Suhr may be best known for its classy guitars, which are enjoying a 20th anniversary this year, but it also produces amps and a range of pedals.
The latest pedal on offer is the Riot Mini, launched at the NAMM show in January of this year.
The original Riot distortion pedal first appeared in 2009 and several years later spawned the Riot Reloaded pedal, which offered an extra 30 per cent more gain. The Riot Mini offers the essence of its siblings in a much smaller footprint designed for the modern pedalboard.
The guts of the pedal are basically identical to the Riot, the only difference being that, instead of a three-way toggle switch, the one here has two positions that offer the two most popular diode selections from the original pedal, apparently the middle and right settings. In the overall cranked high-gain amp scheme of things that is the Riot’s stock-in-trade, those two settings are not radically different, but offer very useful variations on the theme. The one to the left has a fuller mid-range and bottom-end, while to the right, the vibe is slightly less raw with more compression and a perceptible scoop in the mids.
There’s plenty of output in this pedal allowing you to keep the distortion knob low and set the level for a gritty boost, which can work well with an amp that’s already cooking.
However, we feel that its real forte is the rich distortion it can supply further round the dial to transform a clean amp into something altogether more aggressive rather than a slightly dirtier version of what you already have (think Marshall JCM800 and you wouldn’t be too wide of the mark).
At fully clockwise on the distortion knob you get the sound of a high-gain amp with glowing valves, touch sensitive with sustain and harmonics a-plenty. The Tone knob covers upper-mid and top-end presence and will match the distortion naturally to your amp settings or add that extra thing needed to cut through the mix.
While the Riot Mini is a shoo-in for 80s rock tones it is not limited to those. Anyone who wants a rich and hard-edged distortion to suit other genres of music would find something to like here.