Blues Shaman
Download Example 1
Gritty Strat in Combo Mode
Download Example 2
Gritty Strat in Stack Mode
Download Example 3
Hamer Korina Special (P-90s), heavy distortion
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 Blues Shaman was designed to reproduce the dynamic range and soft-clipping overdrive typical of a ’50s tweed Fender with 6V6s and an alnico Jensen speaker—for example, a Deluxe or Tremolux. Controls are simple and to the point: Level, Tone, and Gain knobs, a Stack/Combo mini toggle, and two stomp switches labeled Ascension (boost) and On/ True Bypass.

I set up a Fender American Standard Strat, a Blackheart Little Giant 5 head, and a 65Amps London Pro cab with a Celestion G12H-30 speaker to evaluate the Blues Shaman. With the Blackheart set clean and flat, the pedal delivered a classic, slightly fizzy, thick-bottomed blues mood. The pedal translated picking dynamics superbly, and the whole rig felt lively and very touch sensitive. The Blues Shaman has a knack for conveying the nuances of the interaction between fingers, wood, and wire. It’s very organic sounding.

Digging in with the Gain at 1 o’clock imparted the beautiful sound of a small combo nudging up against the breaking point. In the Combo setting, you can hear the Blues Shaman take on many of the qualities of an open-back cab with its airy, and less bass-heavy sound. The Tone knob is effective and has a very wide range. Rather than just add treble, it shapes the voice in a more dimensional way— moving from darker to brighter and fizzier without sacrificing bass clout. At first, I was leery of having only one control for tonal voicing, but in this case it was more than enough to dial in tones ranging from James Gang-style grit to Leslie West’s Mountain-sized hugeness.

Switching to my humbucker-equipped Hamer Korina Special, I cranked up the gain and toggled to Stack mode, which thickened and tightened up the bottom end while emphasizing low mids. With my eyes closed and the amp volume high, the bristling, compressed tones made me feel like I was onstage at a late-’60s outdoor festival. Small as the test rig was, it sounded as badass as a Sunn Coliseum head—only at a much more practical volume. The Ascension switch propelled that sound even further into the stratosphere—adding a killer boost and livelier harmonics.

There is no doubt Rivera knows his amps. And the Blues Shaman feels like a pedal built by someone who understands an amplifier as a living, breathing beast. The Blues Shaman nails that tweed sound and so much more. I can envision situations where I’d happily take the setup I used for this review over a ’50s tweed Deluxe simply for the versatility the Blues Shaman adds.
Buy if...
you need a wide range of tweed-style tones in a single pedal.
Skip if...
your overdrive tastes tend toward modern flavors.

Street $249 - Rivera Amplification -