What is a Pedaltrain?
Let’s start from the ground up! Pedaltrain is the name of both brand and product; founded in 1999, the company is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and distributes internationally. Their vision was, and still is, simple: to bring high-quality, consistent and reliable pedalboards to the masses, with innovative design and the needs of musicians in mind!
At this point, you may be wondering what the difference is between a Pedaltrain and other pedalboards. Widely considered industry leaders in the pedalboard category, they’ve utilised innovative and patented designs to ensure practicality, durability and affordability all at once. Their hugely popular boards employ the same basic design: a tough metal frame with a series of rails spanning its width, allowing space to tuck cables away and keep your setup tidy and efficient.
The Key Pedaltrain Features:
- Aluminium - aircraft-grade Aluminium is their material of choice. You’d be hard-pushed to find a better combination of lightweight construction and resilience at such affordable prices!
- Calculated Design - Pedaltrain have spent years honing the design of their boards. This means reinforced joints, precise angling, ultra-tough frames, carefully calculated spacing between rails and much more.
- Accessory Range - Pedaltrain manufacture a wealth of accessories designed to fit perfectly with their range of boards. This means anything from cases and bags, to Velcro strips, to power supplies, and every little thing in between!
The Pedaltrain Range
There are five main series of Pedaltrains, each one having slightly different characteristics. Their current range is essentially designed to cater for every possible requirement, with everything from rucksack-ready compact boards to monstrous tour-ready rigs for the professional musician! Here’s a breakdown:
This 42” Goliath is the board to end all boards. It expands the 5-rail Novo design to new and uncharted FX territory! Key feature: it’ll fit every single pedal you’ve ever owned!
Which Pedaltrain is right for you?
Choosing gear can be a lengthy, tedious process, but Pedaltrain aim to make it fun and informative. As long as you’re asking yourself the right questions, their vast range will have something that’ll perfectly suit your needs. So what should you consider when choosing yours? Let’s take a look:
How many pedals?
Although this question sounds like a simple one, there’s plenty to think about. First of all, consider how many pedals you have now vs. how many pedals you plan to have in the future; are you going to expand your collection? Secondly, will you need every single one of your pedals to be readily available on your board, or are you willing to make sacrifices for the sake of practicality? Here’s a handy breakdown:
As the above diagram indicates, there are several different options to choose from depending on your collection. It’s also worth considering the size of your pedals – if you use any kind of expression pedal, you’ll want plenty of depth to your Pedaltrain. Similarly, if you’re a fan of bulky multi-FX like the Line 6 Helix, hefty digital reverbs like the Strymon Big Sky, or any other sizeable stompbox, you’ll need plenty of room!
Powering Your Pedaltrain
As we’ve already mentioned, there are two orientations of Pedaltrain: flat and slanted. The Nano and Metro ranges employ a flat design, whereas the rest are slanted for easy access and stompability (we made that word up).
You’ll want to consider your power options before you choose your Pedaltrain’s orientation. This is because a slanted design will give you space underneath your board to keep your power supply out of the way. This is safer and more efficient in terms of space. So, if you’re using several pedals that require different currents, or you’re keen to use isolated outputs to prevent unwanted noise, a slanted board might be beneficial. Pedaltrain offer a great selection of mounting brackets with this in mind.
That having been said, if you’re not worried about board space, or if you’re using a daisy-chain power supply, a flat board may suffice - preferable if you prefer portability.
Portability VS. Protection
In an ideal world, we’d have plenty of both of those things, but sadly that isn’t always possible. Luckily Pedaltrain have got your back, both with their board sizes and their accessory range.
As mentioned earlier, if you want your board to be compact and portable, there are small options in every group apart from the Terra - but you’ll need to think about transporting it.
If you’re likely to be carrying your board around with you, or lugging it in and out of the car, opt for a Pedaltrain with a soft case to keep it snug and protected from the elements while still being relatively lightweight.
If there’s a chance your board will find itself in the cargo hold of a plane, or stacked amongst a vast touring rig in the back of a truck, it might be worth considering a board that comes with a tour case. These naturally cost more, but you’ll hopefully make up for it by saving yourself £££s worth of damage in the long run!
Now that we’ve covered the key issues to consider, we thought it’d best to cover some of the other questions that we sometimes come across:
- Stationary setup = more is more: we’ve mentioned portability plenty of times in this article, but what if your board will be sat totally still in a home or studio setup? If this is the case, why not go a little bigger than you were thinking? That way, you can keep all of your pedals (past, present and future!) in the same place and ready to rock. Don’t be afraid to dream a little bigger!
- Hook and loop: each Pedaltrain comes with a healthy offering of Hook and Loop, their own super-strength Velcro material. This rubber-based pressure-sensitive adhesive tape bonds extremely well to hard surfaces, and your pedals are guaranteed to stay put. At the same time, with a bit of encouragement, they’re easy to chop & change, so you’ve got the best of both worlds. No need for extra pedalboard tape!
- Weight restrictions: there’s been plenty of talk on size and design, but weight might just be a deal-breaker. Consider this very carefully, especially if you’re travelling by plane! The Pedaltrain Nano weighs in at a puny 0.45kg, whereas the mighty Terra 42 is a hefty 3.05kg.
The Short Answer
In many ways, you could find the Pedaltrain that suits your needs simply by considering your needs as a musician. Remember: you are your own demographic!
We’ve hand-picked some of the best options for different types of musicians to save you the decision making. These are recommendations rather than Pedaltrain gospel, but hopefully it’ll be more or less on the mark:
- The best Pedaltrain for: The Busker – The Metro 16 with soft case. Compact, lightweight, but with enough space for a tuner, looper pedal and a couple of nice extras!
- The best Pedaltrain for: The Function Guitarist – The Classic JR with soft case. Again, relatively compact, but with an extra rail and slanted design. This means room for a versatile array of effects, an isolated power supply and a pro essential: the volume pedal!
- The best Pedaltrain for: The Studio – The Terra 42. Why not? You’ll have near-endless possibilities, so even if you have a small collection, you won’t need to worry about expanding. Plus you can have everything set up all at once without need to move anything around!
- The best Pedaltrain for: The Student – The Metro 20 with soft case. A nifty number with enough room for the essentials: overdrive, ambience, modulation, tuner and volume. Job done.
- The best Pedaltrain for: The Session Musician – The Classic JR with tour case & the Novo 32 with tour case. That’s right, two! Be prepared for any gig that comes your way, whether it’s a stadium performance or a lunchtime studio session. Have a handy, portable rig and a full-blown arsenal to choose from!
We started this article by outlining what sets the Pedaltrain range apart from other pedalboards. But while they are industry leaders in what they do, there are plenty of others to choose from. While they arguably lack some of the innovation that the Pedaltrain range boasts, you may be concerned about your budget, or you might after something with a different type of flexibility. Let’s take a look at some popular alternatives: