Building Your First Guitar Pedalboard

Building Your First Guitar Pedalboard

There comes a time in everyone’s playing career when you look at building your first guitar pedalboard. It might be for home practice or live use, think long and hard about it’s purpose and size before you order. My biggest advice for beginner guitarist’s would be to not rush to this stage.

Focus on your guitar playing as much as possible when you start out. Pedals and effects can be very distracting. Hours of potential guitar practice time can be lost trying to find that exact effect for the song, when the crucial learning should really be taking priority here.

So You’ve Decided To Take The Plunge

Now before we begin make sure you have the funds available first. This may sound silly and who am I to give you any financial advice. Well I’m someone who has spent/wasted lots of money in the past buying the wrong cable, wrong power supply and the list goes on.

Make A List . . .

Make a list. I know your keen and excited to get out there and start spending your hard-earned cash. Take time at this step and save yourself hours of frustration and potential wasted money. Carefully plan out which pedals you are looking for and the purpose of your pedalboard.

Cables, Cables & More Cables

How many cables you will need to connect up all your pedals to the board? What length do they need to be.? should all be questions you ask yourself before you make any purchase. Check out Pedal Train’s really handy online pedalboard planner Here. Using this tool, you can plan out visually what pedals will go where and what size board you will then require, you can even download the image and take to your local guitar shop.

Armed with your list and a clear idea of how the board could visually look, you are now prepared to hit the shops. Exciting! The items on your shopping list will probably include the following.

Shopping List

  • Pedal Board
  • Pedals
  • Power Supply
  • Velcro
  • Patch Cables & Lots Of Them
  • Cable Ties
  • Guitar Cables
  • Scissors
  • Plasters (Just in case you stab yourself.)

Looking through the list you can see it’s starting to add up. My advice to anyone building their first pedalboard would be to keep it small. To begin with you will only want a few pedals on the board and can always add to it over time. The craze at the moment is to buy mini pedals as you can fit more on a smaller sized board and take up less space onstage which is sometimes crucial.

What Effects Should I Buy?

Depending on the genre of music you are playing will determine which pedals you find most important on your board. There is no right or wrong and it’s one of those things in guitar playing that is personal to the player. Some popular choices and ones to consider are Overdrive, Distortion, Delay, Reverb, Chorus, Phaser, Flanger and Wah.

Does it matter about pedal order?

Yes it really does. Depending on the desired effect you are trying to achieve this will play a big part in what order you are likely to put your pedals in. For example a boost pedal at the front of your board might boost the overall input signal but put after a drive pedal might affect how much drive is added to your signal.

A General Pedal Order

A general pedal order goes something like this:

Input (Guitar) – Tuner – Compressor – Wah – Overdrive/Distortion – Modulation – Delay – Reverb – Output (Amplifier.)

As I say this is a general order and depending on the pedal or the desired result might affect the positioning of your pedals.

Effects Loops & 4CM (4 Cable Method)?

Using an effects loop is a great way of splitting your pedals and achieving a cleaner blend between amp, pedals and your guitar. This is the method I personally use and it just requires two more 1/4″ Jack cables.

To my ears I prefer having my delays and Reverbs in the amps effects loop and sometimes my modulation depending on the pedal. Don’t be afraid to experiment here and find out what works best for you. It would be easier for me to plug all my pedals in line and use just two cables, however I believe my tone is greater when I utilize the amps effects loop. If your amp doesn’t have an effects loop you won’t need to worry about this as the choice would already have been made for you.

Jeez This Is Stressful 

As you can see we’ve only just scratched the surface of guitar pedalboards and what’s achievable. If it’s your first pedalboard keep things simple and gradually scale up over time. You may even be happy with your first attempt but it becomes a bit of an obsession and I’m forever changing pedals and the size of my pedalboard.

We thought you might find this video from That Pedal Show interesting as it discusses building a pedalboard on a budget.

Until next time we wish you the best of luck with your pedalboard build,

Thanks for reading,

Rich @ MGTB

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