A Simple Solution for Acoustic Multi-Instrumentalists

The Board

Fin came to me with an unusual set of challenges. 

He wanted to use three guitars (electric, acoustic and nylon) through the same pedalboard and have some way of switching between the guitars and outputs. To keep cabling on stage tidier, we settled on a switcher with one input and three outputs for the individual instruments. So far, not a massively complex setup.

Fin uses several effects pedals with all three instruments, so an effects loop was integrated into the switcher. Slightly more complicated now…

Gain staging is an important, and often overlooked, part of creating a guitar sound using pedals. Whether and where gain is added in an effects chain can have a massive impact on sound and - without getting on my soapbox - this is misunderstood by so many otherwise capable musicians. Understanding gain staging can bring out the best of a guitar rig. Fin totally understands this conundrum.

Since the guitars all have very different output levels, the way they each interact with his effects changes immensely. To counteract this problem, a volume control was added for each instrument input, placed before the effects loop. Adding this volume control means that the high-output active acoustic guitar pickup and the low-output single coil pickups in a Tele will hit the overdrive pedal on his board at exactly the same level.

The custom switcher needed to split the input signal to three channels, adjust the individual volume, send it out and back through an effects loop, and select the correct output to send to one of three Radial J48 DI boxes. The excellent Bright Onion Pedals realised the designs for this switcher, solving multiple problems with one elegant pedal.

A Cioks DC-8 power supply was chosen to supply stable power on various input voltages around the world. An old Boss RV-5 was replaced with the new TC Hall of Fame 2 giving a lot more flexibility. Fin’s requirements for the new reverb pedal were that it sounded great, was able to store and edit custom presets and, most importantly, didn’t audibly ‘click’ when engaged. For an acoustic artist, clicking pedals are a real problem in the studio.

The new board was built to fit into a Pelican 1560 for compact and safe touring on flights. Van Damme cable and Switchcraft jacks completed the board.


The Specs