Donner Pedalboard – Review of DB-2 Aluminium Board with Case

If you're a guitarist who routinely uses effects when you play, a guitar pedalboard is a wise investment. Whether you need something lightweight and portable to take to gigs or just need a board to keep your pedals and power supply together, chances are good that there are a few guitar pedalboards out there that will meet your needs. Today, we'll be taking a look at the Donner DB-2, a lightweight aluminum pedalboard that's surprisingly affordable.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Pedalboard

The right pedalboard can make your playing experience easy, but it's important to consider a few factors before you buy your first (or next) pedalboard.
  • What size do you need? If you already have a collection of guitar pedals, look to see how much space you'll need. Bigger boards can accommodate more pedals, but they tend to be more expensive and can be harder to transport.
  • What material do you prefer? An aluminum pedalboard is a great option if you'd prefer something lighter. Some inexpensive boards are made of plywood, which can be very heavy. The Donner DB-2 is made of aluminum alloy rails, and this style is fairly popular.
  • Slats or no slats? The DB-2 is built like Pedaltrain boards, meaning pedals are attached to aluminum rails with hook and loop velcro. The slats can make cable management easier. It's possible to build a neat board on a flat surface, but you may want to invest in zip ties and other tools to keep patch cables and power supply cables in order.
  • What about cases? Gigging musicians might prefer hardshell flight cases, but these cases are often expensive and unwieldy. Unless you're doing a lot of traveling with your guitar effects and other gear, a padded gig bag is usually fine.
  • What power supply will you use? Depending on the type of board you get, you may be able to mount a power supply beneath. If you can't, make sure you take the size of the power supply into account before picking a board size.

Guitar

Pedal

Model

Price

Main

Donner

Pedalboard DB-2

Main

Donner

Pedalboard DB-3

Main

Donner

Pedalboard DB-4

Donner Pedalboard DB-2

PRO's & CON's of Donner Pedalboard DB-2

But first, let's take a look at some of pros and cons of getting a Donner pedalboard:

Pros

  • Aluminum slat design makes it easier to manage your cables
  • Included padded gig bag provides protection for your pedals while being lighter than a hardshell or flight case
  • Smaller size is still enough to hold several small pedals and your power supply
  • While its design is similar to that of Pedaltrain boards, this guitar pedal board is much more affordable

Cons

  • Dimensions of the DB-2 (8" x 20") may be too small for larger pedal collections. For larger collections, the DB-3 (11.4" x 20") may be better
  • Some players may prefer a hardshell case, especially if they routinely travel with their board
  • Donner pedal boards are fairly low to the ground, so it's not possible to mount most types of power supplies underneath

Features and Benefits

When it comes to choosing a pedal board, most players simply need something that can accommodate their desired number of pedals while still remaining lightweight. In this section, we'll take a look at some of the features of Donner's pedalboards.

Construction

Donner boards are made of aluminum alloy, which is a formulation of aluminum and other metals. These hollow alloy rails mean that each board is considerably lighter than a solid aluminum pedalboard would be.

Each board also has attached feet that offer it some clearance from the ground. On the smaller boards (DB-2 and DB-4), the clearance is only about 1.2", meaning that you probably won't be able to mount a power supply beneath it. Depending on what power supply you use, this can take up a significant amount of space and limit how many pedals you can mount.

However, the slightly larger DB-3 has a clearance of about 4", so you can mount most power supplies beneath it. Unless you plan on battery-powering each of your pedals (this isn't a great long-term solution anyway), getting an isolated power supply is your best bet. This video review of one of Donner's isolated power supplies lets you check out one inexpensive (but surprisingly high-quality) option.

Size Options

If you think you may need a very large pedal board, you may want to look elsewhere--Donner primarily makes small to medium boards. However, the company's three options are affordable choices.

The DB-2 is the smallest board offered, and it's eight inches wide and 20 inches long (ground clearance is about 1.2"). This is a somewhat unusual size, as many "mini" boards are shorter. However, especially if you play with mini effects pedals, you can fit several on the board with some creative arranging. The DB-4 is the same size, but it has a removable and repositionable middle bar. This can be a good thing if you want to remove it to accommodate larger pedals.

Donner also makes the DB-3, a larger board that is 11.4 inches wide and 20 inches long. This one has about four inches of ground clearance. If mounting a power supply on the underside of a board is a must for you, this might be the better size to get. And if you aren't sure where you want to mount your power supply, check out the useful video guide (below-left).

If you aren't sure what size board is right for you, check out this interesting video guide (top-right) to picking your pedalboard size.

Accessories

One of the nice things about Donner boards is the fact that they usually come with everything you need to attach your pedals and start playing. Each board comes with 40 inches of hook and loop tape. This lets you attach the hook (or loop) side to the rails and velcro each pedal in place. Since this is the method used for most aluminium pedalboard builds, you should have no trouble purchasing extra pedalboard velcro if you need it.

Depending on the number of pedals you have, you'll probably need more patch cables (and you'll definitely need a power supply). However, Donner boards usually come with three right-angle patch cables. Managing cables, especially on a smaller board, is almost an art. If you want to keep your cables neat and tidy but aren't quite sure how to do so, check out this video guide to clean up your pedalboard.

Lastly, transporting your effects safely is important, especially if you routinely travel to gigs. Each Donner board comes with a canvas bag. The bag is designed to custom-fit the board, and included padding helps cushion and protect your effects. A zippered front pocket on the canvas bag lets you easily store extra patch cables, picks, pedalboard velcro, and any other small items you might need.

Social Proof of the Pedal

Unlike purchasing guitar effects, purchasing a pedal board doesn't usually mean that you need to view video demos or see one in person. However, it's generally wise to check out some reviews to make sure there are no major issues you should know about. Here are a few Donner board reviews we found:

Donner Pedalboard Review 01

This detailed review offers a complete overview of the board. For first-time board buyers, this person also offers an especially helpful piece of information--make sure you keep in mind how much space your patch cables will take up.

Donner Pedalboard Review 02

This review is brief, but it highlights what many players seem to love about Donner boards--they are built much like boards from Pedaltrain and similar companies, but they are considerably more affordable.

Donner Pedalboard Review 03

Most reviews we found were positive, but this review points to a potential quality control issue. In some cases, these boards may have uneven legs, which leads to rocking. Additionally, this buyer found some weld splatter that led to there being a couple of sharp spots. Issues like this do sometimes occur with less expensive boards.

In Conclusion

If you're looking for a well-built, lightweight aluminum pedalboard that won't break the bank, we think that a Donner pedalboard is a great option. These boards have almost the same build quality as boards from more recognized brands, and the heavily padded carry bag will help protect your guitar pedals at home and on the road. If you haven't bought from Donner before, one of their aluminum alloy pedalboards just might make you a new customer who keeps coming back. Click here to check it out!

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