What's your preferred method for changing states?


When you need to change states quickly, what’s your preferred method- a button on your keyboard, a key, a foot switch, or something else? Brand and model?

Advancing Songs in Cantabile Solo Using Arturia Keylab 88

Footswitch for me, so I don’t have to take my hands off the keyboard, especially because Cantabile lets me hold notes/chords over state transitions, so they can be completely seamless! I currently use Boss FS-5U footswitches for this kind of thing, which I find really reliable - don’t think I’ve ever had a double-trigger. And I wire it into my Kurzweil PC3x master keyboard which then sends the controller messages to Cantabile. I don’t have a “previous state” footswitch - I figure if I find myself on the wrong sound, I might as well select the right patch directly by hand, from buttons on the keyboard.

However, I’m soon going to move over to using an Audiofront MIDI Expression Quattro for my pedals, going straight into Cantabile as an extra MIDI device, to get me a step closer to being able to use any controller keyboard if necessary (gigs on other continents, where we usually hire gear locally).



Just curious why you are going for that one when the Behringer FCB1010 is only a few dollars more, and comes with the pedals already?



  1. I don’t like the expression pedals on that - I feel I get a lot more control with the Boss FV-500L
  2. All the footswitches are grouped together and way too close. The music I play sometimes involves state changes every few bars, some of which need to be very precise, so I really need a single footswitch pretty much underneath where my left foot falls (so I have my right foot for sustain), without needing to look down. With the Behringer that would mean all the other switches/pedals would need to be in the same area, which would be awkward because I generally get better expression pedal control with my right foot.
  3. I only need 1 expression pedal (assignable by state, but usually volume for a single sound, for fades) and 2 footswitches (one state advance, and one state-assignable, usually Leslie speed or for triggering effects).
  4. I already have the pedals :smile:
  5. Easier to put 2 footswitches, an expression pedal and the tiny Quattro unit into my carry-on luggage on a flight than the big Behringer.
  6. I have two duplicate keyboard rigs, one for my home studio for configuration/practice, and another that stays with all my band’s equipment and goes out on tour. With the touring rig I have emergency backups of most equipment (including my main master keyboard). With the separate footswitches/Quattro I don’t need to buy as much to have safe backup gear, whereas with the Behringer I’d have to buy three of them.

Otherwise, yeah, it looks great :smile:


Bluetooth midi foot switch

Case closed! :smile:


My absolute favorite method of changing patches is the “big red button”:

After a lot of searching, I finally found the exact right tool: the AbleNet Specs Switch. It’s usually targeted at people with disabilities who need big, easy-to-press buttons to operate things. But it works perfectly as a state switcher - easy to see, easy to press anywhere on its surface, and it simply connects like a foot switch. I’ve simply velcro’ed it onto my PC3K, and it sits right where I need it.

I tried all kinds of footswitches, but since I play standing up and I usually need my right foot for sustain, I feel much more comfortable with a switch that I can easily hit in passing with either hand.

When I play guitar through Cantabile, I simply use my sustain pedal as a song state switch for these songs.



Fast Song Switching - A Video Walkthrough
Help me plan to make plans
Show me your Cantabile Rig!
A cool mini monitor I found

Neil, thanks for mentioning the Quattro. That will meet my needs perfectly. One of their videos explains Dual CC Mode which should permit use of one foot switch to move forward to the next state (short press) or to the previous state (long press).


@Torsten Love the “big red button”! I was very impressed you had Springsteen pulled up (my favorite) on your tablet. I also use a tablet for my lyrics and other notes, but am testing Cantabile show notes for that purpose now, even tho I have to manually put chord symbols in. I have struggled with your live prompter and still try to understand it, and hopefully will wrap my brain around it soon. I have also considered going to a single keyboard as I reduce my gear load and setup time, so changing states quickly will be a must. As you, I also play guitar, and sing, so I am always very busy on stage. I am also currently working in 5 bands which means I have some 450 songs to manage. I appreciate all the input you and others contribute to the forum, as it always gives me inspiration in ways to improve my stage experience.

From the birthplace of rock an roll, home of the blues, and land of Elvis,



Is there anything I can help you with in setting up and using LivePrompter? Is it the setting up or the scripting of songs that is the challenge?

Considering your situation with multiple bands, organizing songs must be a priority. LivePrompter allows you to either keep all your 450 song files in one directory and then organize them in books for each band (just add “book” tags to your songs; useful if repertoires overlap, since songs can belong to multiple books) or have multiple song directories (one for each band) and then start LivePrompter with a different .ini file so that it pulls songs from different directories for each configuration. That’s what I am using: one directory for my band, another for unplugged / campfire repertoire.

Let me know how I can help you with LP! I considered using Cantabile’s show notes, but since I don’t want my Cantabile laptop sitting on my keyboard, I actually prefer two distinct devices, one as my sound center (with the display focused on information on the current patch) and another (my 8 inch tablet) purely focused on displaying chords and lyrics (and fully timed scrolling…). Now that I have the MIDI connectivity working between LP and Cantabile, it also works seamlessly as one unit.




I am very excited about getting this set up as you described, sounds like what I have needed for some time. I am gigging tonight, so I will start on this tomorrow and will probably be contacting in the next few days on where my sticking points arise. Thank you so much for the reply and offer of help.



I ran across this from Jordan Rudess:

Jordan: I use a very interesting pedal configuration. The most important pedal is a switch pedal that changes my setups from one to the next because when I walk on stage my entire night is set up incrementally. Combination 1 is the first sound and whatever combination I get to, number 203, is the last sound, so every time my sound changes I’m on that pedal, so it’s crucial that it be in the right place and not moving around.

Beyond that I use a sustain pedal and an expression pedal for fade-ins and wah-wah things. What’s interesting about my setup since I focus on one main keyboard, my keyboard is on a very cool rotating stand which was made for me by a builder in Holland by the name of Patrick Slaats. What this means for me in terms of pedals is that when I turn around from position to position I want to be able to have those three pedals that I mentioned in all positions, so we have this complex wiring thing that my tech put together to be able to merge the pedals into one.

Oh, and I have a fourth pedal for this thing called the Music Pad. It’s kind of like an advanced cheat sheet. It’s a computer but it’s a pad on which I can put music notation files, I can write on it, I can leave written reminders. I have a pedal that increments the page for that so if I want to use it during a tune, I don’t have to touch anything and it goes to the next page (or you can touch either side of the screen to go to the next page).


@Torsten. What is the Big Red Button programmed to? Global Rack with SongList-> Next part or program? Or individual entries in each Song State with Next State?

@Corky. Love yur Bar-B-Que! Used to live in the home of R&R and Elvis


@RackedBrain YES! BBQ is my addiction! And it is starting to show! LOL

BTW, saw the Rudess setup on Keyboard Mag site. Very Nice



I use the line 6 FBV Express USB MK2 controller
It’s small and got it’s own software for programming so it’s very flexible and accurate.
I use a Aturia KeyLab 88 keyboard wich gives me plenty of knobs for programming.



Great responses in this thread. Glad I asked the question.

If you’re looking for a single foot switch which is rugged and reliable, try something from the HOSA 500 series. I use a couple of 502’s and am very pleased with them.


It’s programmed to Song States --> Next State (Instant) in the global/background rack.

I also have the two bottom keys on my keyboard programmed via background rack to Next State (Instant) and Previous State (Instant), but the red button is my go-to method. The bottom keys I use mainly to step back and forth between the states during editing and rehearsals.




Jordan has moved on from this now. He used to have two sets of his three pedals, for when his keyboard is rotated into two main positions, merging the pedal inputs as described above. Now he has a metal base that rotates with his keyboard, and his three pedals are attached to that, and move around with the keyboard, and the whole lot is permanently mounted on his own riser. I had a good close look at his setup when my band supported Dream Theater at a festival a couple of years ago.



Thanks. I’m having an issue with “Next State” bindings in the Background Rack. It works if I put the Next State bindings in the Song States, but not in the Background rack. The Song bindings for Song>Next Song/Part don’t work either. The Next Song bindings seem to work fine. I’ll do some more troubleshooting today. It may be an issue with the experimental build (3160) or it may be that I still have something wrong.


Very cool. Things like “this complex wiring thing that my tech put together” usually don’t last long on the road.


Unless you have Jordan’s keyboard tech (and budget)…