First Impressions: Boss FBM-1 Fender 59 Bassman Overdrive Pedal

Above all others, there’s one tweed-tone pedal that I haven’t yet tried. It might not be the very first tweed-tone pedal, but it’s certainly the earliest one that I know about. It’s a pedal that’s rumoured to have graced the boards of many successful recording and touring artists.

And finally, after years of watching them go for very high prices, I finally won one on eBay. Was it worth the wait? Or will it remain forever in the shadow of my beloved SHOD?

What Is It?

The Boss FBM-1 Fender 59 Bassman is an overdrive pedal that seeks to recreate the sought-after tones of a 1959 Fender Bassman amp. It was part of the Boss Legend Series: a line of pedals made in collaboration with Fender themselves.

As far as I can work out, it was announced at Winter NAMM 2007, and discontinued in early 2015. I haven’t found any articles explaining why it was discontinued. Did the licensing deal with Fender run out? Did it just not sell well?

If you know, please let us all know in the comments section!

All Your Bass Are Belong To Us

Running this into my Blackstar Studio 10 6L6, the very first thing I notice is just how much bass this pedal puts out. I don’t know whether or not that’s authentic, but this is very much a pedal for the bridge pickup on my Les Paul.

I’ve dialled the bass down as far as it will go, and there’s still plenty of low end in the tone. I’m having a lot of fun just noodling in the room.

I suspect it won’t record very well though.

Does The Bright Channel Help?

There are two different input sockets – Normal and Bright. I haven’t spent very long trying the Bright channel.

Yes, there’s less bass. To my ears, the bass control now also does something to the mids that doesn’t sound right to me. I don’t really understand what I’m hearing, which is why I’m struggling to explain it.

I’m going to have to spend a lot more more time with the Bright channel before I can comment further. Right now, though, I just don’t want to. Even with the extra bass, the Normal channel just sounds far better.

A Little Help From A Friend

I’ve gone back to the Normal channel, and stuck my Archer Clean pedal in front of the FBM-1. And there it is: that is a really, really nice sound.

I’m just using the buffer in the Archer Clean. The pedal itself is actually off. It’s a neat trick for cleaning up boomy or muddy pedals. I don’t know whether the buffer is reducing the low-end, or simply boosting other frequencies so that the low-end no longer dominates. Whatever it does to the EQ curve, it suits the FBM-1 really well.

It’s a thicker sound than my beloved Sweet Honey Overdrive (SHOD for short) produces. Those low-end mids from the FBM-1 sound really nice in the room. I’d say that the SHOD sounds a little clearer because it doesn’t sound quite as thick.

What About With Single-Coils?

This pedal was (at the very least) endorsed by Fender. Maybe it’s voiced for Strats and Teles?

That Bright channel sounds great with both my Telecaster and my Stratocaster. Whatever was going on with the low-mids earlier seems to suit single-coil guitars much more.

The Normal channel sounds good too with my Tele’s bridge pickup. It’s a nice option if I want a fatter Tele bridge pickup sound.

For the neck pickup, I’ve had to resort to using the buffer in the Archer Clean again. The results are promising, but every now and then a high note will come accompanied with a sharp ‘ping’. It’s probably amplifying a fret that needs a polish, or just my bad technique.

Final Thoughts

This pedal has a serious shot at being my go-to tweed-tone pedal for my Tele. It has a shot of being in the mix for soloing on my Strat’s neck pickup. I’m definitely curious to hear it recorded for both rhythm and lead duties with my Les Paul.

This pedal isn’t spectacular. It isn’t the easiest to just plug-in-and-play. I’m not sure if I’ll ever use it without pairing it with the Klon’s buffer. So why is it a keeper?

I think it must be what it feels like to play through.

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