What you wish you knew before you built your first pedalboard...

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Enrique M, Apr 19, 2024.

  1. Enrique M

    Enrique M Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2023
    Moscow, Idaho
    Short Version: What do you wish you had known before you built your first pedal board?

    Any advice would be appreciated, from always on units you wish you had picked up sooner, to actual pedal board recommendations, to stuff I should be thinking about. I realize pedal boards are deeply personal.

    Longer Version: I am just starting to put one together. I have a Tech-21 YYZ Shapeshifter, and a Tech-21 Steve Harris. I have a Broughton JoshWah on the way. I like funk, and also want to try it with the Geezer setting on the SH-1. Not sure where I am going next, but I have looked at the micro thumpinator and an ehx micro pog for no better reason than Dusty Hill used them.

    I love effects, and am a converted drummer who used a mixed acoustic and electronic kit. Been playing bass serious for about a year and am playing with two outfits. One performs live, blues oriented -- more electric blues with the addition of me (Geezer and Hill). Neither of the two guitarists use effects at all, but are cool with what I have been doing so far.

    The other is weekly studio (DI) jam and we do everything from metal to funk to new wave. Both guitarist are effects heavy in that outfit, if both show up, otherwise we are a power trio.

    Blues outfit has a major gig (for us) at the end of July and then another the end of September. I would like to get the pedals I have on a board by July, and add one more, and then add another before the September gig. Or something like that. My budget ... trying to keep it to about $200 a pedal and adding one every other month or so.

    Anyway, I realize this is going to be a money pit and mostly a buy it and try it kind of deal. But this is all new territory for me and I would love to hear what y'all with more experience have to say.
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  2. Philosophically, know what you want your sound to be, and then find the effects that get that sound.

    Practically, get a good power supply from Truetone or CIOKS and stick to boards the size of a Pedaltrain Junior or smaller. Get a good tuner like the Sonic Research Turbo Tuner. After that, it's all about preference.

    And lastly, the Spaceballs rule, "take only what you need to survive."
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  3. furym

    furym Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2014
    Carthage, NC
    CIOKS DC-7
  4. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe .. El Jefe del funk Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    It's my industrial strength hair dryer. And I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT IT!!
  5. moon-bass

    moon-bass They call me El Jefe .. El Jefe del funk Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    If you are like most of us, your pedal board will constantly be changing. I can't tell you how many iterations I've been through.
  6. Derek Kay

    Derek Kay

    Dec 30, 2023
    If your bass and amp alone give you a decent sound then you won't need preamp or EQ pedals.

    You can simplify your choice down to actual FX pedals, and that is probably easier and avoids an overprocessed sound.
  7. rev_D


    Jul 28, 2023
    Attach the power brick under the board first.
  8. Enrique M

    Enrique M Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2023
    Moscow, Idaho
    Excellent advice and, I have not decided yet. I have a Rumble 500c, I like the general sound, and I do not dislike the overdrive, but I have not bonded with it.

    Part of the issue I am trying to address with the pedal board is having a consistent sound when I play at home (through my gigging amp -- rumble 500c), at Blues Band practice (with my travel amp -- Roland Cube 30W) where we have less than optimal space and are forced to keep it down, with my Studio crew we are running DI into the board, and what ever gigging amp/FOH set up I wind up with when we gig.

    It is one of the reasons I went with the two Tech 21 options to get started, instant solid sound where ever I am at. But I have wondered about this issue you are bringing up as I look at the EQs on both those pedals, as well as my amp (which I am running neutral).

    MYLOWFREQ Supporting Member

    May 13, 2011
    I built myself a small pedalboard. I used heavy-duty wood. Everything turned out great except that it ended up being too heavy.

    I'm building the same exact board form aliminum now. I'll make a thread when it's ready.
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  10. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    I built my first pedalboard before there were LED's to tell you what pedals were on (quite literally the dark ages of pedals), and also before there was any kind of powering for pedals besides batteries - I had to snake power and signal lines in and out through the jacks and solder them inside. So, I already knew a lot, and whatever is is I would have wanted to know.... probably doesn't apply today.
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  11. BEADist


    Mar 24, 2022
    The Netherlands
    If I had known it is so much fun I would have started sooner :)!
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  12. SLO Surfer

    SLO Surfer

    Jun 3, 2009
    Los Osos, CA
    Use 3M Dual Lock rather than Velcro to secure pedals to your board! Look it up. I think Scotch brand calls their same product “fasteners.” You don’t need to use a bunch, just a dime size on the corner of each pedal. Holds pedals to board WAY more securely, AND it can be removed without leaving ANY residue/sticky mess.

    Any pedal recommendations I’d make are dependent on your tonal goals after that. I use a preamp/DI pedal to send a steady and consistent sound to FOH while being able to tweak my amp settings to the stage sound without interfering with FOH. Keeping it separate like that has also helped me more quickly trouble shoot issues.

    I do prefer super accurate strobe tubers, so I have a Sonic Research Turbo Tuber and Peterson Strobostomp.
  13. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    overlooking a product from a huge company is typically a mistake. if it's available from boss it's affordable, reliable, resellable, etc.

    boutique pedals are so so so cool, but we rarely "need" them.
  14. Enrique M

    Enrique M Supporting Member

    Jun 3, 2023
    Moscow, Idaho
    Probably something I needed to hear as I comb through TB trying to figure out what folks "favorite" distortion, envelope filter, fuzz etc... is.
  15. "Hey, Jaco didn't need...."
    Uh, sorry, just a reflexive response.
    Seriously though, here is what I wish I had known before putting together my first pedalboard: You will very likely need a larger assortment of connector cables and power supply cables in various lengths than you initially expect. I started off with a small set of cables that I thought would be sufficient, only to find that I needed a few longer ones and even a couple of very short ones in order to cover the distance between certain pedals while also trying to avoid having to secure unnecessarily long cable "slack" to keep the board neat and avoid snagging my feet. Also, I found that reliable, well-constructed* patch cables with space-saving right-angle plugs were indispensable.

    *In other words, avoid super-cheap no-name cables as they are more likely to turn out to be junk.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2024
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  16. groooooove

    groooooove Supporting Member

    Dec 17, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    exactly - for each of those categories, you can go crazy.

    let's talk about envelope filters.

    i don't think boss ever really made one that was great for bass. but the MXR one is very, very good. it's fine. it's all we need. it's cheap, reliable, etc.

    another one that can be had pretty cheap is either version of the DOD filter. they sound amazing. they're discontinued, but cheap and reliable as far as pro-level gear goes.

    the vintage mutron III is awesome. in fact, it's one of the rare items that i believe the 'mojo' is real. but... do you need it?

    lovetone meatall. it's such a cool thing. it sounds insane! it can do far more than an MXR filter.... but... do you need it?

    the problem with pedals is that niche items, collectables, and so on, are relatively inexpensive. $900 for a pedal is a lot, but $900 in the grand scheme of stuff people spend on (let's call it a hobby) is really not that much. a friend just showed me an action figure (?) he got on ebay that was roughly that much money. he was pretty excited about it. it's the same thing as wanting a lovetone pedal.

    if you can afford the wild stuff, and it gives you some fun, then knock yourself out. if you need filter for your p-funk cover tune in your club date band... you can can one for $100ish and be happy.
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  17. Tom Winter

    Tom Winter

    Nov 21, 2022
    Lebanon, IL
    You don't have to.

    Attached Files:

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  18. I started out with a couple always on pedals that I mounted to a rack drawer. By the time built my first board I had collected a bunch of pedals and made a board that was too big and heavy to really gig with. I used a piece of shelving I picked up from Home Depot. Lesson learned when I decided to buy my first pre made pedalboard I went the complete opposite route and got a little pedaltrain mini. It’s still the only pedalboard I’ve actually gigged with. The pedals get swapped out here and there but it’s not a burden to take to a gig, and I think there’s something to say about having about 5 pedals really dialed in instead of have 10+ pedals to keep up with settings on.
    Enrique M likes this.
  19. For bass, I wish I had anticipated how much I dislike having to carry and set up a pedalboard when gigging. It turns out that a lighter, faster, simpler setup makes me happier than fun fx. I ditched it, mounted the comp and tuner in the rack, and was much happier.

    For guitar, I wish I just got a modeler from the start. Instead it was a long, expensive test-and-learn process that ended at the same result.
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  20. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i wish i had known that once you have one = you have to use it once in a while, or: you have to consider yourself a little goofy for having one you don't ever use. :laugh:

    i have a small pedalboard that i use for four tunes that we might play....killer! :laugh: :roflmao: