Are you tired of lugging all of your pedals around in a bag and having to set up your rig every time you play at a show?
Do you have more pedals than you have space for on your current board, and it’s time to upgrade?
Maybe you’re looking to go on your first tour this year and you need something to protect all of you pedals.
Whatever you reason for researching a new pedalboard, you’re going to want to pick out the best guitar pedalboard for your budget and your rig’s needs.
We’re here to help, as this article takes a look at our top picks for pedalboards in 2021.
Snapshot: Top 8 Guitar Pedalboards
- Pedaltrain Classic Jr. – Best Overall
- Voodoo Lab Dingbat w/ Pedal Power Plus 2
- Luvay XL Pedalboard – Best Budget Option
- NuX NPB-L Bumblebee – Best Customizable
- Vertex Effects Tour Compact
- Gator Cases G-TOUR Series w/ ATA Case – Best for Touring
- Friedman Pro 1520 – Best High End Option
- Mono Pedalboard Light – Best Mini Option
Picking the Perfect Guitar Pedalboard for Your Needs
Just like picking out the right guitar, picking out the best pedalboard for your effects is a decision you may need to make multiple times in your life, as your needs for a board will change with the size of your gigs, genre of the music you’re playing, and the types of pedals you favor at any given time.
When building a pedalboard, its import that the pedalboard can securely hold all the effects that you want to use. When you’re first starting out, you may want to pick out a pedalboard that has some extra space for your collection of effects to grow.
Another approach could be to pick out a smaller board that gives you just the right amount of space for the bare essentials that your gig calls for. Not only does this mean you’ll have less to worry about on stage, but picking out a smaller board is more cost effective and means your board is easier to travel with.
For this list, I compiled a list of pedalboards that would serve a wide array of players. There are boards of all shapes and sizes here, as well as budgets, so that every kind of rig can be supported. Some of the boards are specific sizes, while others are part of a series that come in multiple sizes, so look at the options available for each board type if you are curious about the different sizes/bundles.
With all that in mind, let’s look at the top picks for pedalboards this year!
Top 8 Guitar Pedalboards on the Market in 2021
1. Pedaltrain Classic Jr. – Best Overall Guitar Pedalboard
- Classic Jr is available for purchase with either pedaltrain S fitted soft case (featuring a heavy-duty metal zipper and reinforced stress points) or professional-grade tour case
While I don’t often start my lists off with the “Best Overall” selection, I thought it was appropriate with the Pedaltrain Classic Jr., because it truly is the classic pedalboard design that most others expand upon. Under most circumstances, you could buy a pedaltrain board of any size or shape and it will get the job done for you.
- Great board for beginners and professionals alike
- Padded gig bag lightweight but protective
- Patch cables can be concealed under board
- Modestly priced
- Sturdy for pedals of all shapes and sizes
- Padded gig bag not suitable for fly dates
The Pedaltrain boards achieve an excellent balance of versatility and simplicity. Crafted using aircraft grade aluminum and a matte finish, the Classic Jr. is lightweight and durable. It is a great entry level board with its angled design and enough space to hold up to ten standard sized pedals.
Separating the four bars are gaps that allow you to conceal your patch cables, resulting in a clean pedalboard setup.
There are a couple of benefits to an angled board such as the Classic Jr. including the fact that there is enough clearance to attach a small pedal power supply underneath the board, making for a cleaner look and more room for pedals. It also makes turning pedals on/off easier, without having to arch your toe to avoid hitting other pedals’ controls.
This particular package comes with a padded gig bag, as well as Velcro and zip ties to manage your cables.
- Pedalboard Type: Angled
- Dimensions: 18 x 12.5 x 3.5
- Weight: 7 lbs
- Compatible Power Supplies: Any shorter than 3 inches
- Special Features: Soft Case, Zip Ties, Velcro
Final Thoughts on the Pedaltrain Classic Jr.
Any board from Pedaltrain is guaranteed to be worth keeping around because they are of a solid build quality and a simple design that will accommodate even some of the most complex boards. The Classic Jr. in particular has just enough space for ample effects as well as mounting power supplies underneath.
The gig bag is good enough for local gigging and it comes with all the materials you need to set the board up at a modest price. This is the best place to start if you’re new to boards.
2. Voodoo Lab Dingbat with Pedal Power 2 Plus
- Lightweight American 6061-T6 aircraft-grade Aluminum chassis
If you’re overwhelmed with the options for pedalboards and pedal power supplies to the point that you want a quick solution that is guaranteed to work with most analog pedals, then the Voodoo Lab Dingbat and the included Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus is a solid solution.
- Comes with everything you need to power your board
- Heavy duty, lightweight construction
- Expandable for more power supplies
- Clean organization and optimal support for traditional sized pedals
- Gig bag lightweight but sturdy enough for light touring
- Larger pedals may cover up patch cable holes
A good approach to building your board is to integrate the board/power supply companies. Voodoo Lab has made it so that the Dingbat pedalboards are perfectly designed to fit up to two of the Voodoo Lab line of power supplies, which for long have been the go-to choice for professional musicians wanting isolated power supplies. Simply screw the Pedal Power 2 Plus through the pre-drilled slots and your power supplies are secure.
The Medium sized dingbat is an angled board that measures in at 22 x 13” and can easily hold up to 10 standard sized effects. The slots are designed for both top and side mounted jacks, making concealing/routing your patch cables easy while retaining the most surface area possible for your pedals.
The board comes with a padded gig bag, zip ties, Velcro and hook-and-reel loop tape for fixing you pedals to the board. It is also designed to integrate with the Voodoo Lab Dingus quarter inch feed through for more organized signal routing and amp connections.
- Pedalboard Type: Angled
- Dimensions: 22 x 13”
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Compatible Power Supplies: Pedal Power 2 Plus and smaller.
- Special Features: Pedal Power 2 Plus Included, Padded gig case, assorted power cable kit
Final Thoughts on the Voodoo Lab Dingbat with Pedal Power 2 Plus
Using integrated boards and power supplies like the Voodoo Lab Dingbat ensures your rig will be clean and that your power supply will fit under the board securely. While other supplies will work, you may have to get creative with how you mount them. Good thing the Pedal Power 2 Plus is an awesome supply worth considering.
The board itself is well made, and while the dual top/side mounted jack perforations may cause as many problems as solutions, the board is sure to work for most using standard sized, 9V pedals.
3. Luvay XL Pedalboard – Best Budget Pedalboard
- Portable Guitar Effects PedalBoard
You absolutely do not have to spend an arm and a leg to get a great pedalboard, which is why so many people decide to make their own. However, if you want a pre-made board on a budget that is sturdy, the Luvay XL is a great option worth considering.
- Serious competitor with Pedaltrain design at half the price
- Angled design makes turning pedals on easier
- Designated spot for power supply
- Oxford bag is cheap. Won’t protect pedals well.
At first glance you may think “Hey, that looks like the Pedaltrain Classic Junior”. Well, you’re not wrong. I think its fair to assess this as a budget friendly pedaltrain style board. It shares a similar metal (matte finish) construction with gaps between the bars for concealing your patch cables. It has a slight angle to it so that accessing all pedals is easy and you can fix your power supply underneath on the designated power supply spot.
Where I think the true comprise in this package lies is with the case, which looks rather cheap and thin. It may be suitable for local gigs but I wouldn’t expect it to protect your pedals very well even under mild traveling situations.
The board comes with zip ties, Velcro, and hooks for the zip ties for cable management.
- Pedalboard Type: Angled
- Dimensions: 22 x 13” x 6.7”
- Weight: 7 lbs
- Compatible Power Supplies: Shorter than 6.7”
- Special Features: Pedal power supply mount, velcro, gig bag
Final Thoughts on the Luvay XL Pedalboard
The Luvay proves that boards do not have to be expensive to function effectively under your feet. This is essentially a Pedaltrain style board at half the price. While the bag is borderline ignorable as a feature, the board itself is well made and is a great choice if you are looking for a pedalboard on as little cash as possible.
4. NuX NPB-L Bumblebee – Best Customizable Pedalboard
- Solid, Durable and Light-weight
Anyone who has had a pedalboard or two before knows that your needs change over the years. Why can’t your pedalboard change with you? That’s now a reality with the NuX Bumblebee.
- Customizable bars means this pedalboard can grow or shrink with your needs
- Lightweight but sturdy with angled build
- Fits in carryon bag
- Either two tiers or flat board design
- Tier bars can function as handles
- Gig bag one of the cheapest looking on this list
Whereas most pedalboards are stationary in their design, the NuX Bumblebee works almost like an erector set, where you get to build the board to your own specs. The pieces are all made of anodized aluminum, with two side pieces painted yellow and eight platform bars.
Simply mount the bars to the side pieces using the included screws and you can organize the board however you like, from flat to tiered.
My favorite aspect of this design is that you can determine how far apart the bars are to appropriate space your pedals and patch cables. The bumblebee comes in multiple sizes, giving you even more flexibility from one board to the next. Not to mention, it fits in a 22” carryon bag for fly dates!
- Pedalboard Type: Tiered/Flat
- Dimensions: 5.31 x 14.17 x 19.2”
- Weight: 5 lbs
- Compatible Power Supplies: any under 5” fits under 2nd tier
- Special Features: Cable organizers, dual lock, customizable bars
Final Thoughts on the NuX NPB-L Bumblebee
NuX makes great budget friendly effects units, so it is no surprise that they were also able to create a pedalboard that is not only budget friendly but also innovative in its design. The board can further save you money as it allows you to modify the board, keeping you from having to invest in a new board every time you add new pedals to your arsenal.
5. Vertex Effects Tour Compact
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If you’ve done any amount of research on professional guitarists’ pedalboard builds, then you have more than likely come across the Mason Marangella, AKA: the Rig Doctor. Mason Marangella at Virtex effects makes some of the best pedalboards around and even custom builds rigs for guitarists.
- Compact but holds lots of pedals
- Space for expression pedal
- Hinged riser improvement on previous designs
- Flatboard design means patch cables have to be custom made
The Tour Compact is one of many different pedalboard models that Vertex Effects offers, but I chose it because of its accessibility and flexibility. The Tour Compact is small enough to make it easy for traveling with, while having enough surface area to cram plenty of effects on. I like that this particular model has a longer, flat spot for an expression pedal or wah.
It is a tiered board that has two flat levels, with the TC3 second level being hinged. This is a major improvement on previous Vertex boards, because it allows you to access pedals or power supplies under the hood and all it takes is unscrewing three screws to do so.
All of the pieces are laser cut and powder coated for constant quality control. The Tour Compact also fits into Pelican cases, making it a great choice to take on fly dates or long tours. If you’re willing to pay a little extra, you can even send in your board, effects, and blueprints in to Vertex and they will assemble your custom board for you.
- Pedalboard Type: Tiered/Flat
- Dimensions: 26 x 14”
- Weight: 6.0 lbs
- Compatible Power Supplies: Any shorter than 3.5”
- Special Features: Hinged Riser, high quality parts, Pelican case compatible
Final Thoughts on the Vertex Tour Compact
While flatboards are not for the faint of heart (you really have to design your signal/patch cables well to make them look orderly), the Vertex Tour Compact gives you an excellent foundation to create a professional pedalboard. If you have any more questions on how to do that, the Rig Doctor has all the answers on his YouTube channel.
6. Gator Cases G-TOUR Series w/ ATA Case – Best Pedalboard for Touring
- Pro Grade Shock Absorbing EVA foam Interior
Getting ready for a tour means getting your gear ready for the biggest battles of their life. Everything from TSA, to roadies, to spilled beer needs to be accounted for and the Gator Cases G-TOUR is the board that has you covered on the road.
- Organized and Secure
- Tour grade case comes with board
- Room to Grow with larger pedalboards
- Wheels on case make transportation easier
- Includes dual lock
- Flat board design means cable routing can’t be concealed
- Must buy separate tears if you want to elevate your pedals.
- Can’t fit power supply underneath
- Heavy in case
The G-TOUR Series comes in three different sizes including Small, Large, and Extra Large, but each are built to the same high standard and much of what makes these boards so special is the case that they come in. They are made of sturdy plywood with aluminum edges all around and professional grade foam to protect your pedals.
The edges of the case are surround with ball points for added protection at the case’s most vulnerable spots. The cases have rubber gripped handels on all sides to make lifting easier and they are spring loaded so that they are never in the way.
The Large and Extra-Large cases come in with in-line wheels so you can roll your board to your next show. When you get there, the top portion of the case is completely removable. You can either leave the board in the bottom portion of the case, or you can remove it using the board’s rubber handles. The board itself is a flat design and is made of metal for a sturdy build.
There is plenty of storage room for sheet music or cables in the bottom portion of the case as well for all your extra gear needs on the road.
- Pedalboard Type: Flat
- Dimensions: Small 17×11, Large: 24×11”, XL: 32×17”
- Weight: > 21 lbs
- Compatible Power Supplies: Any size can be top mounted
- Special Features: Gator Case, Rubber Grips, Dual Lock
Final Thoughts on the Gator G-Tour Series w/ ATA Case
When it comes to going on tour, musicians have to have their priorities straight. Sometimes you have to trade “ease of use” for “security in use”. While some of those trade-offs are certainly present in the G-Tour series, they are minimal. The G-Tour is the kind of board that you want if you know you’re going to take on the road and all the challenges it presents for your gear.
7. Friedman Pro 1520 – Best High End Pedalboard
As I mentioned with the Voodoo Lab Dingbat, having a board that is fully integrated with your case, cable router and/or power supply makes life much simpler. The Friedman Pro 1520 is a top of the line pedalboard that has every option available to you in terms of hardware to get your board up and running.
- Incredibly well thought out
- Friedman accessories are top notch and fit like a glove
- Lightweight, but nearly indestructible
- Customizable for expression pedal placement
- Dual lock can be used to secure non-Friedman products
Friedman pedalboards come in many sizes, with the 1520 running right up the middle. The 1520 is a tiered pedalboard, giving you two levels to mount your pedals to, and it also comes with a movable ramp for expression pedals or wah pedals.
You can even purchase additional ramps if needed at a low cost. It has enough holes to make concealing a patch cables for a wide array of pedals possible, while still providing ample stability on the metal construction. Not to mention, it comes with a goody bag of all the essentials you need to mount your board like dual lock and zip ties.
What makes the Friedman board so fantastic is that it is designed to work with the Friedman buffer bay and the Friedman Power Grid 10, both of which have made it onto previous “Best Of” lists here at the Sound Junky. These pieces of gear are top-notch and fit perfectly with this pedalboard to give you a seamless, streamlined signal chain that allows each of your pedals to work as they were built to do.
The other aspect of this board that is so fantastic is the gig bag. While most soft or hard/soft gig bags are cheap and provide minimal protection to your effects, the Friedman gig bag is good enough to take on light touring or local gigging with complete peace of mind.
- Pedalboard Type: Tiered/Angled
- Dimensions: 15 x 20 x 4”
- Weight: 5 lbs
- Compatible Power Supplies: Friedman Power Grid 10
- Special Features: Dual Lock, Zip Ties, Buffer Bay, Gig Bag
Final Thoughts on the Friedman Pro 1520
Dave Friedman is another rig builder that has been working for the best of the best for decades, and it is apparent that he has taken all of those years of experience into building these pedalboards. They are highly customizable and are made of top notch materials, while still remaining easy to take to gigs. In my opinion, the price tag and extra electronic gear is worth having here.
8. Mono Pedalboard Light – Best Mini Pedalboard
- Built to Last. Made from a single sheet of strong Anodized aluminum.
I’ve been completely relying on small pedalboards as of late, as they are easy to carry around and they force me to limit the number of pedals I use so that I have to focus on my playing. Even if your board is small, you want it to work well for you, and the Mono Pedalboard Light is the ideal mini board.
- Integrates into MONO luggage
- Small size perfect for taking on planes
- Grips keep board from slipping
- Clean aesthetic
- Very short. Only works with small power supplies
You can’t help but notice how sleek the design of the Mono Pedalboard Light is when you first lay eyes on it. This simple design aesthetic comes from the fact that it is built from one piece of
metal that is molded and cut into its final form. It is a essentially a flat board design with a very small amount of space underneath it that allows you to mount some of the smaller sized pedal power supplies on the market, as well as conceal your patch cables.
This lightweight board is perfect for fly dates and can even fit inside the Tick bag that attaches to the Mono gig bag, which happens to be one of the best guitar cases available. The board itself is corrosion resitant and is sure to last for years to come.
- Pedalboard Type: Flat
- Dimensions: 14.21 x 1.5 x 5.7
- Weight: 1 lbs
- Compatible Power Supplies: CIOKS DC7, Strymon Zuma
- Special Features: 3M Dual lock included,
Final Thoughts on the Mono Pedalboard Light
Having a mini pedalboard in addition to your larger board is a great way to ensure that you don’t have to take your big rig to every single show. It’s nice to be able to pick up a lightweight, small board in one hand, your amp in the other, and your guitar on your back. The Mono Light is simple and effective in its design and shows that just because a board is small doesn’t mean that it has to be cheap.
Boards for Players. Boards for the Show.
It turns out that it isn’t necessarily the player that determines what kind of pedalboard they need, but rather the show they are taking the board to. Your pedalboard is integral to your live playing and you’re going to need the right kind of pedalboard for different gigs.
For instance, a full sized, extra-large pedalboard with a hard case may be the perfect setup for a world tour with two hour setlists. However, you may be less than thrilled to bring that rig night after night to your local pub.
Whatever kind of pedalboard you choose to run with, make sure that it gets the job done in terms of housing all the pedals you need for the gig (and possibly more if you are just working on your first board).
I hope that this article showed that no matter what kind of board you need, you can get it on just about any budget. And don’t forget, you can always build your own! If you have questions regarding how to build a pedalboard, I have listed multiple video links within this article, but another one worth checking out is this video by Rhett Shull.
As always, there are no right answers. Part of the fun of building a pedalboard is that your rig is going to look different than your friends’. That being said, any of the pedalboards on this list are sure to get you started on the right path to building the best pedalboard you can.
Trust yourself and have fun playing guitar!
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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.