September 02, 2019

Whether you are starting from scratch or re-working the order and layout, building pedalboards is a regular part of life for the gigging guitarist. Sometimes these building sessions can be filled with a lot of frustration. In this article, we’ll offer up our favorite tips to ensure that your next pedalboard building session goes off without a hitch. Most of these tips assume that you already have a pedalboard and several pedals…if you want some more tips on starting from scratch, let us know in the comments section. Here we go…

  1. BLANK SLATE: If you’re starting from scratch then you have a leg up on this one. But if you’re reworking your pedalboard it’s a good idea to take EVERYTHING off your board and start with an empty pedalboard. Don’t leave any pedals, cables or power supplies on the board…START OVER.
  1. DRAW IT OUT: A simple but useful idea: draw a diagram to plot where pedals, cables, and power supplies will be placed on your pedalboard. You can take it a step further and cut out pieces of paper measured to be the same size as your pedals. This will give you a rough visual of how much space each pedal will take up and how you can maximize the space on your board. If you don’t want to go to that much trouble you can try the next tip…
  1. COVER THE VELCRO: Whether you use Velcro or dual lock it’s a pain having to constantly remove pedals from the board. So take a cue from Daniel Steinhardt of “That Pedal Show” fame and cover your Velcro with sheets of paper or thin cardboard. The smooth surface makes for easy placement and movement…no excessive force required! 
  1. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS: We are big advocates of tracking progress in some way as you build rigs (guitar, bass, AND pro audio). Everyone with a smart phone has a great quality camera on-board and using it to take photos of how your build progresses can come in handy should you need to troubleshoot. If you’ve already drawn a diagram of your rig, that’s great too! It’s never a bad idea to know have a reminder of where you started.
  1. POWER IS IMPORTANT: Up until now we’ve tried to give you practical tips. But this is one of the BIG mistakes many guitarists make when it comes to their pedalboards. PROPER POWER makes all the difference in getting your pedals to work properly and sound great! Take the time to look up how much power your pedals need to operate, or “draw”. This is usually noted in milliamps, abbreviated mA, and can usually be found in the User’s Manual or on the pedal company’s website. You might be surprised to find that you’ve been using a woefully underpowered power supply! It is possible that you’ll need to spend a good amount of money at this stage but it will be a worthwhile investment that should keep you happy for years to come!
  1. CABLES OF ALL SIZES: Thanks to the plethora of solder-less kits available, it’s easier than ever to make your own patch cables. But if you prefer soldered cables, or don’t know how to solder your own cables, take the time to plot your pedals, measure the length from the Output to Input and then go shop for cables. It’s also a good idea to account for some slack in your cables too. Once you have all the lengths figured out, choose from any number of options available!

 Hopefully these tips will help you anytime you find yourself backed into a corner while building your next pedalboard. And remember, all of this should be fun! So if it ever stops being fun, take a break and come back to it later. You pedalboard will still be there in the morning.




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