SKB has been manufacturing pedalboards with built-in power supplies, cable testers, and other accoutrements for years—but the FootNote is the first model to include a combo amp. The 5-watt, class A/B amplifier sports Volume, Bass, and Treble controls—spanning a range from Penny through Nickel to Dime—and powers an onboard 6" Eminence speaker. An External Speaker jack gives you the option of powering a cab of your choice instead, and there’s a Headphone output for silent running (the onboard speaker may be switched off). You can also play along with backing tracks or your favorite tunes by plugging your iPod or other audio device into the 1/8" Aux input, and a 1/4" Line output lets you route your signal directly into a high-impedance input on a mixer, audio interface, etc. Up to eight pedals drawing 100mA or less may be connected directly to the FootNote’s onboard 9-volt power supply, and a handy cable tester aids in troubleshooting signal-flow problems. What is more, pedal-happy street buskers will be delighted to know that the whole shebang can run on six D batteries as well as the included power supply, and a reinforced custom gig bag ($59 street) is available as an option. There’s a lifetime warranty on the board and a five-year warranty on the electronics.
The FootNote is constructed of durable, lightweight plastic, and its 19"x12" pedal area is covered in Velcro. The speaker compartment is slotted and faces upward for obvious reasons, so you’ll want to be careful with liquids when using it. The amp’s tone controls sound good and sweep useful ranges, but I ran out of clean headroom quickly once the Volume control exceeded 10 o’clock, especially when playing a guitar with powerful pickups and using just the internal speaker. There was considerably more headroom when I connected the FootNote to a 1x12 cab loaded with a 75-watt Celestion G12H, and it even held its own powering a Marshall 4x12 cab with Vintage 30s. Of course, if you aren’t getting your overdrive from a pedal, the clipping at relatively low volumes may be viewed as a feature rather than a limitation. Both the clean and overdriven tones are comparable to those of a high-quality practice amp—perfectly fine for practicing and even quiet rehearsals and small gigs, though not necessarily inspiring. There was also a slight but noticeable hum.
This is a unique product that is perfect for students, the pro or semi-pro that wants a self-contained practice setup, or the aforementioned busker. You can also think of it as a good quality, reasonably priced pedalboard featuring an eight-tap power supply and a cable tester, with a built-in amp/headphone amp as a bonus (as the amp and speaker add little weight to the overall package). Either way, the FootNote is a welcome addition to SKB’s already diverse pedalboard line.
Contact SKB, (800) 410-2024; skbcases.com Price $299 retail/$179 street
Kudos Onboard amp/headphone amp. Powers eight pedals. May be battery powered. Good value.
Concerns Limited clean headroom. Slight hum.