Power And Signal Cabling For Your Guitar Pedalboard

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Part One: Making a Power Connection on Your Board

If you haven’t already read our article on how to build your own guitar pedalboard, you should definitely check that out for a little context!

I didn’t want to have to depend on power being available at the front of the stage for my pedal board, or running another cable for the power to my board. I decided to make a cable snake and run everything I needed through one bundle, including power for my pedal power supply.

Here’s how I did it:

Once again, we have to push the disclaimer on you. Whenever we build or do something that is potentially dangerous to you, we will be making this disclaimer so we are held harmless if you mess up:

DO NOT build this electrical option if you do not know how to be safe with power tools! It is beyond the scope of Guitar-Muse.com to teach you the proper safety procedures required. Guitar-Muse.com, the author of this article, Doug Knight, and any of Guitar-Muse.com’s writers, editors, partners, owners or advertisers are not responsible for any damages or injuries sustained as a result of this article, plans or instructions. By attempting to build this electrical option as shown in the article, plans or instructions, you are agreeing to hold everybody connected to Guitar-Muse.com harmless from responsibility should your use of the aforementioned article, plans or instructions result in injury to anyone or damage to anything. Meaning: Use at your own risk!

Building the power connection for your board is not difficult but there are operations that may injure you if you do not know the correct way to use power tools. This option for your pedalboard also requires electrical wiring that must be done exactly as the instructions state or damage or serious injury could result. Please get help if you feel you are not competent to perform the operations described.

This picture shows the power and signal connections I made for my pedal board. In this part, we’re going to start the power connection.

0-power-signal-connections

These parts should be available at any hardware or home center store. Use the steel backed ones, not the plastic. We need the strength of the steel here.

2-power-socket

Keep the Strain Relief Pieces, including the grommet, from the plug. We’ll be using them later.

3-power-socket-parts

 

4-remove-screw

Buy some of the drywall trim screws at the same place you buy the plug and socket repair ends. Figure 5 shows what they look like. Note the small head.

5-screw

Throw those gold screws from figure 4 in your junk box. We won’t be needing them.

Figure 6 shows the use of a 9/64″ bit to drill out the holes in the yellow section of the plug. It worked for me but I like little “bite” in the hole. Drill a clearance hole if you prefer to make it a little easier to assemble the parts later.

6-drill-holes

In figure 7, a smaller hole is needed because you want the screw to tighten up and hold the case to the top of the plug.
It would be better to test the size you need on some scrap so the screw gets a good bite.

7-where-to-drill

Make sure you can see through the base at the correct places.

8-drilled-holes

Pay attention to the “ground prongs” in figures 9 & 10.

9-slots-ground-plugs

 

10-ground-prongs

Make sure you do those ground prongs right. If anything ever happened to your wiring and the case wasn’t grounded, it could seriously injure you or someone else. They are there for a reason so make sure you use them correctly.

Put your trim screws in and put the plug together. You should have about 3/8″ of screw sticking out the bottom, see fig. 11.

11-assembled-plug

Figure 12 shows an extra 3/4 spacer is all that’s needed if you haven’t trimmed your board.

12-spacers

For boards with trim, figure 13 shows the perfect fit. It also shows how long my screws are. You don’t want them sticking out of the plywood backer. They are exceedingly sharp so that’s asking for cut wires and cut fingers.

13-trim

14-hole-saw

 

A paddle bit or auger can give you the clean hole of figure 16 as long as you drill until the tip comes through and then turn the work over and drill from the other side as in figure 15.

15-hole-saw-2

 

16-clean-hole

The paddle or auger won’t give you those cool “wheels”, though. Pry them out with a screwdriver inserted in the slot in the saw. Be careful not to put too much pressure on the plot bit.

17-toy-wheels

Here’s a fun part. You’ll have to do the procedure in figure 18 unless your board is large enough to allow your drill and saw in place to drill the hole straight.

18-measure-center-hole

Drill as many holes as you have to in order to get it right. You’ll remove them all when you drill the big hole anyway.

19-transfer-measurements

Figure 20 shows another reason why we always drill from both sides. It would be a shame to ruin your board with a breakout of the veneer on the outside of your board.

20-plywood

 

21-test-fit

Hold everything together and give it a try. If you can live with the results, you’re in good shape. If you really blew the location, there isn’t much you can do. Go to the Q&A in the forum and ask me for help. I can usually come up with something.

Don’t be afraid to test the cord for an easy fit. You don’t want it catching on the side of the hole. Figure 22 reveals that I’m not holding my plug right in the center of the hole. The yellow part is a little smaller than the steel body so your piece can get out of center. Remember that when you screw it in at the end.

22-mark-for-size

 

23-spacer

When you mark the spacer, and the backer, for size, mark them at the board side support so the bottom will still fit in place, should you choose to use it.

Figure 24 shows my method for dealing with screws that were too long. You won’t have to do that if you use the right length screws.

24-trim-screws

That’s it for Part 1. We’ll continue with the wiring and installation in Part 2, and Parts 3 & 4 will cover the signal wiring. Leave any questions you have in the comments section or go to the GM Forum and drop a note in the Pedalboard Q&A under the Effects heading.

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Doug Knight

Our “Man on the Street” reporter, with his “What’s New in Music Stores?” series, resides in Coos Bay, OR. You can find him on Friday nights at The Small Events Center at OrCoast Music in Coos Bay.

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