Keeping a well thought out and tidy pedal board is crucial for getting the best performance from your rig. It doesn’t really matter how many pedals you got. The more care you put into it, the less trouble and better tones you get. UK based Custom Pedal Boards should be known for most of you and in this review, we’ll have a look at their new Mini Board and pedal range.
There really aren’t any rules when it comes to assembling a pedal board. A piece of wood does a good job and there are many affordable alternatives out there, in all shapes and sizes.
What Custom Pedal Boards offer, are boards and flight cases that are fully customised for your needs. I’ve been using their systems for some years now (so yes, I’m probably a bit biased) and although my boards are fairly basic, with a tier and flat surfaces, you can pretty much design anything you want, based on what pedals you have and how you want them arranged.
I’ve spent a great deal of time on the road and I have experienced the horror of seeing airport ground personell literally throwing my flight cases and pedal boards onto and off the flight. This was something Chris and the guys at CPB wanted to address and their boards and cases are capable of withstanding almost anything.
The Mini Board
Their newest design, is a neat mini board complete with a removable tier and flight case (the case bottom surface is the board). Any touring musician knows that travelling is ridiculously expensive, so size and weight is crucial for not going bankrupt.
The CPB Mini Board can carry up to five mini pedals like the CPB mini pedals or others, like Mooer, TC Electronic and similarly sized. The board I received and are reviewing, came with a CPB LS4 CPB True Bypass Loop Switcher, a CPB PB-2 mono patch box, power supply (located under the tier) and all of CPB’s five new mini pedals.
The loop switcher ensures a clean signal from each of the pedals but it can also be replaced by an additional 5 mini pedals, making the case fully capable of covering most of your tones and gig needs.
The Mini Pedals
As for now, Custom Pedal Boards offer five mini pedals. All are gain pedals, voiced for different applications and tones. Perhaps a bit limiting, as you probably want a few other pedals like a tuner or delay but the choice fits CPBs philosophy and product line. You get the boards and cases and the tools to go with them – loopers, patches and gain pedals for boosting and drive.
All five pedals are, in true CPB style, very well built. You really feel you can trust these… compared to some of the other mini pedals on the market. The fact that they’re slightly heavier, with straight angles, makes them sit better on the board as well, so you don’t have to worry about not stomping too hard and having them fall over.
I must say that I’ve been positively surprised. It would be easy to understand that boards are their main business and that the pedals are just something they offer on the side, but it’s obvious that a lot of thought has been put into these.
This single knob compressor provides a transparent and musical compression, ideal for fattening up your single coils and adding sustain. No doubt based on the old Dan Armstrong compressor, Mr Squeezy perfectly fits David Gilmour’s late 70s tones.
It does provide a nice volume boost but the single knob might limit its use for some players. I would prefer separate controls for compression and volume, but the setup works really well and, as you can hear in the clip, it goes incredibly well with some mild crunchy tones.
The Mini Driver provides convincing amp-like tones, from transparent cleans, with a nice volume boost available, to crispy crunch. Like a tube amp, the more gain you add, the more mid range and compression you get and at full blast, the Mini Driver enters Powerbooster and Tube Driver territory, although with less gain on tap.
The Mini Driver is my favourite of the CPB mini pedals. A great tool for both boosting and adding life to the amp. Especially smaller bedroom style amps, which often needs some of that mid range and compression compensation.
Based on the classic Distortion + and 250 Preamp, the Mustard drive has a lot of gain on tap, ranging from clean boost to crunchy overdrive and near fuzz. Some of most iconic rock riffs has been created with these tones.
Perhaps not the obvious choice for David Gilmour’s tones, but the Mustard (and those other yellow and grey pedals), can provide a very convincing overdrive close to the Tube Driver. You will need to combine the pedal with some amp break up to get there, or a second booster/overdrive, but the Mustard sounds really smooth and dynamic, with a very musical attack and compression.
The Mustard is slightly brighter sounding compared to the D+/250 and I miss some of that slightly unpredictable and dirty germanium mojo but again, a very versatile overdrive pedal capable of a wide range of tones.
As the name implies, the Muff War is a Big Muff, based on those elusive early 90s Civil War Sovtek Big Muffs. It’s got that huge ballsy character, with lots of low end and silky smooth gain.
I’m not sure whether the Muff War is cloned after a specific pedal or just based on the tonal characters of the Civil War but CPB has done a great job in capturing that classic and much sought after tone.
Compared to some of the other clones out there, the Muff War is perhaps a tad brighter and it’s not as loud as some of them, but, in my very humble opinion, you won’t find a better sounding Big Muff mini pedal on the market today.
The Big Up is a no frills, single knob 0-20dB volume boost. A handy tool for your pedal board, whether you want to boost your cleans or gain pedals, drive the front end of a tube amp or, for making sure your solos really kicks through.
I’ve had some great fun with this mini board and pedals. Everything is sold separately and, as mentioned above, you can use whatever mini pedals (or bigger pedals) you want. If you’re in the market for some mini pedals, I do recommend that you try some of these. The price is right and the tone even better!
Check out custompedalboards.co.uk for more details.