How To Remove Velcro From Guitar Pedals

collection of pedals with the Velcro removed

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It’s a common story: you pick up a used guitar pedal and when you get it, the back plate has four squares of Velcro attached.

The last player used the hook and loop fasteners to hold the pedal to a pedalboard, but if you don’t want that, how can you remove Velcro from guitar pedals?

The best way to remove Velcro type material from a guitar pedal is by peeling from one corner, but if the material is stubborn, apply some heat with a heat gun or hair dryer to loosen the adhesive and then use a solvent like naphtha to get rid of any sticky residue.

There are a few reasons why you might want to remove Velcro fasteners. Let’s take a look at those, along with why some people use it in the first place, as well as some things to try to get the adhesive hook and loop material off your pedal.

Why Do People Put Velcro On Guitar Pedals?

If you’ve ever spent way longer than you expected to trying to pull, peel, or otherwise simply remove a stuck on Velcro pad, you might wonder why anyone wants to use them in the first place.

Velcro is usually used to attach a guitar pedal to a pedal board of some kind. Many players will never even think about a pedal board, but plenty find them indispensable to their tone.

They start to make the most sense when you use multiple pedals either at the same time or individually on a series of different songs. Having them all attached to one board makes transport and set up easier and faster.

There is a lot to consider when putting together a pedal board, from the power supply to whether you make your own or buy a commercial model.

This video walks you through the whole process of building a pedal board, including an overview of multiple setups.

One consideration will always be keeping the pedal on the board. The whole point of a pedal board, after all, is to make your guitar effects set up more portable.

If the pedals move when you step on them, or if they all shift or fall off when you pick up the board, it’s not very useful. So how do you keep the pedals in place?

Some pedal boards are molded in such a way that they’ll hold a pedal in place, while others might use a bracket to hold a pedal securely and still others use screws from below to mount the pedals. But plenty use strips of Velcro or a similar type of hook and loop fastener, with matching pieces on the pedal, to do the job.

The most common way to do that is to use squares of the material, either pre-cut or custom cut to size, that attach to the base of the pedal with a peel and stick kind of adhesive.

That contact adhesive is very strong and keeps the material firmly in place, which is great until you want to remove it.

One way to avoid that is to punch a small hole in the center of  small squares of Velcro and thread the screws that holds the pedal’s base plate down through that hole. It holds the Velcro firmly but is easily reversible, especially compared to the contact adhesive.

Do You Need To Remove Old Velcro From Guitar Pedals?

If you’ve ever gotten a pedal covered in old, hard to remove Velcro, you might have wondered whether you need to get rid of it at all. Even if you aren’t using it, will it hurt anything?

The answer, as so often, is: “It depends.” There are a number of situations where it would be hard to use the pedal without removing the Velcro, but there are others where it won’t hurt.

The scenario most likely to require removing the Velcro is if the pieces are attached over the screws used to change the battery. Some pedals use one or two screws holding down a small access panel, while others require the entire base plate to come off.

Most pedal boards use some kind of power supply to eliminate the need to change batteries — especially if you have multiple pedals, dealing with a single power supply is much easier than risking a battery running out mid song.

But if you’re not going to use a power supply — say you just want to use an overdrive pedal on your new amp — you need access to the battery, so the Velcro is going to need to come off.

This is another reason you might want to try affixing Velcro pieces the way I covered earlier, with screws through the material, as opposed to using the adhesive kind: if you ever do need to remove the base plate, you won’t have to deal with sticky adhesive first.

Another reason you might have to remove the material is if you’re planning to use Velcro on your pedal board, but the wrong side is attached to the pedal. Like the full name implies, hook and loop fasteners like Velcro, use two pieces of material: one covered in hooks and the other covered in loops.

The two types mesh together to create a very strong hold. In fact, the inventor of Velcro was inspired by the way some plants, like burrs, can use hooks to firmly attach themselves to something.

This video explains how Velcro actually works.

But there isn’t a right or wrong way around to use the material. Whether the hook kind or loop kind ends up on the base plate is a matter of preference and chance.

If you’re planning to use Velcro but the pedal’s base plate has loop material attached, and so does your pedal board, you’ll have to pull the material off the base plate and replace it with hook material.

How Can You Get Rid Of Stubborn Velcro On Guitar Pedals?

Once you’ve decided to remove the Velcro from your guitar pedal, it’s time to get started. The first thing to do is to gently pull at one corner of the square, trying to get the material away from the surface.

If that doesn’t work, the next thing to try is to get a thin tool under the edge of the material. A thin plastic scraper or a metal palette knife is a good choice.

Be careful what you’re using, because you don’t want to damage the base plate or mar the paint or other finish if there is any. Thin but relatively dull tools like those mentioned above are good starting places.

If you can get one corner started but can’t get enough force to pull the rest free, you can try another tool. Use a pair of needle nose pliers and grab hold of the free corner.

Start to turn the pliers so you’re wrapping the material around them, and the piece should peel off.

But what if when it does, it leaves behind a square of sticky residue? That attracts dirt and might make the pedal sit strangely on the floor.

Or what if you can’t even get a corner up to begin with?

Here are some steps to remove stubborn Velcro squares from a guitar pedal.

  • Start by using heat to loosen the sticky adhesive holding the material to the base plate, either with a hair dryer or a heat gun. Using a heat gun is a better idea as it allows you to get a hotter, more focused stream of air onto a surface compared to a hair dryer.
  • Use a finger to push the material back and forth to test how loose the adhesive has become. Aim for a balancing act here: you’re heating an electronic device, and that is dangerous, so don’t apply too much and don’t allow the heat to focus on one place for too long.
  • Try to lift one corner of the material using your fingers or use a thin shim or a palette knife to slide under the material and lift it away from the surface. If only one corner will come free, try a little more heat and then use pliers to twist it off as described above.

Once the Velcro material is off, you’ll likely be left with a square of quite sticky residue from the contact adhesive used to hold down the hook and loop fastener, and you want to get rid of this, if for no other reason that attracting dirt to an electronic device is not a great idea. Here are some ways to get the base plate clean.

  • The quickest and likely the most effective way to get the sticky residue off the base plate is to use a relatively mild solvent to clean things off. One good choice is naphtha, sold nearly everywhere as lighter fluid, which can be used to clean other parts of your guitar set up, as well.
  • You can also try a stronger chemical agent like commercially available residue removers. The most well know of these is Goo Gone, but there are others, as well. Be careful when applying residue removers so as not to damage paint. Most commercial removers won’t damage paint, but it’s smart to be cautious.
  • If the Velcro was gone when you got the pedal but there was a dried out patch of old adhesive material on the base plate, you can try to use something like Goo Gone or rubbing alcohol to remove it or can gently scrape the surface clean using a razor blade. Again, you have to watch out so you don’t damage any paint.

Conclusion

It might seem like a pretty small item, and in the grand scheme of your guitar’s signal chain, the base plate of your guitar pedals aren’t the biggest deal. But even when you bear that in mind, it makes sense to remove any Velcro material if it hinders batter replacement or keeps your pedal from attaching to the pedal board properly.

Unfortunately, it’s not the only thing that some players may find frustrating when it comes to their pedals. It’s not the only thing that some players will remove and in addition to velcro, some musicians also like to remove the little rubber feet too.

Small acts of basic preventative maintenance like this keep you in touch with your gear and help you make sure things keep running smoothly. That alone makes it worth taking a look at.