Quick Hit: Spaceman Polaris Review
Creative filtering options make an uncommonly versatile overdrive.
Deep, growling overdrive with powerful filter-enabled tone-sculpting potential. Superb build quality.
Complex control set can make it tricky to target specific tones on the fly.
$299-$399 street ($349 as tested, light blue edition)
Ease of Use:
Spaceman could probably have made the Polaris a very streamlined, overdrive-only version of itself and elicited raves. But in mating this thick-sounding overdrive to a 2-pole resonant filter that can be controlled via expression pedal (not included), Spaceman created a very uncommon OD, capable of unexpected variations on a basically killer voice.
The Polaris doesn’t stray much beyond medium-gain realms, and it’s a better pedal for it. Its essential voice is throaty and complex with remarkable depth of field in its harmonic make-up. It tends toward the bassy side of the EQ spectrum, but you can readily tame low and low-mid emphasis using the all-pass and bass-cut toggle settings. That said, I love how deep and defined Polaris sounds, as well as its capacity to lend 8" and 10" speakers extra mass.
The depth toggle provides successively more intense filtering options. ( I tended to stay with the deeper, most resonant of the three.) But the filter knob also works beautifully for pinpointing favorite filtered tones if you want to skip the expression pedal entirely. Meanwhile the initial knob enables blending of pre-filtered overdrive to create complex distortion pictures. At times, the Polaris’s deep voice and smoky filtering evoked thoughts of a more versatile Rolls Royce of RATs. But there are many more sounds in this Spaceman than you could ever extract from a common 3-knob overdrive.
Test Gear: Fender Jazzmaster, Fender Telecaster Deluxe with Curtis Novak Widerange pickups, blackface Fender Tremolux, blackface Fender Vibrolux, ’68 Fender Bassman, Fender VibroChamp.