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Rivera Amplification Blues Shaman and Double Shaman Pedal Reviews

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Rivera Amplification Blues Shaman and Double Shaman Pedal Reviews

Double Shaman
Download Example 1
LA Mode, Super Lead Tone, Godin Icon Type 2
Download Example 2
Austin Mode, Stack, Epiphone Sheraton
Download Example 3
Austin Mode, Combo - Texas Rhythm Tone, Gibson Les Paul
Clips recorded through a Blackheart Little Giant 5 and 65 Amps London Pro 1x12 cab (Celestion G12H-30). Mic'd with a Shure SM57, dry into a Chandler LTD-1 mic pre with no EQ into an Apogee Symphony I/O to Pro Tools. No added reverb or FX.
The Double Shaman is two very different pedals in one. Its two channels—L.A. and Austin—range from the ’80s hair-metal feel of a modified Marshall on one to hot, Gibbons-/SRV-style Texas tube tone on the other. Both channels have simple layouts, with Level, Tone, and Drive knobs, and a Stack/Combo toggle. There are also two stomp switches for Destination (channel selection) and On/True-Bypass.

Given that I came up during the hairband era and actually owned several modded Marshalls back in the day, it was a fun trip down memory lane to jump into the L.A. channel. Plugged into the same Blackheart/65Amps half-stack I used with the Blues Shaman, I fired up a Godin Redline HB and cranked up the Drive control. Lo and behold—hair metal on demand!

Much like the amps we modded back in the Reagan years, the L.A. channel has a ridiculous amount of gain on tap, and the mids sounded focused for maximum cut and wailing tone. In Stack mode, there was plenty of attack and clarity, though it comes with the same trade-offs you experience in a modded amp: With the ridiculous amount of sustain you get from so much gain, you also lose some of the dimensionality that comes with less-extreme voicings with lower gain settings. It’s not a super-versatile tone, but if you’re nostalgic for Warren DiMartini’s solo tone on “Round and Round” or you want to lay into some Dokken-era Lynch sounds, this pedal was made for you.

The Tone control was quite flexible and handy when changing from guitar to guitar and matching just the right amount of attack and presence. It even made my low-gain Strat kick like it was loaded with humbuckers. In Combo mode, the L.A. section’s tone became brighter and a little looser on the bottom. But my preference—especially in the L.A. channel—was to stay in Stack mode: It achieved maximum punch and bottom-end tightness.

On the Austin channel, the same three controls and Stack/Combo toggle seemed to offer up a wider range of tones. With a Les Paul R8, it was easy to dial in a killer Billy Gibbons Texas tone. Individual notes rang rich with harmonics, and with the Gain set fairly high (around 3 o’clock) there was a raunchy vibe that just stank of coolness. I really enjoyed the compressed, spongy feel of the attack, as well as the flexibility of the Tone control.

With the Les Paul in hand, I assumed I’d prefer Stack mode, but it was Combo mode that availed my favorite Texas-boogie tones. And with a Strat and a roll-off of the Gain, it was easy to conjure round, muscular SRV sweetness. Switching into Stack mode with this combination made the sound even bolder and more powerful, and the pedal really responded to digging in harder.

At times, I wished there was a third stomp switch that added a boost capability for each channel. Absent this feature, you can still easily set up one channel to be hotter as a boost for your solos, but because their tonal differences are so substantial this approach will be ineffective in certain musical contexts.

The Double Shaman accomplishes a lot for a single pedal—it can transport you from the Sunset Strip circa ’87 to the South with the click of a switch. Both channels are highly specialized and offer up very different sounds for those who work across a wider tone field. In my experience, I’ve never come across a pedal that moved between two extremes and made them work so well together.
Buy if...
your playing incorporates ’80s hair-metal sounds and ’70s Texas grit.
Skip if...
you don’t need such radical variance in your lead tones.
Rating...


Street $299 - Rivera Amplification - rivera.com

The Verdict
Paul Rivera’s decades of experience show in the Blues Shaman and Double Shaman. Both pedals are dynamic, sensitive, and responsive to different guitar voices and playing approaches—just like a great tube amplifier. And if you’re looking to expand the range of your own amp without sacrificing its essential tube character, the Blues Shaman and Double Shaman have the goods.
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