Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pedaltrain Debuts New 2015 Models

Written by: Sean Austin

Date: February 14th, 2015

In this writer’s humble opinion, Pedaltrain remains the leading producer of widely available pedalboards. Sure, you can get a board with ebony back and sides, a cooling fan and onboard USB support built by one of the many custom shops that have sprung up in the last few years, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg and to be perfectly frank, few of us truly need those options. For the average musician a sturdy, ergonomic board with power supply mounting options will do just fine. Gator, RoadRunner and SKB all make fine products, but in my personal experience as both a salesman and an active live performer, Pedaltrain blows them all out of the water. They have always blended practicality, a sleek look and a strong frame in perfect harmony with one another without following trends or betraying their no-frills reputation.

At this year’s NAMM convention Pedaltrain showed us that they are still completely in touch with their customer base by making a few minor tweaks that yield major improvement without straying from the basic nature of the boards which many of us have come to love. By making the mounting rails thinner across the entire line, Pedaltrain have also shrunk the gaps between them which allows for even cleaner power and signal routing possibilities. Also for the Classic, Nova and Terra series is that a full gap, like those between the rails on the face of the boards, will be replacing the port holes on the back of the boards designed to grant cable access to your power supply. Now instead of having to line up your power supply (or multiple supplies in some cases) with the previously designated holes, you can place them anywhere you please or even add more supplies! This small modification is by far my favorite feature of the new line; it is simple but completely brilliant.

Further testaments to Pedaltrain’s attention to small details that make big differences are the changes they have made to their gig bags. The most important of these changes would be the replacement of the nylon zipper with an all new steel tooth design. Customers have reportedly complained that the nylon zippers were wearing out and ceasing to function after years of repeated use. While this has yet to happen to me, I can fully appreciate the fact that Pedaltrain keeps the consumer in mind by designing a sturdier zipper that will last longer instead of forcing customers to purchase a new bag from them if and when their original one fails. Now that’s class, people! The bags will also feature more padding to keep your precious pedals safe and sound in transport; now who can’t get behind that? The only change that is coming this year that I’m not wild about is the fact that Pedaltrain bags will no longer have a storage pocket on the front of the bag. Apparently owners of the bags have let the fine folks over at Pedaltrain know that few of them used the storage pocket and that they found it unnecessary and bulky. I always personally liked the pocket a lot. As someone who changes their pedal array frequently for different projects and applications I enjoyed the fact that I could throw a couple extra pedals and cables in there in case I wanted to add something into my line or switch something out. I personally like to bring as few bags to a gig as possible, so throwing tools, batteries, and other emergency supplies in there has become second nature to me over time, so I have to say I am sad to see the front pocket go.

Sticking with theme of enclosures for these great boards, let’s talk cases. Pedaltrain previously only offered hard cases for their larger format pedalboards, leaving the smaller ones with only the gig bag option. Well good news for all the players out there that are only using 2 or 3 boutique pedals that they want the extra protection for; Pedaltrain is now offering the hard case option on the Metro series and the tour case for the Novo, Classic and Terra series. Unfortunately the Nano series is still gig bag only, but I doubt that many Nano users will mind as the whole point of the board is to save space and a case would only add to the dimensions of their rig. I have always been a bag guy, I personally like to keep things as light as possible weight-wise, but there have certainly been times that I’ve had to slam the brakes in the van and cringed as I watched my gig bag get crushed by a massive Marshall cabinet and swore that I was going to buy a hard case the next day. I’ve yet to make the switch but it’s good to know that Pedaltrain will be able to provide a solid and relatively light weight case if and when I do take the plunge.

Let’s get to the heart of the matter, the boards themselves. We’ve got a few updates of current models and a few entirely new additions to the line. First off we have a nice little upgrade to a nice little board and fairly recent addition to the Pedaltrain family, the Nano! The new Nano+ comes with all of the upgrades listed above as well as now being sized up a few inches in order to hold 5 pedals instead of 4. The board is still compact enough to be one of the least intrusive and most convenient boards on the market but has been enlarged just enough to add another effect or to give your current setup a little more breathing room.

Next up we have the all new Metro. The metro is another compact board for those of us who only use a few pedals and aren’t staring down at our feet when we play and just want to rock out with a nice little meat and potatoes array. The Metro will be replacing the Mini series, introducing a sleek 3 rail design and an even more sleek design. No unnecessary bells or whistles here, just a nice, small, clean board for the player only using a few pedals. They are all 8-inches deep and range from 16 to 24-inches wide, so they are deeper than the Nano+ (which comes in at 5”x18”) but start out at 2-inches less width.

Lovers of the Classic series (such as me) will be very pleased with this year’s updates and additions to the line. In addition to the previously mentioned full gap feature, the height of these boards has been increased. The increased angle helps with accuracy when stomping your favorite boxes. I anticipate this being received warmly as most classic users do have quite a few switches on their board and hitting your Fuzz Factory instead of your Maxon Phaser when trying to bust out a smooth, clean creamy solo can result in disaster. The Classic Jr. and Classic Pro, mainstays of the brand, are now joined by the Classic 2 which dimension-wise falls right between the two.

Now we’re getting into shoegaze territory, the Novo and Terra series. The Novo boards are nearly 15-inches deep and range from 18 to 32-inches wide. These boards have 5 rails on them and the gap under the top rail is wider than the other 3 spacings. It would be easy to get 3 rows of pedals running on any one of these, and as they get wider they allow for even more inventive configurations. If all that space isn’t enough for your outer space sonic explorations, then you might want to check out the Terra, the big daddy of them all. Replacing the Grande series, the Terra is the same depth as the Novo but measures out to a whopping 42-inches. If you can’t fit it on there, you may have a pedal problem and should consider seeking counseling.

All in all, I think Pedaltrain is going to have a good year in 2015, as are the pedal-obsessed public at large. The biggest advantage that they have is that they truly take into account the practicality of their products and value their customers opinions enough to take them into account when designing a new product or redesigning a staple of their brand. The 2015 line is expected to hit shelves around April/May of this year, so keep your eyes peeled and your pedals close by, they may have a new home on a Pedaltrain board.