Should You Remove Pedal Batteries When Not in Use?

Guitar pedals can either be used with a power supply or with batteries. 

The former is, I think the preferred option for many players, however, the latter is a convenient alternative for those who prefer having a simpler rig.

There is also some mysticism about how batteries can improve the tone of your pedals, but that’s a discussion for another day.

An important thing to consider, if you are between those who avoid power supplies is what to do with your batteries when you are not using your rig.

Should you remove a pedal’s batteries when not in use? Here’s a short answer:

You should remove the batteries from pedals you are not using, just to avoid them from deteriorating and damaging your gear. Most pedals bypass batteries when there are no cables connected to avoid drain. However, if you leave any jack plugged, the effect could still be running, even if the switch is off.

In this article, I will dive deeper into this topic, and tell you why I think you will be better off taking the batteries out after you are done with your gig or rehearsal.

There are many aspects to consider and I hope I can cover most of them here.

Are you ready to get started?

Let’s go!

Do pedals drain energy from batteries when not in use?

Guitar pedals that allow for batteries as a power source usually incorporate a kill switch that stops the drain whenever you unplug your instrument or output.

The important thing to remember here is that, in many cases, guitar pedals are always running silently, and the footswitch acts solely as a sound bypass.

This is to avoid unwanted startup or shutdown clicks, or other noises.

So, having the pedal function shut down completely when there’s no instrument plugged is a real big deal to save on batteries.

Is leaving the batteries on going to damage your guitar pedal?

Leaving batteries on your guitar pedal for long periods of time can damage it. 

As though battery technology has evolved lately, it’s possible that an unused, unattended battery could leak or deteriorate affecting your equipment’s internal circuits.

My advice is to remove and take a moment to clean up your pedals if you consider you won’t be using them for a prolonged period of time.

I think more than 3 months would be a reasonable period to consider for doing this.

Of course, for shorter spans of time, you shouldn’t worry at all.

If you have band practice once a week, unless you are a maintenance psycho, you can leave your pedalboard untouched and nothing bad is likely to happen.

Do you need to remove the batteries even if you play every day?

Removing the batteries of your guitar pedals to clean up the cavity, and just for checking that everything is in order is a good practice that you should try to carry out regularly.

However, it’s not necessary that you take the batteries out every time you finish playing, as long as you unplug your pedal to stop it from draining power.

There will be also the need to replace batteries if you use your rig regularly, so that would be a great moment to do the cleanup I mentioned before.

If you don’t run through batteries as fast, though, set up a monthly alarm to open up every one of your pedals just to make sure everything is ok.

How long is long enough inactivity to remove pedal batteries?

I personally think that if your practice or gigging schedule is irregular, you will probably be better off removing the batteries from your pedals every time you finish playing. 

You could never know when would be the next time you would need them, and perhaps there could be months since that happens again.

If on the other side, you have a rather regular playing schedule, you will probably have a better empiric understanding of how long your batteries last, and when you will be swapping the ones currently on your pedalboard.

For long term storage, shipping, or any other situation it may occur to you, the best thing to do is always take batteries off and store them in a dry, temperature-controlled recipient.

The best alternative to removing batteries is using a power supply

Dealing with batteries, in my opinion, is a hassle.

You can never know how much power there’s left in them.

They run up rather quickly, and might leave you with no sound in the middle of a show or practice.

And overall, they require you to pay special attention to your rig and unplug every input and output just to make sure your pedal doesn’t stay running silently and draining them.

Oh, and don’t get me started on how much you would be spending if you run your gig exclusively on batteries.

To avoid all of this, the solution is not rocket science.

Just get a power supply.

And don’t be cheap, please.

Look for a rather decent one with a low floor noise level, and I will assure you that you will be sounding as good as you would if you were using batteries.