Tips for seeing your pedalboard on stage
If you’re reading this I’ll go out on a limb and say that you’ve joined the revolution of ditching sheet music and using paperless chord chart and sheet music apps like OnSong. And if you are, you know that one of the benefits of using a tablet on stage is being able to see your charts clearly when the stage is dark.
Dark stages are awesome and important for the show, but they (obviously) make it hard to see. If you’re the tap dancing type that uses a large amount of pedals live you understand the issue. You could be tuning in between songs, and need to click on a delay. But you can’t see a thing.
Or maybe you’re a knob tweaker and have to fiddle with something every night. While you might be able to see some indicator lights, you probably won’t be able to see the knobs.
My favorite memory of the worst case scenario happened to a friend of mine at a gig we both were playing. He had a Morpheus pedal to tune down instead of bringing another guitar just for that song. He clicked what he thought was the switch to get him back to standard, but it wasn’t.
The song started with a big open chord hit with the bassist and myself playing a big luscious G chord, while the other guitar player played what he thought was a G. Turned out it was a very dissonant F chord over the G.
While I love laughing about it all these years later, it could have potentially ruined the song.
The point I've been taking a very long time to make is that seeing your pedalboard on a dark stage is important.
Using A Pedalboard Light To See Your Pedals
The solution to see your pedals is to use...a pedal. One that you should already have.
STOMP’s USB port has been used by musicians all over the world to charge their tablets or smartphones during a gig. Did you know it can be used to power other things, like a pedalboard lamp?
17” Gooseneck Lamp from Rock Stock
If you already have STOMP you can get this USB pedalboard lamp from Rock Stock Pedals. Simply plug it into the USB port of STOMP and enjoy a well lit pedalboard that doesn’t distract from the dark stage.
It’s a 17” gooseneck that can bend and contort to just the right spot. It uses 4 bright white LEDs so you won’t have to worry about replacing any bulbs.
If you’re already using the USB port on STOMP to charge your device, you should consider the Rock Stock Pedals Bright Switch.
The Bright switch with 17” gooseneck pedalboard lamp.
It’s a micro stomp box sized pedal that powers and controls the same 17” gooseneck LED lamp. You get two USB outputs so you can charge your phone or tablet while using the light at the same time. One USB port is wired to the footswitch so you can turn the light on when you need it. The other is an “always on” port to charge your phone or tablet regardless of whether you’re using the light or not.
The Bright Switch converts a standard 9v power input to the standard 5v USB power. The pedal comes with a 2A power supply for charging tablets. Or to “super charge” your smartphone.
And it’s tiny! Just look at it compared to the iPhone (not an iPhone plus). Even packed pedalboards have a spot for a footswitch this compact.
What If Your Pedalboard Is Too Small?
If you’re struggling to make enough room for the Bright Switch (or any other pedals for that matter!), then you have a couple options.
Get New Patch Cables
This is the cheapest method. If you’re using straight connectors on your patch cables, you can save so much room by using patch cables with 90 degree connectors. GLS Audio makes a really affordable set.
If you already have patch cables like this you can go even slimmer on the connector. Pancake plug connectors are as thin as you can get. Your pedals will almost be touching. This set of 6 uses Mogami cables for maximum audio signal integrity.
If that’s still not enough then a guitar pedal coupler might be the way to go. The only downside is your pedals need to be specifically aligned. For most people this isn't an issue, just be aware of this. They come in a few different varieties.
Offset guitar pedal coupler
Get A New Pedalboard
At some point we all have to take the pride hit and say that our pedalboards are too small. Not to worry! You have so many options for a new pedalboard.
The PedalTrain Classic 2 is an obvious choice.
It has an ergonomical angle that lets you access the back row of pedals just as easily as the front. Because it’s angled you get access to the underside of the pedalboard. I see a lot of players use this space for power supplies (like the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power).
The slots give you a place to neatly tuck and run your cables for the OCD types out there.
If that’s out of your price range, here’s a cheaper option that’s about the same size.
One more great option is the Voodoo Lab Dingbat. Besides having an awesome name it has the Pedal Power build into it.