This past week I had a chance to try out Sanyo's new rechargeable power supply for guitar pedals, called Pedal Juice. It's a weird name that to me conjures images of sweaty feet, but someone at Sanyo was smart to leave the name off the actual product.
Instead, the design is a stark, simple white box with a single button for power and a reassuring Eneloop logo. Initially, the color and dimensions of the box reminded me of a block of tofu, but after considering it, it dawned on me that Sanyo smartly modeled the form after a standard Boss guitar pedal. In fact, if you have a Boss-style pedal board, the Pedal Juice fits right in to the cutouts.So, what's the catch? Well, it's $150.
Even the most devoutly environmentally sensitive, patchouli-soaked, jam band in the world has to admit, $150 is a bitter price when compared with a disposable $2 9v battery or a $30 power adapter. Unless Sanyo is insane, there must be more to the product than Berkeley street cred.
Well, there is. In fact, in the week I've been able to play with it, I'm pretty sure Sanyo will need to pry this thing out of my cold, dead hand. It's not for everyone--and if you can't afford it, you'll live. But it does make life easier for a gigging guitarist and has the potential to pay for itself in the long run.
In the week I've had with the Pedal Juice, I used it for a rehearsal and a show with my band Aloha Screwdriver. During that time, I came up with five practical reasons to pick up a Pedal Juice.
The alternative's suck. Disposable batteries add up over time, and wall wart power adapters have their own problems. They're ugly, you lose them, they're hard to tell apart on a dark stage, they're not universal, and they're a big contributor to e-waste.
Less clutter on stage. Having lots of power cables can feel like walking in a minefield--especially when you're trying to let loose and have fun. There's seldom a power outlet at the front of a stage, so you find yourself running extension cords and power strips all over the place. The Pedal Juice looks like just another pedal, plus it can be made to work with just about every 9-volt-powered product, dispensing as much power as needed. You can even daisy chain it across as many pedals as you need, though it will drain the battery faster.
Sound quality. For tone fanatics, Pedal Juice eliminates the AC ground loop hum associated with wall power, leaving you with a cleaner signal.
Envy. Every guitarist I showed this to wanted one. Unlike some genre-specific guitar effect fad, Pedal Juice's practical appeal is relevant to every kind of music. You feel smart using it.
Peace of mind. On average, you get up to 50 hours of power from a full charge and a three-stage indicator light warns you when it's time to plug it back in. By comparison, a 9v battery will typically last only a show or two in a modern digital effects pedal. This thing could last up to a months worth of gigs and rehearsals, and you don't have to replace it when you're done. If you've been using wall warts, the water resistant (aka beer resistant) design of the Pedal Juice offers less chance of shocking or shorting, and less potential for kicking a plug out of a socket during a Van Halen jump kick.