BB specific external midi controller?

I know someone did a foot switch operated tempo controller recently and I’ve controlled the tempo via midi as well from a dedicated ‘converter’ box (for Jamman solo xt) but I was wondering if there would be any interest in a BB specific external foot controller and what people would want in it.

It would use midi to control the BB so it could do anything that can be controlled by midi.

Some thoughts/ideas:
Tempo is the obvious one but would people prefer a swell pedal style controller or foot switches.
Volume is another one, probably better with a swell pedal.
Would you prefer swell pedals to be integrated into the unit or plug in as external pedals via a trs cable.

Midi in/merge would also be needed so that you can also control some functions from external midi sources as well as merge in an external sync if using the bb as a slave.

I know you can select specific folders/songs with midi but I don’t think you can just page up/down through them using midi so that would require a firmware change.


Hi @The Big E , we’re actually considering designing a MIDI footswitch for the BeatBuddy. What would be your ideal footswitch and what would you use it for? How many buttons? One expression pedal or two? We’ve been looking at the Behringer FCB1010 and the Yamaha MFC10 for inspiration – do you think these are too big?

When you say ‘swell pedal’ are you referring to the volume or dynamics?

When you say ‘page up or page down’ through the songs/folders, do you mean scroll up/down one by one, or a complete screen change where at first it shows songs 1-5 then page down, it shows songs 6-10?

Thanks for your input! :slight_smile:

For volume control, I would prever something similar to this one:

I use this:

I have no experience of the Yamaha MFC10 but I have a Behringer FCB1010 although I don’t use it with my current set up so I’ll base my reply around the FCB1010 although the Yamaha model appears to be very similar.

FCB1010 General overview:

The FCB1010 is BIG at around 27 x 8 inches. The MFC10 is only slightly smaller but I suspect that is because it only has one foot pedal on it versus the two of the FCB1010.
My (home made) pedal board is on the big side (bigger than most I’ve seen as used by guitarists) and the FCB1010 is bigger (longer) than that so there’s no way it (or the MFC10) would fit on my pedal board (see below). That means it’s sitting off at the side or something. Yet more stuff spread around the floor/mic stand!
I think that part of the reason for this is that is it a general purpose midi controller and thus the design is made to accommodate as many set-ups as possible. Something more specific (as in your case) could obviously be a lot smaller physically.

The foot switches are fine but are they any better than regular stomp box type switches, don’t know. I guess there has to be a certain gap between each switch so using smaller stomp box type switches would probably not make much difference.

Expression pedals (what I referred to as ‘swell’ pedals). Does it need two? As a general purpose unit it offers flexibility but for a BB specific use it’s probably overkill. One nice feature of the expression pedals I like is that they are optical so no mechanical potentiometers to fail/cause noise.

Power supply:
The power supply is mains only. I cannot make my mind up about this. Since I don’t use mine a lot it’ hard to offer an opinion. My pedal board has a power strip inside with all the wall warts for the effects plugged into it. It does mean you have to run yet another mains cable to the FCB1010 to power it. If I were using it regularly with my pedal board I’d take power out to the side of the pedal board so I did not need to run another power lead all the way to the FCB1010, just go from the pedal board. I’m not sure a wall wart would be any better since the FCB is not on the pedal board so I’ve still got to plug it in somewhere (I suspect the Yahama unit has this problem). It would be nice if the FCB1010 could be battery powered, there’s plenty of room inside for a battery box and use rechargeable batteries. My little Lucina keytar uses 8 AA rechargeable batteries and I get a good four hours of playing and it’s probably doing far more than the FCB1010 would be doing so I am pretty sure running the FCB1010 on batteries would work for most gigs and it’s be one less cable to worry about. Of course if a midi controller could fit on a pedal board it would be less of an issue since you could hook up the PS (mains or wall wart) permanently.


The LED display and use of LEDs for the pedals works fine. I do find that LEDs tend to wash out more when playing outside in the sun (which I do a lot) than the LCD display of the beat buddy though.


In general programming the thing is not difficult but you do need the instructions in front of you and you do need to plan ahead what you want to do. There’s no way you could do it on the fly at a gig say to fix/change something unless you keep a copy of the instructions with you and know what you have set up on it already.
That said, there is a PC editor for it that makes life a lot easier. However the physical interface to the FCB1010 is via midi (sysex I guess) so you need a midi interface on your PC in order to use it and of course you need a PC (laptop or something) with you if you need to do this while ‘on the road’.

Alternative firmware:

There is an alternative prom chip for the FCB1010 available called Uno. I have no experience of it but pretty much everything I ever read about it says it is better than the original firmware of the FCB1010. Read more here


You can only assign a max of two CC messages and 5 program change messages to each switch (one PC on each of 5 midi channels). There are ten banks of ten switches giving you a total of 100 pre programmed settings. However since you only have an LED display to show you what is selected you need a good memory to remember all your settings. As a result I know that I really only ever use about two banks at the most since I cannot remember everything I have set up. The other problem with using all the setting is that it becomes a bit of a dance to select anything. If you are playing an instrument, singing, listing to the rest of the band and trying to engage the audience, the last thing you need to be doing is trying to remember which setting you need to select and then doing a tap dance to get to it.

Beat Buddy Midi Controller Features:

OK, so let me talk about what I think you might need in a BB specific midi controller. It’s mostly based on what I do with my own rig now.

Physical size:

It would be nice if it would fit on a pedal board so that it could be permanently wired up both for connections (which might get complicated) and power. It did occur to me that you could make such a controller actually ‘house’ the BB. That is, have a space on the controller that the BB would sit in (using the usual Velcro attachment method) so basically the controller sits under the BB. That might save some real estate on the board.

Volume control::

I have found the need to adjust drum volume from time to time with my set up/act. There are a couple of ways of doing this that I can see:
An external volume control pedal between the BB output and the mixer or next effect.
An external midi based expression pedal that drives the BB volume via midi
Midi solutions Pedal controller ( a pedal like an FC7 to basically create your own external midi based volume control.
An on board (integrated into a BB midi controller unit) expression pedal that can be programmed to control the BB volume (or anything else) via midi.

Tempo control:

In this thread on the forum, kittycatonline described a foot switch operated tempo controller. The comments implied that they had tried an expression pedal based version previously but it did not work so well. I am not sure if that is because of the way the controller is implemented (I think it needs a physical mod to the BB)of it was a result of the inaccuracies of an expression pedal.
I did something similar using midi just to see how well it worked

I suspect the switch based approach is better. For mine the only change I’d make is to make it so that press and hold stepped up/down through the tempo settings rapidly and the individual taps of the switch adjusted the tempo in single steps for fine tuning/final selection.

Midi In:

A lot of people use various software for their lyrics/ tabs etc and also use that same software to select various settings such as tempo and or song on the BB by sending it appropriate midi commands. Since a midi based BB controller would need to use the BB midi in, it would need to be able to merge an external midi source into it’s own stream so that people could still control the BB using their existing setup and yet still have access to additional features programmed into the BB midi controller.

Integration with the BB:

Generally any external controller is going to be operating blindly with respect to the BB. that it, although it sends signals to it via midi it really does not ‘know’ what the BB is doing, for example, playing, stopped, paused fill, intro etc. so it occurs to me there ‘might’ be some benefit being able to connect the BB midi out to the controller so that the BB can tell the controller what it is doing. That may offer the opportunity for the controller to be more intelligent in it’s operation. EG. An expression pedal could control volume when playing but something else when stopped.
It would require though that the midi in from the BB to the controller be exposed via midi through so that anyone using the midi out from the BB could still use it.


I’ve found LEDs tend to fade out in the sun. So do LCDs but not as much. You did such a great job of the BB display I think something similar on a controller would be better than an LED based display.


For home programming, USB based connection to software has to be easiest. Would also give you the ability to save and restore multiple configurations
If you use an LCD display for the unit, then manually programming the unit using an interface similar to what you have on the BB is probably the next best option. Also requires no additional hardware/software.
For anyone using a mobile device to talk to the BB already via midi means they have a midi interface of some sort so the ability to save/restore/modify settings from a mobile device (just need to plug the midi into the controller temporarily) via an app might be useful for last minute changes at gigs etc.


So, what features would I like to see given the above and my current setup?

Easy to program. One reason I don’t use the FCB1010 much is that I can never remember how to program it without the software and I did not have a midi interface on my PC for a long time (got a cheap singe usb to midi interface, works fine).

Volume control via an expression pedal. I am certainly going to add some some sort of volume control to my rig. I could just plug an external pedal between the BB out and mixer but that’s just something else to fail. I’ll probably add the capability to my Jamman to BB interface and control it via midi since I have an old FC7 pedal doing nothing.

Tempo up/down. For people not using midi to set the tempo, a couple of switches to let you quickly step up/down through the tempo (press and hold) and then single step (press and release) to set a specific tempo.

Folder/song select. Currently I use an external two button foot switch to step up down through the songs in a folder, works fine but I have no ability to change folder using it. Eventually I’ll get of my backside and set up a single folder with all the songs I need in it (I am just using a few of the presets for now) but I can see that some people might want to be able to select a folder and then song within folder without having to bend down and mess with buttons on the BB. The current BB midi implementation for folder/song select lets you select specific songs within specific folders but there is no way to simply step through them.

Midi in/merge for all those people currently using software/apps to preset BB settings via midi so that it and the controller can co-exist.

Small enough to fit on a pedal board and thus be permanently wired up, both for midi and power (in which case you can use a wall wart). If it has to live off pedal board then I suspect that direct mains power is a slightly better option than a wall wart) or batteries (enough capacity to give several hours of use) EG 8 x AA.

For us clowns that don’t use midi, I agree with The Big E to have just a Volume Pedal with a capable plug-in direct to the Beat Buddy to internally control the volume. As far as the Step-Up, Step-Down Switches would be fine if they can get the firmware already there to function properly for both switches and then the push & hold for the rapid ramp thru the songs and/or files. Keep the switches and Volume/Expression Pedal as separate entities for people with no more room on their pedalboards and also not have to spend a certain amount of money on a multiple pedal controller such as the FCB1010 which might not be easy to setup. My opinion anyway.
Sincerely, Fingerstylepicker.

MIDI Solutions makes programmable standalone boxes for translating footswitch or expression pedal to any CC # but the expression pedal version (like a volume pedal) only transmits one CC number’s value and Beatbudy requires two CC numbers and values to change the tempo (I guess due to the 0-127 limit) or just one CC# to increment tempo up or down by 1 bpm when the pedal is pressed so you’d need the footswitch version to increment or decrement tempo by 1 and mash it a bunch of times or to have both increment and decrement would require 2 boxes and pedals or the dual footswitch version which is kind of expensive ($280):

I’d like to write tempo change CC events into the MIDI notes of drum patterns if the BeatBuddy Manager ever allows CC in imported sequences.

With the existing foot switch features, and the current midi implementation, I can do everything you’re talking about except foot pedal adjusting volume and tempo in the middle of a song. I can program volume changes into a midi slider and double increment tempo changes into momentary push buttons so those two adjustments can easily be made by hand between songs. I’ve programmed both features into the Guitar Wing and the midi pad on my iPhone.

Incrementing through folders and songs already works with the current analog foot switches.

Future plans for BB firmware and BB Manager software are supposed to make it possible to program the midi changes into the songs so that would give you some pre-programmed adjustment over dynamics while the song is playing.

The only features I see requiring custom foot pedals with midi are changing volume and tempo while playing in a jam setting if you need that.

The midi implementation of song selection is too clunky to be useful as I often move songs between folders and wouldn’t want to reprogram the midi commands every time I moved songs around.

I know what you mean when it comes to midi song selection. Currently I have the first folder in BBmanager designated specifically for setlist songs and if a song is added I just make sure it imports as the last song in that folder so it doesn’t disrupt the number sequence of the song already in that folder. All other folders are used for songs I’m trying out and Editting…

Stick a wireless bluetooth adapter on the next version of BB. Use an IOS and Android app to assist in navigation and other ‘non-performance’ features.

You can get this wireless bluetooth adapter today:

We’re going to change the song selection implementation to make it more usable. Thanks for your feedback!

If all you want is control over volume, might I humbly suggest a volume pedal?

My original post was to create a multi purpose BB controller. That sort of devolved from there. You are right though that a simple volume control would do the job just as well. However in my case at least I don’t really have room on my pedal board for one so it’d have to be off board (where I want it anyway) but then I’d need two cables to it. Plus, I just happen to have all the stuff I need, including an old Yamaha FC7 volume pedal to build my own., The controller can live on the board with just the single wire to the volume pedal. however that’s just me, I just like making stuff, who cares if it’s the simplest solution or not!

A kindred spirit!



I would like to be able to hook up something a Korg nanoKontrol or nano Pad direct to the BB over USB. Something I could work with my fingers, sitting on top of a keyboard. Sliders could control volume & tempo, and separate buttons for fill, transition, part 1, 2, 3, start/stop, accent hit. Basically the BB needs to be capable of “USB MIDI” somehow.

Update - I just ordered a USB host box from SevilleSoft
Looks like this would allow connection of small programmable controllers with USB MIDI output to the BB MIDI port without a computer or smartphone host. I’ll report back after I get the unit and try it.

Expression to control velocity rather than straight volume would have been awesome.

I have posted this before. Works like a charm for me for all my volume needs. I have the glow in the dark one.