Build a Modular Pedalboard

Jack of All Trades: Build a Modular Pedalboard Part 2

February 23, 2018

In the first part of this series we discovered how to design a modular pedalboard that can be adapted to different gigs on the fly by swapping specialty pedals on separate modules. Now let's put that design into action in building our new pedalboard!

A Great Pedalboard Doesn't Have to Be Hard to Build

Remember, we talked about a pedalboard with two structural parts: a primary motherboard with your mainstay pedals that you need on every gig, along with your power supply, and a set of swappable modules that hold the specialty pedals you need for each style you play. It doesn't take fancy woodworking to build a practical pedalboard, in fact your motherboard can be built on a single piece of plywood. Now you can build the riser that will support your modules. The riser must be very sturdy since you'll be stomping on it thousands of times. For this reason, a couple of 4x4 blocks are a good solution, but you can customize the exact height of your riser by cutting them down to size.

Assembling Your Pedalboard

Use long deck screws to fasten them from beneath the motherboard. To prevent cracking your riser or stripping the screw holes, pre-drill each screw hole to the size of the shank on screws you're using (the inner part only without the threads). When in doubt err on the smaller side because your deck screws are self-tapping. You just need to clear enough of a hole to guide them and avoid cracking the wood. A block of paraffin wax from the hardware store makes a good coating for your screws to make them drive more easily. Just rub the threads against the wax a couple times to pick some up on the screw. Now, shoot some carpenter's wood glue into the holes in your riser block. Most of the wax will rub off as the screws are driven in, and the glue at the bottom of the hole will help lock the screw tightly in place. Go slow driving the screws and use the right size screwdriver to prevent stripping the screw heads. Be sure to install whatever kind of anchors you're using to secure the module first, before you assemble the riser. These could be T-nuts set into the bottom of the riser blocks to accept long thumbscrews from above, or carriage bolts sticking up to accept wing nuts that fasten the module from the top. Alternately, you can use some sort of window latch for quick changes.  Position the riser blocks at either end of the module section. The module board should also be made of strong plywood for durability and positive switching.

The only limits to your pedalboard design are creativity and imagination. Take your time as you build and always test fit everything before gluing or screwing parts together. Yes, it takes more time. But remember, it is a only a one-time investment.

In our next article, we'll install our fastening system and put the pedals and power supply in place. We'll also talk about inexpensive places to find gig bags to protect your new pedalboard during transport. What ideas can you invent to make your pedalboard even better? Did you think of any special features?

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