I have a habit of tearing apart and rearranging my pedal board for just about every tour that I go on. Earlier this year, I had switched the entire board over to a 6-channel true bypass strip and ran all the pedals through this system. The signal chain went something like, Tuner -> Tremolo -> Boost -> Tape In -> Distortion -> Spring Reverb. The benefit of this system (I was hesitant to embrace) was that each pedal was in its own loop, so that if any pedal had issues then it could simply be switched off and be taken completely out of the signal chain. When no pedals were on, the guitar signal would pass straight through the looper and on to the amplifier. This can clean up your signal, especially if you have several pedals with several feet of patch cables.
Unfortunately, I found that I was having much more issues keeping everything straight (which button controlled which pedals) and I struggled with how close together the buttons were to each other. I was causing many more operator errors using this system than I was experiencing any benefits from the rare occasion that I would have a problem with a patch cable shorting out or a pedal misbehaving.
To remedy this, I resorted back to my old ways, using the pedals as they are for the front row (my most used pedals), and using the looper next in the signal chain for the back row. This hybrid setup gives me the spacing and feel I am after, while still reaping some of the benefits of the relay-switching system. Through the looper, I can now run pedals that I normally wouldn’t be able to, including the Realistic Electronic Reverb unit on the far left (it’s actually a quick analog delay that I’m using as more of a blown-out fuzz). This pedal has no footswitch on its own, so before I could only use it for recording purposes (for an example you can hear an overdub at time 1:24 on the song “All Our Bruised Bodies and the Whole Heart Shrinks“). I can also run my micro-cassette tapes straight into the looper, negating the need for a separate switching pedal. This back row is much more flexible and can accommodate pedals I use less often, ones that have switching problems (pops or clicks) or no switching, or ones that I am just trying out temporarily.
The signal chain is now, Tuner -> Tremolo -> Boost -> Looper -> AB switch (for amp channel switching) -> Amp. The looper itself contains, Tape -> Rat -> Fuzz -> OD -> Buffer -> Spring reverb.
Everything is contained underneath the back row of pedals where a Cioks AC-8 is powering everything, and the spring tank is mounted. I also decided last minute to add the buffer pedal (JHS little black buffer), which fit nicely next to the spring tank and underneath the 1/4 in jacks to the looper (it’s barely visible in the photos). I could probably write another entire post about the decision to use a buffer, but I think I will save that for later.
So far, the board has been pretty bombproof and I am much happier with it than I’ve been with any of my previous attempts. The spacing feels natural to me and I haven’t had any technical errors with it. I especially like the wooden rails on the ends which I can run my instrument cables through, making it impossible for me, a bandmate, or an overzealous stage diver, to step on or pull out the cables into the tuner on the right or the AB switch on the left. The overall dimensions are just small enough so it should fit snugly into a carry-on 1510 pelican case for fly days.
Hope you enjoyed, please email if you’d like more info.