Volume), Ge Filter Sweep Direction : Synched/Opposite Sweep, Filter (Tone), Blend : Ge > Si, Ge (Gain) : 3/1/2, Si (Gain) : 3/1/2.
I chased this one for several years - but kind of got to it far too late as most of those I encountered were north of $1,000 and some as high as $1,200 or $1,300. Also I encountered no even remotely suitable candidates in Europe - and importing from the USA would have meant stupid customs charges at that level. Prices have dropped a bit recently because of the Gemini IV's arrival - but these are still steadily appearing at or near the $1,000 mark. The situation in the UK is even worse now - as we no longer get tax exemption from the EU - so a lot of those higher-value purchases are restricted to local supply - which often means inflated prices because of low supply. I still kind of want one of these, but certainly not at any price, and I don't think it's going to fall significantly in price any time soon!
Controls : Boost, Tone : 1-6, Harmonics.
This is another nice-to-have, as I already have the Mercury IV which really covers much the same territory - obviously this is a more compact and pedalboard-friendly format - and it would be far easier for me to accommodate this compact within my current very heavily congested pedal-chain. Also pricing of these at the moment is stratospherically somewhat ridiculous.
Controls : Fuzz (Level), */≈ : Max Modern Gain / Ge Diode Vintage Texture, Rumble (Bass), Bite (Fuzz Gain).
I really want this bass-heavy compact fuzz - which is designed to get the most out of its low-end content and body. It comes with clever clipping options and in combination with the other controls - this is a surprisingly versatile fuzz - it's not entirely dissimilar in concept to the D*A*M Meathead Fuzz, while is does have its own signature tone.
Controls : Frequency (LFO Speed), Level (Volume), Gain (Apollo!), Filter (Tone), Wave Shape : Square/Triangle, Strength (LFO Depth), Envelope : Envelope Sensitivity & Detail, Envelope Control : Frequency/Fade.
An elegant Tremolo for sure, but not Harmonic per se - which makes it unideal for me. One for completists really no doubt - it's actually a pretty capable tremolo but I've never really fully warmed up to. There are aspects of it I really like - and then I really want a second tap-tempo footswtich. I'm really enjoying the JAM Pedals Harmonious Monk currently - but that is missing the enveloper follower / sensitivity of this Voyager, where my Anasounds Ages actually has something very similar. I vacillate between hot and cold for the Voyager - and I've had several opportunities to get this at some very reasonable prices - and the fact that this hasn't happened yet may mean it never will ... part of me still likes something about it though ...
Controls : Transmit, Spectrum, Offset, S/N (Signal to Noise) : Fuzz Gain, MHz : LFO Speed.
Internal Switch : 2-way switch, Down = standard by default, Up = increased LFO depth which can deliver intense, choppy, and noisy fuzz.
The Wow Signal Oscillating Fuzz is an interesting proposition for sure, but most users consider it slightly flawed in its configuration. It really needs a separate switch/footswitch to engage or deactivate the LFO, and the Internal Depth Boost switch should really be externalised. I feel this one is ripe for a makeover, and we will eventually most likely get some version of a Wow 2 configured exactly how it should be for maximum utility and dynamic playback!
So I've had quite the journey with Spaceman over the years - filed with an equal mic of anxiety and excitement. And by and large my experiences have been really good. I still get a little nervous around new releases, but part of my quite enjoys the launchpad and all the secrecy of that sort of pomp and circumstance - I often find all that stuff entirely infuriating too.
Looking back at my own 12 Spaceman pedals I'm really happy with all those acquisitions - while I've yet to get the same satisfaction out of the Polaris as I do the others - on balance I still thing that's a worthy choice.
For the ones that so far got away I'm actually mostly interested in the compact editions, and like I said - since I have the Gemini and Mercury IV's, I don't so much need the III's - while it would be very nice to finally get a Germini III after all those years of chains. But the main target there really has to be the Rumblefuzz - hopefully we will get a new edition of that some day.
For Tremolo I mostly like the Harmonic variety - which really counts out the Voyager, and I've already had a very special Phaser pedal land - which is a big announcement for this month - that is the smartest and cleverest phaser yet seen, and it rather exposes the Explorer - which means that is no longer a target priority really.
And as I've had 3 attempts and withdrawals from the Wow Signal - that just doesn't looking like it's going to be happening any time soon - part of me is quite happy to wait it out and see if Zak every devices to do another oscillating fuzz - with those enhancement mentioned.
As for all the current stuff - I think the fully fabulous 4 there are the Gemini and Sputnik IV, and Artemis and Aurora Modulations. There are several more excellent pedals from within the range - but I think most would agree that those are the stars of the recent releases.
Which are your own personal favourites?