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This article was originally published in issue #39
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It was a real pleasure to review the Hamstead RT back in Guitar Interactive issue 33. If you check out that review via our back issues (www.iguitarmag.com) or on YouTube, you'll hear that one of the things that made the amp so attractive is its beautiful onboard tremolo. Also the amp boasts a 10db boost feature which was another nice touch. Well the guys at Hamstead have taken both these features and stuck them in a pedal called the Hamstead Signature Analogue Tremolo. Both the 10db boost and the lush trem from the amp are there, along with some very nice extras.
So if you like your tremolo effect, you certainly are in for a treat here. You can switch between the Hamstead Signature trem which is damn nice, to a more classic setting found on many vintage amps made decades ago. This is done via the switch at the top of the pedal. Both settings are very nice and I personally would favour the 'Signature' setting, which is smoother in sound, but it's great to have the option of the sharper sounding trem effect in the 'Classic' mode. It's instant '60s! When the trem effect is engaged, your signal stays good and strong because there is no drop in level, something which can occur on vintage tremolo pedals.
This pedal also boasts an independent 10db boost function. I am a big fan of boost pedals and seem to have accumulated a range of them. If you have a good sounding valve amp, then a boost pedal can do very nice things to the front of it. If you have weak or thin sounding pick ups, then a boost pedal can certainly help bring some life to your tone. If you simply want a volume lift rather than a front end gain increase, then a boost pedal in your amp effects loop will work wonders. This pedal does all these things really well and the boost and trem combination makes the Hamstead Signature pedal a real nice package to own.
Another very cool feature in this pedal, which isn't immediately obvious, is the fact you have the choice to run the pedal as either a true bypass pedal, or a buffered pedal. Inside you will find a little dip switch to switch between the two, and how you run it depends on your set up. Generally it is a good precaution to have a buffer somewhere at the front of your pedal set up, because it takes your guitar signal and makes sure it survives the journey through all the ins and outs of your other pedals without suffering tone loss. If you have a few buffered pedals already in your chain, then you would probably want to run this pedal in true bypass mode, which means when the pedal off, your signal is completely bypassed from the internal circuit of the pedal.
The internal circuitry is of an all analogue design, which among pedal addicts is reckoned to be a good thing. The true bypass or buffered option is a very nice detail to add, and certainly helps maintain good tone, but in reality, most pedal internals nowadays by most of the main brands, true bypass or not, are of very high quality. Problems can arise with hiss and tone loss if you simply must use some very old vintage pedals for their mojo, which is where buffered or true bypass can really be a great option to think about. But for the vast majority of guitarists out there, this added choice that the Hamstead pedal gives you will be a nice luxury rather than something to worry about. Whichever way you have it set, it will sound great.
I was very impressed by this Trem/Boost pedal from Hamstead, as I was by the amp. The pedal even looks very tasteful I think, which isn't such a concern when you are stamping on it to turn it on and off, but it certainly does looks cool and more importantly, looks robust and ready to give a lifetime of service. It would be a very welcome tool in my own rigs.