This is the process I went through to downsize to a minimalist pedalboard and "restock" it with pedals that I would actually use.
Through years of playing guitar, I ended up with a bunch of pedals and gear that, for a number of reasons, I just didn't use.
Thus, my goals in downsizing could be summarized as the following:
- Sell most of the current pedals and pedalboard
- Buy a new, smaller pedalboard that was easier to transport
- Buy new pedals that I would use on a regular basis
- Do it all for around $450.
My old pedalboard was a giant SKB outfit with its own power supply and effects loop.
It was bulky, noisy and hard to transport.
Moreover, I didn't have a tuner or any kind of modulation effects on my pedalboard. I had a delay and compressor, but they were the only pedals I used regularly, and most of the time I only used a Line 6 DL4 delay, by itself.
The DL4 was easy to transport to and from church.
Thus, it was time to trim the fat.
I needed a smaller board and pedals that I would actually use.
Here's my shopping list:
Pedal cabling or couplers?
For cabling between pedals, I recommend using the Planet Waves right-angle patch cables, which are low capacitance, shielded (practically noiseless) and come cheap in packs of three.
Shielded, low-capaciatance Planet Waves patch cables help cut down on noise and pedal hiss.
Gold pedal couplers will have the same effect and significantly reduce noise between pedals.
I wanted a quiet and small power supply, which is why I targeted the Voodoo Lab ISO 5. The isolated power outputs are much quieter and more reliable than whatever was built into my SKB board.
So, how did I get all this done for $450?
It was tricky, but between Reverb and Amazon, it was doable.
Here's how I did it.
Putting Together a $455 Minimalist Pedalboard
First, I wanted to buy the pedalboard and power supply new.
Over to Amazon.
For the board itself, I went with a fairly small Pedaltrain pedalboard, the Metro M16, which is only 16 inches long and about eight inches wide.
It was just enough space for the pedals I wanted to include.
I bought the board new, fulfilled by the Amazon warehouse (used options weren't cheaper), thereby solving my bulky pedalboard problem for about $80.
The Pedaltrain Metro M16 serves as the base for my minimalist pedalboard downsize. (View Larger Image)
Staying on Amazon, I set about adding an isolated power supply to my cart. The Voodoo Lab ISO 5 was the only one I considered, and again, used options weren't at all tempting.
The ISO 5 is small and has just enough ports for six total pedals (the Boss TU-2 - which I would buy later - can power another pedal if it's already powered).
Hovering around $110 retail, it was already one of the cheaper Voodoo Lab power supply offerings.
Voodoo Lab ISO 5 pedal power supply unboxing. (View Larger Image)
At this point, I've spent about $190, and my Amazon shopping is done.
Buying the Guitar Pedals for a Minimalist Pedalboard
To stock the pedal board I had no intention of buying any pedals brand new, for a couple reasons.
First, I was targetting all Boss pedals, which last forever, even if they've been through a few gigs already.
Second, the used prices of Boss pedals are notoriously low, while older versions of each pedal can reduce cost further.
In short, they can be had for really cheap.
I used a combination of Amazon and Reverb.com to check pricing, though I ended up purchasing all four pedals from Reverb.
Here's how I broke it down.
The Boss TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
The Boss TU-2 tuner goes on first. (View Larger Image)
Boss (now owned by Roland) has released three versions of their chromatic tuner. On Reverb, there are plenty of the second generation options available used for well under the $100 retail price tag of the TU-3.
I was able to find a used TU-2 in "very good" condition for $67.
I no longer have to use the crappy tuner built into my amp.
Typically, used prices for the TU-2 will hover around $50, where many of them are in "very good" to "mint" condition.
Here's a snippet that will display the most recent lowest price for the TU-2 Chromatic tuner on Reverb.
With the additional $67 for my tuner, I'm now up to $257 total.
The Boss BF-3 Flanger
Adding the Boss BF-3 flanger (modulation) after the tuner and compressor. (View Larger Image)
I'm now onto the task of adding some basic modulation to my new pedalboard.
Since I have a rackmounted processor with a bunch of chorus effects in it, I decided to compliment it with the Boss BF-3 flanger. You'll also notice the red MXR compressor pedal in the above photo.
I already owned that pedal, and used it to start my pedal chain coming out of my guitar. But I digress.
Like the tuner, there's a second and third generation of the Boss flanger.
Though in the case of the flanger, I like some of the features and modes offered by the third installment which is still a really cheap pedal, with used prices routinely dipping under 40% of retail cost.
I ended up grabbing one for $72 in "excellent" condition from Reverb.
When I got the pedal it looked brand new, without a scratch or smudge that I could tell.
We're now up to $329 for the entire board.
Here's snippet with the most recent and lowest price for the Boss BF-3 flanger from Reverb.
One more modulation pedal to go.
The Boss PH-2 Super Phaser
The Boss PH-2 Super Phaser is the fourth pedal in the chain. (View Larger Image)
My second layer of modulation would come from a Boss phaser pedal.
Since I wanted to save some money, I bought the second generation, the PH-2 Super Phaser and went with the used variety.
$60 got it done.
The PH-3 has more modes and a bit more control than this one, but phasers are simple effects and I don't use it for anything but basic layering and flavor.
Speed and depth always stay pretty low.
This takes care of all the modulation and "flavor" of my pedalboard, at least concerning what I didn't already own. I already had a Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail delay, which is great for analog ambience.
Here's the look, so far:
Tuner, modulation and ambient effects for a minimalist pedalboard (View Larger Image)
This puts us at a $390 total investment.
Getting closer and just one more pedal to go.
Reverb has a lot of the used PH-2 phasers that can drop into the $40 range.
The Boss GEB-7 Equalizer
The final version of my minimalist pedalboard. (View Larger Image)
To finish my signal I needed to add a pedal EQ.
I opted for the Boss GEB-7 Equalizer, which is the bass version of the GE-7, because I frequently use lower tunings and sometimes baritone strings. It's also capable of adding a little extra thickness that I like in my guitar's tone.
Besides all that, I do play bass with a fair amount of regularity.
This pedal is now my last line of defense before my amplifier, therefore it can also be used for a volume boost or reduction. I velcro'd it at the last empty spot to the left of my ISO 5 power supply and then wired everything up underneath the board.
Here's a look at the wiring job:
Finishing up underneath the board. ( View Larger Image)
As you can see, I used twist ties and tape to hide all the mess underneath the pedalboard.
Once all the velcro and wiring had been taken care of, I had a sleek, clean-looking pedalboard that was incredibly easy to use and transport. No more lugging around the giant SKB monstrosity that I didn't even need.
Our grand total now sits at the aforementioned $455. Not bad for completely revamping and restocking my pedalboard with high-quality gear.
Now, with that out of the way:
What does the finished product look like?
Here are a few shots of the pedal board and revamped guitar rig.
(View Larger Image)
What about the gear pictured that you didn't mention?
As I've already mentioned, there are several pedals and pieces of gear that got carried over from the old board.
The compressor and delay pedal, among several other pieces of gear, made the final roster.
Here's a list of everything pictured that I didn't buy during this particular shopping spree, that got "re-signed" onto the new pedalboard:
- Line 6 DL4 Digital Delay Modeler
- MXR DynaComp Compressor Pedal
- Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail Analog Delay
- Behringer Modulizer Pro DSP1200p Rack FX Processor
The pedal's that I sold (released) were the following:
- Boss MD-2 Mega Distortion
- EHX Q-Tron Envelope Filter
- Dunlop High Gain Volume Pedal
- Keeley DynaTrem Tremolo
- Ibanez Tube Screamer (TS9DX)
- MXR Blue Box Octaver
All great effects, just not necessary for what I'm doing right now.
As you can see, I drastically reduced the size of my board. I use the distortion in my amp and the tremolo, chorus and reverb on the Behringer rack processor. Thus, I no longer have need for all those other floor pedals.
And to be honest, there were more. I just didn't mention them all.
I'm a bit of a minimalist, so having less pedals and a more consolidated pedalboard just makes sense to me.
The less fuss, the better.
How well does it work with bass?
All the Boss pedals are recommended by Roland for bass as well as a regular electric guitar.
While I'm not certain about the compressor and two delays, the Boss pedals (particularly the GEB-7, for obvious reasons) are completely accommodating of my Warwick 5-string bass.
These days, I play a lot of both bass and regular electric, so I wanted a pedalboard that would be small, yet friendly to both instruments.
Moreover, I can drop the Line 6 DL4 behind the GEB-7 and use it to route the bass straight to our mixer at church (the DL4 has stereo outputs).
For me, it's a 100% ideal setup.
Considering Context Before you Buy Pedals
The mistake that I made for a long time was that I tended to ignore context when buying pedals and even larger, more significant pieces of guitar gear.
I would buy a pedal, simply because I liked it, thought it sounded cool or for the pride of ownership, which is something we all do. But ultimately, I ended up with a bunch of expensive stuff that I didn't need.
I had little (if any) modulation, an effect I found myself needing all the time.
Moreover, I had four distortion pedals, whereas I always got my distortion straight from my amplifier and had no real need for a distortion stompbox. I had no tuner, no decent power supply and my pedalboard was too big to take anywhere.
Simply put, it was an awful mess.
Simplifying and setting up a minimalist pedalboard after buying the guitar rackmounted FX unit just made a huge difference in the way I played and practiced guitar. It made picking up my guitar and playing so straightforward and simple.
Your Minimalist Pedalboard Experience
Have a minimalist pedalboard setup you'd like to share?
Drop a picture, description or recommendation in the comments section below.
That's also the best way to submit questions about the article or your own setup.
Thanks for the read.
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