So you've bought a distortion pedal, a reverb, a chorus. You’ve got the bug - you’re not going to stop at three. Sooner or later you’re going to want to organise these stompboxes rather than having them daisy-chained and loose on the floor or stage. That’s where this guide to the best pedalboards comes in.
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You could make your own, set yourself a wood shop project or cannibalize your pop’s Samsonite briefcase. Or you could buy one of the many readymade options from the likes of Pedaltrain, Voodoo Lab, and more. These pedalboards deliver a variety of features at various price points, and they’ll help you get the best from your effects.
What is the best pedalboard?
The three-rail Pedaltrain Metro 16 pedalboard is super-portable, built from lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum and easily carried in the soft shoulder case that’s included in the $80 street price. A flight case will cost you $70 extra. The three rail design makes it hugely configurable for small pedal collections and it makes the most of its small footprint.
The RockBoard TRES 3.1 is really quality board too - it’s neat, configurable and affordable. It comes with a soft case with a shoulder strap but you can spend an extra $60 for a flight case. The height of the pedalboard is easily adjusted and there is space for mounting a power supply underneath the unit. It’ll mount up to 10 pedals, too.
How to buy the best pedalboard for you
Size matters. OK, so it isn’t everything when considering the best pedalboards for you, but it should figure highly in your pre-purchase due process. You want the pedalboard to be big enough to house all the pedals you want in your rig at any one time - that’s essential - but having a spare couple of spots for aggressive expansion or even just for swapping in a pinch-hitting fuzz or pitchshifter is a nice option to have.
And yet, equally, if you don’t have a tech to bus your rig around, or you’re going to be taking the subway to the show, you don’t want to be lugging the Starship Enterprise over your shoulder.
You want the pedalboard to make life easier. Arranging and then fitting effects with different sized enclosures should be easy. Once you have worked out where you want to put them, affixing them to the pedalboard is the next step. Most commonly, this is done with Velcro.
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Pedalboards typically ship with rolls of Velcro - or non-trademarked “hook-and-loop fasteners” - tape for you to stick on the ‘board and pedals for a solid connection. Others, such as the Aclam model listed here, have bespoke fittings. So long as the pedals stay put, that is the main thing.
A bag or case for carrying is a positive, too, and look for some brands who offer the option of spending a little more for a flight-case - an essential upgrade for the touring musician. If the case has extra storage space for additional cables, cable ties, tape and your picks, then all the better.
Other features to look out for include the pedalboard’s power solution. It’s not necessarily a deal-breaker if they don’t, but having an onboard 9V/18V power supply and connections, or even the space to specifically mount one, can come in mighty handy when you have a whole heap of pedals to run.
The best pedalboards available right now
1. Pedaltrain Metro 16
The best pedalboard when when your tour bus is the actual bus
Launch price: $79 | Dimensions: 406x203x35mm | Weight: 1.06kg | Construction: Aluminum | Case: Soft | Power supply mounting: Yes (Pedaltrain Spark or Volto supplies)
The Metro 16 is a really great pedalboard for mounting around five to eight effects pedals, throwing them in the nylon shoulder bag and running out the door to practice. Even if you only have three or four right now, the extra space will come in handy when you inevitably size up the floor show.
For an extra 70 bucks you can get a super-tough tour case and the Metro 16 is small enough to take as a carry-on item with most US airlines.
Pedals are attached with Pedaltrain's “professional-grade, hook-and-loop pedal fasteners” and it comes with plenty of cable ties. You’ll need to buy your power brick separately.
2. RockBoard TRES 3.1
Seamless aluminum design and super-light
Launch price: $119 | Dimensions: 510x236x37-71mm | Weight: 1.2kg | Construction: Cold-rolled aluminum | Case: Soft | Power supply mounting: Yes
The TRES 3.1 sees RockBoard improve upon already pretty good past designs with a seamless, folded aluminum construction in powder-black finish, with plenty of routing for cables and a sturdy support beam down the middle. It makes the most of its board space so mounting up to around eight to 10 standard sized pedals shouldn’t be a problem.
It comes with a gig-bag with shoulder strap and all-important accessories pocket, but an extra 60 bucks gets you a flight case if you need something more rugged.
Power supplies can be mounted on the bottom of the unit and you can easily adjust the height to your preference.
3. Aclam Guitars Smart Track S2
Say bye bye to tape gunk
Launch price: $249 | Dimensions: 584x419x114mm | Weight: 3.63kg | Construction: Anodized aluminum | Case: Soft | Power supply mounting: Yes
The big draw with the so-clever-they-called-it-Smart Track pedalboard from Aclam is that, instead of the Velcro, hook-and-loop style tape that most other ‘boards use, the Smart Track S2 uses its own Smart Track fastening system. These rubber-coated, screw-in fasteners keep your pedals free of that sticky tape residue and swapping them in and out is easy as pie.
This pedalboard takes between eight and 10 pedals and you can adjust the slope of the unit for easy access to the pedals at the rear and mounting a power supply underneath. Also, should you suddenly start buying more pedals - and why wouldn’t you? - you can get a wider set of rails for upsizing the unit. Pretty smart indeed, folks.
4. Gator GPT-PRO-PWR
A big ‘board in a big bag with a power supply included
Launch price: $199 | Dimensions: (w/bag) 445x800x152mm | Weight: 7.94kg | Construction: Plywood with 600-denier nylon padded gig bag | Case: Soft | Power supply mounting: Yes
The GPT-PRO-PWR is a hefty ol’ beast but it can house and power up to 11 stompboxes. It may even squeeze some more onto its Velcro-covered space if your rig is packing a lot of mini-stompboxes.
It comes with a pre-mounted G-BUS-8 power supply that has eight 9V and three 18V outputs. There is room to mount another G-BUS-8 should you need it.
It’s really heavy but the built-in handle on the pedalboard can take the weight, and the roomy accessory pockets on the gig-bag will come in handy. It comes with plenty of Velcro tape for fastening pedals.
5. Voodoo Lab Dingbat Medium
Easily configurable with a variety of power options
Launch price: $179 | Weight: 4.54kg | Construction: American 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum | Case: Soft | Power supply mounting: Yes
This Dingbat comes in three different sizes, of which the medium is the happy options for mounting eight to 12 pedals - size depending - with the adhesive hook-and-loop fasteners.
Power supplies can be mounted on top or below the pedalboard and Voodoo Lab offer bundles with supplies included. Shipped with Pedal Power 4X4, powering up to eight pedals, it’ll cost around $300, and and an extra 100 bucks buys you the Pedal Power Mondo, powering up to 12 pedals.
The slots make for easy arrangements with plenty of space to tidy the cables underneath the unit. A bag makes it easy to transport.
6. On-Stage GPB3000
Mount up to 10 standard-sized pedals
Launch price: $89 | Dimensions: 559x356x152mm | Weight: 3.63kg | Construction: Aluminum | Case: Soft | Power supply mounting: Yes
This is a great ‘board for the money. It has a clean construction with routing across the middle of the board for threading cables through. You should be able to fit around 10 pedals on this, more if you are using minis.
Pedals are mounted using the usual hook-and-loop tape and a roll is included with the unit. The setup should make it easy to arrange your pedals however you like them.
Despite the lightweight construction, non-slip rubber feet will keep this firmly in place on the floor. And... the gig bag has pockets and a shoulder strap. Hooray!
7. Boss BCB-60
The best pedalboard for first-timers
Launch price: $119 | Dimensions: 670x370x100mm | Weight: 3.8kg | Construction: Molded resin | Case: Integrated | Power supply mounting: N/A
The BCB-60 comes in a sort of over-sized, bullet-proof lunchbox carrier and opens out to an easily configurable layout including onboard AC power supply for up to seven pedals, with bundled patch cables and I/O connectors, and send and return jacks for running your pedalboard through your amp’s effects loop or to a tuner outside of your signal path.
The inside of the case is foam, cut out to fit your stompboxes. The one obvious problem here is that the inserts are cut to fit Boss pedals and those of “select manufacturers”, so fitting some of your more bespoke-sized enclosures could be tricky, but you could always cut the foam to fit.
8. Outlaw Effects Nomad M128 Rechargeable
A rechargeable pedalboard option for the buskers
Launch price: $199 | Dimensions: 489x279x133mm | Weight: 3.18kg | Construction: Aluminum | Case: Soft | Power supply mounting: N/A
Is this the tidiest power solution on the market? Quite possibly. The Nomad is powered by an onboard lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 12800mAh - which translates to over 10 hours of power after around three hours of charging.
As far as DC outputs go, the Nomad is pretty versatile, with seven 9V outputs, a pair of 12V outputs and one switchable between 18 and 24V.
The unit comes in a soft bag with a whole bunch of cable ties, hook-and-loop fasteners and DC connector cables. Just plug it all in and play.
9. Friedman Tour Pro 1520
A two-tier approach with detachable riser for expression pedals
Launch price: $249 | Weight: 3.18kg | Case: Soft | Power supply mounting: Yes
Oftentimes, your pedalboard is easy to arrange until you try and fit a wah or volume pedal on there. But the Tour Pro 1520 has an ingenious two-tier solution, with a riser allowing you to sit the wah on there above the rest of your pedals. The riser is detachable, you can buy supplementary risers should you have a volume or whammy pedal, and is screwed to the board.
Options include the ultra-transparent Friedman Buffer Bay 6 for an extra 70 bucks, while you can get that plus a Power Grid 10, powering up to ten effects and designed as an extra riser, all for $569. The wiring options are hugely configurable and eliminate the signal issues you can get with complex signal chains. This latter “platinum option” is not cheap but it has all the bells, all the whistles.
10. SKB PS-8 8-port pedalboard
The best pedalboard if you want a plug in and play option
Launch price: $119 | Dimensions: 590x300xheight variable (mm) | Weight: 2.33kg | Construction: Eco-friendly rubber modified styrene | Case: Nylon | Power supply mounting: N/A
This injection-molded, plug-in-and-play pedalboard from SKB moves away from the aluminum and wood construction paradigm to bring you a board that can power up to eight pedals.
There might be a bit of a cram getting all eight if you have many large-enclosure models, but attaching and arranging your effects should be a cinch. Like the Gator, the whole pedal-mount section is covered with hook-and-loop fastenings.
There are other more luxurious options with better-shielded power supplies but for a first pedalboard that’s affordable and easy to cart around, you could do a lot worse.