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December 2014
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5 Custom Pedalboard Builders You Should Check Out

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NYC Pedalboards' Gigman board

NYC Pedalboards
Mike Rustin
New York City, NY


NYC Pedalboards
Pricing: $85-$179 plus options
Warranty: Lifetime
Contact:
nycpedalboards.com
1-888-935-5526

NYC Pedalboards has a reputation for clean, efficient design and full-on customization. As a gigging musician in New York City, owner/builder Mike Rustin realized the importance of making the most out of a small stage and keeping pedals safe on the road.

How did you get started making pedalboards?
Back in 2000, I was playing bass in a NYC-based band with a guitar player who used a ton of pedals yet had no pedalboard. Needless to say, it took a long time for him to set up and breakdown [and] it was a mess and took up a lot of stage space (It should be mentioned that he was on my side of the stage). We played most of our gigs at clubs with small stages where several bands played in the same night, so stage space was at a premium and it was imperative that bands could set-up and breakdown as quickly as possible. One day I put my foot down (no pun intended) and demanded that we solve the problem. We searched the stores and the internet for an affordable pedalboard that was large enough to hold all of his pedals, but it didn’t seem to exist. So I decided to build one myself and the first NYC Pedalboard was born.

I knew right away that I had hit on something marketable, so I went out and bought “The complete idiots guide to creating a web site” and within a few days I had a web site up and running, and was taking orders. It caught on so fast that within a few months I was making a living selling them. Of course, I have refined my product and my web site since then but I continue to do all of the work myself with the occasional hired hand.

How has your design evolved since you first started?
The early versions had carpet as the pedal surface. I quickly found out that the carpet could not survive the repeated attaching and removing of pedals, so I upgraded to a genuine Velcro loop surface. The early versions also had a tray-style pedal surface that had a three-fourths inch lip all around it. This proved to be obstructive to the inputs and outputs of the pedals, so my next improvement was what I call the “no-lip” design.

Who were your first artist customers?
I like to think of all my customers as “artists.” I have yet to do an endorsement deal, nor have I solicited my products to widely known artists. With that said, many notable artists have discovered my products on their own, including Death Cab for Cutie, Brand New, Arch Enemy, Mercury Rev, Ike Willis (form the Mothers of Invention) and Dave Davies (from the Kinks). I think that Dave Davies was the first big name that I heard was using one. His rhythm guitarist (at the time) ordered one, and not long after he ordered another one—telling me that Dave had taken a liking to his so he gave it to him. I have been a huge Kinks fan since I was a kid, so I couldn’t have been more thrilled to hear that a true legend of rock was using something that I built!

What would you do without Velcro?
I often have customers that do not want to put Velcro on their pedals, and there are other ways to hold the pedals in place. The most common alternative that I use is to put extra thick foam in the lid. Zip ties are another option, but this requires drilling holes.

Do your systems come with their own power supplies?
No. I believe that it makes more sense to keep the board and power supply separate—if you change one you don’t necessarily have to change the other.

What power supplies do you recommend?
I make a point to only recommend products that I have [had] personal experience with. Over the years, I have used a Boss TU-2 tuner (with a daisy chain cable) for my smaller boards and the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 for my larger boards. Both of these have worked well, but the Voodoo Lab unit is definitely more versatile and reliable. I have always considered it to be the “industry standard” when it comes to power supplies.

Any pedals out there that just are not pedalboard friendly?
The original “spaceship” shaped Roger Mayer pedals come to mind. I have always called those pedalboard killers.

What are some popular customizations?
The second level riser is by far my most popular option. I have recently come up with a new custom option that I believe to be pretty innovative. I am calling it the “pop-up angle” option. With this option, the pedalboard surface is hinged in the front and has a hinged foldout support underneath in the back so the board can be flat or angled. The advantage to this design is that it can be angled for playing and then laid flat when you close the lid (which means that the overall case height does not need to be increased to accommodate the angle). So, now you can have a second level riser and an angled board and not need a ridiculously large case. I have just started doing this on a word of mouth basis and the response from customers has been very enthusiastic.

What materials do you use?
The primary ingredients are: high quality birch plywood, case carpet, steel hardware, rubber feet and of course genuine Velcro brand loop material. I have a reputation with my suppliers as being a stickler. I send back anything that does not meet my high quality standards.

What cables do you recommend?
I get asked this all time and I’ve been meaning to come up with a good answer for years, but the truth is that I don’t have a personal preference. Many of my customers prefer the solderless plug cables such as George L’s because you can make them whatever size you need.

How many fingers does your table saw guy have?
I run the table saw myself and I am glad to say that I still have all of my fingers.

What makes your pedalboards stand out in the crowd?
I believe that it’s a combination of quality, practicality and affordability along with the fact that I will build one to the customer’s exact specs. I feel that I offer a fairly unique customer-to-builder communication process and I make a point of providing the highest level of customer service possible.


NYC Pedalboard's smallest and largest standard models: the Lunchbox and the Big Shot

What is the price range of your pedalboards?
Standard models go from $85-$179 plus options.

How long do you expect your pedalboards to last on the road?
A very long time. I provide a lifetime warranty, so in the rare event that something does require fixing, the customer can rest assured that it will be taken care of.
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