Guitarists sometimes dream of having an arena-worthy arsenal of effects pedals underfoot, but too often financial concerns limit us to a few stompboxes crudely attached to a plywood plank. To help better put our mettle to the pedals, we queried master pedal-board builder Tom Peck, whose often elaborately designed rigs are used by artists such as John Scofield, Buddy Cage, and Paul Nelson. Peck was happy to share some elementary building tips with GP readers looking to build their own boards. (Visit pedalboards.com for more information on Peck's creations.)
PLAN YOUR SIGNAL PATH
Plugging into an army of effects won't automatically turn you into David Gilmour. First, take the time to learn what each pedal is capable of, and then experiment with how they are ordered in your signal chain. Typically, the guitar goes into compression first, then wah, then distortion, then modulation effects (chorus, flanger, phaser), and, finally, time-based effects (delays, reverbs). Delaying a distorted signal usually sounds cleaner than distorting a delayed signal, but that's just a general rule. If you use a tuner, put it at the head of your signal chain, or use an A/B footswitch to route your signal directly to it for silent tuning.
POWER YOUR PEDALS
Attaching a power strip to your board is good for powering individual pedals, but several manufacturers offer universal supplies that juice up about eight pedals at once. If you want to avoid the clutter of adapters and wires by using batteries, avoid rechargeable ones, as they don't last very long, and they fade rapidly once they lose their initial charge. …