Managing Rack States

Hi, as i am starting adding all my songs into c3 that i had in c2 i am making a few rack states for each song which i am naming with the song title. As i create more song states i am reusing the same rack states in other songs with there own dedicated rack states as well (i should eventually end up with about 50 songs to date) and maybe half of them will use rack states from other songs. It has got me thinking about future changes i might make to the named rack states, as it will obviously change in all the songs i have used the same rack state in. I am keeping all splits, transpose, volume etc settings in the song state level and this will probably be all i will change but how do you guys manage this ?, am i doing it right i.e. best practice?. I guess if i do make a change to a rack state i should just save it as a different rack state so the others will stay unchanged. Could this get a bit messy or am i overthinking it ?

I have mostly generic rack states. However, a few are specific. I just created a set for “Comfortably Numb” because it required some workarounds to play on a single keyboard. So there are organ sounds named after the B4 or M1 patch name (e.g. “Blues” and “Gregory”) and various rhodes sounds (“Sparkly Rhodes” or “Tramp Wurli”). So, really both. Go with generic if possible, use specific if necessary. Curious to hear what @Torsten says.

Thanks for the reply RackedBrain, the same question probably applies to you too, if you tweak one of your generic rack states but youve used them in lots of other songs arent you worried they wont be what you want in those other songs?, how do you know how many other songs youre using them in to check?

I don’t think I’m the ultimate authority here - guess everybody will use Cantabile their own way. But personally, I tend to mix just like you do: I have a number of generic patches like “Soul Organ” or “Blues Organ” that I use in a number of songs (my “Soul Organ” patch sounds great when layered with a piano and controlled via expression pedal).

And of course, I only change these very carefully, since a change will affect all songs that incorporate them. Whenever I have the urge to edit one of them, I usually rather create a copy, give it a new name and keep the old version for all other existing songs. So there are a number of “Soul Organ New” or “Blues Organ 2016” floating around that will probably never get fully cleaned up.

OTOH, there are a number of patches (aka rack states) that I build specifically for a given song. These usually carry the song name, e.g. “ComfNumb Solo Strings”, “JumpingJackFlash Lead”. I only use these for one song, which keeps edits local and unproblematic. When re-using them in other songs, I am pretty dogmatic about only using copies and re-naming them accordingly.

I tend to build song-specific patches for “signature” sounds that define the sound of a song, but my bread-and-butter pianos, e-pianos, hammonds, strings or brass are pretty generic. I just customize effect sends at song level (add reverb, delay to taste).

I do all my splitting and layering at song level; my racks all deliver simple one-zone-sounds across the whole keyboard. So, for “Comfortably Numb”, I do a lot of song state switching between a broad pad & piano patch and a split with the high strings in the upper half of the keyboard. Plus, there is a nice solo synth split (moog on right, pad on left hand) for the first solo (our guitarist refuses to play that one…).

I find it easier to manage all my racks as simple tone generators and keep all the song-specific complexity of layering and splitting at song level.

Hope this helps!




Hey Steve,

I do my setup like RackedBrain and others (a mix of generic and specific patches for the given rack). When I need a new sound I create a new state with a descriptive name (usually referencing the song name) for the rack I’m using (racks … B4, NeoSoul, Ivory, etc …). I can see what you mean about having many states if you have a great number of tweeked sounds from the same plugin in the same rack. If I ran out of states on a given rack I would just create a “B” rack for the same plugin ( like “Ivory B” for instance) and carry on filling it up with more patches. I am a long way from needing it yet but can see where if I did a lot of classic rock with synth stuff I might (so many sounds!!!). Right now I am not playing much of that material so not an issue. Thanks for starting the conversation. :smiley:


@Torsten If you are not the ultimate authority, then you must be the penultimate authority! I followed your lead on the use of racks several months ago and haven’t looked back. Always learn a lot from you whether I reply or not.

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Thanks guys, that’s pretty much the way I’m thinking too. Would like to have every rack state “song” specific but I would end up seeing a lot of options in the left hand rack states list😃. Will just make sure I do as Torsten suggests and make a copy and rename.Will see how many states I end up with ! Thanks

Exactly as @torsten States (no pun intended, for once). Start with a generic and build. “Comfortably Numb” has a lot of generic sounds, but used in different ways. So some generic “Section Strings” get copied and modified in order to cover the 2 different string parts and combinations of pads and instruments. OTOH, I created a synth patch (using Massive) mostly from scratch to get the signature sound of the opening synth pad.

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My rack states are broken into two groups - at the top I have “generic” rack state names, like “Warm strings pad” or whatever, and these I give a single program number, like 1 or 14 or whatever. Then after all my generic patches I have a “separator” rack state, named “=========”. Then after that I have song-specific rack states, named just after the song, all with bank 1, so for example 1.1 or 1.14 etc. This keeps them nicely separated.

For some racks where I have lots of different categories (e.g. my OP-X Pro-II rack has categories for leads, pads, polysynth, arpeggios, basses etc), I just arrange them into groups with named separator rack states, e.g. “===PADS===”.

The way I work is when I’m looking for a new sound, typically I look through the generic ones (unless I know there’s a song-specific one which is exactly what I need). Once I’ve decided on a sound, I’ll then copy it into a new rack state, named after the song, even if I haven’t modified it, and put it in that part of the rack state list. Then I can make changes to it, knowing it’s only ever used in that one song - I’m very disciplined about that. It probably means I have a lot of rack states that are identical, or almost identical…but rack states are cheap! I have some racks with 150+ states in; as long as they’re organised (e.g. with separator states), it’s no big deal.

The only exception to making a copy of a rack state for a song is for racks where I never make sound changes (or can’t). For example, I have a few sound effects sample racks that I never tweak.

Here’s a screenshot of a new Strings rack I’ve been setting up over the last couple of days, to give you an idea of the layout.



Hi Neil, thats really helpful to see what you do, think i will do something similar so i dont have to stress sorting through loads of rack states. Thrilling to see your band rack states by the way, Frequency and Road of Bones are particular favourites :slight_smile:

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