You’re a guitarist with a tonal range as wide as the great blue sky. You’re ready for your next gig, but have eleven different pedals that all require their own power source and connection to your amp.
You could just splay them all out on the floor in front of you, like an army converging on its enemy. Or, you could take the more professional—and extremely more convenient—approach.
Making a pedal board is a game of strategy and high-level engineering. Yet, once you have everything in place, you will wield a command over your sound that is second to none.
We’ve decided to put together three major considerations in building your own DIY pedal board. While each pedal board project has its own challenges, these basic guidelines will get you on the path to mastering and controlling your dynamic sound for all the gigs you take on. Happy playing!
One of the most important considerations when building a pedal board is configuration. Here, it’s important to be honest about which effects you use the most of, and to plan the placement of those pedals accordingly.
For instance, distortion is one of the most common sounds guitarists use, so in many cases you’ll see these pedals placed closest to the guitarist’s feet. Effects that are either rarely used, or are left on or off for long periods of time, can and should be placed further away.
You’ll also need to build the actual board your pedals are adhered to, so it’s good practice to lay them out ahead of actually building the structure. This will give you both a sense of size and placement ahead of starting to cut whatever material you decide to use for your pedal board.
You’re going to want to have a reliable and sufficient power source for all your pedals. Something like a T-Rex Fuel Tank has a ton of juice and bandwidth for a large number of pedals—note, it’s always a good idea to design your pedal board with extra power bandwidth for expansion later on.
You will also want to build and configure your pedal board in a way that makes sense in terms of powering all your pedals. Oftentimes, you will see guitarists have built a board that allows for wires to be run underneath the pedals, to give a clean presentation and cut down on fighting the many cables you’ll need to make the whole setup work.
Once you’ve figured out how you will power and design the pedal board, you’ll then need the right wiring. Perhaps the most valuable accessories on the market for this are multi-input splitters, which allow for power to come from one source into several pedals. This will simplify your setup, and leave it cleaner and easier to manage when changes need to be made.
Stick It On
You have all the pedals you love, but your sound might change over time. DO NOT make the mistake of permanently adhering your pedals to the board.
One of the most popular solutions to this problem is using velcro. A material that can be used almost endlessly for years to come, you simply just adhere a strip of the sticky side to the pedal, and cover the entire board with the base. This means that later on, you’ll be able to change out pedals, without fear of losing them during a gig.
When it comes to setting up a pedal board, each guitarist has their own needs and desires. This is a great opportunity to explore how you want to sound, and how you want to design the operation of your playing live. Above all, make it work for you—pay close attention to how much you want to move around as you switch on sounds, and place your pedals in the way your own personal playing style will allow.