Sunday, April 21, 2013

Behringer FCB1010, ENGL Savage 120, TC Electronic G-Sharp easy MIDI setup guide.

Midi is a great thing to have in a musicians arsenal. It could make life so much easier, if you only knew how to deal with it? If your answer's "yes" then this article is for you my friend! Uncle Eugene spent a whole night (well actually it took like about half an hour, but it was really late at night) to understand the complexity of setting up MIDI devices to work together andthen explain it to you! Today we will learn how to setup an ENGL Savage 120 guitar amplifier with a TC Electronic G-Sharp effects processor and the Behringer FCB1010 Midi foot controller. Althought this tutorial is about these particular units it still might be helpful for users of ohter amps and effect processors. Read on!

So, i was working on my guitar rig a lot lately, built an amp case with 19" Rack slots and built-in pedal board and the time was right to unite all the gear involved in one functioning mechanism. I'll make my guitar rig walkthrough in future, but for now, i'd like to focus on the units that have to do with MIDI controls. I wanted to have a flexible system, where i can switch amp channels, sepcific amp features and change effect presets with a push of a single button and i started to ask myself and google how this could be achieved. I was surprised, when i didn't find any specific info, but the actual user manuals. I read them and didn't get any further. In fact i became even more confused. The experts at the FCB1010 user group at yahoo didn't help either. It's kinda funny, that a guy who can deal with an enterprise computer network and with an atomic absorption spectroscope equally well has problems with a f*cking midi setup. So i fought. And won. And it wasn't that hard, really. You just need to understand some simple facts and i'll gladly explained them to you!

0. Prelude
To get to the actual explanation of the setup please refer to chapter 2.

1. The Goal.

My goal, as mentioned earlier was to control my amplifier and my effects processor simultaneously. Earlier i used two separate switches: one for switching between presets on the tc electronic g-sharp (further "g-sharp") and the second to switch between Master A/B and Presence A/B on the Engl Savage 120 (further"amp"). This setup sucked, because i had to push 2 or even 3 knobs to switch to another sound. I also couldn't bypass the effects on the g-sharp and couldn't switch between channels and other features on the amp. I would have needed even more pedals and this would become a ridiculous stomp ballet. I wanted my whole setup to be controlled easily, just as if you're switching presets on your Boss GT-10 or Line 6 Pod multi-fx pedal, with a little exception, that you've got real-deal all tube sound with high quality reverbs and delays. Of course, there are a lot of amps nowadays, that got it all built in and come with a handy 4-button footswitch like the Hughes & Kettner Switchblade or Coreblade. The thing is: i want my brutal Savage sound. Luckily just as many other cult amps it is midi-capable if you've got the engl z7 midi interface.

2. The Gear

Let's get serious. We need to control the amp and the G-Sharp with the FCB1010. For example: we want rythm channel on the Savage with no effects on the G-Sharp with Master A and Presence A on the preset number 3 for the rythm-parts on the FCB1010 and on the button 4 we want to have channel 4 activated, with depth boost, rough mode and Master B and Presence B and a delay and reverb activated on the G-sharp. For this we need the gear to be connected as follows:

Behringer FCB1010 Midi Out => Engl Z7 Midi In  (MIDI Cable 1)
Engl Z7 Midi Through/Out => TC electronic G-Sharp Midi In (MIDI Cable 2)
Engl Z7  Port A=> Engl Savage (special engl cable, that looks like old printer cable)

Here's a scheme:
Pic. 1: Cable routing.

3. The Setup 

 Now, that we've got our gear all hooked up we have to make all our units to speak the same language. The key to this is the so called OMNI MODE. I don't give a damn what it means, it just works. Let's make sure all of our gear that we want to be controlled runs in the OMNI MODE:

 1. ENGL Z7
The Engl Z7 midi interface has 4 small switches on the front side. To activate the OMNI MODE on the Z7 Just set the first switch (from the left) up, other switches can be ignored, the OMNI mode is now active.

2. G-Sharp
To activate the OMNI MODE on the G-Sharp hold the Preset ON/OFF button for about 2,5 seconds, with arrow buttons set the channel number to the value CH 0. End of story.

Now we made all our devices understand each other. If we press, for example, Button 2 on the FCB1010 we'll see that the g-sharp switched to the preset number 2 (if there is a preset that is saved on the patch number 2, otherwise it will stay on the latest preset number). If you have a new Z7 midi interface, where no presets have been stored yet, you've got to make some.

Now, it's really simple. You just follow everything i'll write below and after one or two times you'll be good to go.

In order to store a preset of the amp settings you have to:
1. Select a preset number on the FCB1010. Here i have to mention, that i somehow got problems on the patch No. 1 it just didn't want to recall the settings i saved on it. Everything works on the preset Nr. 11, 21 and so on. I don't know if it's a problem with the Behringer, with the Z7 or anything else, but now you're warned. Don't get confused, just take another patch number. 

Let's say that we select the patch number 11 on the FCB1010 (Push button 1 on the bank 01). Press and hold the WRITE/EDIT button for about 1 second until the STATUS-LED on the Z7 begins to glow. The MIDI MODE-LED on the amp shold now also glow contineously. The amp is now ready to be programmed. Now dial in your settings. I press each button i want to change 2 or 3 times, so the amp actually sees that i made a setting change. Hold the WRITE/EDIT button on the Z7 for about a second until the Z7's Status-LED blinks 1 time. The MIDI-MODE-LED on the amp should start to blink now.  Now you saved your first preset. Congrats. In order to check it, just go to another preset patch number with different settings, and then go back. You'll see and hear the difference. For further Z7 configuration settings: RTFM. It's really easy to use.

4. Effect Bypass, Effect Dry/Wet.

Alright, we made our first few presets. And we have fun with our gear, but then we have a little problem. We do not have any dry signal. The G-Sharp sounds best when the FX loop of the Savage is set to 100% wet. The first workaround that comes to mind is to create some "dummy" presets on the g-sharp, i.e. save a preset with both EFFECTS MIX and REVERB MIX set to dry. This is of course an effective solution, but there's a more elegant and interesting way to achieve full control. See the two expression pedals on he right side of the FCB1010? We'll just use them to either bypass or activate the effects, or adjust the dry/wet mix. This will dramatically reduce the number of needed presets, since we will not need any "dummy" presets anymore. Furthermore we even gain control over the dry/wet mix, which makes the whole setup even more flexible!

If we take a look at the manual of the G-Sharp, we'll see, that there are some midi command numbers that allow us two change certain control settings. For example the number 81 forces the G-Sharp to bypass the effects, if we need only dry signal from our amp. But how do we send this number 91 from the FCB1010 to the G-Sharp? We'll have to screw around with the FCB1010 a bit. Don't be worried, it's easy!

a) On the FCB press and hold the DOWN button until the green SWITCH1/SWITCH2 LED starts to blink. 

b) Press the UP button, so the SELECT LED lights up. No you'll see that the LEDs above the buttons 1,8,9 are glowing. 8 and 9 actually represent the both pedals. If they don't glow just press button 8 or 9 for few seconds, so they start to. 

c) Press the desired button (in our case 8) so it's LED starts to blink. 

d) Press UP. 

e) Now set the value to 81 (this is the command number we want to send to the g-sharp!!!). 

f) Press UP to confirm. 

g) For the first value dial in 0.

h) Press UP to confirm. 

i) Dial in 127. 

j) Press UP to confirm. 

We just have set the values for the bypass, so the pedal is not pressed you've got FX if it's "pushed to the metal" than it's on bypass. If youd like it to make it the other way around, just dial in 127 in the step g) and 00 in the step i).

You'll find out about other interesting command settings of the G-Sharp if you'll RTFM !!!

I hope, that you will find this tutorial helpful and will be able to setup your gear correctly and have fun! Feel free to ask any questions! Stay tuned!

Eugene Getman

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