What's Your Pedalboard Building Process?

I was thinking through my process the other day, in the hopes of creating a wiki page for it. However, I’d like to hear how others approach the process of building pedalboards. Here’s is the sequence I seem to have settled on for now:

  1. physical routing - How will I use the 2 audio channels? Stereo? 4 Cable Method?
  2. gain staging
  3. plugin selection
  4. internal routing - similar to 1, but including plugins
  5. control mapping - the most tedious part, but also the most important from a usability perspective
  6. plugin presets - do I want to keep a specific sound that persists with the plugin?
  7. snapshots - are there pedalboard-global settings I’d like to be able to call up at will?

I’d like to add more to this and would like some feedback before I add this to the wiki, but only if it’s helpful.

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In the step 5. control mapping do you include mapping midi ?
And mapping CV to sync some parameters ?
For CV it may be worth it to get some examples of pedalboards, we could plan to build them to demonstrate some functions, what do you think ?

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My pedalboard usually caters
Guitar (input 1)
Vocal (input 2)

  1. Physical routing: plug everything in
  2. Place 2 tiny gain controls at the end, one before every output. Check if my instrument and vocal is somewhat coming through the same level. I place 2 of them all the way in front as well
  3. cross the channels after the gain controls so I get both guitar and vocals in the L+R of the headhpone output.
  4. Add 2 mono x42 EQ’s, one for vocal, one for guitar
  5. set up the 2 seperate channels

Guitar

Gain section for high gain heavy metal:
– guitar amp on low gain settings and a Brummer MetalTone BEHIND it by default (sounds counter intuitive but it works better than the other way around)
– The EQ sits behind this. The x42 is a versatile parametric EQ that really grew on me.

Gain section for acoustic
My Maton guitar doesn’t really need EQ’ing but I add some reverb

** Gain section for vocal **
– add x42 EQ to tweak the core vocal sound
– add compression in front of EQ to even out vocals
– add plate reverb behind EQ

That concludes the sections for guitars and vocals specifically

  1. add stereorecorder with L input for DRY inputs guitar and vocal and R channel connected with the END of the chain, to monitor the “finished product”
    Listening afterwards on different headphones helps me determing the actual quality, levels etc.

  2. Map the CRUCIAL controls
    – One page for amp/dis controls
    – one page for low-mid-high EQ guitar
    – one page for low-mid-high EQ vocal
    – one page with the END stage gain controls to have control over seperate guitar and vocal volumes

At this point I have a MVP for a board thatis ready for testing

  1. I iterate a bit of testing, add noise gate on high gain guitar if necessary.
  2. Save a different version of the board but only map guitar to output 1 and vocal to output 1 (in step 3 I crossed both to L+Rso I could hear them well enough in my headphones, in this step we remove this cross)
  3. Map additional controls
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I don’t have much of a methodology except for experimentation, and gradually using up all the available CPU (I try to top out at 80% because even there I’ll get random spikes up to 100 sometimes, no idea why, maybe some beta plugins, maybe just Dwarf weirdness which I’ve come to accept). Then I try to optimize, mess with routing, see if I can switch effects to a less CPU-intensive pedal that does what I want, etc… and this is the overwhelming part… for example there are an overwhelming amount of certain fx, and I have no sense of how resource-intensive any of them are… I would LOVE some kind of indication in each pedal’s info menu (in the GUI) about an approximate CPU load-- even if it was standardized to what CPU percent it would take up on an otherwise empty board… that would help me so much. I’d also love lists of people’s favorite pedals from different categories for various purposes, especially those of experienced users. That might be a lot to ask, but when I’m building pedalboards I’m just trying to go for whatever sounds and options seem good at the moment, not thinking too much about how I can help myself build boards in the future…

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For me I’m the complete opposite. I start with reverb delays and looper (if I could ever get the looper to work!)

They I start adding backwards with modulation etc. And then finally drive.

I do it this was as I use the Dwarf with other pedals, Helix etc so if I start running out of CPU I add a physical pedal or two.

The Dwarf is used as a gateway for MIDI control too…

I try and use the weirder effects, synths and audio / Midi players and sequencers as I have other bases covered with other units.

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4 replies in and I’m already seeing that there is not going to be a general guide for this :laughing: That’s good in the sense that the tools enable all manner of use cases, but I was hoping to provide some good guidance on basic setups. Maybe we’ll need to craft some “persona” oriented material?

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Sorry maybe I didn’t read your original post properly.

But not sure the point of the Wiki. The selling point of Dwarf etc is the freely assignable, chose able and use able fx and generators. So not sure choosing one way to work is fully showcasing the capabilities.

This doesn’t mean I feel you are wrong and I always love the fact that we all want to push the Dwarf and help others.

So my question is more what do you need from us to help you do the Wiki?

I hope this reads OK as I don’t want it to sound critical.

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No worries, @Austin73 The point of the Wiki article would be to help folks navigate the task of creating pedalboards by presenting one or more example workflows. As there is a rather sudden jump in the number of people with a MOD device, there also seems to be a lot of folks hitting the learning curve of getting the best out of their device.

I was hoping for something fairly general that would cover concepts that would apply to a number of different use cases. However, I feel that set of general concepts starting to dwindle :slight_smile:, and this may not be very useful after all. I’m hoping this thread can bring to light some of those concepts as well as best practices. I’ll give it some more time and see what comes out.

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How about creating a list of concepts such as

Acoustic
Hi Gain Guitar
Loop Station
MIDI control
Synth
Mastering
Bit of Everything
Cardinal
Weird Stuff
TOUCHOSC / Lemur etc

Then those of us that have a penchant for those areas can send you the ideas / pedal boards etc or work with you.

Appreciate you making an effort, and happy to get stuck in

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Ah, that’s what I was referring to with the comment about “personas”! You’ve just created the list :slight_smile:

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OK we have a list.

I can take Midi and touchosc.

What do you need next?

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Yeah looks like this is done in “blocks” where there is generic stuff like gain staging in the beginning, in the end, crossing for headphone use, recording, EQ’ing but also specific stuff
Perhaps even a few different methods…but at least some cool boilerplates to save some people the learning curve we already went through.

I’m willing to document my “tight High Gain” flow because I sense I’m a minority :smiley:

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Thanks for the support, all! I’ve created a wiki page that should include what we’ve covered so far. Feel free to add/modify!

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OK, I get it, Rock is dead. But some of us still like to play it :stuck_out_tongue:

This is a great initiative! I enjoy learning about techniques from those who have already spent hours twiddling knobs and comparing tones. A recent example was @solobasssteve posting about using a tremolo plugin as a means for tube emulation, not something that would have occurred to me. (The best tube emulator (IMHO) is hidden in another pedal :))

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Rocks not dead in my shed!

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Rock lives, man. Please add a section :slight_smile:

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Maybe an optional link to the corresponding Example board at the end of each description would also be very inviting and helpful at the same time?

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Absolutely!

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Or more :wink:

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I’m tinkering toward a Modular Amp Tool Kit. Means a generic Pre Amp section:

A generic Power Amp section

and a Amp convolver for each to select the Amp type to use.
"AC30 Style, Bassman Style, Fender Style, JCM800 Style, Mesa Boogie Style . . . . "
Have the IR data with the needed Licenses already, but need to porting the Convolver I use to the MOD.
Those section based Amp simulations allow, beside creating your own Amp sound with pre and post effects, implement effects between the Pre and the Power Amp as you would do in a Amp Effect Loop. So you could send a “hot” signal to a effect and trim it down afterwards before enter the Power Amp.

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