Big pedalboard vs. mini workhorse

PedalboardLately I visited a concert in a small club and there it happened again: the band started with the first song and at the same time one of the guitarists began to fiddle about his pedalboard because not a single tone of his guitar reached the boxes. Supported by his roady he was able to rectify his short-time mutism but to me this is not really the perfect concert opening. After the show the guitar tech told me that exactly the same happened the night before.

There were 8 or maybe 10 pedals on the pedalboard wired quite chaotically via a looper. And by looking at the spaghetti junction of cables I thought to myself that these problems were already pre-programmed. After the pedalboard failure has been corrected the concert was great. But nevertheless the question arose if all these pedals and with them the danger of a failure were really necessary for this kind of guitar sound. I would say that my hearing is pretty good but besides a little overdrive I could only perceive delay and reverb. Therefor a pedalboard with an overdrive pedal, a delay and a reverb could have been sufficient. There would have been no need for a looper and the wiring would have been much easier.

Studio vs. live

I think that it makes sense to think about the question where you will use your pedalboard before planning it.
In the studio you will be glad about many different sounds in high quality. And to get inspired also some innovative pedals can be quite helpful.

Live on stage this error-prone studio pedalboard is not always the best choice. Although it might be exciting to use a ring modulator to play two or three single notes between two songs you should think about the question if you really need extraordinary pedals for small experiments on stage.

Emergency switch

If you have decided on an extended live pedalboard but you don’t have a guitar tech it might makes sense to install some kind of “emergency switch” in form of a pedalboard bypass switch. By using this option (for example by setting a bypass switch on the looper) you can pass the whole pedalboard by and will stay tuned also there is something wrong with the wiring or one of your pedals.

Besides it makes sense to install a 9V battery with the appropriate adapter cable on your big pedalboard. By this you will be able to use at least your most important pedal for the rest of the show although the power supply fails.

And of course you should control all the cables before assembling your pedalboard on stage and take care to lay the cables in a way that will not stress them.