[review] Spaceman Aphelion - Harmonic Overdrive (by LordRiffenstein)

LordRiffenstein, all-around tone freak and purveyor of great tone.


Spaceman is based in Portland, OR. They are a small company and hand-building their pedals using quality components.  Each pedal is built as a limited edition so you have to get them when they are available. Their current range has a boost, drive and fuzz pedal but that can change quickly.


For obvious reason, we buy pedals because we like how they sound. When a pedal looks good, that is just icing on the cake. Opening the box of the Aphelion will bring a huge smile on your face! The pedal itself feels bulletproof and the Chrome version looks fantastic.  There are the standard in- and outputs and 3 controls. You’d expect the bottom control to be the tone but you’d be wrong. “Orbit” is your volume control, “Helios” your gain control and “Apsis” you eq. The Apsis control does a tone shift, CW from 12:00 it boosts the lows and cuts highs, CCW from 12:00 it boosts highs and cuts lows.

The pedal in use

The Aphelion is introduced as a harmonically-rich overdrive pedal with an emphasis on even-order harmonics. That sounds like my cup of tea! So plugging it in for the 1st time, using a clean tone on the amp, I nearly killed myself. I always start a pedal-test with all controls at 12:00. The amount of volume the Aphelion produces is amazing, I was shocked. I lowered the Orbit control and found unity gain somewhere around 9:00!!! The gain range will get you anything from a clean boost to a medium amount of gain that will work really well for classic rock and hard rock. The Apsis eq control doesn’t have a huge range but the natural voicing of the pedal is just right so the Apsis will allow you to make small adjustments to suite your pickups or guitar. For a biting telecaster, set it just above 12:00, for a thick LP, just below 12:00. Harmonically rich you say? Oh hell yeah and very touch responsive as well. Even a moderately stiff sounding clean channel can be brought to life with the Aphelion. Even with the gain all the way down and a bit of boost from the pedal, it made the clean sound, well, better.

Next step was plugging it into an amp set with a bit of crunch and trying it as a boost. The huge amount of output comes in very handy here. I pretty much kept the Apsis eq control just above 12:00 the whole time, regardless of the guitar I was using. The big range on both the volume and gain allow you to get pretty much anything from a clean boost to high gain. Even with both the gain and volume well above 12:00, the results were great. Big, fat and juicy tones, at some points I’d swear I was playing a LP when it actually was a Tele. With smoother overdrives you often have your tone turn a bit muddy when switching to the neck pickup. The Aphelion seems to handle this very well. The neck pickup gets a creamy smoothness with clarity. I plugged in my ES335 and I was “gone” for an hour. The range of tones I was able to coax from this combination was staggering. I had turned the Apsis a little below 12:00 to get more grit and I was getting great clean-ish blues tones on the neck humbuckers, excellent Americana/roots tones (and many more) in the in-between position and straight up rock sounds on the bridge humbuckers. The way the Aphelion reacts to your volume control, your tone controls and your playing is staggering.

The final test I did was plugging my LP into the Aphelion and then running it into a high gain channel of an amp. Boosting a high gain tone with the wrong pedal often leads to a mushy tone, no definition. Not so with the Aphelion, gain down, volume way up and eq just below 12:00 was a sonic assault. Even with these amounts of gain, the Aphelion cleans up well and adds its responsiveness. VERY juicy indeed.

The Spaceman Aphelion is a true WMT, a Weapon of Massive Tone! It looks stellar, it sounds awesome and it is just fun fun fun to play. Ground control to Major Tom: “Please please please bring me an Aphelion!”.

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