Rivera’s entry into the stompbox market came with a bang in 2011 with the launch of the Shaman series pedals. But instead of going all out with a plethora of effects, Rivera opted to focus solely on distortion and overdrive, offering three models that cover the gamut from blues to hard rock and metal. I tested the Shamans’ powers on gigs and in the studio using a Fender Tele, a Gibson SG, and my trusty Fender Princeton Reverb.
Sporting striking sunburst graphics, the Double Shaman ($299 street) offers plenty of simmer and sear with its geographically dubbed L.A. and Austin channels, each featuring independent Level, Tone, and Drive controls. Each channel also includes a Combo/Stack switch for further options. Sonically, the L.A. channel struts its stuff with a somewhat modern take on the ever-popular ’80s “modded Marshall” tone. Thick, aggressive, and snarling, with sustain for days is the deal here, but with an extra touch of modern-sounding attack. And this is with the Drive control not even halfway up! The Tone control allowed me to dial in a Tele or an SG with equally satisfactory results, and the Stack/Combo switch gave my little Princeton Reverb some beefy 4x12 qualities for a bit of extra oomph in the bass department. If you’re looking for classic rock/metal tones that can also veer into denser distortion territory, this channel delivers.
For my money, the Austin channel ruled the day, however, with its combination of trad distortion, fuzzy overtones, and stringto- string clarity. This channel reacts wonderfully to your guitar’s volume control as well as your picking attack, which gives you a huge palette from shimmering clean to nasty and mean tones that still offer an astonishing level of clear detail with every guitar I used. Very nice! With two killer channels, the Double Shaman is a formidable grind machine.
Kudos Two great sounding channels with a load of tonal options at your fingertips.
Designed to pummel without prejudice, the Metal Shaman ($299 street) offers Bass, Mid, High, Gain, and Level controls, as well as a bypassable noise gate (with Sensitivity and Release controls), a Brutality switch for lowend boost, and a footswitchable gain boost dubbed Disintegrate. Sonically, the Metal Shaman is simply punishing, with enough distortion and output for even the most depraved tone seeker. The pedal’s EQ is a study in extreme yet musical flavors, as you can dial up everything from gargantuan lowend scooped-mid tones to skinnier, notched wah honk. The Metal Shaman’s bass response is tight as hell, keeping fast low-string riffs crisp with a deadly attack. The noise gate is very effective at the subtle hushing of noise from excessive Gain settings, or it can be used as more of an “effect,” slamming down on the signal for max heaviness. The Disintegrate gain boost is also very effective at launching you up and over a live band for solos. The Metal Shaman is a sonic beast with a lot of tones to offer, but its main mission is definitely metal.
Kudos Vicious metal tones with the flexibility for less diabolical textures.
Aiming to ape the ultra-expressive tactile tones of a small class A combo amp, the Blues Shaman ($249 street) does its business with Level, Gain, and Tone controls, as well as a Stack/Combo voicing set and an Ascension footswitch, which is a fancy name for a gain boost. Not just a grind box, the Blues Shaman has enough output to be a used as clean boost, working wonders with the front end of a tube amp and driving it into fits of overdrive and then some. Thanks to the wide-ranging Tone control, my SG, Tele, and Strat thrived, whether for basic Tube Screamer-style distortion or a more dynamic, aggressive bark with a biting clean edge and fat, transient bass attack. The Ascension switch simply makes your tone louder, which is always appreciated, and when using the pedal as a clean boost, stomping on said switch kicks the living crap out of the front end of your amp. Color me very impressed with this dynamic, versatile box.
Kudos A killer pedal for distorted tones or clean boost.