Skip to content

Polaris Distortion / Sustainer

Based On
Human Gear Animato
Effect Type
Distortion / Sustainer, Fuzz
Build Difficulty
Project Summary
Based on the classic Big Muff circuit, this pedal adds a Rangemaster-based treble booster to the frontend as well as some other tweaks. Most famously used by Chris Wolstenholme of Muse.
Polaris Distortion / Sustainer printed circuit board

Printed Circuit Board

What's included?
PCB only. Build instructions and parts list can be viewed or downloaded from this page.


In stock

Complete Kit

Not yet available.
Kits are developed based on interest, so if you’d like to see one for this project, let us know.
Request Kit
91 people are interested.

Project overview

The Polaris Distortion/Sustainer is adapted from the Human Gear Animato, a mysterious and very expensive distortion pedal from Japan which gained attention by being used by Chris Wolstenholme, the bassist of Muse.

Originally released in 2007, the Animato was finally traced in 2014 and it was revealed that it was essentially just a Big Muff with a Rangemaster added to the front. Nevertheless, it’s a great-sounding Big Muff variant and certainly a unique take on the circuit.

The Rangemaster portion of the circuit uses something called a Sziklai pair for the transistors with both NPN and PNP transistors in a piggyback arrangement, allowing the Rangemaster circuit (normally positive ground) to be run in a negative-ground scenario.

One final note: while the Animato claims to work well for bass, most bassists find that the Rangemaster input cuts too many of the low frequencies. As a result, many people using the Animato for bass (including Chris Wolstenholme) will opt to use a clean-blend pedal such as the Boss LS-2 to blend the unaffected bass signal back in and restore the low frequencies.