[review] Spaceman Gemini III - Dual Fuzz Generator (by Bieke)

Gemini III

The Gemini III fuzz is named after the Gemini III space mission, a heroic mission that brought the first corned beef sandwich into orbit back in 1965. This also explains why the Gemini III is such a tasty fuzz.

The Gemini III is an all-discrete (no IC’s) transistor fuzz. It features two different fuzz circuits in parallel, one vintage germanium and the other, modern silicon, which can be used independently or blended together. Gemini means twins after all.

Controls

Let us look at the equally tasteful controls, what immediately drew my attention and tickled my curiosity is the unique Ge/Si control that allows to adjust, mix and layer the Germanium and Silicon fuzz sections.

There’s the familiar Master volume knob that controls the output of the final mix, and has plenty of volume, probably more than you will ever need.

The Gemini III has a single shared Filter control. This acts like a tone control that affects each fuzz independently, yet at the same time. The controls allow for many tone combinations between the two fuzz circuits for some unique fuzz blends. At 12 o’clock the filter has a wide frequency range, with full mids. Further clockwise will yield a mid scoop and counter clockwise functions as a treble cut.

There is also a toggle switch to set the direction of the tone-sweep for the germanium side, allowing for opposite sweep directions. Up for synced filters and down for opposite sweep directions.

Adding yet another level of tone shaping is the blend section with three gain options for each fuzz circuit, via two additional toggle switches. Each fuzz has a choice of three gain settings. Much of the overall gain can be controlled by lowering your guitar volume slightly.

Versatility

As you can imagine, plenty of versatility. It can do a a wide array of classic fuzz sounds, I am even tempted to say that it does them all, including low gain classic tones, high gain tones, scooped-mid tones and so much more. There is plenty of low frequency response available to use it as a bass fuzz. The filter control can shape really cool fuzz textures for synths as well, for instance to spice up your sawtooth synth patches. Especially the silicon section is perfectly tuned to work wonders with polyphonic synths or FM synths. I think the Gemini III could also work on saxophone, trumpet, to fatten up electronic beats, vocals, ... Fuzz pedals each have a character of their own and most are a temperamental and actually pretty much one trick ponies. It is quite an achievement to fit that many fuzz variations in a single pedal.

So, here is the dilemma for the true fuzz fanatic. You can now choose to either hunt down those 3,628 vintage and modern fuzz pedals or simply pick up the Gemini III and be done with it. Thin fuzz, bees in a can fuzz, low gain fuzz, sixties fuzz, raspy fuzz, raw fuzz, lofi fuzz, psychedelic fuzz, filtered fuzz, sizzling fuzz, chainsaw fuzz, fat fuzz, raunchy fuzz, modern fuzz, it’s all in there. With the exception of velcro fuzz, gated fuzz, splattery, squealing and squeaky fuzz type of sounds. Also, it does not do the Octavia sound.

I always thought that single coil pickups work better with fuzz pedals, better dynamics, better decay, better definition. It struck me that the Gemini III works equally well with humbuckers. Not muddy at all, on the one hand a bit less subtle sounding, on the other hand much bigger and creamier sounding as opposed to single coils. All a matter of taste really. I did experience a bit of a volume difference between the Germanium and Silicon side, the germanium section being much louder. The silicon fuzz seems a bit weaker, yet it is much tighter. The volume differences did not bother me, easy enough to remedy the volume drop with the master control, but you have to set it up right before you engage the fuzz or else you might get lost in the mix or alternatively, it can get a little loud.

Very loud.

However, It always remains a very musical type of fuzz, distinguished, feedback can be tamed and controlled, a gentlemen’s fuzz.

Versions

The Spaceman Gemini III are produced in small batches. Three very limited editions are available, each with a small up-charge in price: Copper plated (limited to 20); White powdercoat (limited to 40); and Silver (limited to 90). Prices start at 320$ for the Silver edition, 335$ for the White version and 350$ for the Copper plated one.

The White version also has an übercool vintage 1959 aerospace dimmable pilot light. However, from some angles it is hard to see if the pedal is on, the pilot light is fairly weak. The Silver edition however has a Jewel pilot light. But this General Electric aerospace pilot light (the original packaging is included in the box) really adds a lot of prestige. Also comes in a shiny silver protective pouch, a fabric similar to that used for the Gemini spacesuits.

Each pedal is numbered on the nameplate and in addition each one is signed and numbered on the inside. The Gemini III also comes with a transferable three year warranty, plus a lifetime discount repair plan. I have had the privilege (well, it took me this long to write up this review) to play with this pedal for some months now, and really, really like it a lot. In and ouputs are on the side, output side on the left also has the standard 9V Boss adapter jack. Stylish knobs with engraved arrow markers , engraved faceplate with a extremely cool computer age Gemini typeface, everything about this pedal just is just top notch design (except for the small rubber transparent feet which are just average). Who cares. Soundwise it is outstanding, ground breaking, easily one of the finest fuzz creations available today.

Completely hand-soldered and handmade in Portland Oregon, the Gemini III utilizes true-bypass switching via the heaviest-duty mechanical footswitch available. Inside the pedal looks stellar, in fact, there are little stars on the stacked circuit boards. There are 2 separate circuit boards inside, beautifully assembled, the wiring is meticulous, you do not see such degree of craftsmanship in a pedal that often. In fact, I have never seen such high degree of engineering in a fuzz pedal. Really stunning, much like an impressive work of art. Every musician on a never ending mission in the quest for the ultimate fuzztone should not look any further.

The Spaceman Gemini III, a tasty germanium/silicon fuzz sandwich.

It's rocket science!

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