5 Easy Ways to Clean Up Your Pedalboard
Like most gigging musicians, a pedalboard is an often overlooked source of mess and clutter. With cables hanging and pedals flipped, most pedalboards can eat up a fair amount of setup and breakdown time just to plug in your guitar and amp. Although a clean pedalboard doesn’t always make your rig sound any better, it can lead to a more efficient and easier to play setup. Check out these 5 tips to whip that pile of pedals into a masterpiece of tonal precision.
Keep your pedals where you put them.
One of the biggest culprits of a messy pedalboard is the lack of security in holding pedals. Hook and loop (Velcro) is by far the king of the pedalboard holding game, but there are quite a few variations to consider. When it comes to a quality hook and loop tape don’t scrimp. Even the most modest of pedal collections have a good chunk of money tied into them so why settle for a Dollar Store Velcro? Industrial strength ‘Velcro’ brand is the one to get. It is available at most home improvement stores at several widths; I would recommend going no narrower than 2″. Another alternative is Dual Lock. Dual Lock is similar to Velcro except there is no loop (soft) side rather an interlocking hook material. It is stronger than Velcro and worth every penny when it comes to keeping your pedals in place. The final alternative would be the bicycle chain technique. Buy a cheap bicycle chain and take apart the links. Each link has two figure 8 brackets that can be placed between your pedals enclosure and enclosure screws. Screw the other side directly into your board; good luck moving that TSA!
Make Custom Cable Lengths
We’ve all used the multi colored patch cables before and although they work in a pinch, there’s always a couple of cable runs that just won’t reach. Instead of buying a 3ft instrument cable for these longer runs, try your hand at custom length cables. If you know how to solder, the Mogami 2319 is the perfect cable for pedalboard leads and can be bought for as little as $.50 a foot. Coupled with a low profile plug like the Switchcraft 228, you can have clean cable runs and save space between pedals. Can’t solder? Try solder-free cables. Since their introduction on the market, solder-free cables have evolved in both functionality and price. Lava has been leading the pack with innovative cable solutions that are quick to make and still affordable. Their TightRope kits make up to 5 cables and retail for $59.95. Besides the cleaner look of custom cables, you will also see a great improvement in your tone and signal clarity.
If it Hangs, Anchor it!
Keep power and patch cables in place with cable anchors. Head to the electronics section of your home improvement store and check out their cable management solutions. If you’re mounting to a metal board, adhesive backed zip tie anchors work great. They are low profile and work perfect under or on top of your board. If your board is wood, cable clamps work just as well and can be mounted with a wood screw. Once the majority of your cables are in place, zip ties can keep things tight and in line.
Patch Bay for Quicker Setups
If your pedal configuration puts your input or output in hard to reach places, consider a pedalboard patch bay. They allow you to run your inputs and outputs to a single box and can be mounted easily to the edge of your board. When you’re ready to play, simply plug your guitar and amp in; no fighting with your first and last pedals. T1M effects makes a mini patch bay for only $25 and can be further customized to fit your setup. Another simple solution is the use of instrument jacks ran to your first and last pedals. Blackbird’s solderless 1/4″ jacks act like a patch bay that can be installed on the side or back of your board and are TS or TRS compatible.
Get a Real Board!
If you’re still using a piece of plywood from your garage, it might be time to get a real pedalboard. The first rule of any successful build is starting with a good foundation. There has been an explosion of builders and ideas in the pedalboard market as of late and many of those have focused on making your board as clean and functional as possible. Pedaltrain is still the standard when it comes to functionality and cable routing although newcomers like Blackbird and Temple Audio have pushed even further with accessories and options to make your board as clean as possible.