Making an Inexpensive Pedal Board For Guitar Effects by Bill Wilkat
For years I’ve owned a number of guitar effects pedals. Problem is, they are always messy and disorganized when I decided to use them. This is a common problem that many guitar and bass players have.
So what to do about it?
Simple, get a pedal board. Well, yes and no. If it were that easy, many of us would have done it long ago. But frankly not all the store-bought pedal boards suit our needs. Some are too small, some are too expensive, and some just not well made.
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What I did:
The first thing I did years back was to purchase a power supply for my array of pedals. That eliminated the need to buy and replace batteries. Given that the cost of 9 volt batteries adds up, and rechargeable ones often don’t hold a charge long enough, a power supply was a smart move.
However, some pedals I own don’t use batteries and some only operate on a/c power. That meant that any board I’d need would also have to accommodate my power supply and wiring requirements. It also needed to be flexible enough to make changes or additions quickly. Velcro tape solved the mounting and dismounting of the pedals and was readily available at local hardware stores. But the sizing of the board was difficult. I concluded that either the board had to be huge and cumbersome, or smaller and more practical to lug around. Since I rarely use effects other than reverb and overdrive, (and these are often built into our amps), a smaller board was more appealing to me.
Step one: My initial instinct is always to repurpose stuff lying around. The first thing I did was to look around my basement to find suitable materials for the project. The search turned up two things:
- A pre-cut section of wire rack shelving (with a right angle return on one end)
- A left over piece of 1/8” thick plywood.
Step two: I measured the items and came up with a simple concept to turn them into a pedal board. This involved arranging the pedals I wanted to use to see if the idea was workable. Seeing that it was, I quickly cut the plywood into two panels and drilled some holes into them. I then used some plastic strap ties to secure them to the wire shelf. The power supply was also attached with strap ties to the bottom of the shelf. The right angle return created enough room under it to fit the power supply. It also formed a sloped top when set on the floor.
Step three: I purchased Velcro tape for mounting of the pedals. Watching a few videos on YouTube I soon learned that some people had difficulty getting the Velcro to work properly. This was due to things like button feet that required removal, or uneven surfaces and textures on the underside of the pedals. Luckily in my case, all I needed to do was to thoroughly clean the mounting surfaces before installing the tape. I ran a continuous strip on the upper section and only a partial strip on the lower section. This gave me the flexibility to mount the pedals I wanted. On the underside of the pedals, I used shorter tabs of the Velcro; providing holding power, but still allowing easy removal.
Step four: I ran the required wires and secured them with strap ties. I then mounted the pedals and plugged them together using jacks and cords as needed.
Step five: I plugged in my lead cords and was ready to rock!
Naturally, you can choose to make a pedal board entirely out of wood. Weight reduction is a consideration so if you go that route, check out some of the current designs and follow their lead. Like using bars made of strips of wood instead of a solid deck. An enclosure to carry it in is another consideration, especially if you’re gigging or hauling it around frequently.
My only expense was the Velcro tape (self-adhesive type) as I had everything else already. You might find that’s the case for you too. If not, the materials will cost very little. And you can have the wood cut for you at your big box store. Simply design it for easy assembly at home: Here’s a nice very low-cost version shown in this video by Scott Breault that I found quite good–thanks Scott–well done!
Bottom Line: You can make a pedal board more elaborate or as simple as you like. It largely depends on your needs, skills and what you have handy or how much you are willing to spend. If you’re not the DIY type, check out some of the options shown below.