Even if you’re just a beginner guitarist, there’s no doubt that at some point along your musical journey, you’ll start using a couple of effects pedals… and usually, once you start, you can’t stop. Those of you who already own more than two or three effects units will understand how much easier life is with a pedalboard. Without one, setting up multiple pedals so that they’re in the right order, every time you play can be time-consuming and leave room for error.
At a Glance: Our Choice of the Best Guitar Pedalboards on the Market
- Donner DB-2
- Gator Cases G-TOUR
- ENO Ex Stompbox
- Vangoa Ghost Fire
- Voodoo Lab Dingbat
- Boss BCB-60
- SKB 8-port Powered
- Gator GPT-BL-PWR
Note: Clicking the above links will take you to further information, current prices and customer reviews on Amazon.
- What is a Pedalboard?
- Buying Guide – Key Considerations
- Product Round-up & Mini Reviews – Best Pedalboard
What is a Pedalboard?
A pedalboard is a platform, usually made from a hardwearing material, that lets you store your effects pedals in the order you see fit. They are made from plastic, wood or metal and may include a built-in power supply; often, however, you need to buy an external power supply (which for various reasons is often better).
So why are they useful?
- Stay organized – They’re essentially a tool rack for your effects pedals, so you’ll never need to worry that they aren’t in the correct order before you set up for a gig.
- Less room for error – If your pedals are already set up just how you like them, you’re less likely to mess up putting a power supply in the jack or connecting patch leads.
- Easy access – Keeps your effects units anchored to the ground so can’t move when you press them with your feet. So you won’t need to worry about them slipping out of reach while playing.
- More convenient to carry around – Allows all your pedals to be maneuvered in one package, so you won’t accidentally leave on at home or in your gig bag.
- Powers all pedals – One power supply will save you money purchasing batteries or several power supplies.
- Protection while on the go – Provides a protective shell for your effects units, so you can rest assured that no harm will come to them, while you travel or store them at home.
Buying Guide – Key Considerations
Guitar and bass effects pedals come in all shapes and sizes, some are much larger than others, while some are ‘micro’ versions of regular units. To make your life slightly easier, here’s a list of some common sizes (W x D x H) of effects pedals:
- Boss (Standard Size) 2.875″ x 5.125″ x 2.375″
- MXR (Standard Size) 2.375″ x 4.375″ x 1.25″
- DigiTech (Standard Size) 3.125″ x 4.9375″ x 2.125″
- Behringer (Standard Size) 2.75″ x 4.8″ x 2.125″
- Electro-Harmonix (Nano) 2.2″ x 4.3″ x 2″
- Strymon BigSky (Big Wide) 6.75″ x 5.1″
- Fuzz Face (Big Circular) 7.75″ x 10.75″ x 3.5″
- Cry Baby Wah (Big Tall) 4″ x 10″ x 2.5″
- Vox Volume (Big Tall) 3.54″ x 10.55″ x 2.44″
Standard effects pedals measure in at around 3″ x 5″, so you’ll be pretty safe using that measurement to work out how much space you need, for the number of units you own. If you’re thinking about using a Wah or expression pedal, remember they require some extra room due to their length. Wide pedals and patch leads will also require some extra space and must be considered. Note that different pedals have different weights too, so you’ll need to make sure you can lift the board when they’re all in place.
Powered vs. Non-Powered
Some pedalboards feature built-in power supplies or bundles, so you don’t need to remember to bring several individual supplies to every gig you play. But saying that, remember that some pedals have different power requirements, such as 12V or 18V – and using the wrong power supply with the wrong pedal can damage the unit, so it’s worth checking the requirements of each one before you plug in!
Pedalboards are usually made from either plywood, aluminum or plastic. Plywood is usually the most customizable option, as pieces of wood can be added and removed relatively easily with simple tools. Plywood boards may, therefore, be a good option if you’re constantly switching between pedals and need some versatility. On the other hand, aluminum pedalboards are less customizable, but are very light and protective, making them ideal for traveling guitarists. Plastic boards lye somewhere in between, as they are still reasonably protective, but heavier than aluminum versions and usually more affordable too.
Flat vs. Angled Profile
As you’ve probably gathered, flat profile pedalboards lye flat on the floor, whereas angled boards are gradually raised from the ground. Some guitarists argue that this angle helps them reach every pedal without accidentally mashing any in front, while others feel that flat boards are the best option for you if you’re going to be using expression pedals for volume or wah.
Product Round-up & Mini Reviews – Best Pedalboard
The DB-2 by Donner is by far the most affordable pedalboard we look at today, and for the price, you get some really great features.
The best aspect of this board (after it’s price) has to be its high-quality aluminum frame which includes handy perforated slots, to keep your patch leads organized. The DB-2 also offers extra security thanks to it’s adhesive backed, Velcro system that allows your pedals to be secured in place with ease.
As well as all this, the pedalboard is pretty lightweight (2.8 lb) compared to several others we mention later, and comes with a convenient canvas carry bag to transport your gear from gig to gig. Just remember this board if flat, so if you’re using two rows of pedals, you may run a risk of accidentally stomping those in front when going for the back row.
Overall, it’s a great option if you’ve got regular sized effects units and you’re shopping on a budget. However, if you use loads of stompboxes, the DB-2 may be slightly too small.
- Price – The DB-2 is the most affordable board we discuss today, and provides some great features for the money
- Organized – The perforations and Velcro system will help you secure your pedals and hide away patch leads without any hassle
- Space – The DB-2 lies pretty close to the floor, so, unfortunately, your power supply won’t be able to fit underneath and remain out of sight during a gig
- Less protection – The carry bag is very thin, with little to no padding, so it doesn’t offer much protection for your expensive equipment
Gator Cases G-TOUR (with Road Case)
If you’re looking for a pedalboard that’ll keep your effects units safe while on the move, then the G-Tour by Gator Cases is probably a good choice.
So yes, the G-Tour’s best feature has to be it’s extra tough case, which comes complete with aluminum valance, a shock absorbing EVA foam interior, and a safety lock system, to protect your stompboxes while you’re on the road.
Despite all this heavy-duty protective material, the G-Tour is still pretty easy to transport thanks to its retractable rubber grip tow handles and in-line wheels.
The pedalboard itself is removable from the protective case and measures 24” X 11”. The pedals attach to the pedalboard using a 3M Dual Lock tape, which is similar to Velcro, but slightly stronger.
So, overall the G-Tour suits more serious touring guitarists that need to protect their valuable effects units while on the road. Bear in mind you’ll need a more mid-range budget to afford it!
- Tough – Sturdy aluminum and plywood case; EVA foam interior will protect your pedals from most forms of damage while you travel to and from gigs.
- Portable – Everything about the G-Tour screams convenience, it comes with wheels, safety locks, and an extendable pulling handle so that you can transport it easily.
- Heavy – The G-Tour weighs in at 27.9lb, so is way heavier than the Donner product we previously mentioned. You may need some muscles to lift this beast up staircases.
- Not much space underneath board – This means you may not be able to hide away your power supply unit.
ENO Ex Stompbox
The Ex Stompbox by ENO is only slightly more expensive than the DB-2 by Donner and offers fairly similar features. For example, this pedalboard is also made from lightweight aluminum alloy and measures in at 21.65” by 7.28”. Once again, the Ex Stompbox is flat rather than angled and features convenient cutaway space so that you can organize all your cables.
The thing that sets this product apart from the Donner DB-2 is that its carry bag is slightly more robust and waterproof and that it comes with a more generous amount of Velcro adhesive and cable ties to organize your pedal with. Saying that the Ex Stompbox is slightly heavier, weighing in at 4.74lb, so you may want to consider that before you make a purchase.
Overall, this is perfect for beginners who only use a few inexpensive effects units, as it doesn’t offer as much protection as say, the G-Tour board mentioned earlier. But for the price, you can’t really ask for much more.
- Price – The Ex Stompbox is pretty inexpensive compared to most pedalboards out there, so you’ll likely save some cash by purchasing one
- Lightweight – Aluminium frame means that it’s lighter than most products out there, so you won’t break your back trying to cart it around
- Lacks protection – Comes with a carry bag, rather than a solid case, so doesn’t offer as much security as say the G-Tour board
- Can be too low for some – The Ex Stompbox’s rubber feet aren’t adjustable, so it’s quite low to the floor, for some this may be an inconvenience
Vangoa Ghost Fire (lightweight 3.3lb)
The Vangoa Ghost Fire is similar looking to the previously mentioned Ex Stompbox, but comes with some extra handy features, for its affordable price.
Once again, this is an aluminum alloy build, making it lightweight (3.3lb) and durable – In fact, it can withstand 80kg of weight, which is pretty impressive.
The best thing about this product is that it features flexible folding legs on the front, so you can pack it away easily and use it as an angled board. Additionally, the carry bag the Ghost Fire comes with is heavy duty and padded, so it provides a little extra protection than one included with the Donner DB-2.
Overall, this pedalboard is suited to player that have expression effects units, due to it’s angled format. It’s also relatively low cost, so it’s an excellent option for guitarists shopping on a budget.
- Portable – The Ghost Fire has convenient foldaway legs, so you get to keep the advantages of having an angled pedalboard, with easy portability too
- Strong – Its aluminum frame can hold the weight of a person, let alone your stomping feet – so you won’t need to worry about it breaking
- Small carry bag – The main issue with the Ghost Fire is that, when you’ve got all your effects units and power supply attached, it’s a very tight fit. If you’ve got any tall or larger build pedals, you run the risk of not being able to seal the bag at all.
- No pockets – Another issue with the carry bag is that there are no external pockets to keep your spare equipment in. This isn’t a huge deal, but it would be nice to not worry about bringing another equipment bag.
Voodoo Lab Dingbat with Pedal Power 2 PLUS
So now we move on to the realms of powered pedalboards and start by discussing our premium choice, the Dingbat by Voodoo Lab.
This pedalboard is made from lightweight, aircraft-grade aluminum and measures in at 22 x 13.5 inches (559x343mm). The best feature of the Dingbat is it’s pre-mounted Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus Power Supply, which can supply eight effect pedals. The handy voltage doubler cables even allow the power unit to supply 18V or 24V pedals and there’s room for mounting an additional supply unit below pedalboard, for extra power if needed.
Additionally, the Dingbat comes with a protective, padded gig bag that features backpack straps for convenient, hands-free transportation.
Overall, its best suited to serious guitarists with different pedals that require varied voltages. All this expensive equipment will be well looked after inside the protective carry bag, so you won’t have to worry about bringing them on tour with your band.
- Holds two power supplies – The Dingbat can hold two of Voodoo Lab’s power supply packs, which can supply a total of 16 pedals – so you’ll never run out of charge during a gig
- Quality frame – Most guitarists love this because its frame is well built and hides away all of those unsightly wires and cables that run underneath
- Small wiring holes – The Dingbat features small wiring holes, rather than large open horizontal sections like the pedals we previously mentioned, this looks tidier but can be fiddly when you’re assembling your effects units
- Price – Several times the price of the previous models we’ve mentioned, so make sure it meets your requirements before you buy it
The Boss BCB-60 is a lightweight, resign based pedalboard and locking carry case, designed to withstand touring and regular use.
The best aspect of is its padded interior can be customized to fit compact, large and expression pedals. The BCB-60 comes with three pre-cut foam inserts to hold standard shaped pedals, plus a spare insert that can be cut to fit pretty much any effects pedal – so no matter what you use, your gear will always be protected.
There’s also a built-in 1,000mA AC adaptor that can power up to 7 devices; complete with extension cables, and a 1 Year Free Extended Warranty – so you won’t need to worry if any of this equipment breaks.
Overall, the BCB-60 is most suitable for Boss worshippers but is versatile and protective enough to be used with other types of pedal too. Just bear in mind the board itself is slightly smaller than the Dingbat’s, so you won’t be able to fit as many on.
- Protective – This pedalboard is built into the carry case itself, so it’s convenient to set up and pack away, while also being durable and hardwearing
- Warranty – The BCB-60 has a year’s warranty, so you won’t need to worry if anything breaks
- Only fits one power supply – Compared to the Dingbat (which can hold two), it only holds one seven pedal power supply, so if you have more than seven pedals, you’ll need to purchase another power pack
- Small – The BCB-60 is slightly smaller than the Dingbat, so if you need extra room, this board probably isn’t right for you
SKB 8-port (Powered)
The SKB Powered Pedalboard is the most affordable powered unit we review today and comes with some pretty decent features for the money.
The best aspect of this pedal board is that it includes a neatly incorporated 9V power supply, which can power eight pedals at once. From an aesthetic position, the built-in output jacks also look tidy, and you can’t see the power supply itself.
Another cool feature here is that the SKB pedalboard is made from eco-friendly rubber modified styrene, which is lightweight and durable. The pedal space itself is 19” x 12” and uses hook and loop surface to secure up to 8 standard sized effects units.
For the price, you also get a nylon carry bag with an extra, exterior pocket and adjustable shoulder strap so that you can carry everything around with you.
Overall, this board suits guitarists looking for a bargain powered pedal board. But remember the power supply won’t work with 18V effects units, so if you use one, you’ll have to buy an extra power supply.
- Price – Very affordable considering you get a power supply, board and carry bag included
- Neat – The power supply features built-in output jacks, so no messy wires are running to and from you effects units
- Carry bag – The bag that comes with the SKB board is fragile and prone to ripping and tearing – this is not great if you’re carrying around expensive pedals
- Noisy – The power supply is unregulated, so can produce a noisy hum, if you’re using several pedals – so this isn’t ideal if you’re going to be using it live
The GPT by Gator is slightly more expensive than the SKB however, for the money, you get some pretty cool features.
The best thing about the GPT is that its carry handle is actually part of the pedalboard, so it conveniently slides into a slot on the top of the carry case. This is great as it ensures your equipment will be transported safely, without you having to worry about a budget carry bag falling to pieces.
This power board differs from some of the others we mentioned earlier as it’s angled, so some may find it easier to reach effects units in the far end row. Saying that it’s Velcro surface is slightly smaller than SKB’s model, so if you have a vast pedal collection or large ones, you might need something a bit bigger.
The GPT also features a G-BUS 8 multi-output power supply which is hidden away beneath Pedal Board nicely. The pedal board itself is made from lightweight plywood with a protective Tolex covering, so you’ll be able to cart it around relatively easily.
Overall, the GPT is pretty similar to the SKB, so suits any guitarist shopping on a lower budget, however, for the extra cash here you do get a sturdier carry system, so you may feel it’s a worthwhile purchase.
- Angled – This may be great for those of you that will be using more than one row of pedals, as angled boards grant easier access to out of reach units.
- Built-in carry handle – The handle is a lot stronger than some weaker fabric versions, so you won’t have to worry about the bag collapsing while you’re touring
- Small – The pedal space is relatively small compared to say the Voodoo Labs board, so if you’ve got loads of effects units you may want to go for something with more room
- Power jacks – The 1/8” power jacks tend to fall out during a set, which is not ideal. That said, for the low price you can probably justify buying some more reliable alternatives
So, while it’s true that all the products we’ve reviewed today have their good and bad points, there’s no real perfect option, it depends on you as a guitarist.
If you’re shopping on a budget, and need a non-powered pedalboard, then you can’t go wrong with the Donner DB-2, the Ex Stompbox or the Ghost Fire, which are all sold at a similar price. However, for the price, the G-Tour offers more protection and portability than the DB-2 and the Ex Stompbox.
If you need protection and a powered board, the Boss BCB and GPT by Gator won’t let you down, saying that if you have loads of stompboxes, Voodoo Labs Dingbat is your best option. The Dingbat has space for extra pedals and an extra power supply – so you can get away with running 16 pedals at once. Just remember the Dingbat is our premium choice, so comes at a higher price.
What did you go for in the end? Let me know if the comments below.
Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.