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> Effects Pedals + Midi, Is it possible?
Andrew Cockburn
post May 26 2007, 02:16 PM
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So I have been thinking about Multi Effects vs Multiple single effects for a while.

While I can agree that assembling a best of breed pedal board out of individual stomp boxes is a worthwhile thing to do sonically, and while I could even put up the the headaches around wiring, power, extra space etc, one thing I would find hard to sacrifice would be the huge convenience of storage of patches and making vast changes in sound with a single switch.

So I figured that other people would have thought about this, and the obvious thing to do would be to midi-enable all of the individual effects so that all of their parameters can be set by MIDI commands, Then, add a smart Midi pedal that is capable of giving those commands, and storing a sequence of commands for different pedals as a patch - voila! Best of both worlds ...

Now I haven't researched this deeply, but has anyone ever heard of such a thing? I'm not aware that midi support is common, or even exists for stomp boxes ...


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Kaneda
post May 26 2007, 11:22 PM
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Wouldn't say I've researched this very deeply either, but yeah, haven't seen many MIDI controlled stomps - and I (we) have been looking. The pedals that have any kind of MIDI control tend to be the pedals you don't really want. Except for Whammy IV. The only thing I've seen on the market in terms of MIDI control of stompboxes is bypass on/off. (Like Voodoo Lab's stuff)

Kaneda goes off on a tangent
For doing Muse covers, our guitarist, myself, and another friend (who's a genius at electronics), spent half a year making our "HyperBlack" guitar - probably the most customized, electronic freak of a guitar I've ever seen - moreso than the one that inspired it - Matt Bellamy's Black Manson smile.gif More as an experiment, since it's quite possible to play the music without the exact same guitar wink.gif - not striving for exact emulation anyway, but approaching the original sound is a must for a band like Muse.

Started out with a cheap, old Yamaha SBG, but you wouldn't be able to tell anymore - the body was reshaped, the pickups were changed to a Hot S. Duncan P-90 and a Motherbucker Double, the saddles were changed (don't remember to what, but some "acoustic" sounding thingies), a Fernandes Sustainer FSK-101 was added, driven by the Motherbucker. Also a Z.Vex Wah Probe plate mounted on the guitar itself (the rest of that stomp box is built into the guitar, along with a Z.Vex Fuzz Factory). Has 14 or 15 knobs on the guitar for pickup selection, bypassing effects, turning off plates and pads etc. Plus a kill switch.

Kaneda gets (somewhat) back on topic
And then (now we're getting to the point) it has a touch sensitive (one axis) 4 inch long pad, which can control a MIDI controlled stompbox - Bellamy uses a similar thing for the DigiTech Whammy IV, and that's the thing we use it for too - haven't found anything else worthwhile in terms of MIDI controlled effects. All that is pretty much exactly replicating Bellamy's Black Manson guitar setup (except for the guitar itself). We also fitted another 2-axis pad behind the bridge, which can control two MIDI controllers at once, but it's rarely used, except for the PodXT. I guess we could make the pad send program change messages rather than channel messages - that's a good idea, actually, Andrew smile.gif. Although it's a bit of a hazzle to reprogram the MIDI interface for the pads. By the way, all this stuff is combined into a bunch of wires that go out what looks like (but isn't) a standard guitar jack smile.gif - requires a special home-made cable that splits into the MIDI and guitar signal cables.

The HyperBlack is a thing of beauty in a very trashy way. And quite a bit cheaper than the £5000 Bellamy's version would reportedly cost (if it weren't that Manson never makes replicas). Surprisingly even has a nice tone when all the electronic stuff is bypassed (actually better than before we hacked it, I think). But it lacks more good MIDI stompboxes to control wink.gif Of course, it should be possible to rebuild any stompbox to have its parameters controlled by MIDI rather than knobs (except if you find a knob which controls mechanics in the box rather than electronics wink.gif) Might get round to that experiment sometime smile.gif
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Andrew Cockburn
post May 27 2007, 12:15 AM
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Well, didn't answer my question (except to confirm my suspicions that these things don''t exist), but damn that was a fascinating post smile.gif


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Kaneda
post May 27 2007, 03:20 AM
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Sorry, I pretty much forgot the main thing I wanted to say, which was that it can't be too hard to take any stomp box, and replace (or supplement) the knob circuit with a MIDI controlled circuit. But, yes, I know... It's DIY tongue.gif

From what I remember from the "electronics geek"'s explanations, just about any knob on any piece of electronics in the world controls a variable resistor which takes care of how much voltage is sent to... whatever bit of the thingamabob takes care of the knob's aspect of the effect. All you'd need to do then, is to replace that resistor with another variable resistor, where it isn't a knob that controls the resistance, but a voltage input. Then you add a midi interface/controller circuit to the stompbox, which is programmed to send out a variable voltage based on what MIDI data is sent to it.

It's quite simple. blink.gif Except I couldn't do it laugh.gif

MIDI controller circuits can be made dirt cheap. For the MIDI-OUT of the HyperBlack, we used an open source thing called MIDIBox, which you can find by googling it. It has software to control both MIDI-IN and MIDI-OUT (so, with the right electronics geek around, you could make the knobs send the state via MIDI back to your sequencer). It takes a few chips from the 70s-80s, hence dirt cheap smile.gif And yet it has about 0 latency.

I'm sure somewhere on that site, someone is discussing how to modify analog equipment to use MIDI. And somewhere in your neighbourhood, there's sure to be a guy (or girl) into electronics, who'd love to try making one.

Again, could be worlds of fun to try. And infinitely cool to make it work.

And if you got it to work, you could set up a whole business around selling original Fuzz Faces, Boss boxes, Z.Vexes etc. with MIDI control wink.gif

This post has been edited by Kaneda: May 27 2007, 03:29 AM
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lespaulrocker
post May 27 2007, 05:04 AM
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this is kinda off topic, but kaneda, do you by any chance have a picture of this hyperblack guitar? id love to see it with all the stuff you crammed into it...
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ezravdb
post May 27 2007, 10:40 AM
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Do I get this right?:

You want to expand the buttons/patches on your Pod with extra (midi) pedals?

E.

This post has been edited by ezravdb: May 27 2007, 01:55 PM


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Andrew Cockburn
post May 27 2007, 02:12 PM
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QUOTE (Kaneda @ May 26 2007, 10:20 PM) *
Sorry, I pretty much forgot the main thing I wanted to say, which was that it can't be too hard to take any stomp box, and replace (or supplement) the knob circuit with a MIDI controlled circuit. But, yes, I know... It's DIY tongue.gif

From what I remember from the "electronics geek"'s explanations, just about any knob on any piece of electronics in the world controls a variable resistor which takes care of how much voltage is sent to... whatever bit of the thingamabob takes care of the knob's aspect of the effect. All you'd need to do then, is to replace that resistor with another variable resistor, where it isn't a knob that controls the resistance, but a voltage input. Then you add a midi interface/controller circuit to the stompbox, which is programmed to send out a variable voltage based on what MIDI data is sent to it.

It's quite simple. blink.gif Except I couldn't do it laugh.gif

MIDI controller circuits can be made dirt cheap. For the MIDI-OUT of the HyperBlack, we used an open source thing called MIDIBox, which you can find by googling it. It has software to control both MIDI-IN and MIDI-OUT (so, with the right electronics geek around, you could make the knobs send the state via MIDI back to your sequencer). It takes a few chips from the 70s-80s, hence dirt cheap smile.gif And yet it has about 0 latency.

I'm sure somewhere on that site, someone is discussing how to modify analog equipment to use MIDI. And somewhere in your neighbourhood, there's sure to be a guy (or girl) into electronics, who'd love to try making one.

Again, could be worlds of fun to try. And infinitely cool to make it work.

And if you got it to work, you could set up a whole business around selling original Fuzz Faces, Boss boxes, Z.Vexes etc. with MIDI control wink.gif


Its a cool idea - I was into electronics as a kid so I could handle that aspect of it, question is would I have enough time for such an undertaking? Probably not, with all my practicing and lesson writing sad.gif Plus I have a day job that drives me crazy. Wait, maybe starting the midi mod business could be a way out of it smile.gif

@Ezra - no, I was just toying with the idea of putting together a stomp box setup as an alternative to the Pod (not that I dislike the pod, it rocks, I''m just a total geek!)


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Kaneda
post May 28 2007, 02:12 AM
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QUOTE (lespaulrocker @ May 27 2007, 06:04 AM) *
this is kinda off topic, but kaneda, do you by any chance have a picture of this hyperblack guitar? id love to see it with all the stuff you crammed into it...


Here ya go:

Attached Image

That was taken right after we finished it - to remember how nice it looked (It has earned a lot more personality (dents, stains etc) since then, but I don't have any good recent photos tongue.gif)

The knobs/buttons at the top of the body are mainly for switching bypasses of the effects, and for turning off the MIDI and the Wah plate; the large knob is pickup switching (5-way between acoustic saddle pickups, the Motherbucker and the P-90), then there's the usual (on Gibson and Yamaha) two buttons for volume and two for tone. The six buttons at the bottom are assigned to various settings of the Fuzz Factory and the Sustainer.

The copper plate is the Wah plate - does the wah-stuff based on how close your hand is to it, like a theremin. The two greyish plates are the MIDI touch-sensitive thingies that spawned this tangent from Andrew's post in the first place. And then from top down, the Sustainer driver, the SD P-90 Hot, the Motherbucker Double and the acoustic saddle/pickup thingy.

The text for the volume/tone buttons is just there for "harmony" in the design - there's other buttons for which it would be more useful, but would be too crowded if we had text on all the buttons - our guitarist knows them better than the names of the strings by now wink.gif

For comparison, here's a closeup of the body of the "inspiration" - the Black Manson:

http://www.liquid-fire.co.uk/musegear/musegear/blackbody.jpg

The advantage we had in using the Yamaha SG as a basis was that it (like the Gibson SG) has a fairly large amount of unused body space - so plenty of room for the knobs smile.gif

Sorry for hijacking your thread, Andrew rolleyes.gif

This post has been edited by Kaneda: May 28 2007, 01:54 PM
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Rock
post May 28 2007, 06:22 AM
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QUOTE (Andrew Cockburn @ May 26 2007, 02:16 PM) *
So I have been thinking about Multi Effects vs Multiple single effects for a while.

While I can agree that assembling a best of breed pedal board out of individual stomp boxes is a worthwhile thing to do sonically, and while I could even put up the the headaches around wiring, power, extra space etc, one thing I would find hard to sacrifice would be the huge convenience of storage of patches and making vast changes in sound with a single switch.

So I figured that other people would have thought about this, and the obvious thing to do would be to midi-enable all of the individual effects so that all of their parameters can be set by MIDI commands, Then, add a smart Midi pedal that is capable of giving those commands, and storing a sequence of commands for different pedals as a patch - voila! Best of both worlds ...

Now I haven't researched this deeply, but has anyone ever heard of such a thing? I'm not aware that midi support is common, or even exists for stomp boxes ...



Not sure about the midi pedal capable of giving those commands, but what I did find was a nice Boss box BCB60 that can easily hold six pedal with all your wiring nice and compact. I like the fact that I can easily pop the cover back on when I'm done so my little on doesn't go tinkering with all my settings.

http://www.samedaymusic.com/product--BOSBCB60
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Andrew Cockburn
post May 28 2007, 02:10 PM
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QUOTE (Rock @ May 28 2007, 01:22 AM) *
Not sure about the midi pedal capable of giving those commands, but what I did find was a nice Boss box BCB60 that can easily hold six pedal with all your wiring nice and compact. I like the fact that I can easily pop the cover back on when I'm done so my little on doesn't go tinkering with all my settings.

http://www.samedaymusic.com/product--BOSBCB60


Ah, that looks cool - thanks for the link!


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Kaneda
post May 28 2007, 02:24 PM
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If you do decide to try and midify a stompbox, here's some info - I assume. The site is down for exceeding bandwidth, so probably won't be up until the 1st. Found the link in Google cache, but the page itself doesn't seem to be there smile.gif

http://www.midibox.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?i...ing_analog_gear
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Andrew Cockburn
post May 28 2007, 04:51 PM
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QUOTE (Kaneda @ May 28 2007, 09:24 AM) *
If you do decide to try and midify a stompbox, here's some info - I assume. The site is down for exceeding bandwidth, so probably won't be up until the 1st. Found the link in Google cache, but the page itself doesn't seem to be there smile.gif

http://www.midibox.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?i...ing_analog_gear


Thanks - hopefully it will come back sometime smile.gif


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Meho98
post May 29 2007, 03:17 PM
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Does it make a big difference on singe pedals or a multi-unit like Zoom 505 II? Or is it a preference thing?

VERY, VERY, Very nice job on the custom by the way. Thanx for the pics – it’s cool as hell!


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Andrew Cockburn
post May 29 2007, 04:05 PM
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QUOTE (Meho98 @ May 29 2007, 10:17 AM) *
Does it make a big difference on singe pedals or a multi-unit like Zoom 505 II? Or is it a preference thing?

VERY, VERY, Very nice job on the custom by the way. Thanx for the pics – it’s cool as hell!


That's part of what I want to find out - I have a Pod XT and am very happy with it, but I'd like to see if I can get a better sound out of stomp boxes.


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Effects : Line6 Helix, Keeley Modded Boss DS1, Keeley Modded Boss BD2, Keeley 4 knob compressor, Keeley OxBlood
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