So, you’ve made the decision. You’ve decided that you want to dive into the world of analog pedals and guitar pedal boards. You’ve got your eye on those first few juicy pedals that you want to buy, and you’ve already envisioned the sounds and effects you will hear when you play.
Are you excited? Well, you should be. You are about to embark on an exciting journey. A journey into the land of guitar effects and all the greatness that comes with this realm.
But before you go out and buy those pedals, it would be a good idea to have a basic understanding of how guitar pedal boards work, why you need one, and what you will need in order to get yours up and running in time for your first gig.
Take out your pen and paper because class is about to begin. I am your teacher, and I will guide you on your way to effects bliss.
Why do you even need A PEDAL BOARD?
If you are new to the realm of guitar effects pedals and pedal boards, you might be asking yourself why you should even consider having a pedal board.
I mean it makes sense, can’t you just bring all of your pedals with you to a gig and just lay them out on the floor?
Of course you can! If you don’t have a pedal board but you have pedals, please lug them around with you. Without a pedal board though, you’re going to be playing in a mess of wires, power supplies, and utter chaos.
Pedal boards are awesome because they are designed to let you have all of your pedals, wires, and power supplies all in one place. They also allow for all of this hardware to be organized neatly and nicely.
Another thing is that pedal boards will let you keep all of your gear in one place. Instead of having to disassemble everything every single time you are finished, you will have everything you need conveniently attached to the same piece of metal.
All you have to do is plug it in when you want to play.
Pedal boards also take huge advantage of Velcro. This works well because the sticky nature of Velcro makes it easy to quickly swap out different pedals, but also keeps the rest of your gear and wires in place.
How convenient is that?
Pedal Board Must Haves and Supplies
Like I mentioned in a previous post, if you want to go the analog pedal route, which you should, things can get costly. This is because a pedal board is a combination of many pieces of hardware that will connect everything into one functioning unit.
Don’t know all the other things that you will need to have your pedal board working optimally? Don’t worry, we got you covered.
First, you need to decide which size pedal board you want to buy. You can scour the interwebs and look for different sizes. Ultimately the size of your pedal board will be determined either by how many pedals you have already, or how many you want to buy.
I recommend getting something in between big and small. That way you have space if you want to expand, but it will also stop you from spending too much money… hopefully.
Next you will need to find some sort of pedal board Velcro. You need Velcro because we will use it to attach our pedals to our pedal board. A quick google search will yield many results on a ton of different Velcro brands you can buy.
This specialized Velcro will come in sizes made to fit pedal boards. So all you need to do is cut to your desired length.
I want to mention here that Velcro isn’t the only way to attach your pedals to your pedal boards. You can use zip ties and other methods, but for beginners I think Velcro is the easiest.
The next thing you are going to need are patch cables. Patch cables are what connect all of your pedals to each other so that you can mix and overlay their effects on top of each other. Some cables will require soldering and some will not.
Some will come with predetermined lengths, while others can be trimmed and cut depending on how long you want them.
After you have all of these items you will need to get a power supply. Each pedal needs to be powered individually. This means you will need a multi-port power supply, and power supply cables. The amount of pedals will determine the amount of wires you will need.
You can buy power supplies that come with multiple plugs so you can power as many pedals as you need. Don’t shock yourself in the process!
So just to recap you will need a few things to get your pedal board functioning. They are:
- A pedal board
- Patch Cables
- A power supply
- Power cables
- And of course effects pedals!
So you bought all of this stuff and are now broke. What now?
So you have successfully taken all of your life savings and dumped it into a bunch of electric guitar hardware. Congratulations! You’re broke! Just kidding, we all know you don’t have a life savings.
Now you have all of this stuff. You have attached the Velcro to your pedal board and the back of your pedals, you have all of your patch cables and power supply plugs sorted out. What now?
What you want to do now is determine the signal route for your pedals. This means which pedals will be connected together in order to from the single stream that leads from all of your pedals out of your amplifier.
We call this an effects chain.
There is no wrong set up for your effects chain, but there are common conceptions about which pedals should connect to each other. Each combination will give you different results.
You can experiment to find out which ones sound best for your rig, but here is a common setup from your guitar first, to your amp last.
- Dynamics, filters, and volume pedals usually start the chain; wah’s and compressors
- Gain heavy pedals like distortion and overdrive will come next
- Modulators like flange and chorus pedals are after
- Delays, reverb, and time based effects will be best towards the end
So an example setup would be from: Guitar – wah- volume -overdrive – chorus- delay- reverb- amp in that order.
Like I said, this is just a setup that seems to work well. If you have no idea what to do, this would be a good place to start. There are many, many, many more combinations of effects chains. This is not a post on effects chains.
I can write a post later concerning that topic, this is just a very brief introduction.
Either way, your effects chain is something you need to carefully consider when setting up your pedal board, but there is no wrong answer to the situation.
Experiment like a mad scientist!
Congratulations if you have made it this far! You now have your pedal board setup. You have all of your pedals attached in your preferred effects chain, you have all of your Velcro attached and your wires organized in a neat fashion.
You have routed all the power effectively and are ready to play.
Pedal boards can be an extremely fun process, but the most fun part is being able to experiment with the fruits of your labor. Now its time to play around and mix those effects!
If there is a sound combination that you don’t think works well, consider reordering your effects chain.
Don’t be afraid to mix as many effects as you’d like. This pedal board will become one of your closest friends in the coming years as you progress as a guitarist.
You will buy new pedals and get rid of old ones, but you will from a deep connection with your pedal board that you will cherish forever. Get out there and start playing!
If you like what you have read here, consider leaving a comment down below. Tell us about your pedal board setups and which effects chains work for you. Keep on pickin’!