Premier Guitar

5 Pedalboard Builders You Should Check Out

October 30, 2009
The combination and type of effect pedals a player has can say as much about him or her as the guitar and amp they use. And the power supply and cabling supporting those vintage pedals are almost as important as the pedals themselves.

Once upon a time, the more pedals you had, the more duct tape you needed to strap them down to the stage. In today's clubs, amphitheatres, and garages, you're more likely to see the guitar or bass player's pedals neatly secured and cleanly patched within the confines of a well-designed pedalboard. Pedalboards have now gone mainstream, thanks in part to the five pedalboard makers in this interview. From mass production boards like Pedaltrain, to flashy custom models like Trailer Trash, pedalboards are far more than an expensive duct tape substitute. But pedalboards are not just about simplifying your set up, they are also about getting a great sound in the form of clean reliable power and signal flow from the guitar, through our precious stompboxes, and eventually out into the room. We take a look at five artisans who take much deserved pride in the design of their pedalboards: NYC Pedalboards, Pedal Pad, Pedaltrain, Pumaboards and Trailer Trash.





NYC Pedalboards' Gigman board

NYC Pedalboards
Mike Ruskin
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 Ruskin 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.


Pedal Pad AXS-XL

Pedal Pad

Mike Stratton
Topeka, KS


Pedal Pad
Pricing: $150-$350
Contact:
pedalpad.com
(724) 515-7637

Mike Stratton, President of the Kansas-based Pedal Pad has taken the art of pedalboard-making to the production-level using inventive labor techniques and a creepy table-saw guy.

How did you get started making pedalboards?
My first inclination to build a pedalboard was based on saving time. I would finish a day’s work, rush over to the storage unit to load gear, drive over to the gig to set up, sound check and rush home to have time with my kids before driving back to the gig. I ran sound from the stage, so not only did I have to get the P.A. tweaked, I had to spend a lot of time getting my pedal setup just right for the room we were playing in. I’d dump my pedals out of a duffle bag, wire them up, hit a sustaining A chord and twist knobs for a good 20 minutes.

How has your design evolved since you first started?
My first designs were pretty simple, but they all had a compartment underneath for concealing the excess cables as well as other undesirable items that just got in the way of the pedals. I was using a Wah as well as a volume pedal for swells, so my feet stayed pretty busy. Since playing electric for me involved using more than just my arms, I started thinking of my pedals as an extension of the guitar, and wanted to have them positioned just right. Because I was always changing pedals, I decided to design a pedalboard that could also be changed.

The two-tier design was always important to me because I liked not having to spread the pedals out in a long line, but I also did not like kicking the knobs off the front row when trying to step on the back row. Having a stair-step design eliminated that problem. In order to accommodate larger pedals like the Wah or Volume, I came up with the adjustable panel design which allowed any section of the front row to be either flat for smaller pedals or raised to meet the pitch of the second tier to accommodate longer pedals. Apart from the adjustable design, we have scaled down the height of the pedalboard.

Who were your first customers?
I met two of my heroes at the 2003 Summer NAMM show, Adrian Belew and Victor Wooten. I offered them boards and they seemed pretty enthusiastic about having them. Dweezil Zappa and George Lynch soon followed. I have not been very good about using the testimonials to maximum benefit. Maybe because I have always had the opinion that it makes sense to have even famous guys pay for their gear. That way you know they’re really diggin' it.

What would you do without Velcro?
Cry. Velcro sometimes gets a bad rap because it loses it strength or the adhesive starts to give up. All I can say is prep your pedals, prep the pedal surface and use the Velcro consistently. Hook always on the pedals and Loop always on the pedalboard or visa-versa. That way you can move pedals around if you want.

Do your systems come with their own power supplies?
Yes. Our current power supply is the Power Pad II, which is a switching power supply module that can be located anywhere on the pedalboard just like the aluminum panels. We are coming out with the Power Pad Pro in March 2009, which will have eight isolated outputs via a toroidal transformer with multiple secondaries. All of the outputs will be able to run either 9 or 12 volts and will have protection features built in to each output. It will also include an AC courtesy outlet.

Is the power supply above the board or below?
On our MPS boards, which are powered, it is above the board as a module within the pedal surface. On our non-powered AXS boards, a power supply can be placed either on top or below.

Any pedals out there that just are not pedalboard friendly?
Talk Boxes come to mind, as well as the multi-effects units, which are the root of all evil in my opinion. They are so big and players get painted into a corner with factory sounds. With our adjustable design, just about any pedal can be placed comfortably on the Pedal Pad.

What are some popular customizations?
The adjustable panel design on our MPS series boards which allows the player to customize for longer or shorter pedals is at the heart of the Pedal Pad design. The hinged panel on our AXS boards is pretty handy if not a little bit innovative.

How long does it take to make a pedalboard?
This is where it gets a little weird. We assemble 100% of the pedalboards in a prison using custom-made tools just for Pedal Pad building. My old partner was a whiz at designing a jig or fixture for every single function, so construction goes rather quickly and the consistency is usually dead on. None of the Pedal Pads go from start to finish before another one is started, so it is a little difficult to say how long it takes to make one. We usually schedule the ordering of materials and the labor around production runs based on a certain number of units. Runs of 100 are pretty common and that can take two or three weeks.

What materials do you use?
We use 9-ply, void free, ½” Baltic Birch for the rim and ¼” for the top and bottom. We then roll the entire case with adhesive and cover with the standard Ozite-style carpet, which is common with speaker cabinets. We use a charcoal color so that lint doesn’t show up very well. Once the hardware is fixed to the case, we start on the inside. The Baltic Birch center support beam, which controls the functionality of the adjustable panels, is outsourced to a local cabinet shop [that] router cuts about 500 per run for us via CNC machinery. The center support beam is sanded and painted then fastened into the pedalboard case. Panels, power supply, patch bay and accessories are added and then boxed up. The aluminum panels and power supplies are produced for us in Asia.

What cables do you recommend?
There are a lot of good cables out there, but I have always made my own. My recommendation to anyone handy with a soldering iron is to produce their own guitar cables using a high-quality three-conductor mic cable. Make sure the mic cable has braided shielding, because cable with the spiral shielding can literally be twisted in your fingers to roll off the treble in your signal. Connect the white to the tip on both ends, and twist the black wire and the shielding together and connect to the sleeve. This makes an excellent guitar cable.

How many fingers does your table saw guy have?
34. He collects them.

Any interesting stories of pedalboard use or abuse?
One guy who works for Robert Keeley told me that his fell out of a truck or trailer on the highway and he was still using it the last time I talked to him. Another guy had his fall from a 14-foot ledge. I had to replace the lid for him, but that is the only time out of 12,000 units where I replaced a case.

Any special or odd customization requests?
I pretty much stay away from this, because it is not a good fit with my production strategy. I do sometimes change the height of the AXS pedal surface for players so that they can put taller objects below. People have asked for longer units and shorter units, but it’s easier for me if I spend my time trying to talk them into less pedals or more pedalboards.

What is the price range of your pedalboards?
Our models start at $150 for the AXS Road Buddy and go to $350  for the MPS-XL.

How long do you expect your pedalboards to last on the road?
Life, baby!



PT-PRO-HC

Pedaltrain
John Chandler
Nashville, TN


Pedaltrain
Pricing: $69.95-$299.95
Warranty: Lifetime, excluding abuse or negligence
Contact:
pedaltrain.com
Dealer List

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.


Pedaltrain 1
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.



Pumaboard Classic #69

Pumaboards

Kevin "Pumaman" Perkins
Oregon


Pumaboards
Pricing: $150+
Contact:
pumaboards.com
info@pumaboards.com

Fate and an early love of hot-rods are behind Kevin 'Pumaman' Perkins' Pumaboards custom pedalboard shop. Oregon-based Pumaboards blends innovation with racing stripes to make a solid and attractive piece of stage gear.

How did you get started making pedalboards?
Well what really got me thinking about it was meeting Ron Thorn, a custom guitar builder in Glendale, Ca. While his guitars are about as good as it gets (I’m lucky enough to have two), what always impressed me from the first time I met him was his enthusiasm with his guitars and his appreciation and interaction with his customers. A couple of visits to his small shop for his yearly gathering of Thorn enthusiasts, and seeing how it was just him and his Dad working together to turn out these beautiful guitars, and my wheels [started] turning. [With] an unexpected, career-ending back injury, it was time to get serious about doing something enjoyable for a living. I actually sat down with a piece of paper and listed the things that I liked about Ron’s business and a couple I didn’t like. Working pretty much 24/7 like he does wasn’t going to be possible with my back. This would need to be something I could do at a pace my back could tolerate. As luck would have it, a month before my injury I was mapping out on paper and cardboard plans for a pedalboard for myself. So, I had a pretty good idea of what I thought a pedalboard should be like. After a few months of research and development came the final piece. My webmaster/daughter set me up with a cool website with pics and now videos, and using a nickname that was given to me years ago, Pumaman’s Custom Pedalboards was born.

How has your design evolved since you first started?
The basic design has been consistent. No rocket science here, just a wedge shape with room underneath for wiring and power supplies. Any size a customer wants and power sockets and quarter-inch jacks arranged to suit.

But I felt there was room for boards that looked cool as well as being functional. We all tend to take pride in our gear and enjoy having a cool looking guitar or amp. Why not a cool looking board to put those fancy pedals on? The thought of Tolexing boards to match amps sounded like a good idea. [It] didn’t take long before I was looking at my boards like the hot-rods I grew up with, so stripes just seemed right. I remember being so excited when I figured out the way to do them. Now my hot-rods were looking seriously cool. My wife thought I was a little nuts at the time. I probably put stripes on more than half the boards I build now. They have kind of become what a Pumaboard is.

I just recently came up with a new option that seems to be going over well—the two-piece slotted top. I was always bugged by the usual grommet in the front of the top for passing cables through from underneath. Seemed like I always wanted to put a pedal where that grommet was, and with bigger boards and more pedals, one grommet would not be enough, then with each added grommet there was another spot on your board you could not place a pedal. Now I can place a one inch wide slot two inches down from the front of the board that spans the entire width of the board. With this, no matter how you arrange that top row of pedals, you will have multiple spaces in between pedals to bring cables up through, while keeping the good looks of a solid top. And I have some flexibility as to where to place the slot. It’s already been helpful to a couple of guys to have the slot just in front of a midi switcher or loop box that can have a lot of cables coming out of it.

Tell me about your customers.
I consider all my customers artists. I’m just as thrilled to build a board for the at-home guy as the guy out on tour. No big name artists yet that I am aware of, although I did build a massive board as a gift for Vic Johnson, guitarist for Sammy Hagar’s Waboritas. The phone call I got from him when he opened it was priceless.

What would you do without Velcro?
I guess I would be stocking a lot of screws and bicycle chain links and building more replacement tops. You know, I think everyone that builds pedalboards has looked for a “better” surface than Velcro. I’ve done Formica and Plexiglas as well. But, to me, Velcro is still the best. It remains the most user-friendly way to go. You give that up when you try anything else. It’s been my experience that any additional holes in a board for mounting pedals or routing cables will ultimately result in a need for a new top. You know us guitar players can’t ever be totally happy with our pedals. I really like my boards to not only be user-friendly, but also ready to handle pedal changes anytime. For my money, Velcro is still the logical way to achieve this. Oh and a new two-piece slotted top will help as well [grin].

Do your systems come with their own power supplies?
No. What I provide is the power socket and patch cord needed to use any of the many power supplies available.

What power supplies do you recommend?
Well, Voodoo Lab's PP2 is hands down the most popular and a great product for most guys. But there are a lot of comparable units available. It really depends on the application. I have built boards powered by simple daisy chains [and] huge boards powered by multiple power supplies. The big thing now is the need for power supplies that cover all the different voltage needs of all the great pedals available these days. Eliminating the need for wall warts is always a good thing. Promising new products that address this are right around the corner from Voodoo Labs and others.

Any pedals out there that just are not pedalboard friendly?
Yeah big pedals and heavy pedals come to mind, and of course, ugly pedals are no good either.

What are some popular customizations?
My customers really appreciate options. Just the fact that I can build boards any size is a big help for a lot of guys. Sometimes it can save a guy a lot of money when I can build a board to fit an ATA case he already has, or one he can purchase for much less than having the case custom built to fit the board. I can cover a board with about anything I can get my hands on. Matching a guy's board to his amp is very popular.

Guys dig those crazy stripes, too. So do I. The early responses would suggest [that] the two-piece top is going to be a hit.

How long does it take to make a pedalboard?
I ’m currently building about two boards a week.

What materials do you use?
Clear ¾” Pine for the frame, 5/8” Ply top, various Tolexes and vinyls.

Take us through the process from raw materials to finished product?
Boards are cut, with great care to keep my fingers. Then pieces are routed for top recess and lap joints. Then I will rough sand pieces to give the wood teeth for better adhesion for the Tolex glue.

Pieces are then glued and pin nailed at the corners. Next will be the hand sanding and rounding of the corners. Time to lay out and draw the holes for Power socket and jacks on the board. Then I’ll snap a couple pictures for the customer to see if there is anything they would like to change before drilling holes. Then the messy part… Tolexing. Add sockets, jacks, corners and brackets and it’s time to cover and install the top.

How many fingers does your table saw guy have?
Well, that would be me. Still have them all. Being a guitar player, I would like to think I’m more careful than some.

What cables do you recommend?
I have always been happy with George L’s. I love the small footprint, and they are easy to use once you get the hang of it. However, I’m about to step up to the new solderless Lava cables, a great product from what I have read.


"Pumaman" applies racing stripe Tolex to a board's frame
What makes your pedalboards stand out in the crowd?
I would say the cool looks, solid design and options such as any size and any Tolex. This makes it a lot of fun for the customer to put together a special board. It can be anything from a clean, well laid-out, black board, a striped and chromed-out hot-rod or a '50s red sparkle vinyl classic. If you want a board covered in something you don’t see on my site, just ask. I can actually cover a board with about anything I can get my hands on.

Any special or odd customization requests?
Classic #38 comes to mind. My customer wanted his board covered in Leopard skin fabric like he used for inside his custom guitar cases. I wasn’t too keen on the fabric for durability, but he was okay with that. It actually turned out pretty damn cool. I’ve been surprised by the sizes of some of the boards ordered.

With the use of switchboxes and midi switchers, guys can have a row, or even two, of pedals they don’t have to step on. I actually have built a board 28” deep.

What is the price range of your pedalboards?
$150 and up

Is there an average price?
I would guess maybe $350 - $400

How long do you expect your pedalboards to last on the road?
Forever, of course. At least that’s how I try my best to build them—overbuilt, just like I would any hot-rod. After a lot of use, I suppose it’s possible the Velcro could stand to be replaced, although I haven’t heard of that happening. But replacing tops easily, if needed, is one of the intentions of my design. Other than that, I really can’t see one of my boards failing in any way under normal use.

I still hear from some of my earliest customers that their boards still look like the day they got them. And I know that to be true of all the boards that I have I built for myself. I am my own test subject, you know.




Trailer Trash Pedalboards

James "Rooster" Olson
Arvada, CO


Trailer Trash Pedalboards
Pricing: Average $1300, up to $18,000
Contact:
trailertrashpedalboards.com
303-650-2529

Nashville's James 'Rooster' Olson has gone all out with his Trailer Trash Pedalboards. Their Glow-Top models could quite possibly draw more attention than the guitar player using them. Trailer Trash is not just about looking great, they, like the other boards mentioned in this interview, are about quality and functionality first and foremost.

How did start making pedalboards?
I have been a pro guitar player my entire life. I was Chely Wrights’, and Mark Chesnutts’ touring guitar player for many years. In October 2003, I walked into my home at 8 a.m. to find that it had been gutted of its contents. I lost $25K in guitar gear—Tom Andersons, PRS, Collings, Old Fender amps—Naylors, etc. It was only a month after the burglary of my home that I was forced to start my idea for my pedalboard company. I did pursue the theft with a detective and we caught three of the thieves responsible. The head thief had cased my home and waited for me to be gone. We discovered that he was a real bad news druggie guy who lived in a nearby trailer park with a two-page rap sheet—pure trailer trash. After the case had run its course and we jailed the guy for three years, my detective called me up and told me that the State of Tennessee (Nashville) had not awarded me any restitution in the case. I was very burnt over this and took the approach, if I’m not going to get repaid by the guy who robbed me, then I will make money off of him. So I named my company after the guy who took everything from me—Trailer Trash Pedalboards—it was a true blessing in disguise!

How has your design evolved since you first started?
We are the company that changed how pedalboards were perceived. Trailer Trash was the first pedalboard company to upholster & match the look of many famous amplifiers. We did the entire vintage line of Fender, Marshall, Bonner, anything you could dream up. This design made a huge splash at Winter NAMM 2005, making the Barry Wood NAMM Oddities list. Then we started exporting worldwide [and] changed our look to many different paint options in an effort to keep up with the demand for our boards. Today we stock six sizes, six colors, three top options, two case options.

Who were your first artist customers?
Rascal Flatts, George Thorogood, Steve Stevens, to name a few. Soon after starting the company, I was contacted by Mark Burnett Productions and was asked to supply his reality TV series' Rock Star INXS, and Rock Star Super Nova with our custom product. This really put us on the map as we were seen by 22 million people per night, three nights a week for three-plus months, two seasons in a row. As far as we have been told, Trailer Trash Pedalboards was the first pedalboard company to be listed in a major network TV shows end-roll credits along with Fender, Matchless, Bogner, etc.

Do your systems come with their own power supplies?

Yes, we do custom installs of many different power supplies. Basically there are never two boards alike, so we install whatever power is necessary to keep all in isolation. I like the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power supplies. There are higher dollar supplies with more options available on the market, but I have great results with the PP2s. We sometimes are installing three to five of these units under our boards and they always live up to the Trailer Trash motto—It don’t leave our shop until it runs clean. Pedal Power delivers.

Is the power supply above the board or below?
Trailer Trash is proud to be responsible for starting the wave of companies that have had to change their design to be able to install power supplies under their boards. This was the most important feature that I addressed with my first design in 2003. Today in 2009, it’s pretty funny to get calls from customers now who ask if they can install a power supply under our pedalboards—T-Trash started it! This is why our slogan at the top of our website reads, Trailer Trash Pedalboards—Creation, Not Emulation.

Take us through the process from raw materials to finished product?

Remove hat, scratch head, remove hat, scratch head—repeat for many days until finished. [laughs]

What cables do you recommend?
I really like the Evidence MonoRail. It works with George L’s plugs, tests real nice on our meter. The solid core dresses out nice. Oh yeah, it sounds great!

What makes your pedalboards stand out in the crowd?
Style, class, wicked clean signal to the front of the amp combined with Made in USA pride & integrity gets ’em every time. But that’s before we plug in our sick Glow-Tops.

What is the price range of your pedalboards?
We have built pedalboards that if you combine the entire cost of all of the pedals on top and under, power supplies—everything to make a pedalboard—T-Trash wiring etc., a few have went out of our shop that had a total worth of $15,000 to $18,000. Our standard-sized board, say a 28x16, custom-wired with ATA case, etc. typically goes out of our shop for approximately $1300.

How long do you expect your pedalboards to last on the road?
As long as you take care of it, it will last forever. Be kind to your gear, it costs a lot and is delicate.