I’m a looping guitarist living in Sheffield, England. I have been performing for 45 years in a variety of professional bands and latterly, as a solo artist / collaborator.
Repetition and Intuition are the key factors behind my music, which places dynamics & timbre high up the list. I see the guitar as an organic sound source that uses looping technology and laptop treatment to build moods & soundscapes. My pieces are born, evolve and die away.
I’ve had an M13 for many years and have partially worn out the switches that control the looper. They work, but not every time. Glitches are often enough to make looping an impossibility. It’s also a pain to hold the loop select down for a few seconds before you can use it. After a bit of research, I’ve found you can control all aspects of the looper via midi, using these CC commands
Record/Overdub 50 0 to 63 = Overdub 64 to 127 = Record
Play/Stop 28 0 to 63 = Stop 64 to 127 = Play
Half Speed 36 Toggles between Half Speed & Normal Speed
Reverse 85 Toggles Reverse On or Off
Undo/Redo 82 Activates Undo/Redo
Play Once 80 Activates Play Once function
Pre/Post 84 0 to 63 = Pre 64 to 127 = Post
Looper Control 86 0 to 63 = Exit 64 to 127 = Enter
The beauty is that issue these commands without entering into looper mode, so all 12 pedals still control effects. You need 2 switches each to duplicate rec/ovr and stop/play and you have to press stop before you can record a new loop, but that’s a tiny issue. I’m now working on a small pedal using arduino to transmit the relevant commands. As ever, the electronics is not the issue, it’s finding a suitable (and cheap) enclosure ;(
I’m resurrecting my M13 for an acoustic project, Whilst I could use the GT1, I don’t really need amp modelling and the reverbs/delays of the GT1 don’t hold a candle to those of the M13.
The M13 control can be considerably (and easily) expanded by adding a pair of expression pedals, such as the remarkably cheap (£14 new) EX-P.
Trouble is, these two devices don’t talk to each other out of the box. But, there’s a simple mod to make them talk. Cut the stereo cable by the plug and connect the two smaller wires (not the earth) to the cables of a standard mono jack plug. Hey presto! The warranty will then be void, but at that price, who cares?
I picked up a pile of cheap keypads from China and after a bit of head-scratching, got them working with an arduino nano. The connections are really simple and the ABCD keys (plus # and *) allow for a lot of flexibility. The video shows a design I’m building for my improv friend John Jasnoch which works as follows
press A, then the numbers transmit PC 1-10
press B, then the numbers transmit PC 11-20
press C, then the numbers transmit PC 21-30
press D, then the numbers transmit PC 31-40
* decrements the PC number and transmits it, # does the opposite.
Where the power comes in is that you can program it to send any kind of midi message/s. So, for example, pressing D could send CC messages, pressing C could send notes. It’s all in the coding.
Here’s a rough video of it in action, before boxing up.
Having got the code & hardware almost sorted out, it’s time to look at the enclosure. There’s a wonderful local place called Access Space who offer laser cutting of plastic/mdf etc, with a brilliant guy called John, who offers all kinds of advice. So I drew up the layout using Illustrator & they printed out a cardboard test. It all seems to fit, so with a few minor adjustments, I took some mdf down for cutting 😉
Spotted this old Sheffield fanzine on ebay, will see if it goes for a fortune, I don’t remember it from the time. Those were the days when we (Dig Vis Drill) were higher up the food chain than Half Man Half Biscuit 😉
Today it’s been moving forwards (some days it actually moves backwards). Hopefully, it will at some point replace my FCB1010, which is simply too bulky, and control my live laptop looping. However, at this point in time, I’m focusing on controlling my faithful EDP.
I solved the problem of the EDP requiring a “long press” to clear the current loop (with help from the arduino forum) by detecting not just when I trod on the pedal, but when I released it, only sending “note off” at that point.
Giddy with success, I’ve added anther footswitch to control the feedback level, alternating between 127 (i.e. 100%) and 100, which is a level I find covers most scenarios (I could add a “knob” to set this level). The display shows the level of feedback and for good measure, I added an LED to show when the loop is fading away, since I’m bound to forget.
Yes, it looks like a complete dogs dinner, but I’ve drawn up plans for an acrylic case, which I’m going to laser-cut at Access Space in town at some point.
I need to find a name for the beast, such as Randolf Arriola has with his “oopah loopah”, maybe “rock’n’troller”?.