I recently had a great opportunity to send over a few questions to David Quinones of Blackbird Pedalboards. Blackbird is making some beautiful and functional pedalboards allowing for completely custom designs. Checking out his site I was immediately loving the woods he was using in conjunction with the tolex protection around the frame. He is definitely working on some high quality boards, and is really starting to get his Blackbird Pedalboards out there. I was impressed to see that a Blackbird Pedalboard was on tour with Bon Iver! Not bad.. not bad at all!
– What prompted you to start Blackbird Pedalboards?
I was looking at getting a pedalboard for myself but couldn’t find one I was comfortable with. The main problem was that I didn’t like a flat board but didn’t like the feel of my wah or volume pedal on a sloped board. So the only solution I found was to make my own that had two platforms-a sloped area for my stompboxes and a flat area for my treadle pedals. Once people started seeing the design I kept getting asked to make them boards to suit there own setups. Everything just took off after that.
– How long have you been in business?
I made my first board in 2008 and started selling the boards online in 2009.
– What makes your pedalboards stands out from the pack?
The multi-platform design would be the biggest difference to anything else on the market but asides from function we have strived to make the aesthetics of our boards like nothing else out there. We combine over 40 different options of tolex, carpet and hardwoods to craft a one of a kind board every time. Each board is tailor made to the customer’s specs but we maintain competitive prices to keep us on point with the larger companies.
– What are some of the most important considerations when designing pedalboards?
Since there are so many options to customize, the biggest consideration is the customer’s setup. You want to make sure everything from size to color and layout is exactly what they have in mind. Making sure the customer is involved in every step of the decision making process helps ensure the perfect custom board.
– What is the process for the musician to get a pedalboard designed (custom)?
We have made the process of designing a custom board as easy as possible through our webiste. Our interactive order form allows the customer to select the size and options that they want and get a price with shipping instantly. If they want to place the order they are emailed a price breakdown with instructions to complete payment and then we start building the board.
– Is there anything you *won’t* do when it comes to a custom pedalboard?
Everything is fair game when it comes to size and materials. I don’t like stepping on other builder’s toes, so the only things I wont put on the boards are things that define a competitor’s product. So no racing stripes, rails or lights on a Blackbird. I feel the Blackbird design stands out by itself.
– Do your pedalboards come with a flight case?
We offer two styles of flightcases with each custom board. We have a light duty case that is made out of 1/4″ laminate with aluminum edging and ATA style hardware. The other options is a full spec 300 ATA case. Both are handmade to the dimensions of the board and ensure a perfect fit to protect your pedals.
– You offer any custom routing/looping? Why I ask this, personally, I like my wah in the middle vs. the end or front of the chain.
Our wah wedge feature can be placed in any location on the board, not just far left or right. There is also enough clearance underneath the board to run all of your cables across the different sections of the board while keeping the top clean.
– Speaking of wah, can you explain the Wah Wedge?
Like I mentioned earlier, the wah wedge is what made me start Blackbird in the first place. I liked the feel of a sloped board for accessing several rows of pedals but hated how far my ankle had to go to use the full throw of my wah or volume pedal. The wedge allows your treadle pedals to stay parallel to the floor and can be made to any size. Also as mentioned earlier the wah wedge can be located in any position on the board and a board can have multiple wah wedges. It is definitely our most popular feature.
– What are your price ranges for a board?
The boards start at $110 for a 15×20″ board and go up based on size and add-ons such as locking jacks or power inlets.
– What is the turn around time for building a board?
Since every board is hand made and is different for each customer we usually run 4 weeks on custom boards.
– Can I purchase a board directly from your site, or do you sell through dealers? If so, who.
Custom boards are sold directly on our website but we do have stock sizes that are distributed through our dealers around the world. Prymaxe Vintage in the US, Tone Blue in Japan, Vintage Gitar in Norway and String Co. in Thailand.
– Any notable musicians using Blackbird?
Nashville giant, Brent Mason is rocking a blonde Blackbird with middle wah wedge and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver has a white and hardwood board that he is using on his current tour. We have also built boards for several effects companies such as Analogman Effects and Dwarfcraft Devices.
– What’s the deal with your referral system?
If you refer someone and they place an order for a custom board then you earn $10 via Paypal. There is a referral section where they can put your name and email on the order form and you receive the payment once they pay for the board. There is no limit to how many referrals you can earn.
– What’s the biggest board you’ve made?
The biggest board belongs to a customer named Bob Gore who ordered two boards; the first a 16×26″ board for his acoustic and the second a mammoth 16×70″ board for his electric rig. Both boards were wrapped to match his red and blonde Dr. Z amps and came with their own ATA flightcases.