When plugged into a guitar amp, the FDR-1 (left) models a ''65 Fender Deluxe Reverb, and the FBM-1 models a ''59 Fender Bassman.
Boss's new Legend Series of stompboxes are equipped with Roland's COSM modeling technology, and each one is designed to emulate the sound of a classic amp. The first two offerings in the series are the FDR-1 ($235), which models the sound of the '65 Fender Deluxe Reverb, complete with reverb and tremolo; and the FBM-1 ($235), which models the '59 Fender Bassman. Both pedals are officially licensed from Fender.
Plug and Play
The pedals are intended to be connected into the clean channel of an amplifier so that they act as the primary tone shaper. They don't have any DI capabilities, so for studio use, just plug them into your amp and mic it. I tested both the FDR-1 and FBM-1 by plugging them into my Egnater MOD50 amplifier with an extremely clean preamp setting. I tried them with a variety of guitars to get a better feel for how the pedals would react to different pickups.
The FDR-1 offers six adjustable parameters — Level, Gain, Treble, Bass, Vibrato (level), and Reverb (level) — with only four knobs. It manages this by putting two pairs of parameters, Level/Gain and Vibrato/Reverb, on dual concentric knobs.
The Level control lets you match the pedal volume to your amp, and the Gain control adds overdrive. I found that even with passive single-coil pickups, the FDR-1 started getting overdriven as soon as I turned up the gain past about 30 percent. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing, because for the bluesy and surf-style tones that the Deluxe Reverb is famous for, you want at least a little grit. But it's something to be aware of when tweaking the gain.
One very cool feature is that the footswitch doubles as a tap tempo button to set the tremolo speed. Hold down the footswitch, and the FDR-1's LED will start flashing green. At that point, tap in the desired tremolo speed on the footswitch. Then just hold down the footswitch again, the LED will revert to red, and the tremolo speed will be stored.
The FDR-1 does a good job of capturing the tone of the '65 Fender Deluxe Reverb. The overdrive can range from thin and crisp to thick and woody, just like the amp. It also sounds good with the overdrive turned down. The simulated spring reverb is also very good, lending a very realistic depth to the notes.
The yellow and brown coloration of the FBM-1 evokes the classic tweed-and-oxblood look of the Fender Bassman. The FBM-1 also comes with an extra input, labeled Bright In, to capture the multiple inputs of the original. Like its companion in the Legend Series, the FBM-1 squeezes six parameters — Presence, Middle, Bass, Treble, Level, and Gain — onto four dials by incorporating two dual concentric knobs. These concentric knobs control Presence/Middle and Level/Gain, respectively.
I found that the FBM-1 excelled at reproducing the woody tone of the Fender Bassman's overdrive (see Web Clip 1), which is richer and less twangy than that of the '65 Deluxe Reverb. The Bright In input definitely added some high end to the simulation, which I found especially useful when playing through guitars with darker humbucking pickups. The Presence control accurately modeled the negative-feedback high-end boost that you get from the presence switch on a real tube amp.
I decided to try both of these pedals using the classic overdriver-into-amp configuration: I set my Egnater amp hot, with a Marshall-type sound, so it was just starting to overdrive itself. I then used each pedal (successively) to push the tone over the edge into overdrive. I was pleasantly surprised. The FDR-1's tone shaping was still very noticeable, adding a nice compression and twang to the heavy Marshall-like tone of the amplifier (see Web Clip 2). The FBM-1 also sounded good in this application. It added a deep, rich overdrive, and when using the Bright In input, with the presence turned up, it added a nice definition to the already-breaking-up tone. Both the FDR-1 and the FBM-1 reacted well to playing dynamics, and didn't exhibit the harsh or brittle artifacts that are sometimes present in mediocre digital tube-amp simulations.
Both these pedals succeed in capturing the feel and the unique character and overdrive of the Fender amps from which they were modeled. They have enough usable gain that you'll find them suitable for far more than just twangy, bluesy tones. Although they won't give you really aggressive metal sounds, they'll definitely get you into hard rock territory.
Guitarists who are looking to add some classic Fender tones to their existing guitar rigs should give these pedals a serious look.
Value (1 through 5): 4