TECHNIQUES
LAYING DOWN THE LAWSON
STEVE LAWSON
FX WARLOCK LAWSON
TALKS PEDAL POWER
A
s soon as you get beyond
a couple of pedals, the
practicalities of assembling,
carrying, connecting and
powering your random
assortment of noise boxes
become increasingly complex.
While that lil' splitter cable you got
from Maplin is fine for an analogue
compressor and an overdrive, as
soon as you start piling up the
processing - especially adding
digital pedals - you need to think a
bit more carefully about power.
In looking at a power solution,
there are a couple of things you
need to be aware of in particular.
Firstly, there's the maximum load
of the power source: how many
(milli)amps does it actually supply?
Your pedals should say on them,
or in the manual, what they need
to draw, and you really don't want
to be going over the combined
maximum. You also need to watch
out for non-standard power needs.
Most pedals are 9v with consistent
polarity, but if you have more
obscure pedals that need more
power - for example, my Pigtronix
Infinity needs 18v and my Eden
Californiwah requires 15v - you're
going to need a power solution that
can deliver that. It's even more
complex if the connectors are non-
standard. I should, in theory, be
able to power most of the gear in
my rack from one power source - the Looperlative is 9v, while the MOTU Ultralite is very flexible in terms of what
it can deal with: it just needs a minimum wattage (amps multiplied by volts) and can handle either polarity. Effects
builders, take note! Meanwhile, the Kaoss Pad KP3 needs 12v. But both the MOTU and the Kaoss Pad have non-
standard sockets (why?) and most power distribution blocks have only one or sometimes two variable outs.
..
So you need to make a list of what the power requirements are and what the maximum total draw in amps is
that your pedal collection needs. You also need to think seriously about what you're attaching it to. Is the power
block going to be free standing? For many years, the godfather of bass-pedal lunacy, Doug Wimbish, would show
up at trade shows with a bag full of pedals, empty them out, plug them all in, and sound amazing. These days he,
like everyone else, has gone the pedalboard route, which makes mounting your power solution way easier. But
the size of your board makes your choice crucial: some are discreet and tiny, others are massive and all-powerful.
Pedaltrain has an amazing power solution called the Volto, which is basically like a lithium-ion cell-phone style
battery for your pedals: it naturally fits neatly under their lightweight pedalboards. It gives a hefty total output
of 2000mA, but it's via two outputs, so you have to daisy-chain the power connectors, which can, in some
circumstances, affect tone.
MXR, Voodoo Lab, One Control, Mooer, Walrus Audio, Decibel Eleven, Gator, Rocktron, T-Rex, MXR and Carl
Martin all have power distribution solutions, of different sizes, varying degrees of pedal compatibility and wildly
varying size and weight. I'm using the One Control Micro Distro, which is tiny and powers up to nine pedals,
but can't handle the various weird power requirements in my rack. For that, I'd have to look to GigRig: as well as
supplying the most incredible fully-featured switching systems for pedals, GigRig also does a bespoke modular
power solution that can power pretty much any combination of voltage and ampage requirements, with loads of
different adaptors and polarity reversing options available. It's a dizzying array and doesn't come cheap, but once
you've done it, it'll make your gig life so much easier. See their website (thegigrig.com) for details! H
■ I
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• Extended and Refined Range • Great Tone - Long Life
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