I was recently invited to join a cover band. It’s a little earlier in my life than I thought it’d happen, but I’ve played with most of the guys before and figured I could do worse than playing AC/DC and Thin Lizzy tunes for beer money.
Midway through our first rehearsal, I was already convinced that my usual pedalboard just wasn’t suited for classic rock. My go-to overdrive wasn’t cutting it and I had about as much use for cavernous reverb as I did an electric eel.
It was time for something new.
I’d toyed with the idea of a grab-and-go board once or twice before, but practicality always got the better of me. I had a reason now though—and what better excuse for a pedal junkie is there?
Classic rock doesn’t need much, so I loaded my favorite Marshall-in-a-box pedal, the Catalinbread Dirty Little Secret MKIII and a Polytune 2 Mini onto a Pedaltrain Nano with a couple of my favorite cheapies for fuzz and delay.
It was almost done, but I needed something to power the tiny beast. So I did a little searching and wound up with a Pedaltrain VOLTO. In short, I’m thrilled with it.
The beauty of the VOLTO is its innovative use of the same rechargeable lithium-ion battery technology that’s found in the average smartphone or tablet. All you have to do is plug it in, charge it up and then figure out what to do with all the extra time you’ll have not hunting down an empty socket, spare extension cord or abandoned power strip once you get to the gig.
A full charge takes about six hours and the power lasts quite a while. In fact, I’ve had all four of my pedals on (a little over 100mA total draw) for the last eight hours and VOLTO is still going strong. Depending on the total draw of whatever you plug in, Pedaltrain says VOLTO can last up to 36 hours in some cases.
VOLTO silently pumps out a total of 2000mA from a pair of nine-volt outlets and comes with four cables—two 3-plug daisy chains and a duo of single barrel cables. The cables feature right-angle ends that are really handy on a small pedalboard like the one I put together.
Put the Go in Grab-and-Go
There are a few key points here. First, the VOLTO mounts perfectly (and easily) under most Pedaltrain boards with the help of a little Velcro. Obviously this makes sense, given the fact that the boards and power supply are made by the same company, but installation was so easy that it’s still worth stating—no brackets required.
Second, VOLTO comes with four different international adapters. So whether you live in the UK, are visiting Europe or somehow find yourself in Australia—VOLTO has you covered. And none of the cables are proprietary, so if you’ve got a USB charger in your car, you can charge VOLTO on the way to the stage or studio.
Third, when plugged in, you can power your pedals and charge VOLTO simultaneously—so it’s the best of both worlds. And since VOLTO can be used as a primary, secondary or even backup power supply for a full string of pedals, you’re covered in just about any situation, no matter what.
What we like: This is the ultimate solution for gigging musicians who want to power a few pedals on the go. I love everything about it—the size, price, features and functionality are all perfect for my needs. And never needing to worry about finding an outlet again? That alone is worth the price of admission.
Concerns: The VOLTO only offers nine-volt power, so if you’ve got a pedal that needs more than that, you’re going to have to look elsewhere—or get creative. I found a micro-sized voltage doubler from Disaster Area Designs that fits under my Nano and is perfect for getting the DLS up to 18v.