Why be normal? Use your footpedal to control parameters other than volume and wah
By Craig Anderton
A lot of guitar hardware multieffects, like the Line 6 POD HD500, Roland ME-70, DigiTech iPB-10 and RP1000, Vox ToneLab ST, and Zoom G3X (Fig. 1) have a footpedal you can assign to various parameters.
Fig. 1: Many multieffects, like Zoom's G3X, have built-in pedals. However, if not, some have an expression pedal jack so you can still use a pedal with the effects.
If you're into amp sims, you're covered there too: Native Instruments' Rig Kontrol has a footpedal you can assign to any amp sim's parameters, and IK Multimedia's StealthPedal (Fig. 2) also works as a controller for amp sim software, not just IK's own AmpliTube.
Fig. 2: IK's StealthPedal isn't only a controller, but includes jacks for plugging in a second expression pedal, as well as a dual footswitch.
In most multieffects, volume and wah are the no-brainer, default pedal assignments. However, there are a whole lot of other parameters that are well-suited to pedal control. Doing so can add real-time expressiveness to your playing, and variety to your sound.
ASSIGNING PEDALS TO PARAMETERS
Some multieffects make this process easy: They have patches pre-programmed to work with their pedals. But sometimes the choices are fairly ordinary and besides, the manufacturer's idea of what you want to do may not be the same as what you want to do. So, it pays to spend a little time digging into the manual so you can figure out how to assign the pedal to any parameter you want.
Effects with a computer interface are usually the easiest for making assignments, and they're certainly easiest to show in an article due to the ease of taking screen shots. For example, with DigiTech's iPB-10, you can use the iPad interface to assign the expression pedal to a particular parameter. In Fig. 3, the pedal has been assigned to the Screamer effect Drive parameter.
Fig. 3: The iPB-10 pedal now controls the Screamer effect's Drive parameter. Note that you can set a minimum and maximum value for the pedal range; in this case, it's 8 and 58 respectively.
This example shows the POD HD500 Edit program, set to the Controllers page. Here, the EXP-1 (main expression pedal) controller has been assigned to delay Feedback (Fig. 4).
Fig. 4: It's easy to assign the HD500's pedal to various parameters using the POD HD500 Edit program. Note that like the iPB-10, you can set minimum and maximum values for the pedal range.
Most amp sims have a "Learn" option. For example, with Guitar Rig, you can control any parameter by right-clicking on it and selecting "Learn" (Fig. 5).
Fig. 5: The Chorus/Flanger speed control is about to "learn" the controller to which it should respond, like a pedal that generates MIDI controller data.
With learn enabled, when you move a MIDI controller (like the StealthPedal mentioned previously), Guitar Rig will "learn" that the chosen parameter should respond to that particular controller's motion. Often these assignments are stored with a preset, so the pedal might control one parameter in one preset, and a different parameter in another.
THE TOP 10 PEDAL TARGETS
Now that we've covered how to assign a controller to parameters, let's check out which parameters are worth controller. Some parameters are a natural for foot control; here are ten that can make a big difference to your sound.
And there you have the top ten pedal targets. There are plenty of other options just waiting to be discovered—so put your pedal to the metal, and realize more of the potential in your favorite multieffects or amp sim.
Craig Anderton is Executive Editor of Electronic Musician magazine. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.
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