A beautifully built, ferocious-to-freakish fuzz.
One welcome development of the stompbox’s new golden age is that some pedal designers are looking beyond guitar effect conventions, probing music’s outer limits to imagine new ways to twist sound. One interesting subset of the freak pedal cabal is the designers who can get weird while delivering on the fundamentals. The Spacemen Sputnik embodies this ideal.
The Sputnik is one the most satisfying and sonically striking germanium fuzzes I’ve heard in a while—growling, mean, harmonically complex, and screaming-hot. It’s also one of the more perverse, capable of metamorphosing from an strutting fuzz panther to a twitching mutant insect at the flick of switch. Between those extremes lies a goldmine of fuzz sounds that will engage knob tweakers, studio tone voyagers, and fuzz surgeons for months.
The Russian Program
The innards of the Sputnik, like those of every Spaceman pedal we've seen, are a feast for circuit board fetishists. Components are incredibly well ordered, immaculately assembled, and covered in cool little details like stars, Sputnik satellite representations, Roman numeral dating, and Cyrillic inscriptions. Outside, the Sputnik uses the ’60s aerospace design motifs and construction standards seen elsewhere in the Spaceman line. These not only look cool, but also provide useful level markers, smooth knobs, and rugged switches.
The cryptic function names sound like they’re from a Cold War sonar unit: “signal” for volume, “range” for gain, “calibrate” for tone. And that just sets you up for the chaos that ensues when using the “drift/sync,” “filter,” and “scan” controls.
Retro Rocket, Ripping Tones
The Sputnik is both boss and bizarre. As long you keep your hands off that sync/drift switch, it’s easy to summon colorful and wide-ranging tones. The fuzz sounds are harmonically opulent, even silky at times. But they can also grind, with a vocal-like presence in the upper mids and highs. It’s a hot, loud fuzz, yet not too dirty or “gainy.” With signal (volume) at two o’clock, the level can match that of most loud fuzzes. Beyond that, the Sputnik exhibits almost amp-like characteristics, becoming more compressed rather than louder. Still, if you can’t cut through your band’s mix with this thing, you’re gonna need a bigger amp.
The Sputnik isn’t the filthiest fuzz you’ve ever heard. Rather than hornet-buzz assault, high-gain settings reveal a smooth, complex, organic fuzz voice that doesn’t obscure your guitar’s sonic signature.
As on most good germanium fuzzes, reducing guitar volume transforms fuzz into overdrive. The Sputnik is exemplary in this respect, delivering bright, hot, and highly defined OD tones that can kick an amp’s butt without generating excessive dirt. It can lend a 6V6 amp a Marshall- or Vox-like bite and presence, and it’s great for conjuring the melodically aggressive spirits of Pete Townshend, Paul Weller, or Dave Davies. In fact, rolling back the Sputnik’s range control to zero, cranking the signal, and lowering the volume on a Stratocaster induced some the most sweetly overdriven kerrrang I’ve ever heard from my blackface Tremolux. Chords are super-detailed, especially with the wonderfully flexible calibrate (tone) control in its middle ranges. Jangly arpeggios sound lively and dynamic. And a nudge of the volume pot takes you from high-octane R.E.M/Petty/Smiths jangle to a scorching, sustaining Led Zeppelin I lead tone.
While the Sputnik is sonorous and dynamic in straight fuzz mode, drift mode renders the pedal positively insane and erratic. The drift switch gates the fuzz output, but is highly interactive with the calibrate and scan controls. Rolling the scan knob all the way right and twisting the calibrate control into the treble reaches generates a shrill, brain-mangling screech beneath clipped fuzz tones. But as you back off on both controls, you find fascinating sweet spots.
At lower scan settings, you can use the calibrate knob to dial in cool, feedback-generating frequency peaks that make your output alternatingly sputter and sustain. Both controls near noon generate a glitchy yet relatively controlled lead tone somewhere between a vintage Atari console and Neil Young’s most mangled Deluxe tones. These sounds can be tricky for the uninitiated—adding an odd interval can turn a singing single-note lead into a tangle of scrap. A sweet setting for your Les Paul might sound like garbage with your Strat. But once located, the sweet spots can transform a plain Jane riff or lend drama and texture to an extended solo.
The filter function cuts lows and low-mids, expanding the capability of both straight fuzz mode and drift mode and providing a base from which you can sculpt focused, narrow-bandwidth filter tones or octave-like fuzz textures.
Resourceful players comfortable with riding the guitar’s volume knob could easily use the Sputnik to cover all their boost, OD, and fuzz needs, as well as their demented experimental urges. That versatility makes the heavy-duty price of $320 more palatable—as do the above-and-beyond build quality and overall attention to detail. This is a fuzz you can use constantly. It sounds great with just about any guitar, and can suit almost any musical mood, be it civilized or unhinged.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.