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Roundup: The Skinny on Six Pedalboards

January 30, 2014
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Crafting a pedalboard from a piece of plywood might be your first impulse if you want to end the madness of stringing a bunch of loose stompboxes on the floor, but the availability of quality, ready-made boards makes it hardly worth the effort of going all DIY. Aftermarket boards come in a wide variety of sizes, materials, and configurations to suit almost any need, so basically all you have to do is determine is how big your board needs to be and what amenities it should have. A few things to consider: Are you comfortable with a flat board or do you prefer an angled type? Is a riser needed to make the inboard pedals easier to reach? Do you plan on turning pedals on and off individually, or will you need to factor in some extra space for a switching system that can activate multiple pedals with a single stomp? Some boards come with their own power supplies, which can save you some dough, but if the DC output isn’t sufficient to handle current-hungry digital effectors, you may still need to shell out for a pro-grade power supply (and reserve space on the board for it).

A pedalboard has to be reliable too. Troubleshooting connections on the gig is a non-starter, so do you trust your own skills at wiring it up or should you hand that job over to a pro? And even if you get a “turn-key” board with all your pedals professionally mounted and wired, any changes you make to it can compromise the system. If cost isn’t an issue, it’s probably best to leave a properly working board alone and build another for all those new pedals you’ve bought.

For this roundup we gathered six pedalboards that run the gamut from basic flat and angled platforms to more feature heavy models to a unique new board that offers wireless pedal switching. We evaluated them on the basis of construction, features, and ease of setup.

 

BOSS BCB-60

As you might expect, the BCB-60 is designed with Boss pedals in mind. The novel attachment method for them employs a trio of foam pads, each pre-cut for two standard Boss pedals or one “twin” model. You simply unscrew each pad at its four corners, remove the pre-punched cutouts as needed, place the foam pads around your pedals, and screw them down again. The system provides a reasonably secure hold on Boss and equivalent sized boxes, but pedals with smaller or larger dimensions require you to cut their outlines into the blank piece of foam that’s included for this use. Of course, you can always resort to Velcro for keeping odd-sized pedals in place, and the board’s removable plastic cover ensures that everything stays put and is well protected while traveling.

Another thoughtful feature of the BCB-60 is the wiring channel that runs along the front of the pedals. Take off the two hatches that cover the channel, place the supplied “daisy chain” power cable inside, and then push the ends out though any of the 12 openings to connect to your pedals’ DC input jacks. Up to seven pedals can be powered in this manner, and once you put the covers back on the bulk of the wiring is well hidden. A section of the channel on the far right side can even be removed so that you can put a Crybaby or other extra-long pedal in the first slot. Nice!

The dual 1/4" return and output jacks make it easy to configure this pedalboard for stereo, and you get the pro-style convenience of plugging directly into the board to make all the audio connections. Obviously a lot of thought went into the BCB-60, and it’s an excellent choice if you mainly use Boss pedals and want a self-contained system for them.

BOSS BCB-60

CONTACT bossus.com
PRICE $169 street

SPECIFICATIONS

SIZE 26 7/16" x 14 5/8"
CONSTRUCTION Molded plastic with hinged cover
COLOR Dark gray
MOUNTING SURFACE Plastic with foam holding pads
CONNECTIONS Input, Send, Return (x2) Output (x2), DC input and output 2.1mm jacks
POWER SUPPLY INCLUDED? Yes
CABLES INCLUDED? Yes, audio and power
OPTIONS N/A
BUILT China
KUDOS Holds pedals without Velcro or locking tape. Allows power cables to be hidden. 1000mA power supply included.
CONCERNS Best suited for Boss-sized pedals.

 

DIABLOFX SC-6

Pedalboard systems that use relay controlled switchable loops to bring effects in and out of the signal path have been around for years, but what makes the SC-6 different is its use of wireless technology to remotely activate six loops via a wireless four-button floor switcher (powered by a small 12-volt battery) that you program using a simple matrix of switches on the main board. On the left side of the board are LEDs labeled A, B, C, and D, which correspond to the identically labeled buttons on the floor switcher. Across the front of the board we also find a quartet of switches for each loop that are used to assign pedals to any of the momentary buttons on the floor switcher.

The intuitive interface makes it super easy to get multiple effects configured for one-button activation, and with the pedalboard and switcher placed a stage length’s away from each other, the system worked flawlessly and without interference. It’s clear from the DiabloFX video demo that the board and switcher can communicate at much greater distances as well.

From a conceptual standpoint the SC-6 is brilliant, but it would be helpful if there were LEDs on the switcher to indicate what loop is active. It would also be nice if you could access the six loops individually, which would require adding two buttons to the switcher or perhaps a bank A/B switch. Power for the switching and wireless electronics could also come from an internal supply instead of having to plug in a dedicated 9-volt adapter (along with another adapter for the pedals).

As it stands, though, the SC-6 six certainly brings a high level of convenience factor to the pedalboard equation in an easy to operate system. Being able to put the pedalboard anywhere you want is a real boon when stage space is limited, and players who already go wireless will especially love how the SC-6 utilizes RF technology for stompbox management. An impressive debut, and it will be interesting to see how the system evolves from this early production version.

DIABLO FX SC-6

CONTACT diablofx.com
PRICE $599 retail (includes soft case)

SPECIFICATIONS

SIZE 16" x 24"
CONSTRUCTION Steel
COLOR: Black
MOUNTING SURFACE Steel
CONNECTIONS Input and and output jacks. Send and return jacks for each of the six loops
POWER SUPPLY INCLUDED? Yes, for switching unit only; wireless floorboard uses a small 12v battery
CABLES INCLUDED? No
OPTIONS N/A
KUDOS Wireless system allows floor switcher and pedalboard to be placed anywhere on or off stage. Pedals can be easily configured for single-button activation.
CONCERNS No LEDs on the floor switcher. Only four of the six loops can be activated individually by the switcher.

 

FIX PEDALBOARDS TYPE 2

The company behind this brand makes a lot of components for the automotive racing world, and Fix brings this high level of metal fabrication to its new line of pedalboards. The stock models currently available include the Type 2 tested here along with the Type 0 (16" x 12"), Type 00 (19" x 15"), Type 1 (15" x 12"), and Type 3 (27" x 16.5"). All are milled from tough aerospace-grade aluminum and sport beautifully rounded corners and luscious candy-powder-coat finishes (polished aluminum is also available). A roll of 3M Dual Lock is included with each board, and Fix also makes metal holders for pedals (available separately) that install easily on your pedals to prevent damage to the bottoms by super-strong locking tape.

The Type 1, 2, and 3 boards also feature a hinged compartment that can hold pedals on the top and swings open when you undo the quick-twist metal fasteners (the same ones used to keep hatches on funny cars closed at 300+ mph) so you can put power supplies, AC strips, etc., under the raised section for more efficient use of space. The Type 2 on review here also has five holes in the mounting surface for routing power and audio cables under the board, where they are protected by a removable sheet-metal cover. Very cool! Ease of setup, excellent construction, and a hip look make Fix pedalboards an attractive new option for the stompbox scene.

FIX PEDALBOARDS TYPE 2

CONTACT fixpedalboards.com
PRICE $199 direct

SPECIFICATIONS

SIZE 23"x16 1/2"
CONSTRUCTION Milled 5052-H32 Aluminum
COLOR Grandaddy Purple; also available in Stage Black (gloss or matte), Spy White, Agata Yellow, Candy Red, Payday Green, Rasp Red, La Paz Blue, Extra Gold, and Antarctic Blue
MOUNTING SURFACE Aluminum
CONNECTIONS None
POWER SUPPLY INCLUDED? No
CABLES INCLUDED? No
OPTIONS Custom sizes and colors. Metal holders available for a variety of pedals. Aluminum foamlined travel cases ($112 to $150)
BUILT USA
KUDOS Excellent construction and materials. Flip-open pedal riser is perfect for stashing power supplies, AC strips, etc.
CONCERNS None.

 

GATOR G-TOUR PEDALBOARD

This compact system is designed for players who need the high level of protection for their pedals that only a hard case can provide. As such, you get a board measuring 11" x 17" that is constructed from plywood with an aluminum valance around the perimeter. Chromed handles allow you to pick up the board easily, and the foam-lined ATA-style case keeps your pedals safe and secure while also providing ample space underneath the board for cords and other essentials. It doesn’t take a lot of pedals along with a power supply (not included) to fill up the real estate on this flat board, but if you stick with Boss-sized boxes or the more compact types such as made by Red Witch and Xotic, there should be plenty of room to mount all the effects you need. And if you need more space, consider the larger (11" x 24") G-Tour, which costs only $30 more.

Bottom line: The Gator G-Tour gives you the basics in an rugged and affordable package that’s especially well suited for players who do a lot of fly dates and need to keep things small and light.

GATOR CASES
G-TOUR PEDALBOARD SM

CONTACT gatorcases.com
PRICE $169 street (includes hard case)

SPECIFICATIONS

SIZE: 11" x 17" (also available in 24" x 11", $199 street)
CONSTRUCTION Plywood with aluminum valance
COLOR Black
MOUNTING SURFACE Black melamine over plywood (includes 3M Dual Lock for pedal mounting)
Connections None
POWER SUPPLY INCLUDED? No
CABLES INCLUDED? No
OPTIONS Tow handle and wheels on larger model
BUILT China
KUDOS Rugged board and ATA road case combo at a great price. Ideal for players who need just a few pedals.
CONCERNS None.

 

PEDALTRAIN 3

Check out a live gig these days and chances are good that you’ll see a Pedaltrain board somewhere on stage. These popular, all-metal platforms use a system of mounting bars that not only makes it easy to affix pedals of various shapes and sizes (Velcro is included for this task), but also to route the audio and power cables under the bars for a clean appearance. Our review board also came with the optional ATA hard case, which provides excellent protection and has a generous space inside for accessories (ordered with a Pedaltrain 3, the package price is $270 street)

The underside of this angled board is perfectly suited for mounting a Voodoo Lab power supply (not included), and Pedaltrain includes the necessary hardware to do this. All you have to do is attach the two brackets to the sides of the supply and drill four 1/8" holes on the bottom side of the bars to secure the unit with the self-tapping screws. It took me about 20 minutes to do this part of the setup.

Pedaltrain now also offers its own Powertrain 1250 supply that installs with similar ease. It’s still a “drill baby, drill” affair, but no brackets are needed for this unit. And once you have your power in place, you’ll find the Pedaltrain 3 (as well as the Pedaltrain Jr., PT-1, PT-2, and PT-Pro) to be some of the easiest boards to configure your pedals on and make everything look neat and professional—even if you’ve never put a pedalboard together before.

PEDALTRAIN 3

CONTACT pedaltrain.com
PRICE $139 street (includes soft case)

SPECIFICATIONS

SIZE 24"x16"
CONSTRUCTION Aluminum
COLOR Black
MOUNTING SURFACE Aluminum bars
CONNECTIONS None
POWER SUPPLY INCLUDED? No
CABLES INCLUDED? No
OPTIONS Powertain 1250 power supply ($TBA). ATA hard case ($270 w/Pedaltrain 3)
BUILT China
KUDOS Rugged and simple. Easily accommodates pedals of various sizes. Cables can easily be run under the pedals
CONCERNS None, though drilling is required for mounting a power-supply.

 

TRAILER TRASH PRO SERIES

Trailer Trash boards come in three basic flavors—FlatTrash, ProSeries, and Glowtop— which can be ordered with a variety of options and even custom wired with your pedals at the factory if you so choose. The 24"x12" ProSeries we tested came with a Voodoo Lab PP-2+ power supply installed ($175), a side-mounted AC input jack pre-wired to the power supply ($25), two side-mounted (but not wired) Neutrik jacks ($40), a 10-foot X-cord for the AC power ($25), and a courtesy AC outlet ($25). This latter option was especially handy when it came to powering an Eventide Space pedal, which uses a large proprietary adapter. Without it the side-mounted AC outlet I would have had to mount the adapter under the board and make a short cord for it to connect to the VooDoo Lab’s AC extension out. Not a bad way to go, come to think of it …

This rugged pedal platform sports the new raised chrome-plated logo on the front and it also came with an opening in the top for routing the power-supply cables (no charge for this). All I needed to do was lock my pedals down (best done with T-Trash Tour Grade Velcro; $6 per foot) and the rig was ready to roll. Worth mentioning too, is the soft case that is included for a package price of $150. It features 1" foam padding, extra canvas on the corners for durability, a big pocket on the outside, and is rigid enough to stand upright with a pedalboard inside. Very nice!

A reasonably tricked Trailer Trash board can get pricey: Our review unit with soft case and options brought the grand total to $440. But you get what you pay for here, and if a top-notch pedalboard is your wish, you’ll definitely want to investigate what Trailer Trash has to offer.

TRAILER TRASH PEDALBOARDS
PRO SERIES

CONTACT trailertrashpedalboards.com
PRICE $95 direct ($440 as tested with options)

SPECIFICATIONS

SIZE 24"x12" (also available in 28"x16", 30"x18", 36"x18", and 40"x18")
CONSTRUCTION Steel with welded corners
COLOR White, (also available in red, black, diamond-plate)
MOUNTING SURFACE Hardtop (also available with VelTop)
CONNECTIONS See options list
POWER SUPPLY INCLUDED? See Options list
CABLES INCLUDED? DC power cables included if ordered with optional power supply—matching AC cord $25
OPTIONS Voodoo Lab power supplies ($120-$175); side-mount AC In ($25), Courtesy AC out ($25); side-mount Neutrik jacks ($20 each); Soft or ATA cases (prices vary). Other options available so check with manufacturer.
BUILT USA
KUDOS A stylish, well-made board for discriminating players. Multitude of options.
CONCERNS None.

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