What is a guitar pedal power supply?
A guitar pedal power supply is an outlet that provides power to your guitar pedals from the mains electricity. They take a number of forms, such as a simple single mains-to-pedal power cable or a power brick that has a number of power outlet cables to plug into multiple pedals.
There are tons of stompbox companies out there, all making pedals their own way and as you can imagine, this leads to some nuance in terms of the power required. It’s important to match the right voltage and current to your pedals to ensure they sound the best they can.
Many ‘power bricks’ or guitar pedal power supplies are very versatile, with the option to alternate current or voltage output. Others are fixed to specific voltages, so you’ll probably need to match your power supply to the pedals you have. Sometimes a ‘one size fits all’ approach works because most pedals simply require 9v DC power - but with so many power-hungry digital pedals on the market, you might need to provide enough juice for your pedals to run at optimal levels.
How to power a single guitar pedal
If you want to power a single 9v pedal then you’re in luck – this is fairly easy to do! You can often buy a single, generic 9v power supply and that’ll do the trick. Alternatively, you can buy the recommended supply for the pedal by the company that makes the pedal, especially if the power required is different from the standard 9v power. Plug it in and watch as your pedal powers up.
If at a later stage you want to add more pedals to your collection, you can probably still power them with a single 9v power supply if you buy a daisy chain connector cable. This expands the single output of your 9v power supply to more than one pedal.
Note: Voltage plays an important part in how a pedal is powered. Ensure that you never plug in the wrong voltage to your pedal. So, for example: if a pedal only needs 9v and you plug in a 12v supply you’ll break your pedal.
How to use a daisy chain to power pedals
A daisy chain is a fantastic option for home players or if you’re just after a quick fix to power multiple pedals however isn’t always the best option for your pedals.
The reason for this is quite simple. A single 9v psu can only supply a maximum amount of current. Even if you expand the outputs by using a daisy chain, you won’t be increasing the current output. This means that if your psu was kicking out 500ma from a single connector, when you add a daisy chain, it’ll still only send out a maximum of 500ma but that’ll be distributed by 5 new outputs.
If your pedals require more juice than what you’re giving them from the power supply you can cause noise issues because the outputs aren’t isolated and you’re not providing the pedals with the right power required for them to work.
This is when having a power brick with isolated outputs becomes very important because you can provide each pedal on your board with a healthy supply of current – enough for them to work as intended by the pedal designers.
Note: You should always ensure that you know what supply your pedals need and that you connect them to a supply that provides ample current! So, if your pedal requirements are 9v DC 200mA then you should ensure that’s what the supply will give. It doesn’t matter if the power supply provides more current than the pedal requires but should never be less.
How to power your entire pedalboard with a power brick
If you’re using multiple pedals and particularly if you’re using a pedalboard, you’ll want to give those pedals the right power at all times. The easiest way to do this is with a power brick-style guitar power supply mounted to the pedalboard.
As mentioned above, you’ll need to ensure the power brick can send the right amount of power to each pedal that you want on your board. Sit down and write the power requirements for each pedal and then ensure the power supply you’d like to buy will match those requirements.
Most pedals require 9v DC power and have a very low current requirement but pedals to watch out for include powerful digital pedals like the Strymon or Eventide pedals. These pedals sound incredible because they have such powerful chips processing the sound but this requires the right power and so if you’re using pedals like these, you need to cater for this.
How to mount a pedal power supply on a pedalboard
Mounting a power supply to your board depends on the board and the power supply. Most pedalboard companies will sell additional mounting kits for popular power brick sizes but if not, you can always mount the supply using Velcro!
Pedal power supplies vs batteries
You may wonder why you even need a power supply if your pedals work with batteries? Firstly, not all pedals come with batteries. And pedals that do use batteries have got a limited life according to the life of the battery. If you’re gigging or recording, then the last thing you want is your rig going down due to a dead battery!
Batteries do provide a fuss-free approach but will drain if the pedal is left plugged in (in a pedalboard situation for example) and will also need regular changing. Some pedals need to have the backplate unscrewed with a screwdriver in order to change the batteries too – not something that you want when playing live and need to change the battery!
Most mini pedals won’t be useable with batteries either which means if you want to use small, mini guitar pedals then you’ll need a mains-powered supply – either a power brick or a single psu.
Which Pedal Power Supply Should You Buy?
Armed with all this knowledge, you now have all the info you need to browse through our full list of pedal power supplies and find the best one for your needs.
All of our pedal power supplies are great and serve a certain purpose. You just need to work out how many outputs you'll need and determine if the power supply you have your eye on will power the exact pedals you have. If you're unsure, drop us a line and we'll be happy to help.