March 26, 2020

This is a walk through of a 2018 build. Most of this blog was written just before we packed up to relocate to Nashville (better late than never, right?).

This board was designed for a bass player.

Diving in

Here is an early signal chain which included a full-size Moog Cluster Flux, Ernie Ball volume, and Mission Engineering expression pedal.

Early signal chain

A sweet compact loop-switcher

Helweg Pedalboard with OneControl Chamaeleo

The rig is controlled by a five-loop OneControl Chamaeleo. It's shallow footprint gives easy access to the patch plugs, even on slim pedalboards. A division between loop 4 and loop 5 allows the option to divide pedal groups between pre-amp and effects-loop chains, which is exactly what we did for this pedalboard. The effects-loop chain is tracked with green arrows in the signal chain diagrams. 

Pedal layout mock-ups

The original pedal collection would have required a cumbersome board size of around 48" long. The task became creating alternate layout ideas that would reduce the length to around 40" without loosing functionality.

48 inch layout

We considered substituting full-size pedals for mini pedals and the possibility of patching in the Moog from off the board. Scale mock-ups are an invaluable tool for comparing ideas. 

Layout ideas

My client settled on a mini volume and mini expression pedal from AMT. I was not familiar with the brand at the time, but was impressed by their use of an optical sensor (similar to Hilton volumes) instead of a traditional pot. The build quality was good, and the small size allowed us to bring the Moog back on a board layout totaling 40" long.

AMT volume and expression pedals

Two-for-one Moog expression pedals

We needed to control multiple Moog jacks with one mini expression pedal. This turned out to be more challenging than I anticipated because the Moog TRS jacks send a DC voltage. In the end we needed to add trim pots to level out the voltage on the jack not in use.

The enclosure was screw-mounted to the back brace of the pedalboard. I keep discovering ways to utilize this helpful element on our OpenWing board design.

Here is a look at the special TRS switch box:

Expression Pedal TRS Selector with trim pots_insideExpression Pedal TRS Selector with trim pots

Moog TRS switch box with voltage pots

The final signal chain looked like this:

Custom Bass Pedalboard_final signal chain

And a final mock-up of the 40" layout (showing the layers created by risers):

Custom Bass Pedalboard_final layout mock-up

The output patchbay can switch the signal chain between an amp-with-effects-loop chain, and a straight-to-front-amp chain:

Amp output patchbay_loop to no loop

Here are some photos of the completed rig:

OpenWing Pedalboard_Effects loop-Front Amp Output Switcher
Custom OpenWing 13 Bass Pedalboard with full set-up Helweg Design custom bass pedalboard_front view
Pedalboard riser panel over Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus Helweg Design OpenWing Pedalboard with Riser panelOpenWing Pedalboard_Dunlop Crybaby Mini Bass Wah
Michael Helweg
Michael Helweg

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