How to Choose a Pedal Board
By Chris Loeffler |
How To Choose A Pedal Board
No... not a paddle board ...
by Chris Loeffler
Many guitar players who want to use effects in their performances prefer the pedal stomp box format to rack units because this lets them tailor their tone in a modular way, one piece at a time. While many are happy to throw a handful of pedals or on the floor, cable them up, and go, more and more players are turning to some form of pedalboard—a dedicated platform on which they can mount their pedals.
Here are some reasons to consider creating and using a pedal board:
- You have more than a few pedals
- You are (relatively) happy with your pedals and their order
- You use a power supply to power the effects
- You want to reduce travel stress on your pedals’ input and output jacks, as well as preserve your cables
Once you’ve identified whether or not a pedalboard makes sense for you, there are a few considerations to help you identify what will best fit your needs.
DIY, COMMERCIAL, OR BOUTIQUE?
Choose one of these options carefully, as your choice will influence what you spend, and how well the pedalboard will meet your needs.
DIY. Making a pedalboard isn’t hard. At the simplest level, all you’d need is a flat surface like plywood or plexiglass and a way to mount the pedals. Creating an angled board for better visibility and foot reach is as simple as adding another piece to the back that raises up the back somewhat. The benefit is that DIY pedal boards will cost you less than commercial or custom options, the downside is that the DIY approach requires time, tools, and skill.
DIY pedal board from HC community member ChaseA17 (not the cat—the cat’s owner)
Commercial. There are over 100 different commercial pedalboards available through music retailers like Sweetwater, Guitar Center, etc. These can be as small as a three-pedal setup, or so sophisticated they look like they belong on the floor of a space shuttle, with bypass looping and a built-in power supply. Commercial pedalboards are pre-built, the mid-priced of the three options, and available in enough configurations that nearly any player should be able to find a solution that fits a particular set of needs. The only skill these boards require is mounting and wiring your pedals, and solutions vary from standard Velcro® to special ring assemblies that mount your effects through the screws. Buying a commercial board likely will cost you more than the materials to buy one yourself, and you will be confined to the available formats.
Photo of HC community member HickorySMOKES's Gator pedal board.
Custom. Go big or go home, right? Companies like Trailer Trash and West Coast Pedal Board will build a pedal board to your exact specs, including materials, effects lighting, and audio routing options—and if you provide your pedals, even mount and wire them to the board. These don’t come cheap ($300-$700, depending on how large, complicated, and blinged-out you want to go), but they come with a warranty and the knowledge that an experienced set of hands were involved in securely mounting the pedals for travel to ensure cables won’t be stressed or introduce noise. This is a great option for someone who has more money than time. and wants the best possible home for their pedals. The biggest downside to these are you are paying for essentially permanent placement—dropping pedals in and out of the board becomes arduous, and could even undo the custom work for which you paid.
Trailer Trash custom pedal board built and wired for HC community member rareguitar
As with most things in life, selecting the type of pedal board you want depends on balancing an investment of your time and money to achieve what you want. For more specific advice or to ask about your specific situation, drop in the HC Effects Forum and post your question. The forum is populated by thousands of effects experts who are always happy to talk gear!
Chris Loeffler is a multi-instrumentalist and the Content Strategist of Harmony Central. In addition to his ten years experience as an online guitar merchandiser, marketing strategist, and community director he has worked as an international exporter, website consultant and brand manager. When he’s not working he can be found playing music, geeking out on guitar pedals and amps, and brewing tasty beer.