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Build Your Own Pedalboard

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Build Your Own Pedalboard

This feature was submitted by Guitar Jar contributor: Pedals For Hire

Have you ever been tempted to build your own board? Take your mishmash collection of pedals with all their trailing cables and make a solid, glorious piece of civil engineering that would grace a third year engineering student’s final year project?

Like my previous blog, there is much to be said for hunting the perfect pedal collection and setup. Putting them on the perfect alignment just adds another level of joy! So fire up your drill, get out your screwdrivers and make something to be proud of.

If you are anything like me, planning it is half of the fun. I would recommend using some CAD software or even just paper cut-outs for testing the layout- create pedal sized pieces for each potential spot and play with the order and placement to see what will work best. Spend some time over this and think about where the cabling needs to go, it doesn’t bend that easily. (Or you can use the Pedalboard Planner – Sam).

Two top tips – get a true bypass looper to isolate each pedal or group of pedals. There are lots of places that can make them but mine is from Red Onion Solutions (seemingly now no longer trading). This offers two main advantages – firstly it reduces the distance the signal has to travel and saves it passing through any tone sucking boxes. Secondly, it allows firing of multiple effects at once – you can engage the delay and tremolo with one stomp.

Budget for decent cables. Those 3″ cables you probably picked up cheap – they won’t cut it for this build. You are hunting the perfect guitar tone so don’t skimp on something that can really ruin your sound.

If you don’t believe me, AB test your usual cable against something like a George L – your ears will make your wallet weep. But fear not, you can buy kits of make-your-own George L cabling that make it much more affordable.
So, after hours of planning and a few weekends work, here’s my board:

Pedals for Hire

It is a simple construction – just some painted pine wood with the pedals mounted by removing the back plates and screwing through from underneath.

The signal goes:

  • Wah into RC booster into loop 1
    The Xotic has a good buffer which is important when using a long cable. And the Wah is one of the few that is true bypass (a theme running through my board).
  • Loop 1 – TS (with the associated suckage)
    This might seem like overkill for one pedal but trust me, the TS is a great pedal but when it’s off you will want that treble back!
  • Loop 2 – BB Preamp and Brown Rabbit
    My crunch tones, BB for smooth leads and Rabbit for early Santana to Rat style stuff (a very versatile box of tricks).
  • Loop 3 – BoR, BoM and DLS
    My heavy tones, stacked in rough order of distortion. It’s ZVex heavy but they are great pedals and look awesome. DLS spot could have been taken by many options (OCD was a close second) but I do like purple.
  • Loop 4 – DMM, MXR Phase90, Catalinbread Trem and Serrano Picoso
    This section can sit in the amps effects loop or just in the main chain (I’m proud of this bit). No great surprises here tone wise, the two tiny pedals are great for filling spare spots on the board.
  • Korg Tuner
    It is typical to place the tuner early on as they often have good buffers and it’s best to tune a non-distorted sound signal but mine is true bypass so is safe enough there. Also it was the only space left!


Would I recommend this process? Absolutely! If you ignore the pedal cost, the parts cost was minimal and the planning was very enjoyable. It also allows you to really plan what you want from your signal path and get it just how you want it.

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About the author:

The Pedal For Hire penned articles featured on Guitar Jar were originally posted on the Pedals For Hire blog, and are re-used with kind permission.

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