to hear audio clips of the tuner at
BY MATTHEW HOLLIMAN
Choosing an overdrive is tricky business. There’s a lot of them out there. And
once you’ve plowed through the plethora
of reissue, vintage, and clones out there
on the market, there’s a treasure trove of
new, original designs. A lot of these newest
overdrives have tried to carve out a niche
by adorning their ODs with more knobs
and switches than a synthesizer. For a lot
of tone-obsessed players, that added tone
shaping power is a real plus. For many of
us, though, simplicity is king—especially
in overdrives. And Portland, Oregon’s,
Spaceman Effects, who knocked us out
in the February issue with their superb
Gemini III germanium/silicon hybrid fuzz,
manages both simplicity and a unique overdrive voices in the Aphelion.
The hand-wired Aphelion gives you
everything from the signal boost you need
to tailor the output from a megawatt head,
dial up thundering crunch, or give a little
combo a little more punch and character.
The Aphelion sounds rich in all of these
situations—but you may want to make a
move fast—these effects are limited run and
selling out fast.
The entire Spaceman Effects line is pretty
stylish and playful without coming off as
kitschy. But Spaceman’s design also reveals a
cool attention to detail. The Aphelion’s face
is covered with a thin, black vinyl veneer
that sports recessed white lettering and tiny
stars. And when the effect is engaged a turquoise LED illuminates a transparent jewel
indicator, which is both retro-cool and easy
The Spaceman Aphelion Harmonic
Overdrive uses three very familiar parameters for shaping and producing its spacious textures—Gain, Drive, and Tone.
The Tone knob is a cut/boost control. The
Drive control ranges from a sullied tinge
to a nasty slash. The Gain control handles
volume tweaks, but it also functions in a
manner similar to a boost. And dramatically
reducing the Drive and pushing the Gain
will give your amplifier a relatively transparent thrust towards natural overdrive.
Removing the back plate screws reveals
rocket-science-precise wiring beneath the
cast-aluminum enclosure. The point-to-
point soldering is absolutely flawless. The
chrome-reflective PC board sits firmly on
its posts and there’s even a few thoughtful
design touches on the inside, like star etch-
ings between resistors and caps.
My first real demo of the Aphelion was up
against a full two-guitars, bass, and drums
band in a sweatbox of a rehearsal studio.
With a Les Paul plugged into a ’ 65 Twin
Reverb reissue (with the volume between