10 things to consider when setting up a pedal board
Here´s a top 10 list of things to consider when setting up a pedal board, taking cues from years of support of our FuelTank power supplies, our pedal line and hard learned lessons from real life!
1: Check that each pedal you have can in fact be powered from your chosen power supply.
Operating voltage, current draw, polarity and plug size matters. The specs for each pedal can be looked up in manuals/on manufacturer websites. If it helps you, make a drawing of the available power outlets and the pedals. With the specs listed next to each pedal/power supply outlet, it´s easier to make a working plan for how to connect things.
You will avoid short circuits, overloads and fried pedals if you do this carefully before turning on the power.
2: Find out how you want to mount the pedals and which signal flow you want on the board
3: Mount the first pedal (preferably the one you plug your instrument into) and the power supply to the board in the spot(s) you have decided on and test the audio by plugging into your amp. If things work just dandy and no excessive noise can be heard, mount the next pedal, apply power and test again. Repeat until all your pedals are mounted, powered and tested.
If a pedal/cable is faulty or there is a power problem, you´ll know instantly. With everything mounted, it can be a nightmare to find out what has caused the noise/lack of signal/power fail/etc.
4: Keep power supplies as far away from the pedals/cables as possible. With transformer based units, proximity noise is a well-known problem, especially with wahs that pick up hum from the power supply through the air. Pedals that are placed closer to the power supply will be more susceptible to this, due to the shorter distance.
5: If you do get excessive hum, check again for current draw of the pedal in question: Make sure the power supply has enough current available and respect the maximum specs of the power supply. If it delivers 100mA max., don´t draw more than maybe 90mA or less. You need a bit of headroom when dealing with power.
Move the connecting cables and/or the pedal around to see if this has an effect. If the noise lessens, you may have a proximity issue and things will need to be rearranged on the board.
6: Leave the whole thing on for a good hour or two and check if everything is still working.
It´s a hassle to do this in the middle of the first gig you do with your new, cool pedal board.
Wiggle each cable to make sure that all connections are solid.
8: Do not put cables or other accessories on top of the board when carrying it.
9: Make sure each pedal is mounted so that it doesn't move when being stepped on. Physical stress can lead to lots of problems over time.
10: Have loads of fun building the board: Experiment with the pedal order, test if pedal X sounds better at 9V vs. 12V (you checked that it can handle both, right?) and make everything nice and tidy. It´s way nicer to show off your new build if it looks good, sounds great and has a minimum of noise.