The Basics of MIDI
for the Guitarist
Setting Up a MIDI Foot Controller
After struggling trying to set up my Line6 Echo pro to use with my RP-12 foot controller, I finally made some success which I will share with you so you may be able to hook things up quicker with your MIDI Guitar / Footswitch Setup. I have also tried in the past to hook up a Lexicon G2 and a TC electronics G-force multi-effects unit to a Lexicon MPX-R1 Foot controller and found it most frustrating. Maybe this explanation of MIDI will help others, who are just starting out, set up a MIDI guitar foot switch faster and better.
1) “Program Change” Messages – These are the most common. These are what the LED lights usually show (on the Foot Controller and the Multi Effect) program 35, for example, which might be a preset on your multi-effects for “Distortion + Reverb”.
2) “Control Change” Messages – These are the most Powerful.
“Control Change” Messages consist of:
a) Control Change Number – usually 1 to 127.
b) Control Change Value – usually 1 to 127.
Control Change Messages are sent by pressing an individual Footswitch (a button) on the Foot-controller OR
Control Change Messages can be sent by a continuous controller, such as an expression pedal (or Wah Pedal) on your foot controller.
3) “Sysex Change” Messages– system exclusive messages. You cannot change or program these. This is how the Lexicon MPX-R1 sends “Tap Tempo” messages to the Lexicon MPX-1.
These Messages (described above) travel over the midi cable over different Channels:
1) Channels – can be 1 – 16, or ALL channels (Omni)
Foot Controller setup
Here’s the basics of how to setup your foot controller:
à Connect your midi cable from the foot controller to the multi-effect.
à Make sure your footcontroller and your multieffects are on the same Channel. If you are starting out, just put your multi effects unit, and/or your foot controller on Omni so they will “send” and “listen” to all channels for any changes you make (i.e. messages you send) from your foot controller. As long as their both on the same channel, you’re good to go. Now here we’re assuming you have (1) multi-effect and (1) foot-controller and nothing else.
à program changes – Piece of cake. Stomp on a button on your foot-controller and your multi-effect should switch to that number. Note, on my foot controller (the Digitech RP-1), and on others, I notice that the foot pedal sends PC+1 (program change+1). So the foot controller may be set on #3 and the multi-effect may be set to #2. But as long as you press different buttons you should get a corresponding change.
à Effects on and off – Here’s a little tougher. You must know what CC (control change) NUMBER the effect is looking for. For example, distortion may be on CC NUMBER 71. So your footswitch must transmit CC NUMBER 71.
Now, CC#71 can have different VALUES. Usually, to turn an effect of you send a VALUE of “0”, to turn an effect on you send of VALUE of “127”. You must look at your foot controller manual and determine how to set up a pedal to send a CC NUMBER and a CC VALUE. The Digitech RP-1 has a Toggle feature so when you put in the CC number, each time you press the corresponding pedal it alternates between “0” and “127”.
à Continuous Controller (Volume Pedal or Wah-Wah Setup) – If you grasp the effects on / off setup, then this will be easy. Instead of just sending On (“127”) and Off (“0”) messages, a continuous controller will send a stream of VALUES over a Control Change Number.
Let’s say Wah Wah on your multi effects responds to CC (control change) Number 78, then set the Wah pedal on your midi foot controller to transmit on CC#78. The VALUE that transmits over CC#78 will be 1, 2, 3... thru …125, 126, 127. Assuming your pedal and multi effects use the entire range offered by midi. Sometimes you can set the RANGE of the Wah pedal. You may want the pedal to only send a VALUE of 1 thru 100. depending on your equipment and what your trying to do.
That covers the basic concept of midi foot controller setup. Turning individual effect on and off will put you ahead of many other guitarists that just use presets.
P.S. please e-mail me if there are any errors or omissions I should fix.
Later to come…
Using the MIDI functions of the
Digitech RP-12 Foot Controller
To control Multi Effects guitar processors