I found that after owning several digital “do-it-all” modeler/effects units (like Line 6, Fractal, etc)… That I spent more time programming, then playing the guitar. I own really good amps and some great guitars so the modeling side of things was not really worth my time. Usually the presets that come with these units are not so great and tweaking is needed. I was able to get some nice sounds after taking the time, but the real thing is still better. I am not knocking these fantastic devices. The plus side is they take a lot less space than a large pedalboard and are actually cheaper. Digital has its place. In my opinion however analog is still better sounding to me for most effects (not all).
After sold off several different digital multi-effect units. I have acquired many more stomp boxes (mostly analog) and found that they were literally all over the room. I needed to build a new pedalboard for my home studio. My old pedalboard was too small and was a mess of untidy wires. So decided it was time to have a go at a better approach. I decided to base the new pedalboard on a Pedaltrain Novo 24 because frankly it fit in the space I have in my home studio. I have no plans to “road” this pedalboard, but of course it will be totally travel ready. If I do need to take some pedals out of the studio, I would just take a few on a very small pedalboard. This is not my first Pedaltrain and they are great and built to last. I sold off the old one when I bought the digital multi-effects/modeler. So I have now gone full circle!
For switching I purchased the GigRig Quartermaster 8 switcher. I loved their G2 advanced programmable switching system, but this was way over my budget. I wanted a loop switcher for simplicity of using the pedalboard and for isolation of signal for tone. I did not want the signal chain to pass thru loads of pedals I am not even using and end up with “tone-suck.” The GigRig QuarterMaster 8 fit the Novo 24 and was a good choice. The QuarterMaster does allow for some basic programming of effects as it has a flip-flop feature.
Pedaltrain Novo 24 – 24×14.5×3.5 inch made from aircraft-grade aluminum with black matte finish. The Novo is a five-rail pedalboard perfect for using true-bypass switchers. Matches up nicely with QuarterMaster 8 and mounting brackets for Voodoo Labs pedal power supplies. I purchased mine with a soft case as I have no plans of moving this pedalboard much from my home. It is available with a hard travel case as well at additional cost for the busy gigging musician.
I remember when selling my old pedalboard thinking it was too large at the time. But we guitar players usually end up with with too many “little boxes” that bring us joy to our ears.
The Novo 24 (24×14.5×3.5) is a bit larger that my old Pedaltrain 2 (24×12.5×2.5) that I sold years back. I like the rail system as you can mount power supplies and hide working under the board for neatness.
Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus – Daisy chaining effect pedals can work sometimes, but adds noise and if your effect pedals do not get the proper power if requires, it could sound bad or create hum. Ground loops need to be avoided.
Isolation however is more than fixing ground loops. Ground loops will cause hum, and the solution is to break the unwanted ground path. Isolation is the best way to do it. The Pedal Power 2 Plus isolates EVERY output. This eliminates tone robbing interaction between units. Very important if you don’t want to suffer from “tone suck!”
After laying out the pedals that will going on this board, I see that I will need a second Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus to have enough power outputs and keep everything isolated. So I ordered a second power supply and bracket. Two will fit under Pedaltrain.
The GigRig QuarterMaster 8:
- Uses TheGigRig ‘True Bypass’ relay technology keeping your tone perfectly intact and switching quiet
- Tough aluminium enclosure and small footprint will keep your pedalboard light and compact
- Uses the new GigRig ‘OptoKick’ Optical Foot switch is reliable and quiet
Each loop has a push button next to the loop return that gives you the option to turn a standard loop into a flip/flop loop. Instantly switch between any selected loops while adding other loops on top. Its great if there are effects on your board that you never stack like multiple delays, or drive units like I have. The QuartMaster 8 is pretty compact compared to some of the others I have looked at.
The Flip Flip feature allows you to instantly flip between any selected loops on the QMX QuarterMaster. On the back of the QMX next to the return of each loop is a small button. Press the button in to turn on Flip Flop for that loop. The LED on that loop will new change from blue to red to show you it’s now set up in Flip Flop. Now when you go from one Flip Flop loop to the next Flip Flop loop the first loop will automatically turn off. Its a fantastic feature that saves a bit of tap dancing with out getting into heavy programming.
- Power- 9V DC 400mA
- Dims- 54 x 4 x 5cm
- Weight- 0.96 kgs
Cables, Cables, Cables
Yes, the cables. I want neatness, quiet, quality and flexible. Being old school with an engineering background and demanding reliability, I was uninterested in solder-less cable kits. Sure, some say they are great and I am not disagreeing, but I like to solder. Another issue is pedalboards are dense and the jacks need to be low profile or wasted space is the result. So, I bought some pretty expensive Lava Cable SOLDER connectors and some mini ELC bulk cable. This stuff cost a bundle, but so did this entire project if you think of the cost of the pedals going on the board!
Other Needed Supplies
Supplies needed are black cable ties, cable mounting blocks and patch cables. The Pedaltrain comes with the velcro to mount the pedals to the board. Needed to purchase brackets for the QuarterMaster and the Voodoo Power supply to mount them to Pedaltrain.
Cleaned the new Pedaltrain with some Windex to make sure there is noting to stop the velcro from sticking. Installed the brackets on back of QuarterMaster and mounted on board.
Next is to install the velcro. I like the soft-side on the board.
Installed the second Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 2 Plus. Now the there are two power supplies!
Starting to figure out the best layout for pedals. This will be the main pedalboard in my home studio. I also have another pedalboard that is actually installed in a slide out drawer in the desk. Quite a few pedals on that one as well.
The QuarterMaster switcher has 8 independent discrete loops. This keeps the signal cleaner as your guitar sound does not go through any loop that is not engaged. In the perfect world having just eight pedals would make them ALL independent and switchable from the QuarterMaster. In my case I will be daisy chaining a few pedals and will switch them off at the pedal. Most of my pedals are True Bypass so this should be fine.
Quite sure the layout and what pedals are used on this board will change over time as pedals come and go. This is the completed pedal layout.
Pedal descrtiptions (starting from top left):
- SurfRider Reverb – Very wet reverb. Most all of my amps have a good reverb built-in, but I can get drippy Surf sound from this pedal.
- Mojo Vibe – Vintage Uni-Vibe and rotary sounds
- Analog Man ARDX20 – Awesome Dual Analog Delay allows for two different sets of delay with a foot switchable toggle.
- TC Electronic Flashback – Digital delay
- Carpe Diem – Plex style overdive
- JHS Calhoun – Overdrive/Fuzz Mike Campbell Signature
- MXR Phase 95 mini – Classic Phase 90/45 pedal heard on thousands of recordings
- Keeley Compressor – Classic 4-knob compressor
- Keeley Monterey Rotary Fuzz Vibe – Think Hendrix!
- Keeley Tone Station – Multi-effect Tone Shaper
- Wampler Tunmus – Klon type boost
- Ibanez Tube Screamer – Classic tube screamer boost in a mini size. Think Stevie Ray!
- TC Electronic Polytune – Tuner
- Dunlop DVP4 Volume (X) Expression – Used mostly as expression pedal (not shown)
- Xotic Wah Pedal – Awesome boutique wah pedal 20% smaller size (not shown)
QuarterMaster 8 Loops:
1) Ibanez Tube Screamer -> Wampler Tunmus
2) Keeley Tone Station
3) Carpe Diem -> JHS Calhoun
4) Keeley Compressor
5) MXR Phase 95 -> Keeley Monterey
6) Mojo Vibe
7) Analog Man ARDX20 Dual Analog Delay -> TC Electronic Flashback (sometimes swapped out for a Catalinbread Echorec or Catalinbread Belle Epoch pedal)
8) SurfRider Reverb
Finished wiring the new pedalboard. I left the cables a bit of slack so I can easily swap out pedals.