Saturday, May 3, 2008

Do it yourself pedalboard

If you have three or more pedals and aren't using a pedal board, it's probably time to get one. It saves a lot of time setting up/taking down, cables will stay in better shape, and your pedals won't move around at all when you step/stomp/tap on them.

I build my own a few years ago when there weren't many pre-made pedal boards that were reasonably priced. I was just looking at musicians friend and zzounds and it looks like there are a lot more pre-made boards now days and some of them are decent prices. Using the same method I used, you should be able to build a custom sized board for around $50 and get a soft case for around $30. That's still significantly cheaper than getting a pre-made board so I think these instructions will be worthwhile. Here are the steps:

1) Lay out your pedals and the ground how you want them on your pedal board and measure the width and depth. Add 4" to the width for handles and 2" to the depth because you'll end up with power cables and patch cables that take up room. It's a good idea to leave extra room for growth if you plan on adding more pedals.

Here is my original layout. In retrospect I had the pedals way to spread out and could have made the board about half the size. The good thing is, I was able to upgrade and expand over the years and still use the same pedal board.

2) Head to a hardwood store and get the following items (price is what I paid a few years ago):
- A sheet of 1/2" MDF (medium density fiberboard) big enough to fit your pedals and the extra room. I know Home Depot will even cut the sheet to the size you need. 1/2" might seem thin but it's never been a problem and it still holding up good as new with the abuse I've given it. [$5.95]
- 8 plastic or rubber feet [$2.49]
- 2 cabinet handles [$9.98]
- 1 Pint of paint, I used black glossy [$3.76]
- Paintbrush if you don't have one [$5.47]
- 2 four foot packs of industrial strength Velcro. You might think Velcro won't hold your pedals on but believe me, the industrial strength stuff is crazy. Nothing is going anywhere. [$17.94]

3) Paint both sides with at least two coats of paint

4) Screw the rubber feet to the bottom of the board. Put them on the corners and in the middle. This will make sure your board doesn't slide around on carpet or hard floors.

5) Screw the handles on the far left and right.

6) Velcro your pedals down. Make sure you are consistent in what part you put on the pedal and what part you put on the board so you can swap pedals if you need. The standard way of doing it is to put the fuzzy side on the board but I happened to do it opposite.

Here is the final product when I first made it:

And here is how it looks currently:

If you have a second row of pedals (like I do in the current photo) you might want to raise up the back row. I bought a piece of 3/4" MDF, painted it black, screwed it on using 1" screws, then Velcro'ed the pedals down. I made it a lot easier to step on that row.

If you want a way to carry your board around, look for a keyboard gig bag that will fit your board. I was able to get one for $30 and it's been all I've needed so far.


Jim said...

This is a great tutorial- most pedalboards are at least $100, especially if they come with the power supply. So, if you can just get your own power supply, you can make your own board. I guess all that's left is to get one of those custom bags for it so you can take it on gigs with you easily.

Mike said...

Oh, cool site for the custom gig bags!

Mark said...

Looks great! How do you like the Twin Tube classic? I just bought one (it's on the way).

Mike said...

I like it, it's a solid OD. It sounds great with my Les Paul but I don't know if I love it with the ES-137. I might replace it down the road but for now it's doing it's job well. You'll have to let me know what you think of it!

Rob said...

Sweet! I used duct tape instead of paint.

I've got a description of for how I built my DIY pedalboard here. Let me know what you think!