Blendable germanium and silicon circuits open portals to almost infinite fuzz shadings.
Bellowing, blendable, high-horsepower silicon and germanium fuzz tones. Effective filtering. First-class construction.
$299 street (silver edition)
Spaceman Effects Gemini IV
Ease of Use:
When we reviewed Spaceman’s Gemini III back in 2012, we were knocked silly by how the blendable germanium and silicon fuzz circuits created so many unique, compound voices. The available variations in tone were distinct, numerous, and almost universally musical and useful. But as good as the Gemini III was, Spaceman’s new evolution of the circuit, the Gemini IV, is even more versatile.
The Gemini IV expands its tone palette primarily by providing independent filters for each of the parallel fuzz circuits. It also trades the 3-position gain switches that appeared on the Spaceman III for more nuanced and flexible gain knobs. The many possible colors that result make Gemini IV one of the most satisfying and flexible fuzzes you can buy at any price.
Like every Spaceman Pedal, the Gemini IV is an homage to ’50s and ’60s avionics design. But while Spaceman’s visual motifs are inarguably awesome looking, they also have the practical benefit of being functional, sturdy, and easy to read and navigate—just like a spacecraft’s instrument panel should be. The Gemini IV enclosure is bigger than the Gemini III’s, presumably to accommodate the extra filtering functions without crowding the enclosure’s interior. Even so, Spaceman had to get clever to fit all the required circuitry. The result, however, is a thing of beauty. (If you’re into the aesthetics of circuit boards, anyway.) The circuit is split into two tiered through-hole boards—each fastidiously hand-populated—and affixed securely to the chassis without being attached to the jacks or footswitches. The germanium fuzz circuit, which is the smaller of the two boards, is home to two NOS AC128 transistors, including one with a very cool patina, suggesting it must sound pretty special to have been included among so many otherwise gleamingly new parts. There’s even room for a battery, which is situated just below the footswitch.
Even if Spaceman weren’t such an astronautically fixated company, rocket analogies would be apt for describing the Gemini IV’s sounds. Both the germanium and silicon voices are as throaty, bellowing, and hot as a Titan missile at full throttle. And while there may be louder fuzzes, I doubt few players will cry over a lack of horsepower.
The germanium side is quite massive-sounding for a Ge circuit, prompting comparisons to a high-octane Tone Bender MkII, in my imagination. But the Gemini IV’s germanium fuzz has more range at both the high- and low-gain ends of its spectrum than a Tone Bender would, and at half-gain settings, where a vintage germanium fuzz would crap out, the Spaceman offers punchy, concise, and rich fuzz colors reminiscent of a Jordan Boss Tone or Maestro FZ-1. On the silicon side, the fuzz hues are only slightly less complex, exhibiting some of the sizzle of a vintage silicon Fuzz Face and the muscle of a triangle or ram’s head Big Muff.
But it’s the mixing and matching of these tones that account for the real magic. It can help to think about the Gemini IV’s control array in terms of a Les Paul, Rickenbacker, or Fender Jaguar rhythm/lead circuit setup: All of them enable you to create, blend, and switch between wildly different tones (and in a Jaguar’s case, add filters) to create extra-dramatic contrasts. But the subtle shifts in coloration you can achieve with the Gemini IV’s blend, gain, and filter arrays are arguably more complex and certainly more numerous than the tone variations in a guitar.
Mixtures of both fuzzes at maximum gain and all-pass filter settings are predictably massive and complex, and I suspect many players will buy the Gemini IV for this sound alone. But for me, the most interesting sounds were based on contrasts, and while there are countless possible blends, all of which tend to sound rich, complex, and very different, my favorite tones involved 50/50 mixes of scathing, wide-open silicon sounds and hazier, half-gain, high-end filtered germanium tones. Recipes like this produce fat, multi-dimensional rhythm sounds and stinging lead tones with cool low-end ballast, which can be shaped in more specific ways with the filters or the phase switch.
The quality of construction and sounds in Spaceman pedals never fails to impress. But the range of fuzz color available in Gemini IV would be impressive by any builder’s standards. And as versatile as it is, it’s easy to imagine making the Gemini the only fuzz you ever use.
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Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters are designed to offer a fat midrange and a smooth top end.
Billy Corgan was looking for something for heavier Smashing Pumpkins songs, so Joe Naylor designed the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One pickup. Sporting custom artwork etched onto the covers, the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One Humcutters have a fat midrange and a smooth top end. This pickup combines the drive and sustain of a humbucker with the percussive attack and string clarity of a P90. Get beefy P90 tone plus amp-pummeling output with the Railhammer Billy Corgan Z-One.
Patented Railhammer Pickups take passive guitar pickups to a new level with rails under the wound strings lead to tighter lows, and poles under the plain strings offer fatter heights. With increased clarity, the passive pickup’s tone is never sterile.
Railhammer Billy Corgan Signature Z-One Pickup Demo
For more information, please visit railhammer.com.
Designed for utmost comfort and performance, the Vertigo Ultra Bass is Mono’s answer to those who seek the ultimate gigging experience.
Complete with a range of game-changing design features, such as the patent-pending attachable FREERIDE Wheel System, premium water-resistant and reflective materials, shockproof shell structure and improved ergonomic features, the Vertigo Ultra Bass takes gear protection to the next level.
The Vertigo Ultra Bass features:
- Patent-pending FREERIDE Wheel System that allows for wheels to be attached on the case in no time, giving you the option to travel with it seamlessly
- Upgraded materials, including a water-resistant 1680D Ballistic Nylon outer shell, plush inner lining and new reflective trim for maximum backstage and night visibility
- Enhanced protection with a shockproof shell structure and heavy-duty water-resistant YKK zippers for protection from the elements
- Improved ergonomics and functionality including added back support and load-lifting detachable shoulder straps with side release buckles
- Flexible storage options with added space for touring essentials
Mojotone will manufacture and market over 60 of their speaker cabinets and amp kits as “Licensed by Fender.”
This partnership marks Fender's recognition of Mojotone’s dedication to its craft, quality of products, and dependability of knowledge. Beginning November 29th and ranging from $327 - $1,016.
Amplifiers were among the first products to wear the official Fender seal. A qualified electronics technician by trade, Leo Fender developed his iconic amplifiers during the mid-1940s putting innovation at the forefront. To this day, Leo’s influence and innovative spirit can still be heard in today’s amps, as that same iconic, clean Fender tone continues to color new music around the world. As a result, the process for completing the exclusive licensing deal required Fender to carefully audit Mojotone’s amplifier kits, wiring diagrams, electronics, hardware, construction methods, and more to ensure this innovation carried on through the partnership. Mojotone’s many years of intense research, quality production, and favorable reputation solidified the deal.
Mojotone has always been determined to provide its customer base with the most sought-after parts with their insider industry-knowledge. They have spent the last 25 years helping musicians recreate what they deem to be the most famous and easily-recognized tones and aesthetics in the music industry. When purchasing Mojotone products, like Fender products, customers can be assured of unmatched quality and craftsmanship.
For more information, please visit mojotone.com.