NOTE: This was a draft from 2017 that I never finished writing, but wanted to post because it might be useful or interesting.
As a younger guitarist, I had a few stompboxes and pedals but primarily ended up using a KORG AX-3000G multiFX rig. MultiFX rigs have their share of problems in their past, and the professional stuff like AxeFX is extremely expensive so I decided to look into building a pedalboard. I thought this was going to be expensive, but I ended up building a decent board without dropping too much cash. Here's the breakdown:
Donner DB-3 Aluminum Pedalboard - $73
Danelectro FAB Chorus - $20
Joyo 6 Band EQ - $30
Cadine Blue Ocean Delay - $25
Mooer Phase 90 Clone - $40
Valetron Lazaro Fuzz - $40
Joyo Ultimate Drive - $30
Ibanez TS Mini - $50 (Used)
TC Electronics Polytune3 - $70 (used)
CryBaby Wah - dunno got it forever ago
Dunlop High Gain pedal - dunno got it forever ago
Ditto Looper - $50 (used)
- Donner DB-3:
This thing is way cheaper than the pedaltrain but I see no reason to go with the pedaltrain over this. It also comes with a soft case and some offbrand velcro. If you want to save money you can just build one too, but I was in a hurry to get something going.
- Danelectro FAB Chorus:
$20 for a chorus with rate/depth/mix knobs. It sounds like a chorus lol. It's fine. You don't really need a chorus if you have a phaser, but if you want one this is fine for $20. My only gripe is that the knobs are in weird positions and it takes up a decent chunk of pedalboard with its weird shape. The mini chorus seem to be $35+ - if space is a premium maybe go with a mini chorus but other than size this is fine. UPDATE: I've since spent $50 on a MXR micro chorus, but I kinda like the danelectro better because it's more configurable and has less noise.
- Joyo 6 Band EQ:
You probably don't need this, but this is nice to optionally boost your mids or highs or to use just as a clean boost pedal. You can also do some interesting things but placing this in different parts of your chain - I typically use it between my modulation and my distortion but you can do whatever. It's pretty cheap and you tweak your other pedals wiht it so its nice to have but definitely not necessary. This doesn't look very durable - the plastic knobs look a little sketchy but i haven't broken them yet.
- Cadine Blue Ocean Delay:
Digital delay with 3 knobs. You can get a 2 tap delay with this, or turn the knobs up to get a few different delay tones. This can also be used as a reverb in some settings. Pretty versatile for $25. Obviously not a stryman but for the basics it works great.
- Mooer Phase 90 Clone:
I use this, but I honestly would have rather spent the extra $10 for a used phase 90. I might actually do that. This one is a little pricy and not quite a clone. It sounds fine but the phase 90 is so much better idk
- Valetron Lazaro Fuzz:
More of a distortion than a fuzz, but its decent and cheap and has four knobs. REALLY bright green light so make sure to tape it so you don't lose your vision.
- Joyo Ultimate Drive:
This is an OCD clone IMO. The tone knobs aren't the same and the switch is useless, but overall a good drive pedal. I put the TS mini before this to get a really solid rock distortion. UPDATE: I've since bought a legit OCD, but the joyo isn't bad. The joyo just has a much smaller range of where you can put the knobs and have the pedal still soung good.
- Ibanez TS Mini:
Buy this!! Now! it's the best. This isn't a cheap chinese pedal, but I was able to find one used for $40. You can use this for so many things: boosting another drive pedal, you can use it as an overdrive, etc
- Polytune 3:
I like this a lot but you can also buy a cheap tuner for way cheaper. I don't really use all the advanced features (like tuning 6 strings at once) but the display is very easy to see and never has an issue pitching a given sound.
- CryBaby Wah:
Not sure why this is on this list; it's not a cheap chinese pedal but the crybaby is a great pick up if you can score on. It's not true bypass, you can mod it to be if you really care (I did, but probably didn't need to).
- Dunlop High Gain Pedal:
This is great for swells and its also passive and doesn't require any power. Takes up a lot of room but it's worth it and is exactly same size as crybaby
Great song writing tool. I still haven't tried any of the cheap knockoffs yet because I was lucky enough to snag one for about $40 on eBay.