The Complete Guide to Building a Pedalboard
Know the Genre
As weird as it may sound, some players tend to buy stuff that does not suit the style of music that they're playing. But at this day and age, there are specialized pedals, like different distortion and overdrive pedals focused on specific genres. The same often goes for other effects.
Also, if the style of playing requires certain effects, like the chorus for example, then you should focus on finding a chorus that you like. However, for all this, you'll need to do a bit of the good old research online and there are plenty of guides for the best pedals for any genre these days. Use the power of the internet to your advantage.
The Order of Pedals
With various discussions online, there is one order that will definitely give you the clearest possible tone. From guitar to amp, it goes tuner, wah/filters, EQs, compressor, clean boost, pitch shifters, dist/overdrive, modulation, delay, reverb. The placement of the volume pedal depends on what you are aiming for, but it's probably the best if you have it at the very end.
However, experimentation is always welcome and there are no strict rules on how you should or shouldn't place your pedals in your signal chain.
Patch Cables and Pedal Connectors
Those tiny little patch cables are not as simple as they look. There are solderless and soldered one with various arguments on what you should or shouldn't use. The soldered cables are a bit bulkier, thus not a good option for complex pedalboards. However, they're more reliable and easy to repair if something goes wrong.
One might think that using those metal connectors is a good idea, but these might ruin your pedals. Every time you step on any of the effects, you bend the surface a bit, ultimately causing some micro damage to the jack and possibly even the pedal's circuit. It's not good in the long run.
While it may seem that this is just a simple surface where you place your pedals, you might be wrong. First, the pedalboard surface determines the angle at which your pedals are placed at and how easy it will be to arrange your pedals. There are different kinds of pedalboards, some with already carved out slots like the BOSS BCB-60. The more interesting ones are where you arrange them the way you want to. Some feature the surface where you can hold them in place with velcro tape. Some may feature holes where you tighten all the pedals, cables, and power cables using plastic cable ties. These are often used for those large and complex professional pedalboards.
Another thing to pay attention to is whether the pedalboard has its own power supply. Those that don't require you to buy a specialized power supply for powering multiple pedals.
Although you might know the order of your pedals in the signal chain, arranging them is a whole different story. If you have about 10 or so pedals on an average sized pedalboard, you'll need to find the best possible solution on how to place them next to each other. First, you need easy access to all of them. For instance, if you're using a wah or a volume pedal, these should be placed so that you can rock them properly without accidentally hitting any pedals around them.
You should also pay attention to how all the cables are arranged and if any of them are getting damaged by the pedal's switch.
For those pedalboards that don't have their internal power supplies, you'll need to buy a separate one. This is in no way something that you should save your money on. Using batteries is not exactly a good solution as you'll always need to have a bunch of spare ones and you don't want them to go dry in the middle of your live performance.
At the same time, quality power supplies will make sure you don't have any unwanted buzzing or hums messing with your tone so this is something you should pay attention to as well.
In the end, it's extremely important to be tidy and know which cable is going where. So in case of an emergency, you'll be able to easily recognize and deal with any potential problems. And the rule is simple ñ the more pedals and patch cables you have, the more problems may occur.