Our Top Pick for 2018: Gator G-TOUR PEDALBOARD-LGW Tour Series
Read our full review.
In this GarageBand/Pro-tunes/App Store world of endless options for audio effects and augmentation, the practical use of any of it still often boils down to hardware. The kind you use to access those effects, and the kind used to hold the first kind in place. And so here, we present you the options for the best pedal board for your money. Not because it’s the most exciting, provocative piece of equipment you could own, but because it’s one of the most fundamental to unleashing all that exciting artistry you’ve been working on. Let’s get started.
#1. Gator G-TOUR PEDALBOARD-LGW Tour Series
View it on Amazon: $207.54*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
First and foremost, a pedal board needs to be sturdy and reliable. Both while you’re playing on-stage, and when you’re absentmindedly shoving it into a van with the rest of your gear. The Gator G-Tour (LGW) delivers all the peace of mind your require, in a nice, hefty package.
The G-Tour delivers 24 x 11 inches of usable space, with an included 3M dual lock to keep your pedals secured to the board. The exterior case is constructed from plywood with aluminum valance, and a thick EVA foam interior ensures that every bump the case survives is a bump your gear survives. Considering the heavy-duty recessed butterfly clasps and spring-loaded grip handles, the case feels like it could survive a war…or at least a series of rough roadies. There’s also a pop-out carrying handle to go with its attached base wheels. You may not get much use out of it if you’re carrying a lot of other equipment, but if it’s you, a guitar case, and your pedals, it could be perfect. Plus, the wheels mean that it will be easy to slide in and out of any pile of other cases you might encounter.
As far as actual performance use, the board is made to stand up to whatever you throw at it, though it will be up to you to arrange things how you want. There are no dedicated pass-through’s for cables, so you’ll either have to make your own and risk the integrity of the case, or just come to terms with an on-board solution. Your options for arranging and securing cables are as wide as the options of effects pedals, so it’s up to you. Some musicians are all about the deep mods, and some are just happy with something functional. The important thing is that the G-Tour provides a solid, reliable platform for whatever your needs require. With a solid base and rubber feet, you won’t be worrying about the board moving around during your performance. There’s also a welcome, subtle incline provided by those rubber casters. This is a common sticking point, depending on the musician and their style of use, so it’s nice to see it being addressed in a way that’s open to modification. Finally, with the high-rise handles on the pedalboard itself, you’ll have the excellent protection below and an extra layer of hope if something falls on top. The metal handles are sturdy as you could hope, and really remind you of the reason for your purchase whenever you grab hold of the board.
Under the board you’ll find a fair bit of storage space, enough for cables and the occasional power-strip. Not excessive, but appreciated and useful for what you’ll probably store there. Unfortunately, that doesn’t include space for a power supply, so you’ll probably be looking for an external that fits the stack. As for what pedals are supported, Gator lists the following as specifically-compatible: Boss, Donner, Vox, Zoom, Digitech, Behringer, Joyo, TC Electronic, Electro-Harmonix. Although, by their own admission, the list goes beyond that and it will be up to you to determine whether your set-up fits.
Truly, one of the only real complaints that could be leveled against the G-Tour is that it’s “overkill.” If any of your requirements fall far enough below what this offers, it might be best to seek out a cheaper alternative. For a musician reliant on enough pedals to justify the cost, with enough touring to justify the protection on offer, Gator delivers absurd security and functionality without sacrificing flexibility. On the other hand, if you can’t imagine filling a board this size with the tools you need now, you’ll want to take a hard look at your long-term plans to see if they justify the hefty up-front fee and excess bulk needed to accommodate them.
On the other hand, if you’re already bursting out of an existing pedalboard/case, this will give you a wide canvas to play with…though it does still qualify as a medium-sized board. As usual, your needs will determine what this canvas actually looks like to you.
To get the gold star, Gator simply delivered a reliable, straight-forward design built to last, and built to vigilantly protect whatever you can fit inside it. If it makes sense for your budget and needs, it’s hard to find anything better.
#2. Boss BCB-60 Deluxe Pedal Board
Shifting gears now from the Fort Knox of pedalboards, to the private security of pedalboards, the Boss BCB is focused on portability and function over brute, weighty strength. Thankfully for anyone in need of excellent protection and ultimate portability, the BCB shows just how much can be accomplished when you trade weight for pure design.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice a form-factor aimed to provide as much mobile functionality as possible, and as much protection as that design allows. The exterior is made of molded resin (ABS plastic) that should withstand years of abuse, but won’t hide the scuffs it takes along the way. There’s a single integrated handle and a pair of sliding plastic latches. These latches, though a bit flimsy to the touch, are likewise capable of handling far more stress than you might expect. You may not enjoy the high-confidence of aluminum latches and trim, but it’s nice to know that losing that reassuring heft doesn’t compromise the overall integrity of the case.
On the inside, you’ll really start to see the benefits of the alternative styling. The case includes a 1,000mA AC adapter capable of powering up to seven devices from Boss’s own compact and twin pedals, to a range of options from other manufacturers. With included inputs and outputs and all necessary power cables included, it’s hard to find a simpler all-in-one solution for a pedal-heavy musician on the go.
As for securing your pedals to the board, you’ll find an elegant solution slightly compromised by the novel design. The interior is covered in soft foam, with pre-cut inserts to hold your various devices in place. If your devices don’t fit with them, you’ll have the “opportunity” to cut your own foam inserts. It’s a system that again doesn’t communicate the most security you might want, but given the benefits it’s a system you’ll likely want to adapt to. To be clear, once you’ve got your equipment fitted, this case will take pretty much any abuse you could throw at it while keeping its precious cargo snug and secure. And with the minimal footprint, it’s even easier to slide out of harm’s way. Still, it’s not a case for the bottom of the stack. Also, an unavoidable side effect of the case is the fact that it opens exactly one way. Two, if you’re okay watching all your pedals spill out of it. This is not *unavoidable* once you know the case, but it is the sort of personality quirk that will endear it to you…or which will simply frustrate you until you adapt.
Overall, this is a great case for any solo musician, but it fits right alongside any equipment of a larger ensemble. The included input/outputs and power supply truly add value you might be missing in the simple, molded plastic design. And considering the fact that that molded plastic can take a severe beating without affecting the tech you’ve got cozily tucked into its foam innards, it’s a case almost guaranteed to grow on you personally. As a companion to a guitar case, the functionality it affords to the effects it’s able to house makes it an excellent choice for most any level of musician. And in the high-stakes games of open mics and drunk audiences, the time you’ll save setting up power and cables can make all the difference in the world.
#3. Behringer PB1000
Another ultra-portable pedalboard with integrated powersupply, Behringer has been keen to support their range of pedals with an elegant all-in-one solution. Considering that the PB1000 can hold up to *twelve* pedals, you might guess that this comfortably qualifies as a “large” pedalboard. You might also guess that perhaps Behringer is really just trying to get you to buy more of their own effects pedals.
Considering the build quality of this case and the options it affords, you just might.
Let’s start with obvious: Another rigid-resin, molded plastic case with integrated handle. The flimsy-feeling yet somehow-sturdy sliding latches return here, for another case that puts its effort into providing a lightweight, comprehensive solution, while leaving concerns about “tough” and “strong” to the engineering division, not the metal shop. The underside is covered with the requisite strips of rubber for grip and stability, and they seem to do an admirable job in most situations. However, you may want to invest in some appropriate contact cement or glue, as the glue used in manufacturing has trouble keeping them from peeling up. A small detail in an otherwise well-made case, but one of the first details that will make you curse it if they’re compromised.
And speaking of compromise, Behringer sure didn’t with the power-supply. You get 1700mA that can power those (up to) 12 devices, and all the cabling required to get things hooked up. Its 1×12 daisy chain cabling sends juice to all your pedals at once when you plug in the main power supply, which really sells its role as both protection and management for your pedals. However, being the Bronze pick, you may find the life of the power-supply to be less-than stellar. Experiences from long-term users range from glowing, to focused almost exclusively on the PSU’s lifespan, so it’s something to consider before purchasing. Certainly, the case itself and the protection it affords could be your chief concern, but you may not want to place its power-supply in between you and the rest of your tour.
As for the rest of the interior, you’ll find the same foam/insert set-up as the Boss, with even more space to fit your gear, or to puzzle out how to secure what you have. Extra foam inserts are included, and the list of compatible devices is long and quite flexible. Behringer aims to give you the space, customization, and cable management to turn this plastic box into a working shop of audio effects, and they’ve largely succeeded.
This extends to the included connections. You get: 1 1/4-inch input for a guitar, bass, or keyboard, 2 1/4-inch inputs for stereo effects, and then 2 1/4-inch stereo outputs for connecting to up to two amps. It’s a system that allows an easy set-up and speedy break down, all without sacrificing whatever functionality you might need.
Ultimately, Behringer’s offering here is finely-aimed at pedal junkies in need of securing their stash in the most accessible manner possible. It’s a bit larger than casual needs would likely appreciate, but it’s got a solid functionality that you might just want to grow into.
#4. Gator Cases G-MINI-BONE
Here we are. The option every starving musician has been waiting for. Thankfully, Gator aims all its expertise at whatever market it’s building entries for, and the G-Mini-Bone has the kind of solid, reliable functionality you’d be hard-pressed to expect from a case called the “G-Mini-Bone.”
On the other hand, you *should* expect a bone, because that’s what you’re getting tossed here. A solid, rigid polyethylene bone-shaped stand that holds three stomp boxes in place. There’s a “hook and loop” angled surface for mounting your pedals, and the board comes with a thick nylon tote-bag for carrying it around.
And that’s it.
Sure, it has rubber feat to keep it in place. And it’s as durable as you could want a pedalboard to be. But if you’re looking for an integrated power supply or inputs or even something to fully protect your gear, you should look elsewhere.
What you do get? A rock-solid platform for up to three pedals, or 2 pedals and a power-supply, or whatever variation your performance requires…as long as you don’t need another pedal.
More than that, you actually get a tool for creating music that is so simple that it can actually wind up being preferable to the other large cases, whether you have a use for 12 pedals simultaneously or not. Good music doesn’t come from excessive complexity, but from a careful mastery over the instruments you’ve decided to give voice to. Even if your day gig is a super-tracked, polyphonic cacophony of fully-pedalboarded sound, you might want to snag a Mini-Bone simply to reconnect to a simpler style of performance.
If you do, you’ll find that putting three pedals on a sturdy, inclined, elevated surface can give you more foot-stomping rockstar enthusiasm than carefully pirouetting over a dozen pedals and control pads really conveys. In the heat of performance, biological mechanics matter. Finding yourself with the three-pedal precision offered by Gator’s funky offering here isn’t just a meaningless tribute to nostalgia, it can be an intuitive, artistically-integral augmentation of your musical expression.
Of course, if you’re just starting out, a board this size and shape can be as helpful as the frets on the guitar. And for any veterans who eschew the complex for the simple, it’s hard to find an option more bare-bones than this (pun fully intended). More importantly, the build quality is simply top-notch. Whether awkwardly stomping around it while trying to remember that chord you just learned, or passionately stomping it in time to your latest deep, soulful performance, the Mini-Bone is one budget option that creates real value by ignoring the values of other pedalboards for a stripped down version distilled to the best of the bare essentials.
As with so very many things, but particularly for pedalboards, you’ll want to start off by looking at the price range you’re comfortable with, alongside the functionality you require. Each tier provides some fairly significant differences in base utility, and overall usability and protection. More importantly, the pedalboard still represents an “instrument.” Its inputs may vary, but the performer using it probably won’t. Look for something you can use and *will* use first, then adapt your wish list to match your budget.
The rest of these considerations will inevitably relate back to price, but functionality in particular is tricky. Again, because these are musical instruments, the functionality and its value varies from one musician to the next. As the pedalboard is probably one of the final pieces you’ll be adding to a basic set of gear, you should have a good idea of your performance needs by the time you’re shopping for one. However, don’t ignore your performance *goals.* Whether you’re hoping to expand your collection of stompboxes to unheard-of heights, or want to get *amazing* with 2-3, your choice of pedalboard can be confusing if you’ve got the budget for more than you need, or want more than you’ll actually be able to use.
Your most pressing concern, again related to price, is how much travel you’ll be doing and how much protection you’ll need for your pedals. A church musician with an unmoving band set-up might love a simple board, but anyone on the move is bound to appreciate a solution that affords even basic enclosure/shock protection. Be clear with yourself about your needs and desires, and find something that satisfies as many as possible.
Look, you’re a musician. Inevitably, your image will matter to you in some way. If you’re presenting Nirvana covers with a 12-pedal, molded plastic monstrosity, you may experience some cognitive dissonance from your audience when you sing those angry lyrics about anti-corporate something or other. Conversely, if you’re trying to hold together one of those 64-track digital masterpieces with a 3-pedal bone-stand, you might come across less like a virtuoso and more like a kid playing Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis.
But image isn’t everything, but for a musician, *feel* matters as much as looks, and if you’re not “feeling” the chunk of kit you’re dragging from gig to gig, no amount of extra dollars or features is going to change that. Pedalboards may be specialized equipment, but their manufacturing methods are not. Keep an eye on the details provided, and be honest with yourself about what appeals to you and what doesn’t.
In this day and age, the benefit of having billions of humans bumping into each other online is still barely-understood but still amazingly important. Considering that pedalboards function as both technology and protection *for* technology, the real-world experiences of fellow musicians is simply invaluable. Keep an eye out for any reviews that describe the sorts of venues and uses you’ll be encountering yourself, and try to average out what’s said with any other reasonable-sounding voices. It can sometimes be frustrating to have to play detective, but the tools to Carmen Sandiego your way to the perfect purchase are right at your fingertips.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
You don’t need any of these. Just grab a board and some fasteners and make your own. That’s what a real rock star would do. In doing so, you’ll figure out what you need from a pedalboard, the complications that arise from your own use, and the functionality you require beyond what a single piece of plywood can afford.
After that, check this page again and try to find something that does what you need, better. For the non DIYers our picks are some of the top tier boards that will get you up and rocking in no time flat.