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Guide to Switchers, MIDI pedalboards, and Routers

Perrin Bishop-Wright wrote:

>The Kitty Hawk switcher - I own one.

6- switches
1- Momentary action switch
1- A/B switch

Midi in and through

>It's a great product. I would totally buy more of them. Especially for the price I bought it for ($20). If you have any questions let me know.

--Perrin

Almost all by Gary Watts, gwatts at cv.hp.com
March 18,1998; Rev 3, when transferred to Amptone.com. Sent to Amp Tone site for web posting. This list is now maintained at this site.

These are devices for switching and controlling audio instrument signal paths, such as for guitar or keyboards.

Contents

Switchers
MIDI pedals
A/B boxes and multi-amp selectors
Mixers and other return devices
More switching products
Manufacturers


Switchers

These are used to take devices in and out of the audio path. Some units can also do ground lift type functions for channel switching of amps etc.

Vinteck

Vinteck guitar-gear switcher company: in http://www.amptone.com/switchers.htm, added http://vinteck.com -- Vinteck, Italy; Guido Michetti. English site -- new link Dec. 2005

Axess Electronics - CFX4 and GRX4

Axess Electronics designs and manufactures:

  • Guitar audio switchers
  • Control function switchers
  • Guitar audio buffers/splitters
  • MIDI foot-controllers
  • Other custom products
  • More products are on the way.

By early 1999, design work will be complete on a new professional rack switcher and MIDI foot-controller. This new system will be used by Rack Systems Limited in Los Angeles, California. Current dealers for Axess Electronics' products are Rack Systems and Mesa/Boogie Hollywood, both in California. Axess is currently talking with Mark Snyder of Mastech Services (for various artists, such as Peter Frampton and Dream Theatre) in New York about additional switcher system designs. Standardized features are based on the most requested custom switching designs, based on experience since start-up in 1991 providing local guitarists with custom guitar electronics products.

Product name: CFX4
Number of loops: 0
Loops are stereo capable: n/a
Number of switches: 4
MIDI control method: Control or Program Changes
Size: 4.70" x 3.70" x 1.33"
Price: $169.95us List / $135.96us Direct

Product name: GRX4
Number of loops: 4
Loops are stereo capable: no
Number of switches: 1
MIDI control method: Control Changes
Size: 7.40" x 4.70" x 1.46"
Price: $199.95us List / $159.96us Direct

Custom Audio Electronics 4x4

http://www.customaudioelectronics.com

Number of loops: 4
Loops are stereo capable?: yes
Number of switches:4
MIDI control method: continuous controllers
Size: 1 rack space
Price: $599.00 list, $469 direct

Input is buffered with variable gain. You can bypass this by using the rear input of loop 1.

They also make 1/2 rack versions. One is a 4-loop switcher, another is an 8 tip-to-ground switcher.

Rocktron Patchmate

Number of loops: 9
Loops are stereo capable?:yes
Number of switches: any loop can be used as a ground lift switch
MIDI control method: program change (each switch configuration is stored as a preset that is recalled)
Size: 1 rack space
Price: $769 list

Also includes a stereo Hush loop. VERY useful, although the thing doesn't have adjustable filter controls like in other standalone Hush devices. [just the 'threshold'].

Digital Music Corporation Ground Control Expander Guitar Audio Switcher

http://www.voodoolab.com/

Number of loops: 8
Loops are stereo capable: no (must use 2 loops each stereo pair)
Number of switches: 2
MIDI control method: continuous controllers
Size: 1 rack space
Price: $350.00 list

Sound Sculpture Switchblade 16

http://www.soundsculpture.com/

Number of Loops: 16 in 16 out
Loops are stereo capable?: no
Number of switches: 8
MIDI control method: program change
Size: 1 rack space high
Price: $2299.00
This is a switching matrix. You can have any combination of serial and parallel with any device attached. This is a 16x16 linear control matrix. You can send any amount of any input to any combo of outputs. It is completely programmable, so you probably can use it to control stereo loops with pairs of channels. Also, It also has provisions for programmable gain adjustment for each device attached, and an LFO somewhere.

Mesa MIDI Matrix

Might be out of production. Check the used gear sites or used guitar stores.
Number of loops:6 mono
Number of switches:8
Loops can be stereo: no, only 3 loops if usd in a stereo fashion
MIDI control method: program change
Options: has 2 A/B routers at the front of the chain to select amps/preamps (4 total).

Scholz Octopus

Might be out of production. Check the used gear sites or used guitar stores.
Number of Loops: none
Loops are stereo capable?: see note
Number of switches: 8
MIDI control method: program change
Size: 1 rack space high, half width
Price: No longer made, was $225 list new.
While the Octopus only does switching, an optional accessory, the Loop Selector allows up to 8 mono loops. Price was $79.00 each for Loop Selectors.
Jim Dunlop has taken over manufacturing of Scholz R & D products but isn't making any of these particuliar units at this time.

Rocktron/Bob Bradshaw RSB-12 and RSB-16 loop switchers

Check Bradshaw's company Custom Audio Electronics.

Might be out of production. Check the used gear sites or used guitar stores.

These were the first production models of Bradshaw's units manufactured by Rocktron. They have a 2 rack space panel with 6 and 10 loops respectively all with active buffereing and a master VCA that is controlled via a remote volume pedal. A large pedal board is included that has a dedicated harness to connect to the rack unit. These do have MIDI capability although most of the original Bradshaw units did not.

User comments: I seem to recall that it had 11 loops and a Hush loop, plus 4 control switches [so 16 switches total]. The thing also had a programmable VCA as you mentioned, and another stereo nonprogrammable Hush. The pedalboard ["RSB16F"] allowed 5 presets of on/off's for 16 switches per bank. I can't recall if it allowed 20 or 25 banks.

The original Bradshaw systems were just remote on/off switches in a pedalbox communicating with a box containing switchers/loopers. Later ones allowed combination-preset capabilities. Then Rocktron-manufactured ones included MIDI. I'm pretty sure there were many versions here and there because pre-Rocktron stuff were all custom-made. I've seen Yngwie still using one of the 1st generation Bradshaw system at a recent concert.

Lab System Plus

No information.

Kitty Hawk

No information.

Exef Looper PSE1000

Another great switcher was built by a European company called Exef. Their "Looper" system, which was similar to the Boogie matrix switcher, was huge. They built a rackmount, programmable amp that contained a mini version of the Looper. I think it was called something like PSE1000, and it was also big, though not as big as the PS Systems' monster. They also made a bunch of simple MIDI pedals to control them.

Japanese MIDI Switcher

There's also a crazy MIDI switcher built by a Japanese company that switches/mixes pickups using special wiring harness, in addition to more standard looping/switching external devices. It actually allowed presets on the pedalboard that instantly switched pickups as well. I think it's the same company that used to make a little onboard switch that did amp-channel-switching. This was 2-3 yrs ago. Have to dig up some old infosheets.

DW Labs Quick Change Artist

DW Labs makes a 5-loop remote switcher which is just that and nothing fancy.

Rolls Patchwork and MIDIwizard Pedal

Rolls also made a 4x4 switcher/looper sometime ago called Patchwork. Their "MIDIwizard" pedal was great that it had 8 cv pedal inputs.

Pete Cornish routers

Pete Cornish, a leading rig designer in England, has been doing these for a long time. His routers are like Bradshaw's, though he's made much bigger ones (24+ channels). But an honorable mention should include his pedalboards. He builds a gigantic microprocessor-controlled pedalboard that contains pedal switches & knobs for whatever 'effect boxes/pedals' that you supply to him, and also remote switches to control outboard gear. For a long time, Lou Reed and David Gilmour used gigantic Cornish systems.

Pete provided this address, 12/2000:

 

Pete Cornish

Ailies Buildings

Whitesmith Lane

Graywood

East Hoathly

East Sussex

UK

BN8 6QP

email: petecornish at appleonline.net

TC Electronic 2290 delay with 5 loops

Another honorable mention should go to the 5 loops included in a delay unit called "2290" by TC Electronic. 4 were mono, and 1 stereo. I can't remember if the mono loops also included programmable filters or not, but they were placed pre-DDL. This was around '87.

Boss LS-2 Line Switcher pedal

[An interesting and elegant switcher pedal to route other pedals and so on. See Boss LS-2 Line Selector ($150), MXR Loop Selector, Bradshaw 4x4 Audio Controller ($1300), GCX Guitar Audio Switcher ($630), Rocktron Patch Mate ($1140) -- Michael]


MIDI pedals

There a large variety of what I'll call "generic" MIDI pedals. By generic I mean that they send one program change on one MIDI channel at a time. Most have a row of 4-10 buttons to move to the desired number. Manufacturers include ADA, Rolls, Scholz, Roland, Yamaha and probably 10 others that I've forgotten.

The other group are pedals that will send multiple MIDI messages on multiple MIDI channels at when pushing only one switch. These messages can include controller messages (required on some company switchers), program changes and, on some pedalboards, any message that is in the MIDI 1.0 specification.

Digital Music Ground Control

List price: $250.00
Controller inputs: 2
Number of buttons: 10
Number of banks: 10
Display allows alpha messages?:yes
Individual switches for controlling each loop?:yes-6
Number of MIDI channels it can send on:8
Can send more than program changes: yes

Lake Butler MIDI Mitigator RFC-1

List price: $395.00
Controller inputs: 1
Number of buttons: 8
Number of banks:99
Display allows alpha messages? [? missing info]
Individual switches for controlling each loop?:no
Number of MIDI channels it can send on:16
Can send more than program changes: yes

Also has a set mode to allow 3 different song lists that can programmed in any order desired out of the main memory. The continuous controller input requires 75Kohm pedal. Most pedals are 10K such as the Roland EV-5. Lake Butler still has an answering machine but is no longer producing products to my knowledge.

Rocktron All Access

List price: $899
Controller inputs: 2
Number of buttons: 18 buttons, 15 for real time control,3 for bank select and programming.
Display allows alpha messages?:yes
Individual switches for controlling each loop?: yes
Number of MIDI channels it can send on: 16
Can send more than program changes: yes

Rocktron MIDI Mate

List price: $399.00
Controller inputs: 1
Number of buttons: 12
Number of banks:12
Display allows alpha messages?:yes
Individual switches for controlling each loop?:yes
Number of MIDI channels it can send onsimultaneously: 4 on version 1.0, 6 on version 2.0
Can send more than program changes: unknown

Custom Audio Electronics RS-10

List price: $699.00
Controller inputs: 2
Number of buttons: 10 switches for control messages, 4 preset buttons,2 bank up/down buttons.
Each expander adds 6 control msg switches and 2 preset buttons.
Number of banks:2 banks of 4 presets [standard configuration].
With one expander, 22 banks of 6 presets.
Display allows alpha messages?: no
Individual switches for controlling each loop?: yes
Number of MIDI channels it can send on: 16
Can send more than program changes: yes

Digitech PMC-10

List price: $299.00
Controller inputs: 2
Number of buttons:10
Number of banks:99
Display allows alpha messages?:unknown
Individual switches for controlling each loop?: no
Number of MIDI channels it can send on: 16
Can send more than program changes: yes


A/B boxes and multi-amp selectors

DOD A/B box

The least expensive passive box out there. Uses mechanical relays and can cause line pops when signal is present. Price: around $29.00

MXR Loop Selector

[See Boss LS-2 Line Selector ($150), MXR Loop Selector, Bradshaw 4x4 Audio Controller ($1300), GCX Guitar Audio Switcher ($630), Rocktron Patch Mate ($1140) -- Michael]

Whirlwind Selector

Does A/B or A + B. List price is around $99.00. Battery powered and has no switching noise.

Egnator SC-4 Simulcab

Allows one amplifier head to be sent to one of 4 speaker cabinets via MIDI control. Price: $399

Custom Audio Electronics Amp Selector I

Allows 4 heads to be switched to one cabinet. Price is $999

Custom Audio Electronics Amp Selector II

Allows 1 guitar to be routed to any or all of 4 amps. Price is $499.

Custom Audio Electronics Amp Selector II

Allows 1 guitar to be routed to any or all of 4 amps and also includes 8 switches for doing channel switching. $799.

Mesa Pro High Gain Amp Switcher

Number of loops: 4
Loops are stereo capable?: no (you'd have to use 2 loops at a time)
Number of switches: 0
MIDI control method: just has 4 short-to-ground jacks
Size: 1 rack space
Price: approximately $500 direct
Other: uses opto-isolators, buffered analog Jensen matching transformers. Intended for use with TriAxis which has 4 function switchjacks that can be controlled via MIDI. Loops can be active simultaneously.


Mixers and other return devices

Rane SM-26, Passac mixer

Very nice mixers. They made an 8ch version and a bigger 16ch version that had sends and eq's per channel. At one time (mid 80's) Bob Bradshaw recommended using them in big guitar rigs. Since then, he came up with his own, simpler designs which sound pretty clean, probably mostly due to lack of input gain controls, eq's or send/return's.

Custom Audio Electronics Sub Mixer

No information.

Digital Music Corporation System Mix

1 rack space high, half width sub mixer. Each loop has a minimum of controls (no individual volumes or eq etc). $300.00 list

Digital Music Corporation System Mix Plus

1 rack space, full width with stereo line mixer, cabinet simulator, headphone amp with direct and monitor levels, MIDI controlled VCA and XLR stereo balanced outs. Front to back feeds for audio and MIDI. Price: $499.00 list

Info page: Digital Music Corporation System Mix Plus. Rack utilities. Cab-sim filter.

Rocktron Rack Interface

Same features as System Mix Plus but also includes a MIDI-controlled wah-wah. $659 list. Info page: Rocktron Rack Interface. Mixer, cab-sim filter, rack utility processor. It has the same features as System Mix Plus. The wah on the rack interface is done manually with a stereo audio cable between a volume pedal and the unit itself, not with a continuous-controlled MIDI signal.


More switching products

>Page 6, The Guitar Magazine, Jan 2001. About some new units from Scapegoat ( 01484 854883 ) and they have a Stomp Select FX router and Stomp Bypass for about 35.

(no webpage found)

Framptone A/B switcher

Aiken amp or cab switching circuits

Palmer switching products

soundsculpture.com - MIDI Controlled Accessory Products. All units are relay based to maintain signal purity.

MidiUp *REAL TIME FX CONTROL FROM YOUR GUITAR* - Install a pot in your guitar to control your effects

PowerSwap Hot swap speaker cabinets and amp heads with PowerSwap.

ABCadabra AB box and effect insert/bypass.

FootSim - TOSS THOSE MECHANICAL FOOTSWITCHES - Control your amp channels from your MIDI pedal


Carl Martin: Combinator - $450. "Switching system in pedalboard format that allows guitarists to store combinations of pedals for instant recall. It features send and return jacks as well as 9V power supply inputs for up to 8 external effects pedals from any manufacturer. Allows up to 8 stomp boxes (two of them in stereo). They can be used in 8 individual programs, with 8 individual high quality switches (no bank up, no bank down). The programming is simple: select a program by activating a program switch, select the boxes by activating the soft switch on the loop where the box is inserted, and press store. Simple as it can be and NO MIDI. Eight separate 9V power taps are built in. Stomp boxes are meant to be on the floor, not in a rack compartment. The Combinator should be on the floor as well. There is no sense in using a combo amp and still having to drag a l9" rack system to the gig."


Nobels A/B-V AB Switching Pedal - Universal switchbox - Lets you switch between 2 inputs (2 guitars) to one output, or between 2 outputs (2 amps or preamps). Set perfect volume levels, as every channel has one separate volume control. 2 Leds indicate which channel is active.


Nobels ALEX Loop Expander - online manual available. ALEX-1 - Analog Loop Expander - passive. Many of the loved old effect unit cannot be used on stage, as they make too much noise. By pressing a button the Alex-1 can loop an effect unit into a system or can take it out of a system. No sound modification, due to strong 10-amp relay. Can also be used as a speaker selector.


Nobels AB-1 Switcher - official product page - "AB-1 A/B Active Selector Box. AB Switching Pedal. Univeral AB footswitch. Switch between 2 inputs (2 guitars) to one output, or between 2 outputs (2 amps or preamps). Set volume levels -- each channel has a separate volume control. 2 LEDs indicate which channel is active. Input jack for remote switch."

Nobels product page - lots of pedals and boxes with added smart features.


Nobels MF-2 Programmable MIDI controller

Whirlwind

Whirlwind selector product

Morley A/B

Morley A/B [need link]

Morley A/B/C box : 1 ftsw is A or B/C, 1 ftsw is B or C. One jack is in or out.

Morley A/B box: 1 ftsw is A and B, other is A or B. One jack is in/out.

DOD 270

DOD 270 - DOD AC270 A/B box. switch from one source to 2 destinations, or 2 sources to 1 destination. No electronics, no battery.

Roger Mayer Crossroads

Crossroads switcher

Boss FS-5L

Boss FS-5L footswitch pedal - however, their LS-2 line selector is the coolest; I assume the 5L has far fewer capabilities.

Black Cat Products - Parallel FX mixer 2x2

$189

Rolls

1994 ad: "Rolls Corporation is the world leader in MIDI foot controllers with more options and models available, at lowest cost. MP128 $130 list, program change sends in 13 banks of 10, can be set for any channel. Programmable MP1288 is $200 list." 801-272-9711.

Manufacturers

Axess Electronics
251 Queen St. South #278
Mississauga, Ontario L5M 1L7
Canada
(416) 410-9688

Custom Audio Electronics
10648 Magnolia Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91601

(818) 763-8898

Digital Music Corporation (Voodoo Lab)
5312-J Derry Ave
Agoura HIlls, CA 91301

(818) 991-3881

Egnator Amplification
25550 Colleen St
Oak Park, MI 48237

(810) 399-6208

Rocktron
2870 Technology Way
Rochester Hills, MI 48309

(313) 853-3055


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