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Hamstead Soundworks Comet Interstellar Driver review

A versatile new drive pedal enters our orbit. Read on for the Comet’s tale…

Hamstead Soundworks Comet Interstellar Driver
(Image: © Future / Olly Curtis)

Our Verdict

Hamstead’s Comet Instellar Driver is a class act of a pedal that delivers a wide range of tonal options without being overly complicated.

For

  • Two distinct drive voices in one compact pedal.
  • Wide gain range.
  • Practical EQ options.

Against

  • We would have preferred the Hi Gain switch to be external rather than internal.

Guitar World Verdict

Hamstead’s Comet Instellar Driver is a class act of a pedal that delivers a wide range of tonal options without being overly complicated.

Pros

  • +

    Two distinct drive voices in one compact pedal.

  • +

    Wide gain range.

  • +

    Practical EQ options.

  • +

Cons

  • -

    We would have preferred the Hi Gain switch to be external rather than internal.

While Hamstead’s previous overdrive pedals, the Odyssey and Subspace Intergalactic Drivers, both have three toggle switches (each with three options combining for a variety of sounds), the company’s latest all-analogue design, the Comet Interstellar Driver, takes a more back-to-basics approach with just a single two-way toggle switch on its front panel and a standard setup of Level, Gain, Bass and Treble knobs.

Nevertheless, that toggle switch fully exploits the relationship between the pedal’s Drive and EQ circuitry: set it one way and you’ll get EQ after Drive, while the other option puts the EQ first. However, it’s not quite that simple because it also changes the type of clipping and gain structure circuitry when you flip the switch. 

Keeping the Bass and Treble knobs in their detented null positions, you can immediately perceive that these are two distinct sounds. Drive before EQ offers a more open and transparent sound, while EQ before Drive gives you something gainier and denser in the midrange.

Hamstead Soundworks Comet Interstellar Driver

(Image credit: Future / Olly Curtis)

Starting off with Drive before EQ, you can tailor the sound at the output to your liking – the tone knobs cover a practical range that’s useful for matching the drive to best complement your amp or perhaps to introduce a treble boost. 

Incidentally, if you feel that the top-end wasn’t quite working for your rig, there’s an internal Hi-Cut pot you can use to tweak things a little. This is a naturally dynamic drive with a gain range running from a cleanish boost right through to an amp with the valves running hot.

It’s quite a different vibe when you run the pedal with EQ before the Drive circuit. In this scenario, you can use the Bass and Treble knobs to push the drive into different tonal areas, providing characterful, robust drive tones that can be further away from your core amp sound – and you’ll even find somewhat fuzz-like tones at the extremes.

As it stands, this pedal can get pretty raucous, but it can actually go even further by using the internal switch to usher in a Hi Gain mode. This shifts everything up a gear and yields an increased level of saturation – great for those players who are looking to coax heavier distortions from their drive pedal.

Specs

  • PRICE: $259 / £199
  • ORIGIN: UK
  • TYPE: Drive pedal
  • FEATURES: Buffered bypass, optokick footswitch
  • CONTROLS: Level, Bass, Treble, Gain, EQ/Drive switch, internal global hi-cut trim pot, internal hi-gain switch, internal ‘power up’ mode switch, bypass footswitch
  • CONNECTIONS: Standard input, standard output
  • POWER: 9V-12V DC adaptor (not supplied) 65mA
  • DIMENSIONS: 70 (w) x 130 (d) x 65 mm (h)
  • CONTACT: Hamstead Soundworks

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