DIY Guitar Pedal Board (Effects Pedal Briefcase)

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Introduction: DIY Guitar Pedal Board (Effects Pedal Briefcase)

About: I am an Electrical Engineer at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) where I specialize in embedded systems and hardware design. When I am not at work, I am usually playing guitar in bands around Atlan...

Those consumer-based guitar pedal boards are way too expensive for my taste. I came up with a simple way of carrying and powering all of those important guitar pedals boards in a briefcase.

Visit my website for other projects as well: www.kevindemarco.com

Step 1: Materials

The guitar effects briefcase consists of...

1.) Low-cost briefcase (found at Ross - DRESS FOR LESS!) I bet they have these at Wal-mart too.

2.) '''Dunlop DC Brick Power Supply'''

3.) 1/4" Guitar cables (Guitar center / your local music store)

4.) Velcro strips (found at any craft store in strips for about $5)

5.) Effects Pedals (whatever you got)

Step 2: Assemble

Wikipedia says...

"Velcro is a brand name of fabric hook-and-loop fasteners. Its consists of two layers: a "hook" side, which is a piece of fabric covered with tiny hooks, and a "loop" side, which is covered with even smaller and "hairier" loops." Read up more on Velcro

Thus, when you look at the Velcro you bought from your craft store, you will find two sides that stick to each other, the hook and loop sides. The other sides of the Velcro are like stickers and can adhere to other surfaces permanently.

1.) Cut strips of your "hook" Velcro into squares that fit onto the bottoms of your guitar pedals. Attach the Velcro to the guitar pedals using the sticky side of the Velcro

2.) Cut strips of your "loop" Velcro into longer strips and stick them to the bottom of your briefcase (on the sticky side of course) as depicted in the image.

Step 3: Insert Pedals to Complete Board

1.) Place the pedals in the briefcase however you desire.

2.) Connect the pedals with 1/4" guitar cables, making sure to be aware of the input/output of each pedal. The right angle cables are great for the cable going from your guitar into the briefcase and the cable going to your amplifier from the briefcase.

3.) Connect the pedals to the Dunlop DC brick using the power plugs that came with the DC Brick.

Some hints:

a.) Route your power wires and 1/4" guitar cables wisely to reduce the risk of snagging them with your feet or between the movements of pedal presses.

b.) Note how the Flanger and Distortion pedals in the briefcase face each other. This allows the user to easily turn both of the pedals on with one foot press. It is also easy to turn on just one of the pedals.

c.) Performing bare foot helps because shoes are clumsy when stomping on effects pedals.

d.) Add stickers to the side of the briefcase that faces the audience to make your political statements and agendas known.

Possible Improvements
a.) Could try to design my own power supply to decrease cost. The DC brick is a high quality power supply able to deliver 1.0 A of current to your collective pedals.

b.) Have more pedals? Try building multiple briefcases and just connecting them after they are open.

Visit my website for other projects as well: www.kevindemarco.com

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    33 Comments

    Great job! I agree looking "professional" is the industry's way of getting musicians to often spend more money than they have, by buying trinkets and gadgets that are not really needed. When a little ingenuity goes much farther and is easy on the budget, and keeps the neurons firing. DIY !!!!

    1 reply

    I forgot to mention I built a system very much like this, but flipped the briefcase upside down, so the edges of the case are lower on the pedal "base".

    I did this exact same thing with basically the exact same suitcase! Except I separated the the halves, and used the "top" half to place the pedals on, so it's technically "upside-down," and added a few clamp locks on the sides to keep everything secure when in transport. Ha

    This is a really nice pedal board, although it is a bit cramped in there... where can you get a brief case of that sort?

    R.G. Keen has an excellent design for a multi-output power supply specifically for pedalboards. The article can be found on GeoFex\;

    http://www.geofex.com/article_folders/spyder/spyder.htm

    The transformer Keen mentions with a single 115/230 VAC primary and nine secondaries can be found at the Weber Magnetics site for $25. This particular transformer is purpose-built for pedalboard power supplies. They are very helpful, and are happy to sell them by post. Weber also carry other useful components.

    I have no connection with either R.G. Keen and his excellent GeoFex web site (lots of information about effects pedals and circuits), nor with Weber Magnetics, other than having used Keen's "Spyder" supply design, and building it with Weber's transformer, and being satisifed with the performance of both.


    1 reply

    I would add that the total cost of building the "Spyder" supply, including a metal case, connectors, fuses, and the nine separate secondary DC circuits (eight with 7809 regulators and one for other voltages) was far less than the cost of the Dunlop Brick supply. A friend built a Spyder supply using the enclosure from a dead ATX computer power supply - plentiful as junk - and his costs were the special transformer, the regulators and associated capacitors, and the 2.1 mm jacks. Everything else was re-used or scrounged. His total cost was less than $45 including all postage.

    I built on your design- by adding an input and an output jack on the briefcase making it easier to plug into

    3 replies

    That's a great idea. Did you mount jacks on the actual briefcase? Any photos?

    yeah I did- and i installed a plastic grommet to put my power cable through. The first two pics are of the grommet and the second two are the output jack

    PC300527.JPGPC300526.JPGPC300525.JPGPC300524.JPG

    Genius!! Utter Genius!!

    Dm

    Just a thought, but if you really find yourself needing a pedal board because you have a good number a pedals, it wouldn't be a bad idea to invest $100 in a real pedal board. I did this with my pedals for a long time, and I finally got some money to get a reall pedal board. It looks much more professional on stage and the quality is much better. But hey, thats just me... Do what suits you best...

    2 replies

    For a couple of reason...

    1.) Designing your own pedal board is in the spirit of this website.

    2.) I am a professional guitarist and the definition of "professional" is quite subjective in the music industry. My custom pedal boards and DIY equipment draws a lot of attention and sets me apart from other guitarists in my city (Atlanta).

    Standing out is a great thing, I did this same thing with my first pedal board (using a leather briefcase). And I realize it is in the spirit of Instructables, do forgive. I forget at times when I post comments.

    is there anyway to make the multi power supply, because i always found them waaaaay over priced too.

    6 replies

    That Diago Powerstation is the same price as the Dunlop DC brick. But, the DC brick has 7 - 9V outputs and 3 - 18V outputs.

    Since the first couple of comments I have been developing a home-made power supply for these boards. Cost in parts will be about $20, where the AC-AC wall transformer is the most expensive part at $10. I will post an instructables within the next 2 weeks on how to assemble it. I might even include a PCB!

    I thought that the dc brick was £100 pounds.I'm probably wrong it has probably gone down in price.

    Why wouldn't you just get a 9v wall adaptor and just run everything off of that?

    Typically 9V wall adapters do not provide enough current for multiple pedals. If you wire it up, it might work if you only have one or two pedals active at one time, but if you are pumping up the volume and using multiple pedals your pedals will most likely "brown out" and turn themselves on and off. Thus, you need a more robust power supply that will provide 9V consistently and at least 1 to 2 Amps of current at the minimum.