Yeah, I was going to entitle this “The board that’s right for you!” But, I don’t know what is right for you. I do know what I wanted in a board, and here is how I chose it:
Yeah, yeah… compressor post is coming! I just got out of a Therapuetics exam (whoo!) and pedalboard is soo much more fun now than boring ‘ol compressors. I’ll get there by time the weekend is over, promise!
I’ll never forget that day: I had 4 effects– 4!!! My digitech “Every effect in the world” board, a Danelectro Tremolo, Danelectro Phaser and a wah. Man, I was the stuff. But these would be soo much more sweeter on a board. That is when the madness started.
I thought about getting a nice thick board, sanding it down, painting it, and then putting small angular pieces under it to make it lean toward me. But me, I never got the motivation to go do it.
That is when I discovered the evil, evil, EVIL that breeds itself on the net (and real world). That place ALL musicians talk bad about, but cannot resists going into: GUITAR CENTER (and musiciansfriend respectively). I saw all these cadilliac models with carpet, power supplies, metal cases, padding, ice cream makers, grounded wiring with surge protector, gps, and even a pick box/holder there in the board! Man, that MAKES you a rock star, right? Right? RIGHT?!
Now, I can talk about pedalboards all nite: the why’s, how’s, etc… and even show you what I almost bought. But I am not going to. Chances are you are like me when I was at this point: wanting someone to just tell you what to get because you could not stand your indecision! By now you should have seen a few pedalboards. You should have an idea of what they look like and how they are set up. If not, google it and look at the different pedal boards. If a set up looks particularly good to you, make a note and see if something else catches your whim. If you are not sure of effects order, check my previous posts or the page/link on the right: Guitar effects 101. That should help.
To get a SWEET board you must ask some questions:
1) What do you want in a board?
Do you want a particular functionality? Preference over self powered, compactness, travelability, proctectivity, ease of use in performance or any other factor you can think of?
2) How often will you use it? Will it be flown, driven alot?
These questions are reiterations of the previous, but they deserve so. Will this board be boarding a plan? Do you need a hard case for it?
3) How will you power your pedals?
Will you use a particular power source (voo doo labs pedalpower, 1spot?), or will your board provide it? (i know this q is redundant too)
4) How will you connect your pedals to this board?
Generally, we use velcro. Its good, easy, and you can change your pedals at a whim. As guitar GAS masters, that generally happens alot. I know some guys who use Epoxy to attach their pedals. Works for them— but I would have to break that and reattach my pedals 2x a week or more!
And the question that has been guiding my thoughts in music A LOT recently:
5) Who is your audience/main venue?
This changed how I was to set up my board, and change the board from what I reallllllly wanted to what I only needed. C’mon, be humble. Chicks dig it.
And to be serious, the modest board seemst to be able to hold its own the most. I never forget people going “wow, what pedal did that?” only to be amazed when I explain a combination of 2 effects or that nope, that was really just me in a clean sound, clean amp.
This is the point: effects are great, pedal boards are great, but it is all in how YOU use them. Do not hide behind the effect, but CREATE the effect that best suites you and your style. When you become proficient in your own creations, then you can do anything!
I decided that I really, really wanted a second level on my pedal board. 1) it looks cool, 2) its extremely functional, and 3) it looks super cool. I use the space under my second level to store my cords, surge protector and in the future my power supply. I love how my wah is flat on the floor, so I can use it with my foot down, but my delay, reverb is raised for fast click-on, click-off action. I do not stumble over myself trying to reach the second layer of pedals as it is right there, tilted towards me.
I also could not stand how expensive pedalboards are! I found a local company who makes them and I bought it with a carry case for just a hint over $100 bucks. Its a wooden board with a tier (second level) and is super light weight. When I first got it, I was certain it would be flimsy and bend etc… due to its slim slimness and its superlight weight. But this board has been amazing. Check out this local company sweeping Nashville: LYT PEDALBOARDS!!!
The beauty of these guys is NOW (not when I got mine, dang it) they can place the tier wherever you want it. I honestly would’ve gotten mine dead center with room for a wah on the right and a volume pedal on the left. And with a gig bag for 100 smackers. Perfect for the begining guitarist.
I recommend for the beginner the 1 Spot power chain. I hear it causes hum with non TB (True Bypass) pedals particularly with Line 6 stomp boxes, but I have not noticed it with my Verbzilla. I do want to point out though that I play modded stomboxes that are NOT TB, but have had most of the opamps and buffers replaced with higher quality audiophile ones. The buffer actually powers the signal to send it to the next thing in the chain. Which can actually be a good thing. I have one bud who has ALL TB boxes, and he had to add a boost to keep his signal strong. I don’t. There are pros and cons and we’ll talk about that later! The 1 Spot is getting a bit of crap from the ‘purists’ but I have had no problems to date. This is perfect for my acoustic set up where I use 4-5 pedals (including tuner) and again, no problems electrically. It is very versatile and allows last minute changes to the board at random. I have nevery had any hums, or pops or cracks out of it! I do want my own independent power like a Voo Doo labs, but thats just so I can give my TS9 and Compressor 18V for more headroom.
And thats my story….. I’ll be posting pics to this this weekend (with the compressor post I know), and will be adding the actually “board” to the guitar 101 page to make it complete)
Enjoy my ramblings as I am recovering from the most painful exam so far this year!