So, finally I gave in and ordered the 17” wide PEDALTRAIN Junior with the ATA Flight Case. I just cannot be happier now! Compared to the sloppy and bulky pedal board I had before this is major improvement, guys!
So much more that now I even have the Voodoo power supply mounted underneath the PEDALTRAIN Pedal Board in such an elegant way that each of my pedals receive individual 9v DC feed, including my line6 DL4 that needs the 18v supply.
I also added an output jack, by drilling the frame myself and using a deep panel 1/4” jack, since the end of my pedal chain is the DL4 and it would have been a cumbersome connection if I would have use the pedal’s output jack.
In conlcusion the PEDALTRAIN Pedal Board gives a very elegant way of arranging and routing your pedals. Not to mention that it comes with a solid built ATA Flight Case that protects it during transport.
Pictures included here:
PEDALTRAIN Bottom (see the VodooLab Pedal Power 2+):
PEDALTRAIN Outputs. See the 1/4” jack I mounted by drilling the frame:
PEDALTRAIN outputs again:
PEDALTRAIN side view:
So why is there a “SHOULD” in arranging the pedals succession on a guitar pedal board? After all tone is so subjective, no? Well, yes and no. It really comes down to preserving the tone identity of what each pedal can do. Having a not well thought arrangement can choke the life out of your pedals. Here is a guide that seems to be followed commonly by guitar pedal board designers and guitar players:
1. Tuners. Seems logical to place the tuner in the first place in your FX chain since you want unprocessed signal to go in it for correct reading.
2. Filters. It would make sense to add these (envelope filters, auto wah, wah pedals, etc.) at this spot. Any dynamically controlled filters are triggered by the signal attack so it would make logical sense to add them as early as possible in the chain so they aren’t limited by other effects.
3. Compressors. Notorious for noise level increase, compressors should also go as early as possible in the signal paths.
4. Overdrive. Since the overdrive pedals are generating overtones (harmonics), they should be placed here. Don’t feed overdrive pedals with modulated signals since they can easily clash with the harmonics. Unless you are in for some really wacky tone.
5. Modulation. It is time to add your flangers, phasers, choruses and tremolo pedals here. They breathe the best here in relationship with the overdrives/distortion pedals ahead of them.
6. Volume. Again, the logical place for a volume pedal, since it won’t alter the signal level entering the overdrive pedals maintaining this way the fully affected tone. Also will let the delay finish its job (delay-ing) when the volume pedal is minimized.
7. Reverbs & Delays. They are the last pedals in the chain since they are hard to tame if placed before overdrives – they can produce spikes in the effect level and upset the overdrives.
This is how I have my pedals ordered on my cool Pedaltrain Junior platform. Following this pedal ordering you can get a decent tone out of your guitar pedal board.
There are several how-tos and tips to keep in mind when you actually hook your pedals. Pete Cornish the guitar pedal board guru gives us some precious routing tips as well as what types of pedals should go in front of what, etc.
He designed the guitar pedal board of some notorious guitar players like Pete Townshend (The Who), Judas Priest, The Police, Dire Straits, Queen, Paul McCartney, Bryan Adams, Lou Reed, Sting, Pink Floyd, Jimmy Page, Black Sabbath, Roxy Music.
True Bypass No-No?
Does this go against all the whole marketing buzz word that pedal manufacturers are using to sell their pedals? What is Pete’s Case here? Well, he states that:
“Take for instance a 15 ft guitar cable linked to ten pedals, each linked by a 2 ft cable, and then onto the amp by a 30 ft cable. If all pedals have “true bypass”, and are off, then the total cable length hanging on the guitar output will be 63 ft. This will cause a huge loss of tone and signal level particularly if the guitar is a vintage type with low output and high impedance. The amp volume is then turned up and the treble control increased to compensate for the losses.”
Whacky, huh? Never thought of this before.
First of all, you really have to think how many of the pedals in your collection will you REALLY use. I used to have all my pedals on a huge board and after gigging with them for a while I realized that I am not even using half of them.So I was dragging this huge and heavy guitar pedal board with me but not using it efficiently.
You are probably aware by now going through your set at practice what pedals are most used and which aren’t at all.
It takes some courage to un-mount the ones you don’t use because you always have that question of “What if I needed…?”
Relax! If you didn’t use it in the last 6 months, chances are that you will NOT use it in the years to come.
Once you have a good idea of the pedals you WILL use, lay them down in a configuration that you like, doesn’t matter if you aren’t sure of the logical layout yet. We will need to find the approximate size of board needed for them. Make sure you leave about 1” at least between them for the 1/4” and power connectors. Be stingy with space. It is a valuable asset in designing your guitar pedal board.
Once you have that down, There are several options out there for boards. Keep in mind that the actual board quality, will give you the foundation for a road-worthy guitar pedal board.
I started off with a 3/8” ply wood, covered with runner carped, with aluminum edges a bling-bling gold corners. All made of cheap materials from one visit to my hardware store. The runners carpet played the role of a Velcro (the softer side) and I used the rougher side of self adhesive Velcro to secure my pedals into place.
Not a bad solution for a beginner. But one of the very first weaknesses I discovered almost immediately after the first gig was that the board didn’t have a carrying case, so I managed to break off a pedal knob somehow during transport. Not fun.
Another weakness I discovered was the fact that the board was flat (DUH!). I had no problem whatsoever stomping on the front row pedals. But I had to tip-toe on the ones behind them. Again not fun. I would have been nice if the board had some sort of elevated angle design so I can easily stomp on the back-row pedals without obstruction.
That’s when I decided that I will start searching for a solution for a board of some sort that has these two important facts down. And there are several answers out there you will have to filter through. Since pedals are so personal, depending on what you already have, if you are a touring artist or only a week-end gig player (like me), it really comes down to the flexibility one board can offer.
In my searches I discovered the Pedaltrain guitar pedal board frames. Very light, made of aluminum alloy tubing, they come in several different sizes, have the elevated angle design, and have the option of a soft or hard carrying case. They do come with the Velcro material included to secure your guitar effects to your heart’s delight.
The feature that I like the most is that I can mount (with no cutting needed) the pedal power supply underneath the board freeing this way some precious space on the board surface.
Having said this, I never regret not using my previous bulky board anymore since this puppy meets my strong(s) of a guitar pedal board I was after:
· Elevated angle design
· Carrying case
And heck it looks so sexy on stage!
What more do I need! Ah yes… the pedals. On that subject I will post later.
If you are a guitar player chances are that you went through a time when your effect pedals were flying all over the floor in a pathetic disarray of ¼” connectors, 9v power supply cables, etc. to a point when nobody could easily distinguish where is the input or the output.
Things would complicate if you would decide to go out gigging with this chaotic pedal setup. Your aspiring band starts pulling off a gig here and there with probably 2-3 song sets at first among other beginner bands waiting in line to step up. Setup time is limited to probably 5-10 minute so you frantically try to arrange your pedals hoping to match the previous configuration you had at practice time. With some luck, things click, but so many times you discover that you forgot two of the ¼” cables at home, or one of the pedal’s battery is dead, or one of the inter-connect cables has short, etc.
That’s when you decide to run out to the hardware store and buys the cheapest piece of plywood board, you cut it to an arbitrary dimension and literally glue (or in the best scenario, tie-wrap) to secure your expensive pedals to the board.
Definitely a better method than the one before, but still, there are so many weaknesses in this configuration you didn’t think of like accidentally knocking off some of the pedal knobs during transport or the impossibility of re-arranging your ever growing numbers of guitar pedal arsenal since all of the initial ones were secured to the board Mom’s glue gun or worst with Krazy Glue.
And of course by this time, you realize that it is time to save for a serious pedal board, custom made, to fit the multitude of effects acquired by this time. But where to turn to? Who to go to? There seems to be such an intimidating plethora of guitar pedal boards manufacturers that poor guitar-Joe feels like an ant in a world of elephants.
I went through these times, and I’ve learned some facts and key features to look for in a guitar pedal board that would suit your need. I’ll try to talk about these in this blog in the days to come.