Pedal Boards – How to Enhance Your Playing Experience
The beauty of the guitar as an instrument is that it is so diverse and fits into any genre of music. This incredible versatility in turn creates many different types of guitar player, from the pure blues player reliant on tone to effects laden experimental guitarists.
Although greatly appreciative of pure tone and a simple set-up of just a guitar and amp, I always found myself to be inquisitive as to what other sounds I could get from my guitars. I suppose I just didn’t want to be a one-trick pony sound and style-wise and limit my playing to one or two genres of music. Also, some of the music I was listening to when I was younger featured guitarists who were using various effects to give themselves a unique sound and try to make their music stand out from the crowd.
Effects pedals have been developing since they first appeared in the sixties and there are now literally thousands on the market. They come in all shapes, colours and sizes and do all kinds of weird and wonderful things to the sound of your guitar. The problem is, once you buy one they become a bit addictive and you start looking out for others to add to your set up.
Eventually, the net result is half a dozen or more pedals on the floor, all requiring three connections (in, out & power) every time you want to rehearse or perform live. In a live situation if you’re sharing a stage with other bands/artists, floor space is often an issue. There are times when I’ve done a soundcheck and got everything right and then had to shove it all over to one side to make way for the next band and then shove it all back when it’s my turn to perform. There is always the inherent danger of some clumsy oaf standing on your leads and damaging sockets, pedals or worse. After playing, everything needs to be disconnected and either carefully packed into boxes (which don’t last long) or shoved into a bag where your nicely painted stomp boxes get scratched and chipped.
The inevitable solution to these issues suffered by many a guitarist (and roadie!) was to construct some kind of board and mount all the pedals on the top. The advantages of a decent pedal board are numerous: practical, time saving, pedal saving, ease of use and they look good! If the pedals are securely mounted it gives the player so much more confidence as they won’t slide around on the floor which can affect the connections resulting in loss of sound or crackling noises.
The most popular way of attaching pedals to a board is to glue Velcro to the pedals and board and then attach them. As you probably know, the trouble with this is it’s not totally secure and does come loose after time. Also, as with all vintage gear, some pedals are becoming increasingly collectable so glue and Velcro would devalue them and reduce the asking price if you decided to sell. With a Unique Pedal Board your pedals are preserved and the value maintained.
A different option to having individual pedals is a multi effects unit. Unfortunately, some of the effects don’t sound very good, programming can be hard work, they can be very expensive and as they quickly become obsolete, reselling them can be difficult.
Therefore, in terms of investing in quality gear in the long run, it makes financial sense to go down the individual pedal route rather than a multi effects unit. With individual pedals avoid gluing Velcro to them. Then if you decide to change a pedal you can sell it for its maximum price because it’s in good condition.
Some effects pedals quite happily run off batteries for several hours while others require a power supply. There can be noise issues such as hum when using the various power options, but I find a quality isolated power supply to be the quietest, neatest and most efficient way of powering my pedals. I don’t like to risk using batteries which can start losing power without warning.
People have converted suitcases, used planks of wood and various other materials to construct DIY boards, but there is no alternative to a professionally made one. It just looks the part. Why have a nice shiny expensive guitar and amp and then plonk a DIY board made out of wood off cuts and plastic in front of your audience? Placing the board in a flight case is a must. It protects the pedals during transportation, especially if it’s raining outside, and keeps the dust off them which can interfere with their performance in the long run. Now I just take of the lid, plug in the power lead and cables between amp/guitar and play. Simple. Remove the hassle, playing is what it’s all about.