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Make your own custom pedalboard with these cool modular units

 

One thing's for sure - guitarists (and bass players) love pedals. There's literally millions of stomp box effects floating around out there, with new ones being released practically on a daily basis. They give us a huge variety of sounds - colors for our musical palette - and because of that, it's fairly rare to find a player who hasn't collected at least a handful of them. Once your setup expands beyond more than a couple of pedals, it's time to start thinking about putting together a pedalboard. A good pedalboard can keep your effects ready to go without the constant setup hassles. The first step is to lay out your essential pedals and get an idea of how much space you're going to need and how large of a pedalboard to buy, but what if you want to add something else to your rig later? With most pedalboards, once you've used all the available space you're stuck choosing between not adding the cool new pedal, swapping out another pedal to make room for it, or ditching your current board and buying something larger. Digital Audio Labs has come up with a rather interesting solution to this dilemma with their Stompblox Modular Pedalboards. Let's take a look at what makes them unique.  

StompBlox Pedalboard package contents

 

What You Need To Know

  • The Stompblox modular pedalboard line currently consists of three products; Stompblox, Stompblox Extend and the Stompblox Riser. All three are made from metal and heavily powder-coated in black. These modules use tabs and slots built into the units themselves, as well as a few strategically located permanently attached thumb screws to hold and lock everything in place while allowing you the freedom to expand the size of your board whenever you need to. The modular design also allows you to customize the layout of your board, and to change it at will.

StompBlox layouts

 

  • The 12.5" W x 8.5" D x 2" H Stompblox unit is the main building block of the system. The height of the rear of the unit can be elevated to 3" so that the board sits angled instead of flat. As you can see from the images, the deck area of the Stompblox has lots of regularly spaced cutouts. Not only does this reduce weight, but it also provides plenty of places to route your wiring beneath the deck of the unit. Flipping the StompBlox over, you'll notice that beneath those holes in the deck are tabs, and those tabs also have slots machined into them that serve as built-in anchor points for your cable ties.


StompBlox underside
 

  • Stompblox Extend is designed to attach to the rear of any Stompblox unit. It also measures 12.5" wide, and extends the depth of the Stompblox board by another 4.75" when attached. Unlike the open bottom design of the Stompblox, it has a heavily slotted bottom tray and removable top tray; this allows you to mount power supplies and other items inside. One internal thumb screw that remains attached to the unit is included for connecting to modules to the side of the Stompblox Extend, while two large removable screws at the rear hold the top plate in place.


StompBlox Extend top front

StompBlox Extend side viewStompBlox Extend with top plate removed and power supply inside

 

  • Stompblox Riser is a 2" H x 4" W x 6" L modular riser for raising pedals above the surface of the Stompblox. They can be snapped into any of six different positions on a Stompblox, and up to three Stompblox Risers can fit on one Stompblox. As with the Stompblox and Stompblox Extend, there are pass-through holes on each surface for your cable routing.


Stompblox RiserRiser mounted on StompBlox

  • Digital Audio Labs thoughtfully includes accessories with the various units to help you complete your board. No, they don't include any pedals or a power supply - you'll need to provide those yourself, but they do give you a decent amount of hook and loop (velcro) material to use for mounting your pedals to your pedalboard, as well as mounting brackets, zip ties and hardware for mounting a power supply inside the StompBlox Extend, and extension support "feet" that allow you to angle the deck of your board a bit more if you prefer.


StompBlox with feet extended

  • Each StompBlox unit also includes a nice heavy-duty bag for storing and transporting the board, with a large and handy second pouch for storing your cables in. Even better, two of the bags can be fully unzipped, laid out flat, and then zipped together to form a larger bag that is approximately 13.5" x 26", which is large enough to fit a pair of StompBlox boards with StompBlox Extend units attached to each of them inside.



Limitations

  • The StompBlox Risers allow you to raise individual pedals, but there is no way to set up a two tiered pedalboard that allows you to place pedals partially under the tier with the StompBlox Riser units. However,  you can use three Risers to create a second level across the entire rear half of a StompBlox unit. The underside of a traditional open-front second tier is typically used for cable routing, power supplies, direct boxes, buffers and other items you typically don't need to access while playing, and the design of the Stompblox products easily accommodates those sorts of items; all three Stompblox units have plenty of room for "under the deck" audio and power cable routing, and the Stompblox Extend has enough space inside for power supplies, direct boxes and other bulky items that you need, but want to hide out of the way.



Conclusion

The StompBlox modular pedalboard products represent a really cool idea that I think a lot of musicians will appreciate. Even better, that idea has been well-implemented; it's obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the products, from the ease of assembling the modules to the pass-throughs and anchor points for cables, built-in adjustable feet, flat or angled deck capabilities and thumb screws that remain attached so that you don't lose them. The machining is also first rate. Everything fits together easily and with precision. I also appreciate how the edges are all well rounded, with no sharp corners to cut yourself on.

Being able to adapt your board to suit your needs is a game-changer. With a Stompblox board players will no longer have to start all over with a new, larger board once they have outgrown their current one. Instead of losing money when you sell your old, used one, your StompBlox board can simply be expanded. Change your mind about how you want to arrange the modules? Unlike a traditional custom-built board you can reconfigure the layout and shape at will, going from a basic rectangular board to a U or an L shaped one as your needs and preferences dictate. The adaptability of the StompBlox system means that you can adjust your board to suit the gig on a case by case basis. Need to take a smaller board to a gig with a tightly cramped stage? Just remove a Stompblox module or two with the essential pedals from your larger board and take that with you. Solidly built, with unprecedented flexibility, StompBlox boards are a real winner, and bound to be very popular with players everywhere.

 

Resources

Stopblox $59.99 MSRP, Stompblox Extend $34.99 MSRP, Stompblox Riser $9.99 MSRP (available direct from Digital Audio Labs)

Digital Audio Labs product web page

StompBlox website

 


Want to discuss effects pedals and share pedalboard setup and signal chain tips with your fellow musicians? Be sure to check out the Effects Forum right here on Harmony Central!


Phil O'KeefePhil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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