Quality tone and a wide-array of controls for any situation - rhythm or lead
by Brian Johnston
Classic in tone with a well thought-out design will have you moving from crunch rhythm to creamy leads effortlessly. Factor in the Voicing and Tone controls and the FR 100 will work with any amp and pickup selection, whether dark and muddy or trebly and bright. If you’re looking for a solid rock machine, this may be just what you're after.
What You Need to Know
The FR 100 produces incredibly ‘classic’ sounding rock rhythm and lead. Certainly it can sound specific to any number of dirty amp channels, if used to add a bit of dirt, but its character is more translucent when working with clean amp channels. The demo accompanying this review sets the pedal on the Mid Voicing (I cover Voicing later), which matched my gear best – being more mid-rangy rather than muddy or top end trebly.
The main Drive (labeled Drive, as opposed to ‘Lead’ for the second channel) has a chunky dirt sound with the knob placed between 10 and 12 o’clock. Dialed back and the Drive is far more modest and cleans up very well; crank it up past 12 noon and it takes on a distortion quality.
The second drive section (Lead) stacks with the first Drive. It adds some creamy saturation, remains very clear in the mix and while being slightly louder (a boost of 3-6dB to my ears) than the main Drive section. On its own it sounds very weak, but is meant to push the Drive section harder. You can adjust the loudness of the Lead channel by changing its settings under the chassis, although I find Foxrox dialed this in quite well and I never bothered to experiment.
Although there are different combinations of Drive and Lead possible, a simple way to dial in quickly is to set the two controls the same, e.g., 12 noon. Dave Fox, the FR 100 designer and engineer, suggests for basic rock rhythm and lead to set both controls at 2 o’clock and tweak from there. Certainly if you want a bit more or less gain that recommendation would change, but I used the 2 o’clock position for much of the demo when playing a few compositions.
The Tone knob has a decent range, although nothing excessive, e.g., no heavy booming bottom end or shrill/biting top end. Some of the gear used in the demo is a bit dark with humbucker guitars; although the guitars are very mid-range in output, the Tone setting sounded best around the 2-3 o’clock range. The sound still was fine with the Tone at 12 noon (a good starting point to discover an appropriate EQ), but I tend to prefer a higher-tone pitch. Regardless, there definitely is value in dialing in more bass and using the Low Voicing when working with bright Stratocasters, an AC30 amp, etc.
For most guitars and gear not overly dark or bright, any of the Voicings will work, depending on the sound you’re after. The Mid position is the pedal’s natural sound without any additional tone shaping, while the Low position thickens and warms, whereas the High setting tightens the low end and adds resonance to the mids. The Low position works well for bright or thin-sounding gear and the High setting is ideal for dark-sounding gear. That makes sense, however, if you want a heavy sound for some psychedelic rock the Low setting certainly has its place; and if you want an edgier tone that cuts through the mix better, then the High setting may be your cup of tea. Overall, there’s a lot of experimental enjoyment ahead with the FR 100 since there’s so much possible tone sculpting.
The FR 100 measures 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. It has a rugged steel chassis (635g or 1.4 pounds) powder-coated yellow with black writing. The bottom footswitch (Drive) has a solid click when engaged or disengaged, although silent with no popping in the signal. The top footswitch (Lead) is a silent soft-switch, thus making it easy to turn on and off without having to step heavily. The Lead footswitch sits higher than the other controls, and so there are no concerns about knob damage. The pots for Volume, Tone, Drive and Lead feel very solid and smooth when turned. The Voice toggle switch has a solid click when flipped and is protected by its own metal housing.
The input, output and power insert all are located in the back, to prevent any possible cord damage and to save pedalboard real estate. 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.
The FR 100 by Foxrox deserves two-thumbs up – it sounds great with clean channels, but when turned low it really makes a dirty channel sparkle and shine. The FR may be slightly larger than the average pedal, although not by much, but its layout still is a space saver. Most other pedals in its category (two footswitch design) tend to have their footswitches parallel or next to one another (thereby taking up the space of two pedals in most instances). Consequently, the only drawbacks to the FR 100 may be its modestly larger size or that you may not like the sound of the drive – or that it is low to moderate gain and is not something used for modern or uber metal. In regard to that last point, there is a huge amount of heavy crunchy gain when both Drive and Lead are on and when playing rhythm in the lower register; this surprised me, since the FR 100 is described as being a moderate-gain pedal. Check out the demo, as I play a few riffs with both Drive and Lead engaged and it sounds pretty huge.
What makes a great overdrive is one that allows extensive tonal flexibility, to best match your gear, but also being able to work rhythm and lead (or lower-gain + higher-gain rhythm) without having to bend forward and tweak any knobs. The FR 100 merges two drives incredibly well, as the Lead boosts the main Drive just enough – although this can be adjusted under the hood. And although the Tone with Voicing can vary considerably, there is an unmistakable classic crunch and lead sound that sings through the mix. Whether working with a clean channel or used to help push a dirty channel that extra bit, the FR 100 sounds fantastic and certainly is not as well known as it should be. If you're looking for an all-purpose overdrive, the FR 100 is a worthy consideration. -HC-
Foxrox Electronics – FR 100 ($199 USD)
Foxrox Electronics website - https://www.foxroxelectronics.com/FR100overdrive.html
You can purchase the FR 100 direct from Foxrox Electronics, or from Prymaxe in the USA: https://www.prymaxe.com/collections/effects/foxrox-electronics and Axe and You Shall Receive in Canada: https://www.axeandyoushallreceive.com/brands/foxrox-electronics
YouTube Demo Video:
Brian Johnston is a Fitness Clinician in Ontario, Canada. His hobby is music composition and playing various instruments, as well as working with and reviewing gear that he likes. His YouTube channel is CoolGuitarGear.