At the moment you learn that there are effect pedals, you will get a bit curious and mostly you will get an overdrive pedal for the start. The new sonic possibilities are overwhelming, and soon the thought comes to one’s mind: “If this one is so brilliant, why not try others also?”. This is where the “evolution of the pedalboard” starts.
You start rummaging in various guitar shops and try to find out which are the different kinds of pedal categories. Newbies mostly concentrate themselves to solid and well-priced effect brands like Boss or Joyo. The pedalboard habitually is built up with several stompboxes side by side, running on batteries. But the number of pedals rises. In this phase many “pedalboards” provide one pedal of each effect category. Thus, you frequently will find a chorus next to a phaser and a flanger. And the user is clueless of what these pedals are actually doing with his/her sound.
After clicking through some forums on the internet you found the concept of “boutique effects”. Little by little all pedals that have been on the pedalboard are replaced by the best of its respective category. And soon there will be numerous pedals made by Strymon, AnalogMan, Fulltone and similar manufacturers on your pedalboard. At this point you will also, for the first time, think about high-quality cables, a valuable power supply and an appropriate assembly of the pedalboard.
The board is big, heavy and error-prone. And, to be honest, there are pedals on the board like a pitch shifter or a bit crusher that you actually never use. Additionally, the dry thru signal that passed this pedalboard does not sound as fresh and powerful as the guitar directly connected to the amplifier. In this phase, some guitarists check out the benefit of a looper pedal that allocates each pedal to an own true bypass loop and which can be controlled via midi.
Now half of the pedals on the pedalboard are devices that does not affect the sound of the guitar: expression pedal, noise gate and switcher or controller.
In this phase you will think about the so-called “downsizing” for the first time. You set up a small pedalboard with about 5 pedals. But again, and again you arrange several pedals next to the pedalboard and after a short visit on “thegearpage” you buy another new device. The number of pedals on the current board varies between 5 and 8 until there is a radical cut: you restrict yourself to 3 effect pedals! The sound is much fresher now and switching becomes pretty easy. Regarding these 3 pedals you choose devices that comply with your very own preferences and which you really need for your own songs and your individual style of playing.
Some phases will be experienced in circles which means that a small board soon develops to a big one with switcher. At the moment, I am the most satisfied with a compact pedalboard with about 6 pedals because the signal path is relatively short, one multi power supply is enough to run all devices and the pedalboard can be carried pretty well.
And I don’t have to tell the other band members that in my bedroom there is one pedalboard for almost each phase of the pedalboard evolution…