Now and again we will get a request for us to build, tweak or advise on pedalboard setups and I am always the first to jump at the chance. I love it!
Whether it is trying new signal chain orders (something we'll touch on later) or simply getting the most real estate out of a customers board, I love getting stuck in and becoming one with the velcro.
On this build I was given complete free reign of the design and layout of the pedalboard, as well as choosing additional pedals I thought may work in this setup. Our customer - Guy - provided me with his pedal collection with the hope of getting everything on one functioning board.
My first task was to find a board suitable for housing AS MANY of these pedals as possible. I was torn between the PedalTrain Classic Pro and the new Fender Pro Pedal Board but due to the bigger size went for the Fender.
Next was sorting the pedals into categories (drive, modulation, delay etc.) to see exactly what I had to work with, and to give me a rough idea of a potential signal path.
I knew that Guy had his 'go to' pedals which I knew had to be a part of the board and was hoping I would be able to get everything included. Pedals like the Voodoo-Vibe and Whammy had me worried though, as their sheer size may hinder my plans!
The picture above shows my initial plan for the layout. I gave a little space for patch cables but very quickly realised that the layout didn't suit the signal path between pitch and modulation. I was able to start taping down the initial pedals and get a better idea on what space I really had.
With this build we got really lucky, we had the new Fender Blockchain Patch Cables in stock and they were perfect for saving as much space between pedals as possible!
With these cables I was able to get the pedals so tightly packed I started to feel confident about getting all the pedals included in the board.
Once I had a rough idea of the position of pedals 1 and 2 I could start adding some velcro.
Although fiddly, I wanted to make sure that I kept all cable management holes clear even if I ended up covering them with pedals eventually. There would inevitably be some moving around, so keeping these open would prove invaluable.
Signal Chain Choices
So once I had dealt with utility (tuner, compression etc.) and drive, I wanted to get the pitch pedals into the chain before modulation. This is to give these pedals as much of a pure signal as possible, modulating the guitar sound before these wouldn't make sense so I went with pitch after drive.
It is worth noting that pitch could be placed before drives to receive an even 'cleaner' signal again and affecting the drives that follow it. For this board though, I went with drives first. There is no wrong option!
At this point we hit the Whammy. Initially I wanted the looper to stay somewhere accessible but with all the pedals in/out going right to left, I had to compromise when going into the modulation section. This led me to the next order.
Once I had the Phase Shifter in place I was happy with the bottom row of pedals but had to link this to my second row of modulation. My workaround was using a longer patch cable running from the Phase Shifter into the EHX QTron, meaning I could continue in the right-to-left path of the pedals.
The same strategy was used when linking up the Voodoo-Vibes, having to go from the Super Chorus to the VV then back to the DD-3 (and on to the Nemesis). The Fender board does come with very handy underside cable management which I will picture later.
Above: The final signal path. I ended up going Wah before Tuner which, I wouldn't normally do but for this layout was better, and won't be detrimental to either pedal's signal and effectiveness. Another anomaly to note would be the position of the EQ. I was conscious of the potential signal degradation with so many cables and pedals in one chain, so placed the EQ late almost as a signal refresher, adding some top end sparkle back in if needed.
Eagle eyed readers will have noticed the addition of an Electro Harmonix Oceans 12. I felt that this gave Guy a plethora of reverb options with a small footprint.
In Memoriam: The Pedals We Lost
Unfortunately I couldn't include all of Guy's pedals on this board and had to make some sacrifices along the way. Let's take a moment to remember the ones we lost.
I've Got The Power!
Next up was adding in enough power to run everything we had on board. A few exceptions are the Whammy, Nemesis and Oceans 12 which all need their own power due to a higher draw.
The power supplies I chose were the Fender Engine Room Lvl 8. These not only fit perfectly into the Fender pedal boards but have enough outlets to supply even the most demanding of builds!
As well as six 9v outlets, the Engine Room Lvl 8 gives us two adjustable outs as well as USB power options.
Next up was cable management and tidying! As you can see in the image above, EVERY outlet is being used for this board (not including pedals with their own supply!).
With cables tidy, pedals powered and signal checked, this mammoth board is finally finished! I love the combo of comp>fuzz>modulation>delay>reverb. Real Gilmore stuff!
If you were interested in us doing something similar for you, simply drop us a message and let us know what you've got planned!