What's the best way to approach BB from the start?

Hi BB folks, I just purchased my BB this week and successfully upgraded the latest firmware. I would like to know if anyone has a system for using the BB, i.e. do you use BB’s samples or construct your own, do you rename your patches to reflect what tune your are using. How do you choose to back up your patches? What I am getting at, can anyone simply show their process for using this hardware and software. I’m sure I will need to download and use the BB Manager program to do more advanced functions.

Here is my goal: I want to use the BB for playing background tracks, mostly drums/percussion for my small trio combo project. (guitar, V-Accordian/bass, and harmonica with vocals)

Here’s my experience: I am already using a program called “Go Button” and a Airturn bluetooth pedal to play percussion tracks from my iPad or iPhone. I load in samples from Garageband, and use a midi file to construct count off’s when I need them for a tune. The reason I upgraded to BB is to achieve better intros, actual endings, and change between different sections inside the “sample”

thanks in advance for any replies…

Let me answer a question with a question: Do you plan to program parts, or will you be using the provided parts as-is?

OK, welcome!. There are a couple flaw with your thought process. So let’s correct those before you get too deeply lost:

  1. BB’s Samples - BB play back midi files. The “samples” are what make up the drum kits. In that sense , the BB really is a sample play back device, but the midi file, i.e. the BB song part, triggers the sampled not assigned to a note in the midi range of 0-127, where 0 = C -2 on a keyboard, and 127 = G8.

  2. There are some players who use the drum beats that cam package with the BB, and try to find a suitable beat to match toa song, adjusting the tempo. This is one way to use the BB. Others create their own midi files, often creating an entire drum and bass track for a song.

  3. EVERYTHING related to storing songs and arranging song parts is done through BB Manager. It’s not optional. You gotta use it. Most people that get into heavy song creation use a third party DAW, like Logic or Audacity to create the midi parts that they load into the BB. Backing up it best done on a a computer, again using BB Manager. I keep backup of all my songs and drum kits on my hard drive, separately, and I keep a backup image of my SD card, and well as a physical 2nd SD card.

  4. Looking at you experience statement, my recommendation is that you get real familiar with creating a midi file in your DAW. As I recall, Garageband can create midi files, but there was some trick to make it do it. Basically, when you are using a virtual instrument in Garageband, you are using midi.

  5. Some folks have had success with creating longer wav samples (up to 3.2mb) and using a midi file to trigger those with the BB. This can work, but you will be stuck with the recorded tempo of the sample. You will not be able to alter the tempo.

I am sure that creates more questions.

My process is to create a midi file containing my drum, bass and often keyboard tracks. I then see if I have a drum kit that will handle the ranges of the those parts. Creating drum kits is a whole other process, but, again, you get 1 track of 128 sounds. In my “drumkits” a typically layout is bass from midi 0 through 31. Drums from 35 to 60 or 72, and keyboard from 73 to 127. But, the bass notes actually sounding are from C1 to G3, not C-2 to G0. Once I have my 3 tracks created, I transpose them to the correct range to fit the BB drum kit, and then merge them into 1 track. This track becomes my BB song. The song will have just this one track loaded into the “intro” section of a BB song, and an empty midi null file added in to the Main loop section. The null file will actually have 1 velocity 1 note, which, hopefully, is to soft to hear. If I want a more flexible song, with a jam section for example, my “intro” is everything in the song before the jam, then the jam, then the outro is everything after the jam. These songs have three parts in the BB song, and intro, main loop and outro.

For me, understand this, I downloaded a song and its required drum kit. Then I looked at the song and drumkit in BB Manager. When I saw how it was constructed and what was going on, it made sense.


That’s what I said, @Phil_Flood!


Excellent reply Phil … thanks … I thought the BB Manager would be a good start … there are some nice tutorials on it. I thought it would be similar to your process but it’s really nice to see someone reveal their process. I do understand the BB is rather deep with MIDI applications but it seems rather straight forward and somewhat intuitive compared to some other products. I do very little MIDI creation in Garageband except when doing stick clicks for intros then I use the drummer styles and export them as standard .wav file , which are very short since it’s only a 10 second loop at the most. That would get played through the “Go Button” program through iOS and my air turn bluetooth controller … it’s basically, a old cart machine with a stop and go to next cue foot pedal …

Since I’m mainly wanting to use the BB for percussion back tracks would it be easier to purchase samples? Can I build samples in BB Manager, label them, store them in the BB in terms of a set list, change the label from “blues shuffle” to “Dust my Broom” on my set list?

Sorry for the Noob … questions

Bb manager does not record, so you can’t use it to make samples. What you might want are midi loops.Sample are used to build drum kits. There are over
100 kits here in the Forum in the Resources section.

To build a set list, it’s best to have your songs stored outside of BB, and then use bb manager to build a list as needed. At present, bb manager does not allow copying and pasting of songs.

Thanks, Phil for the clarification … I suppose have a copy of the original SD card / firmware and then format another card to store copies and set lists on? I know this is a lame question but, when I build my set list , the order of “songs” , are those “songs” named like the original beat buddy name " blues shuffle" etc. OR can I rename the duplicate/copy of the “song” I want to see in the display screen on the BB? Like “dust my broom” instead…

If I choose to use 3rd party software to find samples, then create that into a midi loop import that into BB manager; is there a standard file BB prefers?

thanks for the rapport !

You can rename the songs.

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The format is a little hard t explain until you try to do it. Here’s what I did when I got started. I wanted to have drums, bass and a Hammond organ in a song. I looked at a BB drum kit, and I noticed how many sample were used for each drum, like 12 samples, sometimes. I asked myself if I needed that robust a kit, as a BB drum kit can only contain 100mb total of samples. That is the most limiting factor of the BB. I decided to sacrifice the realism and go with 1 sample per drum. Then, I added 1 sample per bass note. Finally I filled out the kit with one sample per Hammond Organ note. The kit had bass from D1 through G3. It had a full kit of drums in the General Midi Standard, whatever that amounts to, more than 40 drums. And, it had 3+ octaves of organ, it worked perfectly for House of the Rising Sun. And that gets to the song creation part. I found a very realistic midi version of the song, I had to lower the bass track in the song by 3 octaves to trigger the bass notes where I had placed them in the drum kit. I had to raise the organ a couple octaves to trigger the organ where I placed it in the drum kit.

See, with the BB we don’t get a true multitrack midi player. It plays back one track, as if it was just playing midi channel 10, where drums are traditionally placed. But, what you place in any of the 128 available slots is up to you. Now, those sounds need to be 16bit, 44.1mhz wav files. But, you trigger those sounds with a single track midi file.

I had to look back at your question. So, those are the “standards.” A drum kit is limited to 100mb total of samples. Each drum kit slot can have up to 12 or maybe 15 samples, and different velocities can trigger different samples. The sample have to be 16 or 24 bit 44.1khz wav files.

The midi files have no length limits. The other Phil just posted the full 2nd side of Abbey Road as one file. 22 minutes.

If you use just drums, a single channel midi file from channel 10 works fine. If you get into using bass, etc., it’s still a single channel file, with the tracks merged. It’s similar to a midi type 0 file, but you don’t have 16 channels available for each note.

Wow, thanks for the lesson… really nice concise info. I don’t think I will go down the midi applications that far… yet. At this point, I really just need BB to provide simple percussion/drum backtracks for my “acoustic” trio …

However, I do have a question from another perspective. I have a project where we compose original material and would like to see if the BB could be a play back engine? Currently, we use Protools with a recorded real bass line that is quantized with a click track. Is it possible to convert that bass track to a “sample” and then use MIDI it as a loop? Also, the cool thing about our percussion in this project is that we are using a Roland TD-50 (hopefully, with EZ Drummer3) for our primary for drums. We already know we can live track drums with MIDI into our ProTools (latest version) So , could we export those MIDI drums to BB? Then match our bass parts for a complete rhythm section “song”.

Thanks ever so much for your knowledge…

The drums, yes, sure, those work. Just be aware that EZ drummer does not always have drums at the same midi location as the General Midi Standard, such as having some hi hat articulations mapped below midi 35. You would need to edit a kit to add those tones, use use another tones.

Your bass is more problematic. What I would do is record single not bass samples to enter into a BB drum kit. Then, create a midi part to trigger those notes. BB does not like audio loops. It wants to be able to manipulate time. When you try to defeat this process, 1) the wav loop file needs to be smaller than 3.2mb, 2] your song tempo must match the tempo that was used to create the loop, and 3) the loop must be recorded “on Beat” to match the tempo you are going to use.

The BB and loops are not compatible, in general. It does not do midi time stretching or respond to timing cues in “acidized” loops. It plays back single note wav files, triggered by a midi note on and note off. It responds to velocity commands, but not embedded tempo, volume, or pitch bend commands.

Thanks again, Phil … I thought the bass could be an issue too… ProTools is really good for our playback engine; I thought their might be way not to bring the kitchen sink for a off location performance. Also, since the bass is a sample , one note; it wouldn’t really sound like the recording per se. I would not be surprised that Singlular sound could invent a more in depth playback system for such ideas … maybe, not midi based at all - Cheers !

I’ve explored variants of this idea. The problem is the lack of available memory expansion in the current hardware. We get access to the 100mb kit that gets loaded into RAM. That allows the drums, and whatever other instruments get programmed in, to trigger immediately. And, as it is presently made, it requires wav files. Perhaps in a future iteration, they could make the BB use high quality mp3 files, which require much less space. That would provide means for a workaround for those who want us have audio loop playback. But, as we still have to see them get the looper and the midi controller off the ground, I would guess a version 2 Beat Buddy would be one or more years away. They are making progress with the current firmware and software, but the hardware limitations of this now 5 year old unit have exposed its weaknesses. When its used as a straight up drum machine, it absolutely shines. But, the hacks and tweaks that the user base have created and now demand, show where there are unanticipated shortcomings. And, it’s hard to blame Singular for that. When this was released, who would have thought we could create entire backing track-like one press songs on it? who would have seen the means to open up drum kit creation to allow for bass, piano, horns, etc? Anyhow, I think you’ll find the BB very useful, and you will be able to incorporate it into your sets. If you bassist could get access to a midi bass, you could create a real time “copy” of his playing, and then record the bass notes to make samples. It’s work, but the results are very acceptable.

Yep, in a nutshell; SS needs a better hardware processor and more memory to expand their product. I’m amazed of what the box can do already; if SS, is as savvy as I think they are, they will forge ahead to allow midi and wav. files to be played back in tandem, if that’s possible. It’s basically a computer with foot switches. I’ve noticed the larger footswitch has been delayed in it’s release; it’s seems very logical but it’s a larger footprint on the floor too. I didn’t even know that folks were putting musical background tracks with the drums until I started to dig into the forums. Personally, I think the greatest advantage BeatBuddy has brought to scene is the need to be able to play an instrument in TIME. Hopefully, it will build guitar players to develop their rhythm chops rather than focusing on lead guitar work. My biggest pet peeve is some guy can play the lead to a song but can’t play comp parts to save their life. It’s all about the time and space continuum… now, I"m going down the rabbit hole !!!

Hi Funbebop,

I can only tell you the way I use BeatBuddy, if it’s of any use to you. I play 2 to 3 gigs per month in a duo with BeatBuddy. When my partner and I decide on a song, I usually program the song myself, because we simply want the song to count in, and play completely through, with no need to press the pedal for transitions or outro fill (I’ve found that if you accidentally miss a transition live, it can really screw up the song). Usually I program the song by finding an existing MIDI file, removing all instruments but drums, and adding a 4-click intro directly into the MIDI file (you could add a separate intro using BeatBuddy manager, but I don’t see the point to having an extra step). You then create a new song in BeatBuddy Manager and import the MIDI file as the main beat. If I can’t find a decent MIDI file for a song, then I’ll construct the song beat by beat in a MIDI editor. If I want extra sounds in a song, such as simple synth samples, I will take an existing BB drum kit, remove any samples that aren’t being used for the song, add my custom wav samples to the kit, save as a new kit, import the kit into BeatBuddy manager, and trigger those samples through notes in the MIDI song file. (See Depeche Mode “Personal Jesus” as an example). I usually try to play synth myself with my feet, but if I have too much stuff going on, I sometimes get BeatBuddy to help me out.

I also use an iPad app live called “Set List Maker”, which stores a database of every song we play. Before we play a live show, we set up the set list we want in the app. Then as I select each song live from the app, the app automatically pulls up the song on BeatBuddy by sending MIDI program data through a MIDI Bluetooth interface I have connected to BeatBuddy’s MIDI IN (and the app also selects my iPad foot-controlled synth patches). The app also sends MIDI volume level to the BeatBuddy for each song, because some beats are louder than others, and we like to keep a consistent live volume. Set List Maker saves you having to constantly bend down between each song to scroll through BeatBuddy.

Everybody has their own different way of using BeatBuddy, and that is mine. Hopefully you’ll find a system that best suits your needs.

Lan Solo

PS - I forgot to mention that we also send our BeatBuddy MIDI OUT to my guitarist’s looper pedal. That allows him to play synced loops throughout each song.

For my synthesizer, I usually use the Korg iM1 iPad app, and I use the Keith McMillen 12-step MIDI foot controller.

Link to “Personal Jesus” if you wish to hear synthesizer built in to a BeatBuddy song:

Thanks so much for your insight… it’s probably more work than I want to do for my simple trio project… but it’s really cool of you to over your process! My first issue with BB stock “songs” are the fills are usually too complicated over all. So for me, when I create a “song” , I hope to rename it accordingly to the tune, change some of the fills, intros and outros. I believe I can use the BB Manger program to do this although I’m a bit unsure how to load a set list. Should I use a totally different SD card for my personal programmed material? I would think so…

I chose to simply purchase the catalog and derive sounds from that , at least , initially . I do find the iOS app “set list maker” interesting … that maybe a good system to use … I noticed when I used Garageband .wav files on my iOS program called “go button” ; Garageband depending on the patch, some were “mastered” differently yielding the same issue of consistence of volume. I noticed all of SS sounds are mastered very well and consistent which is big plus since we use in ear monitoring and a really nice PA sound with LCR; it sounds like a record.

Q: how to get your iPad to export MIDI information; I assume it’s some piece of hardware from the “lightning bolt” connector to a cable.

I still have not figured out how to really create a set list , yet. When we demo’d the pedal yesterday in the control room just playing around with trio. I noticed the stock ending’s were usually not want I want, so that’s gonna be a little bit of a challenge. I did manage to use the transitions somewhat successfully, but you’re right; it could be not cool to miss one … I do like the idea of having a loop rather than simply a playback of one file ; in case somebody wants another solo, or keep em dancing etc.

thanks again for the rapport …