Guitar Effect Pedal Boards – Daisy Chains and 9v Adapters Explained

Posted: 7 November 2010


So you have purchased your first guitar effect pedal and inevitably you are now looking to expand your collection? Or perhaps you already have a horde of sound tweaking beasts. Either way, unless you are rich or enjoy wasting money you are probably looking at alternatives to expensive 9v batteries to power your pedals.

You may already have 9v AC adapters for each of your effect pedals. Sure you can pull out a long power board and connect each of 9V power supplies to each individual pedal, though you are going to be left with an ugly looking set up and power cables running every which way.

A better option is to use just one 9V AC adapter, and connect it to a daisy chain power cable:

The beauty of a daisy chain power cable is that it allows you to power multiple pedals to the single power supply / AC adapter.

A guitar effect pedal daisy chain cable features a single female socket that attaches to the barrel end of the 9V power supply. From the socket connector the cable branches out into multiple barrel end connectors that can be connected to individual guitar pedals. Standard daisy chains will feature 1 socket + 5 barrel plugs, some up to 10 barrel plugs.

How many guitar pedals can you power from a single 9v AC adapter?

The answer lies in the total current draw (mA) or current consumption of every pedal in the chain, and the current made available by the AC adapter. Different types and brands of pedals will draw different amounts of current to operate. The current draw figure can usually be found on the bottom of the pedal or in the manual.

Say if your 9v power supply outputs 500mA (9v, 500mA) of current, and each of your pedals draw 40mA. You can therefore power up to 8 pedals using the 500mA adapter; (500 / 40 = 8).

As a typical guide Overdrive, Distortion, Fuzz and Analog Wah Wah pedals draw very little current, typically between 1 – 10mA. Analog modulation effects like Chorus or Phaser pedals draw somewhere between 15 – 30mA. Digital delay pedals draw more current, most between 45mA and 65mA.

When using a daisy chain to power multiple guitar effect pedals, it is important to use a "regulated" AC adapter / power supply. An "un-regulated" power supply will have a fluctuating voltage output (centering near 9v). Ok for most pedals individually, but when connected to a daisy chain, issues can occur as the voltage has an effect on the current output.

MOEN offer a great value regulated 9v AC adapter with 500mA of current output, enough to power most guitar pedal boards. Featuring the industry standard 2.1mm sized barrel plug found on many brands of effect pedals. The MOEN power supply is usable for all guitar pedals accepting the popular Boss PSA series AC adapters.

We are also pleased to announce that MOEN has developed a new model of 5 plug daisy chain cable that features "ferrite beads" on each leg of the cable. Ferrite beads are used to suppress high frequency noise in electronic circuits, and will assist in creating a noiseless pedal board.>

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