A lot of guitarists like and use effects as everyone knows. Even though when I played on stage in the past, I owned a bunch of pedals and multi effect units, I didn’t use them on stage. I plugged my custom made Ibanez straight in to a marshal artist tube amp and used the amps own built in distortion for my live sound, micd through the mixing board in to the P.A. system. Now days if I were to perform I would probably set up a guitar effects pedalboard.
In this article I will give my opinion on which pedals are necessary to equip your pedal board with, how to go about building your pedal board etc…
Size of Board
Before buying a pedal board or making one of your own, you should determine how many pedals you currently have that you want on it and how many you plan to add and sizes to fit on to your board. You may already have an idea of which pedals or how many pedals you want to use. If so you my already know the size of board you would need.
They sell boards in various sizes (small, medium, large) already set up to add your own pedals, usually via velcro. Or you can make your own which I will be writing a diy article as I build my own within the next few days.
There are a few brands of boards available to choose from, most of which are made from aluminum since aluminum is a light weight metal. The most popular among them are ” pedal train ” , ” Gator ” and ” voodoo lab ”
One most important item to have on your board is a power supply that will power all of your pedals as this will save you money from having to buy a power adapter for each pedal or from having to buy and replace batteries all the time
Depending on what you plan on doing with your pedal board would determine the type of power supply you need. Just be sure that your pedal is the correct polarity for the power supply you are using before you plug it in so you don’t ruin your pedal. ( I will discuss more on polarity at a later date )
Types of power supplies for pedals
- Daisy chain …. A daisy chain is an adapter that has several cords connected to it to plug into your pedals. If you are just a bedroom guitarist or just jam with others for fun than you could get by with a daisy chain. ‘ 1 spot ‘ is a very commonly and popular daisy chain used.
- Isolated power supply …. An isolated power supply is a box that has several outputs for several pedals ( commonly between 5 through 10 ). Isolated supplies help reduce unwanted noise from your pedals that are connected. If you are planning on gigging you will want to use an isolated power supply instead of a daisy chain as they are more reliable and better suited / made for the purpose.
There are several brands and sizes of power supplies and through research and reviews the most dependable is the voodoo lab 2 + . They are more expensive than most but the quality is higher which is what you are paying for. For a less expensive supply, I have heard a lot of good things about ” Donner ” brand as well.
Boards with built in power
You can also purchase boards that already have a power supply added to it. These are more expensive but will save you the time and trouble of attatching the power supply to your board yourself.
There are a few brands of boards that come with power units. Gator offers a complete board that has power unit built in plus a case. Boss and Behringer both do as well.
Always being in tune is essential so a tuner pedal on your pedal board would be one of the 1st things on it. If you plan on using different tunings you should get a chromatic tuner. T.C. Electronics is a real good tuner and almost every pedal manufacturer makes tuners. If you prefer Boss pedals, Boss makes a good tuner. DOD, I am sure has a good tuner.
Distortion / Overdrive
Unless you like the tone and amount of distortion that your amp offers than you will probably be wanting some sort of additional distortion or overdrive. There are some pretty popular distortion pedals that are commonly used among guitarists, unknown and famous alike.
The Boss DS 1 is another good popular distortion pedal. Electro Harmonix big muff pi is a good one. Rat distortion is another. There are many more good ones that I have not tried, I’ve only mentioned the ones I like best out of all the ones I have tried.
Some good overdrive pedals are the Ibanez Tube screamer (TS80) , Boss super overdrive (SD-1) and one that I like and use a lot, believe it or not is the DOD YJM 308 preamp overdrive (pictured).
If you are in or plan on being in a band with another guitarist, you may not feel you need a looper for live application. Even if you are the only guitarist in your band you may not feel the need for a looper if you can still fill in the sound without needing seperate rhythm guitar for solos etc…
Even if you do not need a looper for live application, they are a great tool to help you get your chops down and improvise solos against your own rhythms rather than using backing tracks ( backing tracks are good for the same purpose but using your own rhythms is much more fun and rewarding ).
You can get by with just a simple looper that doesn’t store multiple loops in it or you can get one that stores your loops in it. I prefer one that you can store a bunch of loops in, especially if you do plan on using a looper for live performances.
I’ve done a review on a Jam Man Looper pedal, you can read it by clicking HERE
Modulation pedals and other fun effects
Other pedals you may want to add to your board are EQ pedals, volume pedal, wah pedal, reverb, compression, delay or if you want to get real fancy you can add harmonizers, phaser, flanger or an expression pedal. I will go in to detail on these different types of pedals in another article.
Feel Free to leave questions or comments below….