Electronics in general can be temperamental. But an electronic device that is stomped on by guitarists? All the more reason for some issues. I have had my fair share of pedal issues over my guitar career, and I sought to find out what the main reasons are for a pedal not working.
Why is my guitar pedal not working? The three main reasons that a guitar pedal stops working are a power supply and power misalignment, faulty solder connection, cracked circuit board, or a dirty jack connection. The power supply and power misalignment occurrence accounts for 90-95% of pedal issues.
Continue reading to learn more about the main reasons pedals stop working and what you can do to fix it.
Why is My Guitar Pedal Not Working: 3 Reasons
The three main reasons a guitar pedal is not working are:
- Power Supply and Power Misalignment
- Faulty Solder Connection or Cracked Circuit Board
- Dirty Jack’s / Connection
Before evaluating why a pedal is not working and what the potential cause may be, it is important to do one thing prior. That one thing is to take it out of the pedal lineup to isolate it. Test your guitar cables to ensure they work and are not the problem, then connect to only the desired pedal and see if the problem is still present. There is a chance there is simply an issue with the cable or a problem with an entirely different pedal that is disrupting the connection down the pedal line up, causing the desired pedal to not turn on.
If the above is performed and the pedal still does not work, let’s dig into the three most common reasons for a pedal not working below.
1. Power Supply and Power Misalignment
The number one reason for a guitar pedal not working is an incorrect power supply used for the pedal.
Power supplies and power is very important as many pedals often need different amounts of power to function properly. Pedals like the Wampler Tumnus Deluxe needs a battery that is nine volts. If the power supply is less than nine volts, than the pedal simply will not work.
Any battery or power supply / adapter that cannot supply the required amount of energy for the pedal, will result in a dead pedal output.
Find Out If Guitar Pedals Are Worth It Today!
For pedals that have a built-in battery option, check to make sure the batteries you are putting in are suitable for that pedal. Furthermore, use brand new batteries. Not batteries from the remote controller or fire detector, fresh never-used batteries. Duracell and Energizer make very good batteries and are the leaders of 9v battery supplies. These two brands are known for having more current, not just voltage.
After asking my local guitar shop tech, he mentioned that 90-95% of all pedal problem inquiries they receive are related to a battery or a power issue.
2. Faulty Solder Connection or Cracked Circuit Board
The second reason for a non-working pedal is because of a faulty soldering or cracked circuit board.
This reason for a non-working pedal can be slightly more complicated than the previous one. Although, it is much less likely. That being said, it does happen, and it has happened to me.
To check for this, remove the back casing of the pedal. The circuit board should look like the below image. Second step is to check each of the solder connections to ensure none of them are broken. If all is well there, check to see if there are any cracks in the circuit board itself. Either of these occurrences will result in a ill-performing or non-working pedal.
Specifically, check the circled area above. This area will have the largest solder connections. It is a common failure point because these jacks get some movement from the plug that’s plugged into the jack which can break the solder connection.
3. Dirty Jacks / Connection
Overtime, the different jacks become dirty with dust, dirt, pet hair, etc. This can disrupt the connection needed by the cables and power supply input.
The result of this is a spotty sound that goes in and out. It can also cause a pedal to simply not work. It will turn on but the connection to the amp or guitar will not work, resulting in no output.
At least every other month, it is recommended to clean the input and output jacks, as well as the DC jack on the back of the pedal. Follow the steps below to learn how to do this safely without further damaging the pedal.
Guitar Pedal Repair: How Do I Fix Pedals Not Working?
Based on the above three 3 reasons for a faulty pedal, let’s look into each of them and how to fix it.
1. Power Supply and Power Misalignment Fix
As simple as this issue is, the fix is just as simple. To fix a power supply issue, simply purchase the correct power supply voltage needed by the pedal. This can be a different battery or wall mounted power supply (adapter). The fix could also be just replacing a dead in-pedal battery.
The cost of a power supply and power misalignment fix ranges between $10-$60 depending on the new power supply / adapter or battery bought. This can be done very easily yourself so no need to bring to a guitar or pedal tech.
2. Faulty Soldering or Cracked Circuit Board Fix
To fix any faulty solder connections, a soldering iron will be required. These can be purchased for $11-$100 depending on the quality you want. They are simple to use but I recommend watching a quick YouTube video on them beforehand. Find the cracked or broken solder connection and re-solder it.
Discover Why Your Amp Is Crackling Here
For a cracked circuit board, I recommend bringing to a guitar / pedal tech and having them fix it. If the cost of the fix is more than a new pedal, I advise to just buy a new pedal. A cracked circuit board is pretty rare, but it does happen and usually means the pedal is beyond repair.
3. Dirty Jacks / Connection Fix
To fix a dirty jack / connection, all you need is straight contact cleaner. Do not use any form of excess water or lubricant to clean these areas of the pedal as this could completely break the pedal.
Use straight contact cleaner with no lubricant in it (very important). Start by spraying the straight contact cleaner into the jack, take a quarter inch phono jack / end cable and plug it in and multiple times at a moderate to rapid pace. Follow this up with a Q-Tip, going into the jack and cleaning any excess dust or dirt.
For the DC jack, follow the same procedure as the above but use the DC adapter instead of a phono jack to go in and out of the jack sprayed with straight contact cleaner. Make sure the DC adapter is not plugged into the wall.
How Do I Test My Guitar Pedals?
To test your guitar pedals, isolate each guitar pedal from the rest of the pedal board. Only run the cables through it, connecting to the amp and the guitar. Use the clean setting on the amp and the neck pickup on the guitar. Then turn on the pedal and listen for any irregularities. If no irregularities, move on to the next pedal.
When there are irregularities like it won’t turn on or a static, follow the above steps.
If the above fixes do not fix your pedal, I recommend bringing it to a guitar shop to fix. These reasons for a pedal not working cover 98% of issues.
Thank you for reading why is my guitar pedal not working. Please subscribe if you would like to be notified when a new article is posted.