Constructing A Guitar Effects Pedalboard – Cheap!

I’d adore having a Marshall tube guitar amplifier and cabinet, but there’s no way I can afford it, at least not without my wife castrating me if I bought one.

Currently, I’m using a Line 6 Spider III modeling amp which has served me well for about 15 years. It pushes 75 watts through a custom Celestion 12″ speaker and has over 200 song and artist presets, with additional user slots to store my own. Most importantly, it’s an absolutely great sounding amplifier.

Pedalboard Project - Line 6 Spider IIII modeling amp with FBV Express floor board
Line 6 Spider IIII modeling amp with FBV Express floorboard

As an experiment for yet more sonic flexibility, I started running it clean and gave some outboard effects pedals a try. I have to say the results have been great. As a bonus, I can naturally still use the amp’s effects and wah/volume pedal on the FBV Express floorboard I bought along with it, in concert with the pedals.

When I got up to 5 pedals (plus a power supply), needless to say things were getting sloppy to operate and all over the floor. So, I starting looking at pedalboards.

In the words of the immortal Frank Zappa, great googly-moogly! They’re so expensive you’d think they were made of gold. I didn’t see a decent one in the size I wanted for less than $150.

Fuck that… I decided to build my own as economically as possible, yet just as durable as most name brand pedalboards. Da Vinci time!

Without further ado, here’s how I built a great pedalboard for less than 30 bucks…

Materials list

From Home Depot – 

  • Rubbermaid 12″x24″x0.5″ white laminated wood shelf
Pedalboard Project - Rubbermaid 12x24x.5 inch white wood shelf
Cost: $6.47

It comes fully finished, including all edges, which is great since I’m way too lazy to finish wood myself (especially when there are much easier alternatives available). The surface is also very smooth and perfectly flat, for maximum adhesion of the Velcro tape we’ll be applying. Further details on that to come.

These shelves are of course available in various sizes depending on how big a monster you wish to create, and in addition other finishes as well.

  • Everbilt 7/8″ rubber screw-on bumpers – 4 pack
Pedalboard Project - Everbilt 7-8 inch rubber screw-on bumpers
Cost: $2.63

Obviously, I added these to keep the pedalboard from sliding around when it’s on bare floors.

From Amazon – 

  • 2″ wide STRONGHOLD Hook and Loop Strips – 5 yards
Pedalboard Project - Stronghold Velcro
Cost: $12.68

This product gets very high ratings, and I’ve found it to be every bit as good as the real thing, at about 1/4 of the cost. Five yards is a shitload, and at this price it’s a steal.

From Walmart, but widely available –

  • Optional: Velcro Black One-Wrap Tape 3’x1″
Pedalboard Project - Velcro One-Wrap tape
Cost: $5.47

I always have some of this on-hand, since I use it for so many other things around the studio.

It’s non-adhesive, and simply has hook and loop surfaces on opposite sides. All you need do is cut it to length, and you’re in business. It’s also re-usable, which saves a lot of cash in the long run. You’ll see how I utilized it on this project in a bit.

Total cost of materials for my build: $27.25


I didn’t take step-by-step photos, but this is so simple to put together, you won’t need them anyway. However, I will step through the design and process of my build…


The surface appears to be one continuous piece of Velcro material, but it’s actually five 2″ STRONGHOLD adhesive loop strips cut to length and butted up against each other.

The shelf was a little less than 12″ deep, so I decided to leave the remaining space at the bottom open. That allowed some clearance for my foot from the edge of the board to the pedal switches, which turned out to be a good thing anyway.

Pedalboard Project - Angled view

The arrows in the photo below are indicating where I applied the Velcro One-Wrap tape in the materials list, to dress out the power cabling. Simply wrap the cables with the tape’s hook side facing out, then press down onto the pedalboard loop surface. Wha-la, everything is tidy and secure. This is optional, but highly recommended.

I went minimalistic with this, but apply as much One-Wrap as desired, until it resembles a Mummy if you’d like!

Pedalboard Project - Top view
Dressing out the power supply cables

For best results, follow these steps for your build:

  1. Cut as many STRONGHOLD loop-side adhesive tape strips from the roll as required to cover the width and depth of the board.
  2. Wipe down the board with alcohol (isopropyl, not Jack Daniel’s) and dry, to ensure it’s completely clean.
  3. Starting at the top, using a pencil and square (or long ruler) mark lines spaced exactly 2″ apart across the entire width of the board to serve as guides for applying each tape strip.
  4. While applying the strips, carefully align them along those lines, because if you fuck up here the adhesive is so strong you’ll destroy both the board surface and the strip if you attempt to remove it. Patience is key, just use care and take your time.
  5. Using the ball of your hand, apply some elbow grease and rub the entire surface of each strip firmly onto the board, especially along the edges.
  6. After all strips have been applied, turn the board over on a table and allow the adhesive to cure at least 24 hours for maximum strength. I placed two heavy books on top for the duration to assist this.
  7. While you’re waiting, cut the STRONGHOLD hook-side tape roll to cover the bottom of each pedal (along with the power supply) as fully as possible, once again pressing down firmly for maximum hold after applying. For now, just set them aside while the adhesive on the board itself cures.

Here’s a photo of the finished pedalboard alongside the Line 6 FBV Express floorboard I mentioned earlier, which socks right up against it very nicely. You may be wondering about connectivity regarding that floorboard… It actually attaches to the Spider III amp as a controller via an Ethernet cable! A bit weird, but ingenious.

Pedalboard Project - With Line 6 'FBV Express' floorboard

In the end, I actually like this board better than the big dollar models. It holds everything down solid as a rock, and is extremely durable.

If you’re gigging, you may already have some sort of case laying around to fit this entire contraption into, with everything still attached. As for myself, I’m only using it in my home studio, so personally it’s not a concern.

Some possible improvements I may make down the line:

  • If you prefer your pedalboard slanting towards you, simply install taller feet under the upper section. I just happened to grab a four-pack of 7/8″ tall feet, which will at least prevent sliding.
Pedalboard Project - Bottom
Install taller feet at arrows for slant.
  • Even though there wasn’t enough room at the bottom of the board to install a 6th strip, I may do this anyway and wrap the excess down over the front edge to protect it.

As an initial test, I highly recommend enabling all pedals, cranking your amp and guitar to 11, and wailing away.

This will not only ensure everything is working correctly, but more importantly is the proper method for pissing off your neighbors.

Neighbors

Well, they can all kiss my ass… Rock on!


There you have it…

Don’t get ripped off by pedalboard retailers, when you can build your own that’s every bit as good for a fraction of the cost.


Footnotes

Before anyone asks, yes, I realize my pedals are El-Cheapo deluxe models. My good fortune is that I’m an Amazon Vine reviewer, and therefore got them for $nada$.

When I received the first one, I was surprised how great it sounded. So, I’ve been snapping them up as they’ve appeared on Vine ever since, and will continue to do so. It’s pretty hard to argue with 100% off.

For the curious:

  • The two full-sized pedals are made by a company called “GOKKO”. (British amp-sounding Gain, Distortion)
  • The power supply and 4 mini-pedals are made by “AZOR”. (Two types of Overdrive, plus Phaser and Reverb)

Of course, they’re all made in China, but what isn’t nowadays? The important thing is that they all perform and sound great, with next to no line noise.

I’ve ordered another AZOR mini-pedal (Delay) in order to round things out, which will be installed on the left side I’ve reserved for it. Then, who knows what else I’ll add to this thing. There’s definitely a lot of room left for expansion!

Pedalboard Project - Pedal boxes
Cheap, but great quality materials and sound!

 

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