Strymon has added another wildly anticipated stompbox to their prestigious catalog of genius innovations. Meet the Riverside Multistage Drive, a new harmonically rich drive pedal that strives to offer players a wide range of different drive options. Before we get into the real details of the Strymon Riverside, let's talk a little history.
Although this is Strymon’s first venture into crafting a dedicated dirt box, chief engineer Pete Celi and co. are no strangers to foundation and tone shaping. The humble beginnings of Strymon were actually born within another pedal company called Damage Control, also headed up by Celi. They were known for having 12ax7 driven, DSP multi-effect pedals in giant, custom-made enclosures. In your research, you will find tone shaping effects like the Demonizer, Solid Metal, Liquid Blues and more. These were all Class-A distortion and overdrive effects. Some included cab simulation for plugging in direct, on-board compression, remote switching and more. Some years later, Strymon releases the Deco, an effect celebrating the sound of classic reel-to-reel recordings from the 1950s and 60s. This pedal's Tape Saturation feature offered everything from a subtle coloration to a tight, mid-range breakup.
This brings us to the Riverside. Strymon has been widely praised for their breakthrough DSP technology implementing the highly powerful SHARC chip into their pedals. The Riverside uses that same chip, along with an analog, Class-A, JFET front end. Level, Drive and a 3-band EQ shape the effect from a smooth overdrive to full-blown saturation. The pedal also features push toggles between flat or enhanced mid-range frequencies. Riverside's Gain toggle offers two different gain stages with the Low stage having a medium, transparent gain structure that’s akin to the way a vintage amp would naturally break up. The High setting is voiced with a modern, tighter response that caters to those seeking full saturation.
Using other Strymon products will offer different results when using the Riverside. If you plug a Strymon Favorite switch into the Boost input, you'll get an additional +6dB of post volume. By plugging in an expression pedal into the Exp input, users can control any or all knobs on the front panel of the Riverside or simply use it as a volume pedal. If you’re the kind of guitarist that likes to change up which amp you’re bringing to the gig, the Riverside has you covered. The Presence toggle on the rear panel tailors the high-end frequencies to your amp. So if you’re playing a darker amp, flip it to the “+” to cut through the mix and so on.
By holding down the On switch, you are taken into the “Secondary Function” feature set. The Drive control becomes a variable-threshold noise reduction. This cuts down on inherent noise found in most dirt boxes, while still keeping all of the feel and dynamics intact. The Level control now adjusts the output of your external volume boost. With a feature set this massive, Strymon has included a “Favorite” switch to save a preset of your choice.
Want to hear the new Strymon Riverside at work? Watch the videos below as Vintage King's Dustin McLaughlin tackles the Riverside in his demo and Strymon boss Pete Celi shows off how it works with different combinations of guitars and amplifiers.