Jim Dunlop is running a four month contest called "America’s Saddest Pedalboard" where musicians can submit a picture of a sad pedalboard for people to vote on. This month is Bass themed & the winner receives a board with a bunch of MXR Bass Innovations pedals on it. I decided to give it a try. Because, I’d really love to own those pedals. Especially without having to pay for them. At first I assumed that I would put together a fake board for the contest that looked extra depressing. Some sort of super janky pedalboard with horrible pedals on it. I would ponder what materials to use & what pedals to put on top. Should I go for pathetic piece of plywood with a Boss Xtortion & Danelectro mini pedal on top? Should I see if any of my friends still have sorry looking off-brand pedals that they got as Christmas gifts from well meaning relatives when they were younger? Should I just go really high concept and build a 100% fake board with really miserable looking “pedals” made entierly out of cardboard? But as I thought more about it, at some point I realized that the actual pedal setup I use for my band is really quite sad. I currently use just a single Line 6 M5 pedal. As a effect pedal it’s kind of great; Especially for a multi-fx unit. It’s easy to use, some of the patches sound amazing, and it’s super convenient to set up and transport. The convenience is why I’ve gotten in the bad habit of using it for everything. I’ve never put in the effort of setting up a real pedalboard, so I got annoyed with setting up a chain of pedals before practice and opted for the lazy way of just plugging in the M5 and using it for everything. I think of it as the Swiss Army Knife of effects. Swiss Army Knives are super cool. They’re really great and can do a lot of things. But if a chef used only a Swiss Army Knife to cook instead of a nice professional knife set, in most cases it would probably be some sort of tragic and heartbreaking situation. When you use a Multi-FX pedal as an entire pedalboard, it can seem like a similarly unfortunate situation. I currently use the M5 for two effects live. An octave for a song where I need to sound like a very deep synth bass, and an overdrive with a little bit of boost for some heavy parts. It limits me to only two or three patches when I play live because if I started using any more switching between them would become an issue for me. There are other people who could probably use it for a new patch every song; I’m just not one of those people. It also limits me to only one effect per song, because I’m not talented enough to switch patches while playing without somehow triggering some random horrible synth effect at some inopportune moment in the song. I’ve tried to be good at switching patches, and I’m just too awkward to pull it off. During practice I sometimes use the M5 for chorus to try to get a Peter Hook sound. But I feel l'm less likely to do this than if I had a actual chorus pedal set up. Because I have to take the time to switch to a new patch & it doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as a proper analog chorus. I think using just the M5 is limiting me to only using effects on parts that I’ve already written. And it’s not always doing as good a job on those parts as other pedals would. So now that I realize how much the M5 is limiting me. I think I’m going to have to get out of my comfort zone and put together a proper board. I don’t think I have any chance of winning the saddest pedalboard contest. I’m currently in 5th place and the person in the lead already has me beat by over a hundred votes. But even though I’m not going to win the contest, I think the contest is going to help me win at life by not being lazy. Well... not being lazy when it comes to setting up my pedals at least. It would have been nice to score free MXR pedals. Especially that Bass Octave Deluxe and the Bass Preamp. But I already have some rad pedals, and I’m looking forward to using them now.