John Chandler from Pedaltrain has succeeded in taking a custom shop niche product into mass production, making Pedaltrain's s eight models widely available across the US, Mexico and Canada.
How did you get started making pedalboards?
I was a touring guitar tech for about 15 years and worked on just about every style and type of pedalboard you can imagine. Out of my frustration with many of them, I decided to build something to make my job easier. I wanted something that could go together quickly, be easy to reconfigure, and be extremely durable. I built the first one for myself and began showing it to clients and from there it just took on a life of its own.
How has your design evolved since you first started?
Not really very much since it first began. The biggest change came when we decided to make all the Pedaltrain models more compatible with the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power, which has become an industry standard. Folks used to have to mount them on top of a pedalboard taking up precious pedal mounting real estate. Everyone wanted to get the board as small and efficient as possible. When I decided to patent the design and go into mass production of the first model everything regarding the size, shape and features were based on years of research and development.
Who were some of your first artist customers?
Mostly players in the Christian music industry. Guys like Mark Townsend and Barry Graul of dcTalk and solo artist Wes King.
What would you do without Velcro?
Probably lay down and cry. Seriously though, I guess where there’s a will there’s a way and we’d use whatever attachment method available that people think is best.
Do your systems come with their own power supplies?
No, and that is by design. In my opinion the best power supply options for effects pedals usually do not come with a pedalboard. Most of them are designed to work on any custom board or piece of plywood.
Do you recommend certain power supplies?
My best recommendations for which power supply is right for you would be based on exactly what pedals you need to power, what their individual requirements are and what country you're using it in. I wish there was one unit that would do everything you ever wanted but unfortunately there’s not. Not yet anyway.
Any pedals out there that are just not pedalboard friendly?
I haven’t seen a pedal yet that I can’t figure out a way to get it onto one of our boards. Although there are some that are unusually large or weird shaped that make mounting them a challenge.
What are some popular and/or innovative customizations?
Certainly the most popular innovation was modifying the boards and designing mounting brackets for securely attaching a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power underneath. We had been doing these mods for folks for about three years and then it just got so out of hand that I said, we’ve got to redesign and make this easier for us and [for] the end user.
Do you do custom switching?
No, but I really see that true bypass switching strips are the current trend in moving the pedal world forward. I am constantly talking with people who are working on creating the next great innovation. Since we’re not electronic minds around here, we will leave that to the folks who are. I think in the next two or three years there will be lots of choices available for players who want to use effects on a board but control them by means other than stepping on them. However, I still don’t think we’ll see anyone going back to pushing around big racks of pedals mounted on pull out shelves with elaborate switching systems. It’s just so complicated and a hassle if you want to change something. And one thing I have learned about pedal junkies is that they’re never satisfied, they're always buying, selling, swapping and trying something new.
What materials do you use?
Our entire pedalboard is made by welding together specifically shaped hollow aluminum tubing. It’s about as simple as you can get.
Take us through the process from raw materials to finished product?
We start with raw aluminum, melt it in a foundry to about a zillion degrees, then form our own extrusion profiles of the tubing. Next, specific lengths of tubing are cut and the pieces assembled in a jig that holds everything in place while it’s welded together. Then, the frames are sanded smooth before powder coating, and lastly the rubber feet get riveted to the bottom.
What cables do you recommend?
For wiring up pedalboard I have always used George L’s solderless connectors and cables. They’re consistent, reliable, easy to work with, never failed me, sound great, and the factory is just across town.
How many fingers does your table saw guy have?
Eleven, it’s like, one more.
What makes your pedalboards stand out in the crowd?
I think what’s different about us is that we’re making custom shop quality solutions for the do-it-yourself crowd.
Any interesting stories of pedalboard abuse?
I’ve always made the claim that you can drive your car over our boards and it will be fine. I never suspected that anyone would actually do it. Well it has actually happened twice! In both cases I asked if they would do it again and video it for YouTube, but they declined.
Any odd customization requests?
Naturally we get lots of requests for custom sizes and shapes, but since we don’t have a custom shop that’s pretty impossible. However, when we get enough requests for a certain size, shape, or feature then we use that data when planning new models. This is how we went from one model to seven.
What is the price range of your pedalboards?
$69.95 for the PT-MINI with soft case up to $299.95 for the PT-PRO with road worthy flight case with wheels.
Is there an average price?
Our biggest selling model is the 24”x12.5” Pedaltrain-2. It’s $119.95 with soft case and $189.95 with a flight case.
How long do you expect your pedalboards to last on the road?
As long as you want it to. It has a full lifetime warranty that covers everything except negligence, abuse, misuse or airline damage.