DIY Pedalboards – How To Make Your Own Pedalboard
A pedalboard is a flat surface or container that can be used to hold all of the guitar pedals that are currently in your signal chain. A pedalboard can be a simple board that you velcro your pedals to or something much more complexed that contains a transformer to power all of your pedals.
Why Do I Need A Pedalboard
As your pedal collection grows, you’ll need a platform to keep everything tidy and portable.
Anything more than 2 pedals deserves a pedalboard, especially if you’re a musician that is constantly dismantling your rig to go to gigs, jams or band practices.
Having a pedalboard will allow you to create a portable set of pedals that do not need to be dismantled every time you want to move your rig. You can simply disconnect the input cable, output cable and the power and pack it away. This leaves all of your pedals in the same layout with all of the patch cables intact, ready to be reassembled.
Pedalboards are also a fantastic way to improve your cable management and can really clean up your foot space. A well-managed and ordered pedalboard will allow you to truly focus on the song your playing/
How To Make A Simple Pedalboard
Making your own pedalboard can be as simple or complex as you want.
We can use a simple length of wood with velcro or cable ties to stick the pedals to the board or we can create a tiered angled wooden frame for a multi-levelled pedalboard.
However, this guide will focus on tricks and tips to create a simple DIY pedalboard.
IKEA Hejne Shelf
The Hejne shelf pack from IKEA only costs £8 but is the perfect structure for your first pedalboard. It’s slightly raised off the ground making it ideal for cable management.
However, you can use one of the panels from the second shelf to raise it even further allowing you to hide a power supply underneath.
The slats of the Hejne shelf also make this a fantastic option attaching velcro or cable ties to secure your pedals for transport.
Old Skateboard Deck
You can pick up an old skateboard, used from a charity shop for cheap and these make for a perfect pedalboard.
If you can’t find any in a charity shop, you can find a fairly affordable skateboard deck up on Amazon:
Skateboard decks are just the right width for most standard pedals and are long enough hold 5 or 6 pedals which should be more than enough for a first board.
You only want the deck of the skateboard and if you find one in a charity shop, you can take the wheels off so it’s just the wooden part.
An old wooden dinner tray can make a fantastic pedalboard and some people will have one just lying around, you can pick one up second hand really easily in a charity shop or on a car boot.
However, if you have an IKEA nearby, you could also try an OSTBIT bamboo tray:
The OSTBIT bamboo tray is big enough to hold 6-8 standard pedals and has a slight recess that would be ideal for keeping all of the patch and power cables out of your way.
Wooden Chopping Board
A large wooden chopping board can make a fantastic pedalboard and, depending on the size of it, you can fit quite a few pedals on it.
These can be picked up from any good supermarket or cookware shop.
You can get chopping boards with recesses on the bottom that will make it much easier to pick up and throw in your bag.
Vintage Hardshell Suitcase/Briefcase
Vintage hardshell suitcases make for excellent pedalboards as one compartment is much shallower than the other.
This allows you to put your pedals in the shallow side and cover them with the deeper half for transportation.
Depending on the arrangement of the insides of the briefcase, you could use one of these to create your pedalboard.
Metal Wire Shelf
A multipurpose wire shelf can be found in most hardware stores and can be picked up for under £10.
While you can’t use velcro on these boards, you can use cable ties to secure your pedals in place.
Homemade Wooden Pedalboard
If you’re comfortable working with a saw, drill and other tools, you could even make your own 100% custom pedalboard.
This is great as you can really create something especially for the pedals you want to showcase on your pedalboard. You can add inputs & outputs to the side of the board to hide all cabling underneath the board and you can even build in a power supply to power all of your pedals directly from the board.
The skies the limit and you can really do anything you want.
How To Secure Pedals To A DIY Pedalboard
Now you’ve chosen a platform to hold all of your pedals, you need to think about how you’re going to fasten them to that board to prevent them from moving around during transportation.
The most popular forms of securing your pedals to your board are velcro and cable ties.
Velcro is a fantastic way to secure pedals to your pedalboard as it allows us to move and reposition our pedals really easily.
It’s very affordable to purchase a long role of velcro self-adhesive tape and this will give you enough velcro to do a few pedalboards.
If you want something a little tougher, I’d highly recommend 3M Dual Lock Fastener. The adhesive is a little stronger and it keeps pedals in place much better. However, it is a little more expensive:
To attach this, I’d suggest adding the rougher (hook) side of the tape to the board. Measure and cut lengths long enough to run the length of your pedalboard.
You don’t need to cover the board in this and two rows of tape should be enough for each row of pedals on your board.
Before attaching a piece of the softer (loop) side of the tape to your pedals, it makes sense to think about how you’re going to arrange your pedals. While you can still move your pedals around once you have attached the velcro, it’s much easier to think about this before.
I’d suggest 2 pieces of soft (loop) side velcro for each pedal. One piece across the top of the back panel and one across the bottom. This will prevent the pedal from wiggling around when stomping on it.
The one downside of using velcro is that it’s quite tough to remove the velcro from your pedals without damaging the paintwork. If you’re the type of person that like to swap & sell your pedals after a time, you may not wish to do this as damaged paintwork could hard the resale value.
If your pedalboard has slats like the IKEA Hejne or is a mesh, like the wire shelf, cable ties could be a great alternative to velcro. While it’s a little more permanent than velcro, it’s much sturdier and cheaper to work with.
For standard pedals in the Hammond 1590B enclosure, you’ll want a cable tie that’s at least 30cm long like the below:
This length will allow you to wrap around the pedal and really secure it to your pedalboard.
How To Power A DIY Pedalboard
Some people rely solely on 9-volt batteries to power their pedalboards, but if you’re looking for a solution that’s a little more effective in the long run, you really need a good power supply.
You could buy a single 9-volt wall charger and use a daisy chain cable like the one below to power your cables. However, this can prevent your pedals from getting the power they need which can really affect your tone and the functionality of the pedal:
A better solution would be to purchase an actually pedalboard power supply. A good power supply will last you a lifetime and while it may seem like a large investment, it will work out cheaper than constantly buying batteries and will not affect your tone, like a daisy chain would.
The main pedalboard power supplies that I’ve personally used (through friends or my own boards) are below:
T-Rex Fuel Tank (Currently On My Board)
Voodoo Labs Pedal Power Plus 2
One Spot Truetone Power Supply
All of these power supplies come with all the necessary cables to help wire up your pedals for the power they need.
It’s important that you check out the actual power needs of your pedals before plugging them in. Some will be positive centre others will have a negative centre. It’s also key to note that not all pedals are 9-volts and some will actually require 18-volts to function correctly.
How To Wire A Homemade Pedalboard
Now that all of your pedals are secured in place on your board and powered with a suitable power supply, you need to wire up your pedals and connect them together.
Odds are, you’ll already have a set of patch cables for your pedals and I personally don’t think you need to worry about spending too much on these. A 6 pack of cables like the below will do just fine for what you need:
Some people will say that you need to buy expensive high-quality cables for your rig as cheap cables will impact your tone. However, if you have a buffer in your signal chain, odds are you’ll have at least one pedal on your board, I think that this becomes less of an issue and you won’t receive a huge return on investment.
Wherever possible, try to hide the cables underneath the pedalboard as this will make everything look much neater and easier to work with.
Creating your own DIY guitar pedalboard will make it simple to transport your rig whilst allowing you to cable manage things cleaning up your floor space to really focus on what you’re doing.
I’d love to see pictures of your personal pedalboards and see how creative you’ve been. Please send them over if you’d like to show off or just have a chat.