The Riverside Drive pedal from Strymon is their attempt to deliver the ultimate overdrive, by which they mean that it can be used in many different guitar rigs and yet still maintain a good drive tone.
JFET and DSP
Strymon has a fantastic reputation for building DSP-based pedals such as reverbs, delays and echoes. Now they are entering the world of overdrive with Riverside. This uses an interesting combination of DSP and JFET technology. It’s a multistage overdrive and is designed to be very flexible, with a Class A JFET Gain stage that feeds into a SHARC DSP. This aim here is to give you all sorts of dynamic control not achievable with a regular non-DSP drive pedal.
This pedal goes from some pretty subtle to some over-the-top drive tones, yet appears to keep the player’s dynamics intact. The video demos below give a more in-depth overview of some of the tones available. It also explains more about the balance between the JFET and DSP stages and why they chose to combine these two technologies.
The relatively simple control layout consists of Volume, Drive Bass, Middle and Treble knobs. There is also a two-position Push switch with Norm and Mid positions as well as a Low/High Gain switch. Riverside has two footswitches. One toggles it on or off, while the other engages your favourite preset. The Boost output on the back can either connect to an external switch, in which case you it toggles an additional +6dB of boost. But if you can also connect it to the EXP connector on another Strymon pedal, This setup lets you engage the Favourite modes on both pedals at the same time.
There is also a small three-position Presence switch on the rear that adjusts your highest frequencies, along with In and Out jacks, the Boost input mentioned above as well as an Expression pedal input as well. The latter can control any or all of the knobs, or be used to control the overall volume. Plenty of control options on offer here, then.
A lot of players shy away from DSP in drive pedals and for good reason, as they often sound crap. Yet this new pedal from Strymon may actually be the first one that actually sounds like a regular analogue drive pedal. But I have only heard the demos, and I am looking forward to checking one out some time soon.
Strymon Riverside Drive pedal full specification here