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Using the FDR-1 Fender® ’65 Deluxe Reverb

Dial Up Classic Amp Tones with the Fender-Approved BOSS Stomp

By Peter Swiadon

FDR-1 (Photo)

The BOSS FDR-1 Fender® ’65 Deluxe Reverb pedal is a compact stompbox designed with one purpose in mind—to sound and perform exactly like a 1965 Fender Deluxe Reverb amp. Considered one of the best guitar amplifiers ever produced, it’s a mainstay of vintage gear collectors and a true classic studio and stage amp. Recreating the Deluxe in a pedal sounds like a daunting task; but in collaboration with Fender, BOSS engineers brought their “A” game and a secret weapon—the incredible COSM® technology—and nailed it.

Everything that’s in a Deluxe is in the FDR-1: the gain structure, that distinct tank reverb sound, the vibrato…everything. But don’t take our word for it—for BOSS to make this pedal, its tone and performance had to be approved by Fender. Among other things, this meant sitting in a sound room surrounded by Fender’s top tone gurus, where rumor has it that grown men cry when the sound is not up to expectations. Needless to say (but we’ll say it anyway), the FDR-1 passed the test with flying colors. So much so, in fact, that at one show where there was a side-by-side demonstration of the pedal and an actual Deluxe Reverb, the audience was hard pressed to tell which sound was which in a blind listening test.

Just like the actual amp, the BOSS FDR-1 can be used all by itself for different tones. But unlike the amp, you can also use it in combination with your own amp’s distinctive sound to make great new tones, or enhance the tones your amp already has to give it that true Fender tube sound. That said, let’s investigate just a few ways to use the FDR-1.

Using the FDR-1 as a Booster

This is a great way to get more tone from your amp. Some amps need a bit of external “oomph” to get the warm, crunchy sound that Fender amps in particular are known for. To do this, set your amp for a tone just about where it breaks up, then dial in the FDR-1 something like this:

FDR-1: Fig. 1 (Photo)

Booster settings.

You want the FDR-1 to hit the input of your amp just enough to take it over the edge, but with that Fender-y tone. Depending on the kind of pickups you have, you may need to tweak these settings a bit—maybe a little more or less gain and EQ. Experiment with the gain and output level on this one to find the sweet spot.

Using the FDR-1 as Your Main Tone Box

In this instance, you’re using the FDR-1 as if it were a physical ’65 Deluxe. Your amp, then, is more like a PA—you just want it to make the pedal’s tone bigger, but not change it. To accomplish this, set your amp up for a clean and neutral sound.

In setting the FDR-1, you have a few different ways to go. Deluxe amps have a very musical clean sound, as well as a famous crunchy distortion sound. For that classic distortion, this is a situation where there is a big benefit to using the pedal. Since an actual ’65 Deluxe doesn’t have a master volume control, you have to turn the volume up past “stun” to get this sound; with the FDR-1, the LEVEL knob acts as the master output volume control, so you can easily get this cranked-amp sound at any volume.

To get a classic Fender clean tone, set the FDR-1’s GAIN knob relatively low—nine o’clock is a good place to start—and then adjust the LEVEL knob as desired. (Don’t turn it up too high, or you might cause your amp’s input to distort, as we discussed in the booster tip.) To get a crunchy distortion, crank up the GAIN knob and turn down the LEVEL.

Authentic Fender Surf Tone

The Deluxe is definitely the go-to amp to get this classic, drenched-with-reverb tone. If you’ve seen Pulp Fiction, you know what that tone is. This is how to make it:

FDR-1: Fig. 2 (Photo)

Surf tone settings.

Some surf players like to add vibrato to this famous sound. Here’s the procedure to dial it in:

  1. Turn up the VIBRATO knob. This adjusts the volume of the vibrato effect.
  2. Press and hold the FDR-1’s pedal down for at least two seconds. This will tell the FDR-1 that you want to adjust the rate of the vibrato.
  3. At this point, there are two ways to adjust the rate: you can either tap the pedal switch at the tempo you want, or turn the VIBRATO knob while holding the switch down. The second method can be a little more precise.
  4. When you’re done, press the pedal switch for two seconds again to exit this mode.

A technical note: the Deluxe Reverb’s vibrato effect is really a tremolo effect, since it produces volume modulation and not pitch modulation. But Fender has always called it vibrato, so it’s called vibrato in the FDR-1 as well.

Swampy Southern Tone

Now that you know how to adjust the vibrato, you can dial in this vintage sound. The illustration has the reverb turned down, but it won’t hurt to add a bit if you like.

FDR-1: Fig. 3 (Photo)

Swampy Southern tone settings.

Using the FDR-1 as an Additional Channel in Your Vintage Fender Amp

The good news about vintage Fender amps (and pretty much every other tube combo amp of that era) is that they have great tone. The drawback is that they don’t have the modern feature of channel switching, so it can be tough to get a good lead tone when you have it dialed in for a great clean sound. But since the FDR-1 has that legit Fender tone down, you could easily incorporate one into your vintage rig, using it as the other channel you wish you had just by turning the pedal on or off.

Start by setting your Fender amp like this:

FDR-1: Fig. 4 (Photo)

Amp settings.

This is just a suggestion, of course. If this isn’t doing it for you, go for what works best.

Use this setting for a rhythm crunch or light distortion:

FDR-1: Fig. 5 (Photo)

Crunch rhythm settings.

And this one for a searing Fender lead tone:

FDR-1: Fig. 6 (Photo)

Lead settings.

You won’t need the FDR-1’s reverb if you’re using the ’verb in your amp, which is why it’s turned down in the illustration. If your amp doesn’t have reverb built in, you may want to turn it up some on the pedal.

Roll Your Own Tone

These are just some ideas to get you started. We know that BOSS users are wildly creative, so we invite you to experiment and come up with your own tones with the versatile FDR-1. If you create something cool, show us—make a YouTube™ video or tell us about it on the BOSS Facebook page. We love to see what you do with our gear!

Check out FDR-1 video demos and audio demos.