Configuring your pedal board

How to visualize your pedal board layout

Pedal board layout: Figuring out where to put your pedals.

This is the third in a series of posts on selecting and configuring your pedal board layout.

To read Part 1, visit Crafting a guitar pedal board setup.

To read Part 2, visit How to assemble and hook up pedals to your pedalboard.

In the last two blogs we looked at different types of pedalboards, ways to attach your pedals to your board and how to prepare your pedals to be put on the board.  In this blog, we will explore the best ways to layout your pedals.

How you lay out your pedals can be a real two-dimensional puzzle.

  • First there is the physical shape of the pedal – how can you squeeze as many pedals as possible in the space available on your board?
  • Then there is the logical layout – what makes sense to your brain when you think of your sound and the combination of pedals that go together to make it?
  • Finally there is the electrical layout.  How do you snake the cables from one pedal to another without making the pedalboard look like a hairball?
  • Most importantly, how you interconnect them so you don’t introduce hum and noise.

Pedals come in all shapes and sizes, but the majority are made from standard size aluminum enclosures.  It’s good to have a feeling for pedal size equivalents, like the number of one size you can fit in the space of another.  That will help you get the most efficient layout.

Visualizing your pedal board layoutFrom looking at the adjacent picture, you can see that approximately two B-size enclosures fit in the space of a BB enclosure.   125B enclosures are a little bigger (and taller) than a B size.  The A size, which is getting more popular all the time, is good for squeezing in to odd spaces on the pedalboard.  The DD size is the biggest and is similar in size to many multi-effects processors.

Don’t forget about allowing some space for cable connectors as well as enough space for your foot.  You don’t want to be distracted tap dancing across your pedalboard during a live performance just to hit one footswitch without accidentally hitting another.

A handy virtual way to plan your pedal board layout is with the Pedaltrain Pedal Board Planner. It’s an on-line way to come up with your perfect pedalboard layout.

First you select the pedalboard size. They are all Pedaltrain brand, but you can use the planner as a model for similar size boards from other manufacturers. Next, use a pull down menu to select from almost 1,000 pedals from 99 vendors. The selector will likely have what you want on your board (besides Golden Path Pedals of course). If the pedal you want is not on the list, you can pick a similar sized one for planning purposes.

With the guidelines for physical pedal board layout in mind, begin thinking about the logical/musical layout of your pedalboard. The easiest layout is to just place them in the exact order you are planning to connect them.  If haven’t thought about that much, refer to my blog posts: 

How to construct a great guitar pedal board setup the right way the first time

Getting your guitar effects pedals order right

Advanced guitar pedal board setup tricks and effects

These blogs go though the thought process of deciding how many pedals you need to create your sound and the order in which to connection them.

Another approach is to arrange your pedals in groups that go together to support a particular signature sound. Maybe place the compressor and overdrive together or the phaser and reverb.  It’s like sections of an orchestra, the violins on the left, and the brass in the back. 

Dual Loop  Pedal ExampleIf you organize pedals in groups, you can save yourself time and pushbutton stomps by using the Golden Path Loop pedal or Dual Loop pedal pictured here. 

Now you can switch a whole group of pedals with the click of a single pushbutton.  In the picture on the right is an example of the Dual Loop in action.  The left button controls the distortion loop and the right button controls the modulation/delay loop.  You can put as many pedals as you want in each loop.  Just make sure they are all switched on!

This brings us to the topic of the next blog: What are the best choices for cabling to interconnect the pedals on your board.

What does your guitar pedalboard setup look like? What is your pedal arrangement?  Why did you put them together the way you did? Comment below or send me a picture and a description.  It’s OK if it doesn’t have Golden Path Pedals on it. – This is all about discovering new stuff along the path to perfect tone.