What’s In The Box?

Over the years I’ve enjoyed collecting guitar-related accessories such as effects stomp pedals, cables, straps, cords, capos, stands, slides…and it’s still FUN.

Years ago my onstage rig featured what was probably one of the first- ever “effects racks”, designed and built around 1980 by myself and my good friend, local electronic tech and Hammond B3 whiz Ken Hall, who was working at the back of Renaissance Music when they were on Princess Street. Ken and I were trying to come up with a way to get my pedals up off the floor so that I wasn’t kicking them around and unplugging them all the time, so we built them all into a 19″ rack about 2′ tall and then used a single pedal box at the front of the stage to control them all via relay switching.

This is all stuff that’s taken for granted nowadays, but remember, back then we were like pioneers with this stuff! If I remember correctly, my guitar connected to the front-of-stage switch box via an XLR connection, so I couldn’t kick it out. This pedal controlled the on/off status of each effect, with green and red LEDs as indicators. We also added in/out loops on each side of the box, one for my wah pedal on the right, the other for whatever odd pedal I might be trying out at time. From there a multi-core cable led to the rack, and the signal chain went : tuner (with improvised kill switch for silent tuning – tuners didn’t have that option back then) -> Ashley SC-50 Peak Limiter/Compressor -> Boss Chorus -> MXR Distortion Plus -> MXR Flanger -> Yamaha E-1010 Analog Delay -> Roland RE-201 Space Echo -> A/B amp selector -> DOD Dual 15 Band EQ -> Marshall 50W and Fender Twin. The rack sat atop its Clydesdale road case beside me onstage.


Since those days I’ve stripped things down considerably and try to pack everything I need for a small club gig into an average sized suitcase, preferably of vintage. Many shows today have multiple bands playing and it’s important to be able to get set up and off the stage quickly, so here’s What’s In The Box:
You probably noticed how the suitcase is plastered with a bunch of decals. They’re so roadies know which side of the case should face up. First, a chunk of foam to protect my pedals and keep everything snug. The pedal board fits into the suitcase perfectly, with a little room left over to the side.

Guitar Effects fx Pedal Board

I try to have things packed in the order in which I will need them as I setup, so the pedal board comes out first. Here’s what lays beneath:

It looks messy, but it’s not, really. AC power cables are on top.

Notice the orange thingy on the power bar. That’s a ground lifter. Illegal, as it omits the ground plug, but sometimes that’s the only way you can get rid of buzz & hum when using multiple amps.

Next up are my patch cables that connect my guitar to the pedal board, and from that to my amplifier(s). Some long ones, medium sized and short jumpers. At the bottom of the pic is a speaker cable used for connecting a Marshall head to its cabinet.

Finally, a collapsible guitar stand. That’s all I need to be setup.

I do like to be prepared. The box also contains a really cool tool set from Canadian Tire – cost me $5.00 and has come in handy so many times, truly saving my ass in several dire situations.

I’ve also got a little tin recipe box that I’ve had since about 1978. It contains fuses, 9V batteries, strings, pedal jumpers, capos, slides, etc.

The Heineken thing is just something I rigged up on a sunny day to provide shade for my tuner so I could see the damned thing. Last but not least, a little screw-top Noxzema bottle to hold the little things:

If you look closely, you’ll see $0.25 to use for emergency phone calls. That quarter has been with me forever. I know a payphone costs more now, but I just keep it in there for good luck.

Wait! There’s more!

Tucked into the side pouch, for making up set lists:

And in the pouches on the lid, set lists and extra blank paper:

So, that’s What’s In The Box. Hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour!

Let that be a lesson to you.  ;)

© 2014 Matthew Woodward