Rivera Venus 3 Combo Review

Rivera Venus 3 Combo Review

To the vast majority of us, Paul Rivera needs no introduction. For well over 30 years he’s been one of rock guitar’s most influential amp designers with a CV that includes credits for Yamaha, Music Man and, of course, Fender where he revitalised that company’s range during the early eighties with such classics as the legendary Super Champ. Today Rivera is one of the most coveted backline names, with an incredibly diverse list of users. There aren’t many amp companies who can include Nashville legends like Doyle Dykes and Vince Gill alongside monster metal players such as Slipknot’s Jim Root and Mick Thomson, or legendary session artists such as Steely Dan alumni Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter and Jay Graydon among their customers.

How well does the Venus 3 perform in the demanding environment of the recording studio? It’s pretty obvious that this amp doesn’t have the immediate flexibility of the footswitching dual-channel Venus 6, but after a few minutes experimenting with the tone controls it’s also obvious that in a studio, where you don’t need to access sounds instantly, the V3 is easily capable of providing the same instantly gratifying Class A vibe.

The range and quality of distortion is what most people will buy this amp for – it’s easy to pile a lot of gain into a preamp, but very difficult to take that and make it stable and dynamically responsive.

Very few amp designers do this trick as well as Paul Rivera.


The V3 can go from gently overdriven, chiming chords to massive shredding distortion with the boost engaged; and it’s all highly useable, with those powerful tone knobs making it easy to take the V3 from scooped- mid LA thrash to the buttery thick mid-range of Brit-influenced classic rock or blues.