So, you’ve decided to put together a guitar effects pedalboard. Congratulations!
This can be a fun and exciting process. But at some point, you’ll likely begin to realize how complicated things can get. If you want to make use of multiple pedals, you must connect all of them, order them in a way that sounds good to you, and supply power to each!
Oops – should you have gone with a multi-effects unit after all?
No, don’t worry, there are plenty of professional players that play live and in the studio with multiple pedals. What you likely need is a pedal power supply. These are handy units that allow you to connect multiple pedals without having to run DC adapters to outlets from your growing pedal collection. And most power bricks are only a little bigger than most effects pedals.
Ready to get started? Here are the top seven guitar pedal power supply units.
1. Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus Universal Power Supply
Do you ever watch rig rundowns (of the pros) on YouTube?
If you do, then you’ve probably noticed that players with a lot of compact pedals are typically using the Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus as their power supply.
The Power 2 Plus has eight outputs, and it works with just about any pedal that uses batteries. It’s also sturdy and durable.
It will cost you $169, which is about the same price as a high-quality effects pedal, but for most players, it’s the only power supply they’ll ever need. The Voodoo Lab unit is worth a look, and no list like this would be complete without it.
2. T-Rex Fuel Tank Junior Power Supply
Assuming you don’t have many pedals, and they don’t have unusual voltage or power requirements, the Fuel Tank Junior is all you’ll need. It features five isolated outputs for 9V DC connections, and it should only run you about $100.
These units have a reputation for being reliable and quiet. Yes, sad to say, power supply units can affect your tone. That’s why one of my friends decided not to hang onto his Voodoo Lab Pedal Power unit, as he found it affected his tone. For the most part, it sounds like that shouldn’t be an issue with the Fuel Tank.
T-Rex Effects creates a great product. But no matter what the product description or other reviews say, you’ll only be able to plug five pedals into this power supply.
3. Truetone 1 Spot Pro CS12 Power Supply
You’ve got a large pedal collection. You demand quality sound. You’re not interested in making any compromises.
If that’s how you think, then the 1 Spot Pro might just be the power supply you’ve been looking for. It has 12 isolated and filtered outputs, and five voltage options. No matter what your pedalboard looks like, you should be able to make it work with this unit.
The Truetone will cost you a little more than the Voodoo Lab power supply, at about $180, but you also get more outputs. Incidentally, Truetone’s effects pedals also have a great reputation.
4. Accel FX Power Source 8
As with the Power 2 Plus, the Power Source 8 gives you access to eight quiet isolated outputs, and can power 9V, 12V, and 18V pedals. What’s handy about it is that you can also switch all outputs to 9V.
For midsized pedal setups, this power brick should give you everything you need, and at $159, it’s a good deal too.
It’s still a newcomer on the scene, but the Accel should work great as a Voodoo Lab alternative.
5. Joyo Power Supply 2 JP-02 Power Supply
Okay, you like the idea of a power supply, but you don’t have much of a budget. Or, maybe you’re looking for a makeshift solution, even if just for now.
Whatever the case, the JP-02 is surprisingly good for a $50 unit. It’s robust, has 10 isolated outputs, and has power options for 9V, 12V, and 18V pedals. It also has cool blue LED lights.
Most customer reviews for the Joyo are at least decent, though reportedly it can be a bit noisy. Let’s face it – you’re not going to get the best of the best for just $50, but they’re not lying when they say it’s a power supply.
6. MXR M238 Iso-Brick Power Supply
If you like being different, the M238 might just be the brick for you. This sleek, white unit’s cost is about average at $150, it offers 10 fully isolated outputs, and they’ve kept the noise to a minimum. The voltage output can also be set anywhere between 6V and 15V.
The MXR might be a little less flexible than other power supplies, but it serves that “in-between” market that’s looking for a stylish unit with a good number of outputs.
In some cases, the Iso-Brick also comes with a Dunlop variety guitar pick pack, which is a nice add-on.
7. Walrus Audio Phoenix Power Supply
For those who demand the best, and have a large pedal collection, there is no alternative to the Phoenix. It has 15 outputs, it’s durable, and the ability to handle a variety of power requirements. If you have a small pedal collection, there’s no reason to indulge – this power brick will be overkill.
But it will cost you about $280, which is considerably more than the Voodoo Lab or Truetone. If your budget is tight, this probably isn’t the right choice for you.
Still, some players have a ton of pedals that they want to run at the same time, and if that describes you, you’ve met your match with this Walrus Audio unit.
What To Look For In A Guitar Pedal Power Supply
There are basically four things to examine when it comes to guitar pedal power supplies. They are:
- Durability. It’s a power brick. It’s not a light unit. You don’t want it breaking after one little drop. It should last you a long time no matter how you use it.
- Functionality. Most players are looking for a quiet power brick that won’t ruin their tone, and so should you.
- The right number of outputs. This is highly individual. Players with larger setups might want the Truetone or the Walrus Audio. Meanwhile, players with fewer pedals might do just fine with the T-Rex. But the only way to “futureproof” your purchase is to buy a power supply that has more outputs than you need, because you might end up adding new effects to your pedalboard later. But honestly, if you’re looking to use more than 15 pedals at once, you’ve got another problem entirely (try hauling a pedalboard that size – I have, and it’s not light!).
- Flexibility. Again, this will depend on the exact pedals you have. But wouldn’t you prefer a power supply that can handle many different voltages and types of pedals as opposed to one that was created exclusively for 9V DC pedals? After all, you never know when you might swap out one pedal for another that you like more. And if you don’t have any flexibility with your power supply, there’s not much you’ll be able to do with a 12V pedal, for instance.
Why Do I Need A Guitar Pedal Power Supply?
Perhaps you don’t if you’re only using up to two or three pedals.
But once you’ve crossed that threshold, it gets harder to provide power to all your pedals, and you might run into problems with outlets, excessive noise, or even tripping circuit breakers.
Here are the main reasons you’d want to get a power supply:
- You don’t want to burn through batteries. Planning on playing two or three full 45-minute sets at the local bar as your pedals burn through your battery supply? Not such a good idea, even if you do happen to have backups. Although using batteries would help you clean up the tangled mess that can become of power cables, it’s sure to increase your gear budget and may even cause major inconveniences while you’re playing onstage (such as your guitar cutting out completely).
- You can’t find enough outlets at the venues you play at. How big is your pedalboard? 12 individual effects units? Well, even if you do manage to find all the outlets you need, or you somehow make up for a lack of them with extension cables and power bars, that’s not ideal. Many pedals have different requirements, whether it’s voltage or a difference in AC or DC power. If you don’t want to sacrifice your tone, your gear, or tripping the poor bar’s circuit breaker, this isn’t much of a solution.
- Your pedals have different power requirements. If you have a variety of pedals made by different brands, then there’s a good chance some have different power requirements. A good power supply can handle your various needs.
- You’re already prone to tripping, and you don’t want to make your work more hazardous than it already is. All kidding aside, too many cables onstage can look unruly and disorganized. If you want to keep things friendly for yourself and your band members (who could accidentally break your gear by tripping on a cable), then a power supply unit should help with keeping things safe and organized.
Do I Need A Power Supply That Accommodates Different Voltages?
For most conventional pedals (like those made by Boss and MXR), no, as they are powered by 9V. There are, however, some pedals that require 12V, 18V, or 24V, which is why some pedal power supply units give you the flexibility.
Check your pedals to see what voltage requirements they have before buying a power brick. Or, think ahead and determine what pedals you’re planning to add to your effects chain. Purchase your power supply based on the number of pedals you’re planning to use, and the exact voltage they require.
Can I Plug Pedals Into The Wrong Voltage?
I won’t lie – I’ve used Japanese consoles and appliances (which technically have different power requirements) in Canada without any problem.
But I don’t recommend this at all when it comes to your precious effects pedals. Imagine buying a brand new Xotic XW-1 wah ($236) or something fancy like that, plugging it in, and having it go completely dead. Oops. Now your pedal is unusable.
That’s why I’d suggest matching your power supply to your exact needs.
What Is An Isolated Output?
You’ve probably noticed how most if not all manufacturers advertise their power supplies as having “isolated” outputs, which isn’t necessarily true. That’s something to look out for.
If the outputs are indeed isolated, it should help reduce unwanted noise and hum. When an output is indeed isolated, it means that it’s getting a clean supply of power as opposed to being daisy chained. When a power supply is daisy chained, you can expect your tone to suffer because your pedals aren’t getting all the power they need. Isolated power means all your pedals are fully powered.
So, for instance, the previously mentioned Joyo unit likely does not have proper isolated outputs.
Can I Build Or Have Someone Build A Custom Power Supply For Me?
Yes, absolutely, keeping in mind that building it yourself would be quite challenging unless you have prior experience with electronics.
A better option might be to hire someone to create a custom power supply to suit your needs. But keep in mind that your needs could change. If you buy new pedals and add them to your effects chain later, or swap out certain effects for others, then you’ll either need to bring your power supply back to the developer and have them make adjustments to your unit, or get them to put together a new one completely.
If your needs are unique, or you just like having custom gear, this is an option worth considering.
When choosing a power supply that’s right for you, be sure to examine the specs and customer reviews. This will ensure that you end up happy with your purchase.
Unlike effects pedals, you won’t be constantly buying, trading, or swapping out your power supply unit. As result, it’s not a bad idea to spend a good amount of money on a unit that you’ll be using for a good time to come.
P.S. Remember though, none of what you’ve learned will matter if you don’t know how to get your music out there and make people WANT to hear it. Want to learn how to do that? Then get our free music marketing ebook emailed directly to you! Or for an in-depth fool proof guide on how to get people to listen to your music, get our online music business course here.