Music by Scott Martin

SM Blog

Footswitch fix

I just fixed an issue associated with a new footswitch, which is a Roland FS-1 I’m connecting to the Nord Stage 2 Latch/Rotor input to switch between slow and fast rotary speaker settings.

For about a year I’d been using an extra sustain pedal to switch the rotor speed. Depress the pedal and (most of the time) the setting would switch. Then it stopped working at all, and I determined that the screws holding the pedal together wouldn’t stay tight because the screw holes were disintegrating.

The whole functionality of that sustain pedal relies on spring-loaded action, and with the bottom dropping out of the pedal it wouldn’t work at all. Naturally I discovered this in the middle of a gig. A gig at which I had no gaff tape (what a mistake on my part… what a gaffe… I’ll show myself out).

Fortunately my friend and drummer Charley had some electrical tape that I used to keep the pedal together, and that’s worked okay for a couple months. It’s been just finicky enough that I wanted to try something more robust.

Roland FS-1
Punch it!

Enter the FS-1. It’s a heavy duty stompbox-style switch with an attached 1/4″ mono cable. Much more robust than the sustain pedal which shall remain unnamed, and seemingly more purpose-build for this kind of thing (most people seem to be using it to change channels on guitar amps). I got it a couple days before the show and just tossed the box in with my gig stuff. How hard could it be to use? It’s a switch!

At the gig I discovered (having not tested the switch beforehand, of course) that I had to hit the footswitch twice in order to get the speed to toggle: click+click = slow… click+click = fast.

Ideally I wanted to only have to hit it once per speed change. I figured the issue was in the Nord’s settings menu somewhere. The switch itself is about as simple as you can get, so I doubted that’s where the difficulty was coming from.

I didn’t end up making any changes during that show. Instead I just double-stomped when I needed to change the rotor speed. It was a little distracting because it was a physical change in my normal routine, but it worked enough to get through the gig.

Nord rotorhold screen
Hold me baby

So last night I set up the Nord and plugged in the footswitch. In the Nord system menu there’s an option for “Latch/Rotor Ped.”, with values of “Latch”, “RotorHold”, and “RotorToggle”. I had it set to “RotorToggle”, which worked sort-of correctly when I used a sustain pedal to switch back and forth. Sometimes using the sustain pedal didn’t seem to work, and maybe it was because it was sending a continuous signal that toggled the rotor multiple times and left me back where I started.

And lo and behold: changing the setting to “RotorHold” resulted in the exact behavior I wanted. Now when I hit the switch once the rotor speed changes, and if I hit the switch again the speed changes back. Sweet! I love it when something is as simple as I expected.