Help me plan to make plans

So, looks like we’ll be doing some shows again in late 2019/2020. I want to get my rig down from 4 controllers to 2- 4 is just a crapshoot of what shows up at gigs and it’s a setup/space hassle. I’m shooting for one 88 on the bottom and a 61 on top.

Here’s what I’m wondering about: this will take serious programming; even more than before. There will have to be a LOT of setup changes within songs. I never really felt comfortable stepping programs with a pedal. It just feels… imprecise. But I can’t think of any other method that doesn’t involve hands, and hands aren’t always free. The answer will probably be to use my Korg NanoKontrol, but help me brainstorm some good ways to approach this. In the end maybe I really should by a MIDI foot controller- a decent one.

Hi, Fred

I only use two boards, 76 on bottom and 61 on top. And then I have a Roland FC300 to keep my feet busy. Works like a dream and the FC300 is built like a tank. Also amazes me the longevity of the product. I bought mine in 2008 and Roland still make and sell them.

Basically I use mine in Program mode and you programe in for each patch the MIDI messages you want to send on patch selection, patch deselection, values for the CTL switches, expression pedals, etc. The FC300 allows me to change patches mid song whilst playing

Fred, I will have to agree with Derek, footswitch is the way to go. I was uncomfortable with it at first and used bare feet to be sure I was hitting the right switch. Now it is second nature to me. I still have my lowest keys on my 88 controller setup as switches when I was insecure about hitting the foot switch. Color changes on states also helps me verify a change. Again, just a learning process like everything else.


I‘m using an 88 as bottom and a 61 as upper keyboard. I have a volume- and 3 sustain pedals attached I can use for anything I like and due to additional keyswitches from time to time there is no need to do program steppings within a song (at least for me).

What comes in handy is to temporarly change routing by pressing one of the pedals. This way the same area on a keyboard can control totally different vstis (f.e.: verse - refrain).

Regards, humphrey

I always used to feel the same about switching sounds with a foot - I didn’t really trust myself to do it properly. But I eventually bit the bullet once I decided to boil down to two keyboards, and I’ve never looked back. It just takes a little bit of practice. But it’s very freeing, and using just two keyboards means you can switch sounds in an instant without having to dive to another keyboard (and hope you land on the right octave).

I use a MIDI Expression Quattro with a Boss FS5U foot switch to step forward through song states, and it works superbly. The Boss footswitch is really solid, and I don’t remember ever getting an accidental double-tap from it. It’s possible to do song state changes very comfortably and precisely on the last 8th note of a bar, ready for the next bar (or maybe 16th note…your foot performance may vary!).

One question is stepping to previous states…I’ve found I hardly ever need to, and if I do, it’s because I changed state when I shouldn’t have, and generally I need to stop playing at that point (or else play on the wrong sound), which liberates a hand that I can use to switch back manually (I have an Akai LPD8 resting on my keyboard for manual switching and other control stuff).


Previously I used a Boss pedal in the sustain port of a controller to step forward. Same deal, if I messed up and went twice (which rarely happened) I had a keswitch to go back. But the pedal just feels bad to me. I think I’d like either the Roland or the Behringer FCB1010 and then I’d have volume and a way to both step-forward and have random access to patches. Plus I’ll have the NanoKontrol to do various things.

That’s why I like the Roland. Example in “Shine on you crazy diamond” I have four patch changes: Intro, double manual organ, organ and synth and ending. My actual use in the song is: intro, double manual organ, organ and synth for solo, double manual organ, ending - i.e. I can do a random access and step back, and no risk of double stepping; only hitting the wrong patch, but it becomes second nature muscle memory same way as your hands on the board.

Works for me anyway. I have the two FC300 expression pedals, where I have one for general volume fades and the other for Leslie speed switch (a bit excessive for what is a switch, but my right foot nornally rests on this pedal), and I have a 3rd pedal added for organ swell. As well as the CTL switches on the FC300 I also have another dual BOSS foot switch, programmed in each patch for DMX light cue advance (e.g. for Shine On intro which is free form and not clicked, otherwise DMX cues are from a MIDI track in Cantabile), and DMX Haze machine for when I want to flood the stage with haze! The two CTL switches are then for song specific functions. E.g. for Shine On, I have a sample from my EX5 giving me some extra “tinkles” when I want them. For Breathe On the Run, I have one programmed to start/stop the sequence.

The FC300 (or equivalent) gives you a heck of a lot of flexibility.

My band mates laugh at me, but I prefer to have some light footwear for the same reason, so they say I’m like their good ladies swapping their stilettos for something flat when driving! Doc Martins are out for me, as are stilettos! :slight_smile:

But if Steve Wilson can be barefoot on stage, why not? :slight_smile:

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The price difference for the Roland FCB300 vs. the Behringer is generally about $300 for what seems like the same basic functionality. Does anyone have experience with both? I know Behringer’s build quality can be questionable but I’ve always had good luck with them. Plus, if you buy a used one generally if it was a lemon it would already be dead. I’ve seen FCB1010s online for $100 and there’s no need for it to be modded for what I’m doing.

AND Ronnie Van Zant, Ian Gillan, Linda Ronstadt, Sade, Natalie Merchant, Pat Travers, Joss Stone, Freddie Mercury, Todd Rundgren, Graham Nash, Henry Rollins, Jewel, Gwen Stefani, Bjork, Cyndi Lauper, Robert Plant, and thousands I can’t think of at the minute. Not bad company to be associated with, although dirty, splintered feet is not quite my thing. :grin:

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I will split the difference and wear Vibrams. I haven’t had an excuse to wear those in years :smiley:


When I was looking for a foot controller ten years ago, I downloaded manuals for the Roland FC300, Behringer FCB and a Yamaha (can’t remember what now) and from the manuals, the only one that I could be sure would do what I wanted was the Roland, so that on its own was the major influence on my decision. As you say there is a price difference, but the Roland also looked more solid (and has proved to be so).

The way I look at it. I paid £300 (ish) for it. So over 10 years it has cost me £30 per year or £0.57 per week. Absolute Bargain for what it does! And yer gets what yer pays for…

The only downside is no decent computer editor for patch management, but I am (slowly) in the process of writing one.

Yeah but you gig all the time. I do like, 5 shows a year. :wink:

I use one main 88 key weighted piano-type plus a 49-key synth-type controller with some pads on the upper one.

For switching states, my main control is the big red button (What's your preferred method for changing states? - #6 by Torsten) in the middle of my lower piano keyboard. It’s nice and friendly and reacts to a very quick and light touch (but doesn’t get triggered accidentally when just brushing it. With it sitting in the center of the keyboard, it’s easy for me to trigger it with whichever hand is less busy in passing.

Plus, I’ve marked one of the pads on my upper KB in red and tied it to a binding, so this can be used alternatively when my hands are both “upstairs”.

This is my default way, embedded in the background rack. In some (rare) songs, I may be too busy with both hands; for these I usually create a specific binding triggered by the left side of my foot pedal. I try to avoid that, though - I play standing up, and I need at least one foot to be stable and the other focussed on either sustain (piano work) or expression (organ work). Searching around underneath my keyboards for the correct pedal while singing and playing is just too much for my brain, so I usually prefer the red button.



I am well aware of the big red button :smiley: :smiley: It’s a very interesting solution… it warrants consideration. How does it interface with the system?

I use just one 88 key controller now. Cantabile is so easy to program that I was able to stop using the 2nd tier. At home, I still use a 4 keyboard set up, but that is mainly so I can pretend I am Rick Wakeman, ha ha.

I have the same Boss pedal as Neil. I may be stating the obvious, but when you start practicing using it to change states, don’t get in the habit of looking down to check your foot position. Force yourself to do it blind and you will eventually be more confident. I have years of classical playing, so I am already used to using my feet and hands at the same time.

  • Paul

MAGIC! :mage::mage::mage:
But seriously: it’s a simple momentary switch; needs a bit of soldering or an adapter, since it comes with a 3.5 mm plug (see here). I connect it to the third switch input of my Kurzweil PC3 - for keyboards with less than 3 switch inputs, a MidiExpression pedal USB adapter comes in handy if you want to use two piano pedals…

I simply use a CC66 binding to next state (instant) in my background rack.



I like the Big Red Button (BRB) idea. I use to rely on a Logidy foot pedal, but I also prefer standing. I would say I look like a stork looking for the foot pedal, but storks are graceful. I’ve recently taken to the idea of the lowest black key being “Next State”. Not the white key because, you know, organ gliss. I still have hand controls via either Korg nanoKontrol2 or Novation SL. I keep thinking of leaving the Logidy for good, but if I’m playing sax or flute, the pedal works much better.

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About the same for me, these days as well. :slight_smile:

I am lucky in that I have well paid day job (but they get their moneys worth out of me!), and the small amount of money I make selling my librarians for synths gives me some pocket money as well for musical goodies, which is how most of my VSTis are funded. My point though is take the long term view and what is an expensive upfront purchase is actually not that much over time. How much is a pint of beer these days compared to the £0.57 per week the FC300 has cost me? If it lasts another ten years then it has cost me £0.29 per week. That’s my perspective on spend on items like this, anyways. :slight_smile:

I had the same config (lowest key for Next State) in my earlier Cantabile setups. What made me migrate to the BRB setup was the contortions I had to go through when switching states whilst holding a sustained chord with my left hand… BRB sits in the middle and is easy to tap with either hand.

When playing guitar, I simply create a song-specific binding from my sustain pedal to “next state” so I can keep both hands on my guitar - that could work for your sax/flute songs as well without the need for the Logidy.



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