Review: Pedaltrain Nano and Volto Pedal Boards

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

PEDALTRAIN

Nano street price: $49

Volto street price: $99

One of the occupational hazards of being a musician who plays in a bar or small club is a cramped performing space on stage. You want the gig to go smooth, but between mic and instrument cables, power strips, extension cords and random pedals, the likelihood of not tripping or getting at least one cable wrapped around you during your gig is slim. If this sounds like you, the folks at Pedaltrain feel your pain and are on your side. Their Nano pedalboard and Volto wireless power supply will clean up your stage plot, and your power and pedal issues.

The Nano is a small, compact board measuring 14.5” x 5” and weighing one pound. It’s constructed of solid aluminum alloy tubing and welded together, with an opening in the middle for running your power cables and cords underneath. Unlike some of their larger models, which are slightly angled, the Nano lays flat on the floor and is narrow enough to provide easy access to all the knobs on your pedals. Pedals are secured to the board with the supplied Velcro strips. The Velcro holds the pedals in place and makes for easier set up and tear down.  It’s a solid hold- I held the Nano upside down while putting it back into the supplied soft case gig bag and the pedals didn’t move.

I typically use a clip-on guitar tuner. By using one of these I freed up the Nano for more actual ‘effects’ pedals. I was able to easily fit four standard size pedals (Boss chorus, MXR Carbon Copy and Phase 90 and Nobels overdrive) on the board. Larger effects pedals such as Line 6 or Visual Sound would limit your total. If you use the popular micro-size effects like Guyatone and Mooer you can squeeze five onto the Nano. The key is to spend a few minutes with your initial setup and placement of your pedals and then wire up your patch cables and power connectors. I recommend using 6” right angle patches to tighten up the space between pedals. I also love that the soft case bag can be strapped to your gig bag or thrown across your shoulder. One minor gripe is that it would be nice to have a small pocket to hold cables or other accessories.

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The Volto is a lithium ion-based battery 9-volt power supply for wirelessly powering your pedals. Basically, it uses the same technology that powers a tablet or smart phone. Charging is done via a power AC adaptor that plugs into a standard wall outlet. Average charge time is six hours and, like your smart phone, you definitely need to always be aware of the battery usage. The complete Volto package includes two single-output and two three-output daisy chain cables, four international power adaptors for use anywhere in the world (sweet!), a USB cable to charge with any USB power source (such as your computer), and a car lighter adaptor so you can even charge it in your car on the way to a gig. Now that’s handy.

Placement of the Volto on the board can be anywhere you choose- the recommended spot is on the underside of the Nano (and most other Pedaltrain boards) and secured with Velcro.  I agree with this, as it frees up space for another pedal on top. If you do place the Volto on the top of the board it does give you the advantage of monitoring battery life. An on/off button activates the Volto and illuminated blue light bars indicate battery life. Three bars is full strength and one bar means it’s time to recharge. Two 9-volt outputs (not isolated) with a total output power capacity of 2000mA run all your pedals. The Volto does not work with pedals that are 12, 15 or 18-volts.

It’s important to understand that the battery life is dependent on how much total power your pedals use. It’s exactly like watching a video or running high CPU intensive work on your battery-powered laptop – the more pedals you use and the more juice each one draws will determine how long the battery lasts. I tested the Volto with a four pedal setup, and I was easily able to get through the entire gig. I don’t think the average player with several pedals would get up to the 36 hours of use the manual states is possible, though. I would definitely recommend having the AC charger in the soft-case bag in the event you run out of juice, as well as recharging after each gig to prevent the unit from shutting off in the middle of your set. The sound quality of the pedals was unaffected and there was no discernible noise or hiss from the Volto.

Pedalboard’s website is chock full of tips, videos and links for setting up your board and there’s even a ‘This Is My Pedaltrain’ section on the site which details how players have set up their boards. For a performing musician (especially one who tours overseas), the less you have to carry to a gig, the better. If you gig or tour frequently, it’s worth your time to check out these musician-friendly products from Pedaltrain.

www.pedaltrain.com

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Photos: Shakey Graves and Shovels & Rope at the Alabama Music Box