Pedalboard Project 1

About a month ago I rebuilt my guitar pedalboard and have been making some adjustments to the setup since that time. It’s been performing beautifully and I’m happy with the results. This effort included the following ingredients:

  • VoodooLabs Pedal Power 2 : For powering any 9V or 18V pedal, this is the way to go. It has multiple outputs that are isolated and regulated. Smooth, quiet, clean power for those stompboxes.
  • Power Strip : As noted below, there are a few items on the board that require AC. I decided to mount a filtered powerstrip underneath the board to accommodate their power supplies.
  • George L cable and right-angle connectors : These are reputed to be the finest cables in the world. They’re the best I’ve ever used.
  • PedalTrain PT Pro : one of the best setups for pedalboards. They come in several sizes and can be ordered with a soft carrying bag or flight case. I opted for the large board with the flight case. They thoughtfully include brackets for mounting the PedalPower 2 under the board.
  • Input Select switch : this is a simple circuit of my own design. It’s described in another post here on my site.
  • Line6 POD XT Pro : I’ve had this unit for some time and it sounds great. My only gripes with this pedal are (1) it could be smaller (the need for the biggest PedalTrain unit was based on the size of this device) and (2) it has a wall-wart power supply, which is ridiculous in something designed for touring. I wrapped up the power supply and routed the wire to the power strip on the left side of the board.
  • Keeley-modified Crybaby wah : technically this wah pedal has undergone the “Mello” wah modification. I sent my Crybaby pedal to Robert Keeley last November and had him perform the “full meal deal” of mods. It has 2 inductors with a small switch to select one or both, true bypass switching, a three-way switch to select the bass profile, a knob on the side to adjust midrange / volume, and of course, the signature blue LED to indicate when the wah is active.
  • Keeley compressor : Robert Keeley makes the finest compressor pedal I’ve ever used. This was a simple choice. I wanted a nice smooth compressor to punch in when needed. After testing several options, I selected the Keeley.  
  • Way Huge Pork Loin : This pedal is a great “soft clip injector” that provides smooth overdrive at the front of the signal chain. The Line6 POD XT provides many models of amps and distortion / OD pedals, but this is something special for that magic grit at the front of the chain. It also is great for punching up solos in big rock songs.
  • Peterson Strobo-Stomp 2 tuner  : There probably isn’t a better tuner out there. It’s slightly larger than I’d like, but does a great job of  tuning guitar, bass and Warr guitar.
  • Line6 XDS Wireless receiver : This is the only wireless unit I’ve ever been 100% satisfied with. It sounds like it’s not there, and has great range. Being able to freely roam the stage is mighty nice. It runs on 9V DC and appears to require only 500 ma, but this receiver was not happy running off the Pedal Power 2, so I wound up having to mount its power supply (another wall wart) on the power strip.
  • Bare Pedalboard
    For this incarnation of my pedalboard I used a Pedaltrain PT-Pro which came with a flight case. The pedalboard base is welded from aluminum and is lightweight and very solid. The first steps in putting this new system together are (1) mounting the VoodooLab Pedal Power 2 power supply and (2) installing a powerstrip for the AC-powered effects. Then the velcro gets applied to the top of the board. So the picture of the bare pedalboard isn’t much to look at, but the foundation work is complete.

    The next step is “pedal tetris”. Before mounting the pedals on the board I spent several hours trying out some layouts to see which would be best. I had a bit of a head start… before I ordered this board I got all the dimensions of my pedals and did several test layouts in Visio to ensure this would work as expected. There are also some interesting online tools that allow easy setup and configuration of pedalboards.
     

    Pedalboard with pedals
    Here is a picture of the pedalboard with all pedals installed. Each pedals is mounted with velcro, and some also got a zip-tie “seatbelt” to keep them from shifting. You can also see a number of zip-ties securing the cables between pedals. This helps keep the layout neat and manageable. When installing zip-ties it’s nice to clip the tails off once they’re nice and tight. This usually leaves a sharp end where it was cut. I used a lighter to melt those sharp ends slightly, reducing the potential for pokes and cuts. Part of the setup process involved making the custom-length George L cables and connecting the power cables. I adhere to a simple rule of routing power below the board and audio above it. This is both for aesthetic and electrical reasons. By keeping these runs separated (even by half an inch) it helps prevent noise from getting into the signal chain. It’s good practice to do this when wiring pedalboard and studio rack equipment.

     

    Pedalboard with notes
    So which is which? In the diagram on the left I’ve identified each item. The routing is as follows: The Input Select is a simple A/B footswitch for choosing either the XDS Wireless Receiver or the second input. This allows me to easily go from wireless to wired inputs without having to pull out any cables. Next is the Peterson Strobo-Stomp 2 Tuner pedal followed by the Keeley Compressor, Keeley-Modified Crybaby Wah and the Way Huge Pork Loin. This signal chain feeds into the Line 6 POD XT Pro which is then routed to my amp.

    It was an interesting project to assemble this setup. It’s definitely the cleanest and most flexible system I’ve ever had. I’d love to find a way to get this kind of power and tonal versatility from a smaller system, but good tone requires good gear. The next gear project will probably involve searching for / building a really great Stratocaster.

    One comment on “Pedalboard Project

    1. Pingback: Next Generation POD : My Wish List « John Hendow

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