In case you’re a lot into guitar pedals and you like to explore the realm of sounds by using several such units when performing, then getting a pedalboard will make things a lot easier for you. Not to mention that it will be simpler to store and transport all of your pedals once you stick them to your pedalboard.
However, putting together a pedalboard should not be done without respecting some basic rules. From the order you need to follow when setting up the pedals to the power supply you should use, this short guide has got it all covered.
Pedalboard type and size
The first step you need to take is to count the pedals you intend to use and consider their size. This will help you choose a small, medium, or large pedalboard. A small pedalboard is ideal if you don’t use more than five standard-size pedals and you have no plans to add some more.
In case you usually go for five to ten pedals, then a medium pedalboard is needed. This size is also recommended if you now use just five pedals but plan to add a few more. A large board is required if you use more than ten pedals. Remember that you also need to leave some space between the pedals to accommodate the necessary cables.
The market now offers pedalboards that are ready for use and some stores even offer models that can be further customized according to your needs. Plus, you can always build your own board at home if you so consider. The products available for sale include simple unpowered boards as well as models with built-in power supply, power strips, and other such features.
A custom-made pedalboard will meet your specific needs more than an off-the-shelf unit yet it has a higher price tag attached. No matter the model you decide to choose, consider the durability, design, and ease of use provided.
Power supply and cables
Whether you want a pedalboard that features a power supply or you intend to buy one separately, you need to make sure it covers your voltage needs. Most pedals run on 9 volts of power but there are many models that require 12, 16, 18, or 24 volts. Therefore, check the power requirements of the pedals you use and choose the power supply accordingly.
The supply should not only deliver the voltages you need but it should also feature the necessary outputs for the all the pedals you will use. In order to avoid ground loops and unwanted interactions between your pedals, it is best to go for a power supply that comes with isolated output sections.
You also need to pay attention to the cables required for operation. It is best to opt for cables that have right-angle plugs because they are more compact than the ones with straight plugs. Plus, keep the cables as short as possible so you can enjoy the quietest signal path. You can now find cable kits that will help you make your own cables.
There is actually quite some debate regarding the pedal order on the board. There is a universal or generally-accepted/used order and then there’s an individual order based on your preferences and the way things work for you.
Although there is no right or wrong order, here are some basic guidelines that will help you chain together your pedals in an efficient and less noisy way. What goes first is the tuner since it operates better when there is no interference. Placing it first will make sure it will receive a pure signal directly from your guitar.
As a general rule, pedals designed to amplify should be placed near the front of the signal chain. Since a compressor will raise the noise of the effect that’s placed before it, it is best to place it as close to the guitar as possible.
Tone modifiers and ambience effects should come next. Thus, the effects are generally grouped into four categories. The first one includes filters, pitch shifters, and compressors or dynamic pedals. The second category includes overdrive, fuzz, distortion, and boost since they change the harmonic content created and amplify the sound you produce.
The last in this category are the EQ pedals as they are great at scooping out unwanted mids. The third category includes modulation pedals such as phasers, flangers, and chorus. These pedals should be placed after tone-producing effects because they will modify the tone created before them.
The fourth category gathers all the time-based effects such as echo, delay, and reverb pedals. For example, it is recommended to place the delay pedal at the end of the chain and not before distortion or gain pedals as they will affect each other in an unpleasant sonic way. If you also use a reverb or a tremolo pedal, then you might want that one to be the last on your chain.
As far as the tuner is regarded, most players place it first on the pedalboard as we have said before, yet there are players who prefer to place it at the end of the chain. Placing it at the head of your chain means that when you activate it, it will silence the guitar but not the pedals too. If you want complete silence between the rigs, you might want to place it last in the chain.
However, if you do place it last, you will have to turn off the distortions and effects you use before tuning. Although many players follow the above-mentioned rules, pedal order is, after all, a matter of personal preference, so it varies from musician to musician. That’s why it is important to try various orders and see which one works for you.
The great thing is that, once you’ve set up your pedalboard, you should be able to easily move things around as your goals and tone preferences change.