There’s a very hard choice to make when deciding on using individual effect pedals in your rig:
You rather go get a power supply, or you buy out all the supply of 9v batteries from your nearest Walmart.
Well, phrased like that the choice doesn’t seem that difficult, but still, there are a lot of players that prefer batteries on their rigs.
The thing is, in some situations, you might prefer running some pedals on batteries while powering others with your power supply, or hey, even you’d rather not take your power supply to a small one pedal gig and opt to power it with a battery.
If you leave that battery on, the next time you play, should you remove it from your pedal if it’s plugged into a power supply? Here’s a short answer:
Although most pedals will bypass batteries once plugged into a power supply, it’s recommended to remove batteries. This is because batteries could deteriorate with time and end up damaging your equipment. Also, if you turn off the power supply, the pedal could dry up the battery without you even noticing.
In this article, I will dive deeper into this topic, and try to take upon every aspect about why you should remove the batteries from your pedals when you intend to power them with another energy source.
I hope you will leave with a clearer idea about why you should take care of your gear this way, and that I could help you avoid future issues with your rig.
Are you ready to get started?
Will leaving the batteries on a pedal when connected to a power supply damage it?
Leaving batteries on a pedal that’s connected to a power supply is extremely unlikely to damage your equipment in any way.
You see, manufacturers are aware of this possible situation, and is an industry-standard to implement an internal switch that bypasses the batteries altogether whenever the pedal is powered with an external source.
Although leaving batteries on your pedals long-term is not a good practice, it doesn’t have anything to do with playing with a power supply.
So, don’t worry about it and rock on.
Will the battery drain if the pedal is plugged into a power supply?
No, pedal batteries are, by design, ignored by the circuitry once the pedal is plugged to grid power.
However, if you happen to turn off your power supply at some point, and leave the pedal input and output jacks connected to the rest of your rig, it’s likely that it would start draining energy from the battery.
This is because pedals are designed to be always running and just be bypassed when the switch is off.
They work this way to avoid unwanted noises when starting up or shutting down.
Pedals usually have internal switches that shut them down completely when there’s nothing plugged into any of their ¼ inch jacks.
Will the battery in a pedal recharge if it’s plugged into a power supply?
Power supplies can’t recharge the batteries on your pedals. At least traditionally that’s not how they work.
In fact, power supplies don’t interact with your pedal’s batteries at all, since that part of the circuit cuts off completely once the system detects an external power source.
You can, however, choose to use rechargeable 9v batteries to avoid incurring the high costs it means to run a pedalboard exclusively on batteries.
This kind of battery will require you to use a proprietary charger to replenish their charge every time they run-up.
And, again, at least to my knowledge, and traditionally, pedals don’t have their own internal rechargeable batteries.
However, this is a good idea, but it would require modifying existing pedals to make it work out.
Reasons to remove batteries from a plugged-in pedal
There are many reasons to remove batteries from a plugged-in pedal, but probably the main one is why are you using batteries anyway?
There is no proven advantage in terms of sound, and they are expensive and a hassle to keep track of.
I usually get the counterargument that for some rigs, and perhaps when using just one or a few pedals, it’s more convenient to just go with batteries and avoid a heavy power brick.
I can understand that.
But for the gigging musician with a more complex rig, having batteries in your equipment is more of a hazard than of a benefit.
You see, unattended batteries can swell, leak, and end up damaging your gear if you don’t take periodical care of them.
Also, and as I suggested earlier, you could forget they are on and leave your pedal draining them without you even noticing.
Next time you play you will find a dead pedalboard and no idea of what happened.
Troubleshooting is boring, don’t risk putting yourself in that position.
To conclude on this topic, I think I made my opinion rather clear, but I will state it one more time:
There’s no point in powering your pedals with batteries unless you have a good excuse that relies on convenience or availability.
Maybe you are touring abroad and you are not sure if your power supply is compatible with the local grid?
Ok, I can take that.
But for most of us, bedroom players, please don’t overcomplicate things.
Get the best power supply you can afford and forget about swapping batteries for the rest of your life.
Hello there, my name is Ramiro and I’ve been playing guitar for almost 20 years. I’m obsessed with everything gear-related and I thought it might be worth sharing it. From guitars, pedals, amps, and synths to studio gear and production tips, I hope you find what I post here useful, and I’ll try my best to keep it entertaining also.