Quick Hit: Hamstead Odyssey Review
Three choices each for input-gain, EQ mode, and clipping circuits add up to impressive boost, overdrive, and distortion flexibility.
Recorded using a Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom with Curtis Novak Tele-V bridge and JM-V neck pickups, and a Gibson Les Paul Traditional with 57 Classics, going into the Hamstead and then a Celestion Ruby-stocked Goodsell Valpreaux 21 miked with a Royer R-121 feeding an Apogee Duet going into GarageBand with no EQ-ing, compression, or effects.
Clip 1: Telecaster in middle pickup position, first with Odyssey bypassed, then with Odyssey in PO, C2, and X2 modes, with tone at 10:30, bass at 3 o’clock, treble at noon, gain at 10 o’clock, and level at 11 o’clock.
Clip 2: Telecaster in middle pickup position, first with Odyssey bypassed, then with Odyssey in PR, C2, and X2 modes, with tone at 10:30, bass at 3 o’clock, treble at noon, gain at 9 o’clock, and level at 1 o’clock.
Clip 3: Telecaster bridge pickup, first with Odyssey bypassed, then with Odyssey in PR, C1, and X1 modes, with tone at max, bass at 3:30, treble at 8:30, gain at 8 o’clock, and level at 3:30.
Clip 4: Les Paul first in neck position with Odyssey bypassed, then in neck, then middle, then bridge position with Odyssey in PR, C1, and X1 modes, with tone at max, bass at 3 o’clock, treble at noon, gain at 8 o’clock, and level at 11 max.
Large array of touch-sensitive analog overdrive and distortion tones. Quality build. Low current consumption.
Could use a mid control. Higher-gain tones can sound same-y. May be too hi-fi for some. Somewhat pricey.
Ease of Use:
This heftily built overdrive/distortion from South Cambridgeshire, England, features center-detented bass and treble knobs flexing 18 dB of boost and cut capabilities, a unique tone control that affects how much high end is sent to the gain circuit, and a level knob that can pump out a whopping 32 dB, depending on how you set everything else—including the trio of 3-position switches.
PR/EQ/PO determines whether Odyssey’s drive is bypassed (for a clean boost) or the EQ is placed before or after the drive circuit. (Pre yields a gushier, more amp-like response, while post typically feels more focused, potent, and hi-fi.) C1/C2/C3 selects from three clipping modes: symmetrical gain, asymmetrical gain (which applies clipping to half the signal), or a pair of gain circuits. X2/X1/X5 keeps input gain as-is, doubles it, or quintuples it.
Suffice it to say Odyssey boasts a proverbial poop-load of sounds—from pristine boost to myriad classic-rock tones, raging blizzards of nails, and even a limited range of fuzz. Higher-gain sounds can sound quite similar—even in different clipping and/or input-gain modes (especially with traditional humbuckers)—but single-coils tend to extend the pedal’s range of nuance. One of the neatest things is how clear and articulate Odyssey can sound, even on very aggressive settings. Another is how transformative its powerful EQ can be—for example, the bass control can imbue smaller, simpler amps with major muscle.
Test gear: Gibson Les Paul Traditional with 57 Classics, Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom with Curtis Novak JM-V and Tele-V pickups, Goodsell Valpreaux 21 with Celestion Ruby, 1976 Fender Vibrolux Reverb with WGS G10C/S speakers