Strymon Riverside Multistage Drive Pedal
Reading the specs tells me it has everything I need. Having several other Strymon products, that I really like, almost made me buy the pedal without playing it. Fortunately I decided go check it out and I’m glad I did.
I saw every video available with the Strymon Riverside Multistage Drive, before I went to pick it up. The style/sound is a great alternative to the two other overdrives I have in my board (an Euphoria and the Plexi Drive Deluxe from Wampler), so I was really turned on.
It’s a really well made pedal. Some super cool features. Actually it has everything I’m looking for. There is room in my board for it. I have the bread and yet I didn’t buy … that’s scary!
Here’s why and please share your thoughts on this, maybe I’ve missed something.
The Strymon Riverside
I can store a favorite preset and go from almost totally clean to some really intense overdrive – that’s awesome. The fact that the pedal has a build in noise gate and offers a clean boost, useable with other pedals, is super cool. All in all the Riverside was exactly what I was looking for.
The videos covered a lot of different styles and sounds – showed me the pedals potential, but I was a little worried about the dynamics and feel, so I went to check it out.
The mid boost is probably the best placed mid boost I’ve ever tried. Also the frequencies, the radius, the amount – spot on. The presence switch is perfect to. In addition to this the EQ’s are effective and again right frequencies and curves. No wonder a lot of people already love this one.
The noise gate worked really well, removed all unwanted hum. This was done without annoying my playing or cutting off notes I wanted to sustain.
The amount of overdrive was also responsive to my picking and input level. If I turned down the volume on my guitar, it cleaned up nicely and it also responded to my picking.
When I turned it on, with every knob at “noon” I instantly noticed that the Riverside didn’t color my original sound – I appreciate that. From there I could go anywhere. I could dial in more drive, more bass … more or less of everything – perfect.
So why didn’t I buy it?!
My experience with the Strymon Riverside
But I didn’t feel the drive/saturation as a part of the sound. It’s really hard to explain a sound or the feeling I got from the sound. But I felt that the overdrive was a layer on top of my sound. A layer where it was possible to change the opacity with the gain setting – but it was always a layer “added” to my sound.
I’ve experienced that before. After more than 15 years with all my overdriven sounds coming from the tubes in my Mesa Boogie Triaxis or Mark IV, it’s definitely not the first time I’ve felt that way. I’ve tried pedals that I’ve heard other players use with awesome results. When I’ve tried them I’ve felt like I was missing something. Like it was only 80-90% of “me”.
For many years I didn’t think it would be possible to get that 100% feel from a pedal without tubes. But I must admit I get that from my current setup with pedals. When I tried the Strymon Riverside I first thought it was the amp that was to clean. That I missed some compression from the tubes. But then I added a Plexi Drive to the amp and it felt and sounded “right”. The sound was off cause very different from the Riverside, but I instantly got that 100% feel with the Plexi.
My worries about the feel … that it would feel artificial or “clean” (weird word talking about an overdrive), were unfortunately justified. I was really disappointed when I left the store without the Strymon Riverside. I had the perfect spot for it in my board, and then …
I’m actually willing to give it a try again – but I’m afraid that I will come to the same conclusion one more time.
What’s your experience with the Riverside or other pedals that you haven’t felt comfortable with. Please comment.
Have a wonderful day