Based in Cambridgeshire, England, Hamstead Soundworks started out in 2012 and has worked hard to develop a customer base and reputation for high-quality amp building. The company has now announced have a new version of its hand-built Artist Series 20-Watt amps and combos. Like its predecessor, the new Artist MKII version is based upon a single channel amp with an EL34-based output section; a model with tremolo and reverb is also available in the form of the Artist +RT MKII model.
The EL34 is a proven and well-respected valve for amp output sections, and I imagine this will be popular with players of a ‘blues rock’ persuasion. I myself have owned a few EL34-based amps in the past, mainly Marshalls and their clones, so think it will probably sound ‘British’ based on that output valve choice.
A single-channel amp, the Artist 20 MKII is available in head or combo formats, and there is an Artist 20 +RT MKII version with reverb and tremolo included for a £200 upcharge (which includes a two-way footswitch to engage the effects).
The new features for the MKII amps include a switch that toggles between 12 and 20 Watts, a Bright switch, a Clean Boost and 3 different voice settings accessed via a switch on the rear panel. The combo uses a 12” Celestion Creamback G12M-65 16-Ohm speaker, which is a well-respected speaker and one that should, in my opinion, complement the sound of the EL34-based circuitry.
The amps are built using “marine-grade” birch ply, which should make them pretty robust and roadworthy. Hamstead state that they aim to make these units last a lifetime.
These amps use output transformers wound in Britain and have a thick aluminium chassis, with the main board inside an ‘eyelet’ that is reinforced with epoxy resin. OK, that’s not as retro and cool as point-to-point wiring, but still a good, solid way of putting together a high-quality amp circuit.
Hamstead Soundworks give all their amps a 5-year warranty and so they must have faith in their build quality and design choices. I like the sound of the original versions a lot, so I can imagine that the MKII’s will also sound pretty good as well. If you like touch-sensitive, dynamic, clean(ish) tones then I reckon you will probably enjoy these amps.
Full details on the Hamstead Soundworks Artist 20 MKII Series are available here.