Pedal Board Power Supplies

By Matthew Vincenty
June 23, 2014


pedal board

Undersea relies on lots of gadgets and gizmos to make our music. We have a love for those little (or big) stompboxes and often our creativity is inspired by them. But when you ended up getting as many as we've accumulated there start to be practical concerns. So we enter the world of power supplies.

These days we are faced with a multitude of choices when it comes to powering guitar pedals. Daisy chain cables, DC bricks, isolated units. What's the difference? What are the benefits?

Daisy chain cables like the OneSpot, daisy chaining off a Boss tuner, or the Godlyke Power-All are the most basic options for powering multiple pedals. All of the pedals are powered from one "wall-wart" or AC adapter and they are all plugged in a line. This is an easy, inexpensive option, but it's not without it's caveats. The biggest being ground loops. There is no isolation in this system so there is a tendency for noise. I ran into this when I had some pedals in an effects loop of an amp, but others in front of the amp. Sharing the same unisolated power caused some major hum. The other issue is shorting. Because the power is in a chain, if there is a problem in that chain it will cause problems with getting power to the other pedals.

Next up would be dedicated power supplies. This includes the Dunlop DC Brick, the T. Rex Fuel Tank series, the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power series, Walrus Audio Aetos, and the Pedaltrain Powertrain.

The Dunlop DC Brick is a great option if you are using 18v pedals like the MXR trem or the older Dunlop Uni-Vibe. It has dedicated outputs for these pedals. The biggest downside would be it is also unisolated.

The T. Rex Fuel Tank comes in several sizes ranging from the 5 output Junior to the Goliath boasting 3000 mA (great for powering those more hungry pedals like the Empress Superdelay, Strymon TimeLine, or the Eventide TimeFactor or just huge pedal boards). The really great thing about the Fuel Tank is their ability to run on North American or European power. Most of the FuelTank series is isolated, but the Classic is not.

Walrus Audio makes possibly the coolest looking power supply. The bird graphic matches the very cool aesthetic their pedals have. The Aetos has 8 all isolated outputs including one that handles 250 mA for more powerful pedals.

Pedaltrain in addition to making cool boards makes two power supplies. Their standard Powertrain 1250 and the Volto. The Volta is a very cool idea using a rechargeable lithium battery like an iPhone or iPad. Because it charges over USB you can use your phone adapter to charge it, even in the car! It's small though and can only handle a few basic pedals.

Voodoo Labs is probably the most popular manufacturer of power supplies and for good reason. Their Pedal Power series has been around for years and is among the top rated and most reliable. I've personally had an original Pedal Power 2 on my board for more than a decade. I've just recently upgraded the Pedal Power 2 on my second board to a Pedal Power Mondo to handle more pedals. Still have my original Pedal Power 2 on my first board handling three Mooger Fooger pedals, a tuner, and my Whammy. With outlets to spare! The entire series offers isolated outputs, a courtesy outlet on the back for non-standard pedals, and a variety of power options. They also offering current and voltage cables to handle any non 9v pedals or pedals that need more mA. Corey currently uses 2 Pedal Power 2 Pluses to handle his board. Using a mixture of current doubling, voltage doubling, and reverse polarity to handle his setup. Daivd with a smaller board has just a single Pedal Power 2 Plus.

A power supply can often seem like an unglamorous part of your board, but the right one makes such a difference. As you can see in Undersea we use a variety of options for the different needs of our boards. From daisy chains to the Mondo!

Topics: pedals

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Matthew Vincenty

Matthew plays guitars for Undersea. He loves Gibson Guitars, Marshall Amps, and too many pedals to count.

Undersea is a Boston-based band 

Corey Wade - Vocals & guitar
David Hunt - Bass & vocals 
Seth Botos - Drums & vocals
Matthew Vincenty - Guitar 

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