No matter if you’re a professional guitarist or just a hobbyist, you most probably want your gigs to sound as your recorded tones of the tunes you usually play yet if you travel a lot, doing so might be quite a challenge. If you don’t want to plug lots of cables into all the pedals you use before your every gig, then building a road-ready pedalboard is the thing to do.
Now, that might require you to give up some of the musical gear and pedals you usually use and go for the main units in order for the pedalboard to be travel-friendly. To help you meet your needs while gigging around the world, we have highlighted below some of the things you need to consider to make sure you enjoy ease of transportation as well as the sonic output you want.
One of the first things you need to consider when traveling is the size of the gear you use and that’s not just because ease of transportation is desired but also because the size of your gear will count when flying.
Fortunately, many stores now offer travel-friendly pedalboards and even custom-made units that will meet your specific needs. You will even find flight-case style pedalboards that won’t raise any issue when flying. The challenging part is the selection of the pedals and effects you want on your pedalboard.
You will have to distill your variety of effects into something that won’t take too much space yet will provide you with the sonic possibilities you’re interested in. Since a road-ready pedalboard is usually less generous in order to make your travel convenient, it also means that it won’t accommodate all the pedals you’d normally use.
Therefore, a simple combination that will cover your flange, chorus, delay, and phase-shifting needs is recommended. You can also add a wah for some flavor. A small pedalboard that can host four to seven pedals is desirable. Such models usually come with a carrying case that will further ensure ease of transportation and storage.
To maximize such a pedalboard, you can go for mini-format pedals and dual-effect stompboxes. Leave a bit of space for a cabinet simulator in case you will run the board into a set of headphones.
Assembling the road-ready pedalboard
Once you’ve selected the right pedalboard for your needs, you will have to make sure that you get the rest of the supplies required for the final unit. Therefore, you need to get the right power supply (consider the power needed for the pedals you will use), power cables, patch cables, and, of course, the pedals you’ve selected to take with you when on the go.
Get your pedalboard ready to accommodate the pedals nicely and safely with Velcro. Do the same with the pedals that will be placed on the board. Add Velcro to their back for a safe placement. You might also need to attach Velcro to your power supply as well depending on the model you’ve chosen and the type of the pedalboard you use.
Some boards have a universal mounting bracket for the power supply and you can install it using screws. Make sure you have the power cables ready. Since you need to save space, you might want to go for a cable kit that will help you create your own cables and have them as short as possible/needed.
Now, once you’ve taken care of all that, you will have to choose the way your pedals will be ordered. In our A Guide to Putting Together a Pedalboard, we have highlighted in detail the way pedals are generally placed.
While there is no right or wrong order as the way you want your pedals on your board is a matter of personal preference, the order many musicians go for is the following one. The tuner should go first if you want to silence your guitar when you activate it. Your pedals won’t be silenced, though. To enjoy complete silence between the rigs, the tuner should be the last in the chain.
The pedals that usually go first include the ones designed to amplify. Filters, pitch shifters, and compressors or dynamic pedals fall into this category. What comes next includes overdrives, fuzzes, distortions, and boosts. Modulation pedals such as phasers, flangers, and chorus come next. They are then followed by time-based effects including reverbs and delays.
Some players might use a delay pedal or a reverb at the beginning of the chain. It is recommended to place such pedals at the end of the chain and not before distortion or gain pedals as the way they affect each other might trigger unpleasant sonic outputs. Again, go for the order that works best for you.
What about a multi-effect unit?
Another great option in terms of convenience is a multi-effect unit. This will help you leave all the patch cables and daisy chain behind and keep things simple and organized. Not to mention the ease of storage and transportation you will get to enjoy.
The market now offers notable models of multi-effect units that ensure playability, sonic versatility, and packability. Some full-featured models come with countless tweakable effects, tuners, and amps.
Since incidents and unpleasant situations may occur, you need to add the accessories and tools needed for quick fixes to your musical gear. Patch cables, Velcro, and a power adapter are the items you might need for your pedalboard when on the go.
Before taking your travel pedalboard on the road, try it and see how it works. Rehearse using it several times and make any necessary adjustments if needed.
Because such a unit will have to withstand the impacts traveling might include, make sure you protect it while in transit with a quality case. Plus, opt for quality and durable materials that won’t get you an unpleasant surprise.