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How to build a pedalboard, part 6: Call your dad

Kategori: Guitar Effects, How To Build a Pedalboard

Ok, so your board design is perfect and you've got pedals, power supply and cables. Then all you need to do is build the pedalboard of your dreams. Which of course sounds much easier than it is, at least for some of us. I myself didn't really shine on the lessons in school where you were about to craft something. Fortunately, I knew someone who did - my dad, who nowadays works as a blacksmith. So I discussed my design with him and asked him to help me out turning it from paper to reality. Good for me, he did. Chances are that you also know someone who can help you out building your pedalboard and that you can return the favor in some other way. Or you can of course try on your own, but this isn't as easy as IKEA furniture (as if their stuff would be easy to piece together, I've used my fair share of foul language screwing together their shelves and chairs). But what I'd like to emphasize is that you make sure that your pedalboard is quality crafted and not carelessly put together in a quarter or two. Make sure that the job is done decently so that your great design also turns out great in reality. And if you encounter problems, think them through before you solve them. The best is if you can get feedback on your design before the building begins, because then you will realize if there's something mising or if your design is impossible to pull off. Don't rush, take your time and do a proper job. You will thank yourself, and the one who eventually assists you, later.
 
When the board is built there's only one thing left to do - hook up your pedals so they won't easily come off. When properly mounted you won't be afraid of pedals loosening from the board when it's transported from one place to another. What you is velcro tape. It's reliable, often pretty cheap and if you can't get hold of it in your local area it's easy to find on the Internet. The velcro tape is comprised of two parts: one that feels a bit fuzzy an one that's rougher on the surface. Fasten the fuzzy one on the pedalboard and the rough one under your pedal. Why, you might ask? Because most fabric made pedalboards has the fuzzy side on them, so if you want the oppurtunity to switch board to one of those it will be easy. Make sure to put the velcro tape exactly where you want it on the pedal, so it fits with your design. It's also beneficial if it doesn't get in the way of any screws that might be needed to open up the pedal if you want to change the battery. When this is done, fasten your pedals to the board, connect them to your power source and hook them together with cables. Connect your guitar and amp and enjoy the sound that comes out of your rig. And if it would be noise coming out, try to find what's wrong and try again. A good pedalboard is a way to get more artistic freedom byadding more colours to your palette of sounds that you need to paint your masterpiece.
 
My own pedalboard is made up of three different boards (yes, I own a lot of pedals) that goes into three different amps. This is of course a monster rig which I cannot bring to small club gigs. So when these events comes up I get the most essential pedals for a gig and fasten them on another, smaller board which I use exclusively for live situations. When I come home I move them back to my home rig, which I use for recording and writing. This works pretty well for me, hopefully you'll find a way that will work out good for you.
 
 
 

How to build a pedalboard, part 5: Measure, Plan and Design

Kategori: Guitar Effects, How To Build a Pedalboard

Once you've got all the pedals that you want on your pedalboard it's time to measure their dimensions. Because when you know how big each pedal is you also know how big your pedalboard needs to become. So get that ruler in your hand and write down on a piece of paper how big every pedal is, height and length. When this is done the planning part begins.
 
Think of the order of the pedals and try to put them as close to each other as possible to avoid long cables running back and forth across the board. And don't forget about the power supply inputs, those little plugs also takes up space and can sometimes get in the way of your plans. Draw your layout on a paper (I like to use lined paper, the once you use on the math class in school, and think of one square as 1x1 cm) and do it with great accuracy so you won't get any nasty surprises later on. I like a setup where small pedals is fitted in two rows and bigger pedals, like a wah-wah, takes up two rows by itself. I also like the idea of an angled pedalboard for several reasons - its easier to reach the pedals on the upper row and if it's angled enough you can put the power supply under the board, which saves space for other units. Sometimes it can also be beneficial to put one pedal vertical instead of the classic horizontal look, it can really save you some space. Play a little game of Tetris with your pedals and you will hopefully find your ultimate layout. Just make sure that the switches on every pedal is easy to hit, so it won't get hard to turn on and off effects.
 
Then there's the material issue. You would want a pedal board that can take a hit without breaking but on the other hand it's nice if it isn't too heavy. It's good if your board is easy to transport, but it's also good if it can last for some gigs (or preferrably, world tours). I've seen both wooden pedal boards and those made of steel. Make sure that you settle on a material that's well suited for you because once you do, there's no way back. 
 
Another feature that is great when you want a tidy, functional pedalboard is to leave some space for cords and cables to go under the board. This way you won't have a spiderweb of cables on the board, which could get in the way of the switches or unplug some pedal in the middle of a song. When I designed my pedalboard I built it around several bars with a few centimeters distance. This way I could fit all pedals on the bars, hook them up with velcro tape and have much space under the board where I could drag the cables and place the power supply.
 
There are of course a lot of pedalboards on the market, some with their own power supply (I would avoid these, it's always better to use exactly the power supply that you want), some angled, some with a softcase and some with a flightcase. These boards comes with certain measurements and if some of these would fit yor pedals - great. Chances are, however, that they won't be the best solution for your effect pedals. If you don't want or can build a board yourself, look up a maker of pedalboards. This is often an expensive deal but you can get your board customized just (well, at least almost) as you want it. But if you've got the oppurtunity to build yourself, or with the assistance of a friend, draw a design and get started. Your own imagination is the only limit. You can make a curved board, you can make a board with an extra level for one pedal that maybe needs a bit more space or you can make several boards and tie them together. Take it step by step: measure, plan and design. And start all over again if you're not satisfied with what you come up with.
 
Here are the design that I wrote for my three pedalboards, and under them are some inspiration for you:
 

How to build a pedalboard, part 4: Cables

Kategori: Guitar Effects, How To Build a Pedalboard

Something that most people tend to forget is how important a good cable is. A quality cable won't make your tone loss any frequency and will let your guitar rig shine. And if you've invested a lot of money on your guitar, amp and pedals you wouldn't want a cable to drag you down, right? 
 
Another issue when it comes to cables is the length of them. The longer cable, the larger is the risk of tone loss along the way from your guitar to your amp. This is why you shouldn't have excessively long cables between your pedals. Try to arrange your effect pedals in an order so that you can use as short cables between them as possible. To make the distance as short between them as possible, use angled plugs in their input and output jacks. Then you can make up your mind on which brand of cables to use. Some manufactuerers has pedal board friendly solutions, selling you a cable that you can cut yourself, and plugs to fit with it. Lava Cable is a great choice, so is George L's cables. Two other companies that are famous for their high quality cables and have pedal board kits is Planet Waves and Evidence Audio. Some of these companies even makes cables in several different colors, which can be nice when you want to track where a certain cable goes on your pedal board. 
 
I know, it can sometimes feel hard to buy expensive tools when there are cheaper ones available. But when it comes to cables, don't save money on a cheap product because it will come to the expense of your tone. Quality costs, and hey, if you've put all that money on your great pedals, why ruin it with cheap cables?