Review: Smart Track L2 Free Routing Pedalboard

A velcro-free pedalboard option that keeps your effects pristine, while offering the perfect stage set up

Review: Smart Track L2 Free Routing Pedalboard

A velcro-free pedalboard option that keeps your effects pristine, while offering the perfect stage set up

As an avid pedal enthusiast and collector, my single biggest issue has been finding the right pedalboard. Although there are a lot of great products on the market, almost every one of them leaves a single option for fastening pedals to the board: velcro.

I have a bunch of pedals that are not particularly rare, vintage or expensive, and I don’t mind putting velcro on these pedals. However, I do wince at the thought of sticking anything on the bottom of my 1970s Mu-Tron III, 1968 Shin Ei Univibe, Analogman KOT or Klon KTR, to name a few. While I enjoy collecting, I believe these pedals were meant to be played, and I found that the setup and breakdown was preventing me from enjoying these pedals as often as I would like.

I spent the better part of a year scouring forums looking for alternate ways to attach pedals that wouldn’t ruin the finish. I saw many threads with people suggesting zip ties as a solution, but it was noted by several commentators that they were unsightly and often damaged the finish over time. It’s also not easy to move the pedals around. Someone suggested inserting the zip ties into surgical tubes to avoid damaging the finish, but it seemed like a whole lot of trouble for a less than optimal result. Not to mention, I didn’t love the idea of having a pedalboard that looked like a criss-cross of zip ties and surgical tubing.

I looked into getting custom 3D-printed bottoms for all of my pedals, but this proved incredibly expensive and time-consuming, and after a few weeks of research, I nixed the notion.

Then one day—and I wish I could remember exactly how I stumbled across them—I was looking online and found myself staring at a pedalboard that allowed you to fasten your pedals without using any velcro or zip ties. There was nothing that you had to attach to your pedals, and it left no damage or residue. Aclam was the name of the company. I had never heard of them, so I started doing some research. Aclam is the brainchild of avid guitar collector and gear enthusiast/visionary Jordi Canivell. Jordi is a retired musician and collector who has amassed over 200 guitars, including instruments that belonged to Grant Green and George Benson, as well as rare spanish guitars from the late-1800s.

I was very excited to try the pedalboard and see if it lived up to my expectations. I opted to go for a few of their Smart Track L2 Free Routing Pedalboards, which at 32.1” x 11.8” is their largest pedalboard.

When I opened the box, the first thing that I noticed was the quality of the pedalboard itself. It was comparable to other boards I had tried at the same price point. The true test, though, would come from trying their proprietary fastening system. I unsealed the package with the fasteners and took out my Analogman King of Tone pedal, a pedal I would never put velcro on, and attached it to the board. I used four fasteners to keep the pedal in place, and it was easy to find positions that would allow for an easy chain to connect other pedals to. The grip worked well, and it was fairly easy to use. All I needed was a flathead screwdriver to tighten the pedals.

After I finished the first pedalboard—which consisted of an Analogman King of Tone V.4, Klon KTR, Chase Bliss MKII Preamp, Chase Bliss CXM 1978, Strymon El Capistan and Analogman Bi-Chorus—I was set to give it a try. It was very nice to be able to play all of my pedals together, and when I was finished, I simply put the board back in the case, ready to play at a moment’s notice! It should be noted that while the pedalboard itself is top-notch, the carrying case it comes with is meant for home storage and light transport, more than regular gigging. I upgraded my case to a Reunion Blues RBXPB-3413 pedal board bag, which is much sturdier and meant to handle regular local gigging, but considerably lighter than a flight case. They do offer hard cases but I personally prefer padded gig bags.

After a few days, I decided to completely change the order of the pedals, and the process couldn’t have been simpler. You don’t have to remove the fasteners; you just have to loosen them. Also, you don’t have to loosen all of them. Depending on the configuration of the pedals, you can simply loosen one side and slide in a different pedal. Effects made by companies like Boss, Chase Bliss and Strymon, which have many pedals with the same footprint, can easily be swapped in and out by simply loosening and then re-tightening one side. Additionally,I should note that they have very nice options for mounting power supplies like a T-Rex Fuel Tank, Strymon Zuma or Ojai underneath to save space on the pedalboard.

I also picked up a set of Alcam’s Fast Fasteners, which don’t require a screwdriver and instead use a patented lever system. I found them very easy to use and a convenient alternative to add flexibility while on the go. Let’s say you’re at a rehearsal or a gig and want to switch something around; with the Fast Fasteners, you don’t have to have a screwdriver available. Having said that, I found both fastener types to be easy to use, and both did a great job of keeping the pedals in place.

Another favorable component of this product is that the quality of rubber used on the fasteners matches the quality used to make tires. The reason I mention this is that in the past I’ve had several products with a rubber coating that developed a sticky residue over time, as the rubber broke down. I brought up this concern during a call I had with the company’s founder, and that’s when he informed me about the type of rubber they use.

While I opted to go with the “free routing” board, so I can wire from underneath the board, Aclam also offers each model of their boards in a “top routing” model. These boards are a solid piece, and they make some wonderful accessories that they call tidy cables for cable management that you can purchase to make a super organized board with the wiring at the top.

Another option that they offer which I didn’t use is their tier systems that allow you to raise pedals for a totally custom arrangement.

What more can I say? I love this board. It solves a problem that I think a lot of people have, and the company behind it is full of other innovative products, as well.

If you’re in the market for a pedalboard and you are looking for a velcro alternative, Aclam makes the best products I’ve found to date. You can use this link to create a virtual setup of your pedals with their different boards to figure out which size is right for you

For a list of US dealers click here.

Ben Hyman   By: Ben Hyman

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