Friday, December 28, 2007

How to Build a Pedal Board for Electric Guitar

In my previous post I described the approach I took to building a pedal board and the finished product is pictured at the right. Notice there are some open slots just waiting for the next hobby oriented purchases!

I went with the hard case from Coffin Case because of its relatively small size and I can close and latch the cover when not in use. This helps reduce clutter in the house and also protects the equipment from the family cats who like to eat wiring for some reason.

The two-level pedal surface pictured above is covered in the “loop” material that makes up one half of the Velcro fastening system. Putting together the pedal board is just a matter of attaching the “hook” portion to the pedals and power supply, arranging the pedals, and running the power leads and guitar cables to each pedal in signal chain order.

My signal chain is arranged in the order depicted above starting with the Fuzz Face. The wah pedal is next, then overdrive pedals followed by modulation oriented pedals such as Phaser, Chorus, and time-based effects such as Delay. I have them in order based on rule of thumb but it is really a matter of experiementing to find the effect you like. For example, a wah effect is usually early in the signal chain. However, the Fuzz Face pedal is finicky and it went nuts if I had the wah in front of it so I adjusted accordingly.

The Velcro kit is straight forward; you just cut it to size, peel a protective backing off, and apply it to the back of the pedal. However, I didn’t want to apply the backing directly to the pedals in the event I ever sell them so I used two different approaches.

I had wood from a crate that held Port wine that I cut to size for each pedal base. I put holes in the cut pieces that matched the holes in the pedal base, countersunk the holes, unscrewed the base and reattached everything with the thin wood piece on the bottom. From there, I added the Velcro to the wood. This way, I can quickly return the pedals to their original condition without having to deal with peeling Velcro off the original base. I've inserted a picture to the right to show how this came out on a wah pedal.

Once you have your Velcro “hook” side of the backing on the pedal base you just line up where you want the pedal to be and place it on the two-level pedal surface. Be accurate because the Velcro sticks amazingly well. You will be able to drop your case from a truck and your pedals will not come loose!

Another approach I took for the pedals was to strap them to the wood using nylon zip ties, and then apply the Velcro strips. This was for pedals that had overly short screws in their bottom panels. I couldn’t find longer equivalents that would fit without risking messing up the threads. Again, I was just being accommodating in the event I ever sell any of the pedals.

From there, it is just a matter of connecting each pedal together with cables in your signal chain order. I chose to purchase prebuilt ¼” cables although there are kits where you can cut and terminate them to custom lengths. Last step was routing the power cables from the Voodoo Power supply to each pedal. The Coffin Case provides a slot to accommodate your power strip or power supply. I actually used this to hold my Dunlop Cry Baby wah pedal and attached the Voodoo Labs – Pedal Power 2 Plus directly to the two-level pedal surface with Velcro. I inserted a detail of this on the right.

I like this setup because it provides for quick setup for practice. As I always stress, us aging wannabe rockers want maximum results in minimum time. You get effective guitar practice by using an efficient practice rig where you do not waste time on setup and tear down. Another great thing about the setup is it provides hobby value; gadgets are an important element to any hobby.
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Gitbuddy said...

Thanks for the link to this advice about mounting the Crybaby - super helpful!


Gitbuddy said...

Oh, btw - great looking board. :)

VintageP said...

Sure thing, it works out slick. Sticks very well, almost too well. If I ever have to move it I need to pry it up to get it loose!

Ibanez said...

sweeeeeet lookin board bro! me jealous!!!!

Anonymous said...

looks great thanks for the advice!

SimonG said...

Thanks for the great tips - out of interest, did the power block come with the DC cables to connect up all the pedals?


VintageP said...

Yes, cables included. Stock cables covered all the pedals on the board.

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