The FR 100 is a very impressive OD, in both rhythm and lead modes, both of which sound very classic. Other drives have different flavors, but the FR 100 sounds seemingly ubiquitous to my ears. The demo that accompanies this review has the pedal set on the Mid Voicing, which is the pedal’s standard setting (without additional tone sculpting). However, the Low and High settings (demoed briefly as well) sound just as good in their own ways and could have been selected. Voicing descriptions are found in the section on General Use, but are straight-forward (Low for more darkness and High for more brightness). The main Drive has a chunky tone with a beefy grain, although dialed back it sounds modest and up full it has a heavy distortion quality. The Lead (drive #2) increases the amount of gain and creamy saturation, but it remains very clear and defined (no mud). I find the volume increase with the Lead to be spot-on… just a bit louder than the main rhythm Drive. The Tone knob has a good range, but with my gear (preamps a bit on the dark side with humbucker guitars) I preferred it around the 2-3 o’clock area. However, I could see how more bass in the tone, along with the Low Voicing would work wonders for an overly bright Stratocaster.
Gain/drive varies considerably, although Dave Fox, the pedal’s creator suggests a sweet spot of having both the Drive and Lead around 2-o’clock. I like a good Rock sound, whether playing rhythm or lead, and so those settings tend to be rather appropriate for the most part. The Lead is a bit louder when added, perhaps 3-5dB to my ears, but can be adjusted under the hood to be softer or louder. More or less intense music would see the two knobs change accordingly. On that note, there may be a desire for a softer rhythm sound and a higher-gain and creamy lead tone, which would have the two controls positioned differently and not necessarily at the same positions. The Volume and Tone should be around 12-noon and then tweaked from there. The Tone has a very good range, but it will function best in coordination with your gear and also the chosen Voicing of the FR 100. Any of the Voicings can work, depending on what you want, but the Mid position is the pedal’s natural sound without any additional tone shaping. The Low position fattens the low end, thus making it warmer – this setting is ideal for small amps or amps/pickups that are bright. The High setting tightens the low end and adds resonance in the mids – this setting is ideal for dark amps/pickups or if you want an edgier tone for cutting through the mix. With all that in mind, the Tone knob further fine-tunes the outcome of the chosen Voice. Lots with which to experiment!
Measuring 122mm(D) × 76mm (W) × 72mm (H at its highest point of the lead footswitch) or 4.8 (D) x 3.0 (W) x 2.85 (H) inches, the FR-100 has tank-like quality. The yellow powder-coated chassis (with black writing) must be made of steel due to its heft of 635g (1.4 pounds). The bottom footswitch (Drive 1) has a solid click when engaging and disengaging the pedal, although no popping in the signal. The top Lead footswitch (Drive 2) is a soft-switch, thus making it easy to turn on and off with a light touch. Both are far removed from any controls (footswitch one is set back plenty and footswitch 2 sits higher than any of the controls. The four plastic knobs (Volume, Drive, Lead and Tone) are of standard and good plastic quality, and the pots feel very solid and smooth when turned. The Voice toggle switch is solid during operation and protected by its own metal casing. Only the tip of the toggle switch is accessible, making for a ‘fingertip’ grip, but typically once in place (to accommodate your tone) it will stay there. The input, output and power insert all are located in the back, away from a stomping foot and to save pedalboard space. The FR 100 works on a 9V battery or a 9VDC standard power supply (negative tip), operating at either 9v or 18v while utilizing only 24mA of power.
One of the best sounding and diverse overdrives I’ve tried (and I did so with various guitars and amps/preamps), the FR-100 is extremely flexible; you can establish a base tone with the Voice switch (with fatter lows, tighter lows, more pronounced mids, etc.) and then fine-tune the Tone further for your signature sound. The quality and sound of the two drives are very classic and in many ways universal, in that it would work for a majority of guitarists. The main Drive is crunchy and chunky, whereas the Lead adds more saturation for that creamy experience filled with harmonics and note definition. Built-tough, the FR 100 also was designed to save space. Typically a two-switch pedal would have the switches side-by-side, making for a wider pedal. The FR 100 has a ‘stacked’ designed with the Lead switch at top – easy access, a noiseless soft-switch for quick action and tall enough to prevent any stomping on the other controls. All inputs and output are located in the back, thereby keeping the pedal stream-lined. For an extensive discussion on the FR 100’s circuit and internal guts, refer to Foxrox Electronic’s website: https://www.foxroxelectronics.com/FR100overdrive.html