We treasure our pedals for the unique tone shaping capabilities they give us—for the individuality they lend to our sounds and music. We also get so attached to those little buggers that it can be hard to consider alternatives.
Such sentimental attachments can make a pedal collection less than the sum of its parts. For one thing, an in-series pedal set up is inherently limited in relation to the possible sounds that set of pedals can make when reshuffled, reordered, and reconfigured. Then there’s the issue of on-the-fly switching. Unless you’re capable of Houdini-meets-Baryshnikov contortions you’ll never be able to switch on five pedals simultaneously.
Pedal switchers make such magic tricks as easy as pressing a single switch. Many switchers eliminate the limitations of in-series pedal setups by enabling the creation of unique pedal sequences via switchable loops. Some also offer features like amp channel/effects switching and MIDI connectivity that help maximize the potential of the pedals that are already the foundation of your sound.
For this roundup, we check out three of the latest switchers: the Carl Martin Octa-Switch MK3, Boss ES-8, and RJM Mastermind PBC. They cover a fairly wide spectrum in terms of cost, functionality, and design emphasis. But each offers the opportunity to relate the pedals you already love in ways you may never have considered or expected.