Sound — 7
Just like with my recent Boss Fender Bassman pedal review, I must state that Fender amps have never been a part of my setup. The Deluxe Reverb and Twin are the king for clean tones, but I am not a big fan of their distorted tones. With the Drive set pretty low, you've got the quintessential Fender tone: bright, crisp and clear, with just a bit of hair on it when you dig in. Turning the Gain knob up gets you into the Fender classic rock tone -- saturated, edgy and thin. I prefer a thicker, more Marshall/Bogner distorted tone, but Fender lovers will feel right at home. The vibrato, as mentioned before, was a bit difficult to use, but can do anything from a slow, subtle sweep to a chaotic stutter. The reverb was a pretty good approximation of spring reverb that sounded best when used sparingly. Any setting above 12 o'clock drowned the tone in a wash of ambience.
Overall Impression — 7
I don't think the FDR-1 is something I would incorporate into my Live setup, but it would be great to beef up a lackluster clean tone, or to Drive the front end of your tube amp harder. Even if you already have gobs of gain, hitting it with a bit harder signal will make it brighter and more responsive. It would also be useful in the studio for an instant clean tone without having to wheel out an 80+ pound amp. For blues and classic rock players looking for that classic Fender tone, Boss has come up with a clear winner.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Boss effect pedals haven't changed much in 30 years or so, and with good reason -- they never break! Boss is smart enough to know a good thing when they have it, and their pedals are legendary for being able to take tons of abuse and keep working without a whimper.
Ease of Use — 7
The Boss Fender Deluxe Reverb pedal is laid out pretty simply: Level and Gain on a concentric pot, Treble, Bass, then Vibrato and Reverb on another concentric pot. The Vibrato control is for depth only. The only way to control vibrato speed is with the Tap function: hold the foot switch down for 2 seconds to enter Tap mode, tap in the vibrato speed, then hold it down for two more seconds to lock in the speed. It adds some versatility to the pedal, but I found the programming cumbersome. You're talking about several seconds of playing with the footswitch to get your speed set. For stage use, I want to be able to do as much with only one tap of my foot as possible. I think I would have put a vibrato speed knob on another pot at the top of the unit with the others.