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Between both our USA and Australian Shops, we see a lot of Custom Pedal Board Setups coming through the doors. Getting to see how musicians want their boards wired up is probably my favourite part of Goodwood Audio. Everyone has a slightly different approach, uses different gear and has different ideas on the 'best guitar sound' they want to hear. It's our pleasure to work with them to accomplish this.
From time to time, there is a board that stands out from the rest. A guitar rig with crazy effects, dedication to a particular brand and in todays case - signal routing options that go above and beyond.
James Penfolds setup is just that. From the beginning this was going to be a soundscape creators dream board. As the project progressed, some really incredible options developed. This is James' board explained in detail.
The first thing we need to cover? What did James actually want this board to be able to accomplish with this rig? Its one thing to string a bunch of shiny guitar pedals in a line, it's another ordeal entirely to make sure that this specialised musical gear fulfills its purpose!
1. One touch changes across his board via loops and midi commands
2. Easy switching between real amps and amp simulators
3. Easily change his amp simulator from before and after wet effects
4. Clean, reliable cables
5. Smallest board size possible.
6. An easy way to try new pedals.
7. Easy access to Mono, Dual Mono, Stereo, Wet Dry and Wet Dry Wet
James' Signal Chain
The signal chain is detailed, but worth following if you want to understand more complex rigs. It took us a lot of time to find the best approach to this rig and in consultation with James, it's a pedalboard we are now very proud of!
-Goodwood - Buffered PBC Switch (Guitar input and two extra switches for PBC)
-Jackson Audio - Prism
-Jackson Audio - Bloom V2
-Shin-ei Vibe 2 (24v)
1. POG2 - With Midi Mod
2. Cusack - Scruzz
3. Greer Amps - Light Speed
4. Browne Amps - Protein
5. JHS - Kilt V2
6. 1981 Inventions - DRV
INSERT - Goodwood - Audition --> Vertex - Boost --> Dry Input on Main Goodwood Junction Box --> To Wet sends to Goodwood - Stereo Order Switcher --> EHX - Super Ego --> Walrus Audio - Slo --> GFI Synesthesia (stereo out)
7. Walrus Audio - Julianna (Santa Fe Edition) - Stereo
8. Walrus Audio - D1 (Delay) Stereo
9. Strymon - TimeLine - Stereo
10. Strymon - BigSky --> GFI - Specular Tempus
-PBC OUT (stereo)
-Main Junction (Stereo outputs across XLR and 1/4")
One Touch Changes and Presets
As a company that gets to work with a huge list of different pedal companies (customers send us there gear... sometimes we have a little tinker when a new piece of gear comes into the shop). This gives us the unique opportunity to see what gear stands out among the rest.
As far as midi controllers go - RJM Music is at the top of the list. Their attention to detail, midi implementation and 'No Noise' controllers set them apart in my mind from a host of other great companies.
The RJM PBC10 is what is getting the job done on James' board. It comes with 6 mono loops, 4 stereo loops (that can be run in series or parallel per preset) and two insert points. There is no need to get into ALL the things this controller can do as we would be writing a novel. The main thing to know is that it covers the what James needs to do and so much more.
With the PBC10 James can create a preset assigned to button on the PBC. When that button is hit any number of loops will turn on or off, tempo will be switched across any pedal he deems necessary, individual pedal presets will be changed, tweaked and adjusted, expression pedal parameters can be adjusted per pedal on any parameter and he can control whether certain outputs are turned on or off.
To make this even easier to accomplish, James added the Selah Quartz V3. This is essentially an external Clock. The PBC can do what the Quartz does as well, but the short version - The Quartz allows lightning fast tempo adjustments within a preset, Global tap tempo and doesn't take up a footswitch on the PBC. We did a YouTube video on this and why it can be helpful called "RJM PBC + Selah Effects Quartz..."
One touch changes - DONE.
Easy switching between an Amp Simulator and Analog Tube Amps
Its obvious, even now at the beginning of this post, that James wants a flexible board. One of the key, no hassle options he wanted was to be able to go between real amps (tube amps) or an Amp Simulator / Cab simulator with ease.
To do this James wanted the Strymon Iridium. With no over the top option paralysis, James can quickly dial in a great sounding amp and get back to playing his guitar. If he wants to bypass Iridium and use a couple of tube amps, he simply turns his Iridium off and he can plug into real amps again.
We made this even easier for James by building him a Custom Junction with 3 XLR and 1/4" outputs.
With this junction, among other things, James can actually turn on his Iridium and plug XLR cables directly into his DAW or FOH. He has 3 stereo DI's built into this junction!
These 3 outputs can also be sent via 1/4" cables
The great thing about these XLR outputs is they can also be used as a way to send his guitar signal up to 300' (over 90m) away to his tube amps in an isolation booth. Needless to say, his need of easy switching between amp sim and real amps was ticked off the list.
Easily Change Amp Simulator to Before and After Wet Effects.
My favourite part of this rig is the ability to change James' Strymon Iridium to before or after his wet effects. You're probably wondering why this even matters, it probably sounds the same. It doesn't. We did a video dedicated to this exact topic on our YouTube Channel.
This posed a few challenges that we had to overcome.
1. If the Iridium (amp simulator) is BEFORE his wet effects, it needs to receive mono and send stereo.
2. Iridium AFTER wet effects needs to receive and send stereo.
3. We need a way to switch the order of these effects without re-patching all his cables.
To tackle this we built a passive stereo order switcher (some call this a flip flop pedal).
The idea of this pedal is that is takes two pedals (or grouping of pedals) and can re-order them by flipping a switch.
In this instance the Iridium was in loop A and the rest of James' wet effects were in loop B. All James has to do to switch the order of these two loops is flip two toggles (yes this can be controlled by a foot switch or even by the PBC, but it wasn't necessary for James to do this).
In position 1 the signal chain is:
Mono into Iridium --> Stereo into Wet effects --> Stereo out of wet effects to FOH
In position 2 the signal chain is:
Mono into wet effects --> Stereo out of wet effects --> Stereo into Iridium --> Stereo out of Iridium to FOH.
With this custom junction James can now 'place' his Cab Simulator before or after his wet effects without repatching a single cable (and yes, the stereo mono conversion is taken care of automatically).
Clean, Reliable Cable Runs
It goes without saying that a Custom Setup needs to have reliability as a staple ingredient in the process. Without reliability, the whole process is more trouble than it's worth and is a waste of time, effort and money for all involved.
To make a reliable pedal board, it is an in-house requirement for Goodwood Audio to use soldered cables with quality components and a rigorous testing process both during and after the board is complete.
The other time consuming but necessary detail is labeling the cables. There is nothing worse than having a loose cable on a large board like this and no idea where it plugs in!
As far as the clean cable runs goes, this comes with practice and repetition with a relentless dedication to improvement on every setup. Not only do the cable channels need to look the part, they need to be planned out ahead of time to get that critical guitar signal to its destination in the shortest possible route without getting in the way of other cables or pedals.
Smallest Board Size Possible
At this stage we all know this board was never going to be small. But it did need to be as small as possible.
A common issue we see from customers is packing their pedals into the tiniest space possible but forgetting that there needs to be a place to run cables, put power supplies, midi splitters etc.
A packed board rarely has every pedal as touching its neighbour. A well thought out, small as possible board still needs to take into account usability, future changes and cable runs.
To reduce overall footprint (size) of this board we used two FIX Pedalboard Hinged Risers. This allowed us to have two layers of pedals, effectively allowing us to build up rather than out. We worked with James on what pedals he would want instant access to (pedals on top of the risers) and which pedals he could leave for an entire gig without really needing to adjust (set and forget).
You will notice the two Dunlop DVP4's on the bottom left aren't right next to each other. Why? If they were it would be very difficult to use one without hitting the other! What a nightmare that would be.
All this to say, James wanted the smallest board possible but also wanted to enjoy using it for years to come.
An Easy Way To Try New Pedals
James also wanted to be able to try out new pedals on his board without having to re-patch any cables. Impossible? No.
We did a few things to accomplish this.
1. Made sure that key pedals on his board has a bit of extra space around them and 'looped' signal and power cables. Essentially we put a bit of slack on the cables to make sure they can go from side mounted jacks to top mounted jacks without having to use a new cable.
2. Put Audition on his board. This is a simple, passive product that allows the user try out a new pedal on their rig without having to re-patch / cable their pedal board. It also has a power pass through so you can power this new pedal as well.
You can learn more about Audition on our Website or on our YouTube Channel.
Easily Access Mono, Dual Mono, Stereo, Wet Dry and Wet Dry Wet
Another one of the main features of the main junction is the ability to easily switch between Mono, Dual Mono, Stereo, Wet Dry and Wet Dry Wet.
This Custom Junction (along with many of our other Custom Junctions) comes with two types of Stereo Summing.
In addition to this, the junction also comes with a dedicated Dry Output and Dry Mute.
The Dry Mute can be muted per preset from the RJM PBC via the PBCs Function Sw Jack.
To run these different options James just needs to do the following:
Mono - Push the sum button on the junction and plug in one amp / XLR cable
Dual Mono - Same as mono, but plug in 2 cables / XLR cables
Stereo - Make sure sum button is in OUT position. Plug in 2 cables
Wet Dry - Sum his stereo signal and plug in 1 cable to a wet output and 1 cable on the dry output.
Wet Dry Wet - Make sure his signal is in stereo. Plug in 3 cables. Two cables for stereo signal and one cable for his dry output.
I know there are many details I could expand on here, but this gives you a good overview of James' rig and how these options were accomplish. Feel free to e-mail us any and all questions through our Contact Page or through our Instagram - @goodwoodaudio. We love hearing from you!
Some More Pictures of the Setup.