The MIDI footswitch is an awesome device that can be thought of as a channel switcher on steroids. Gone are the days of the Channel A or B amp now with the Axe-FX and a MIDI footswitch you can have the equivalent of 128 presets on the fly or a 128 channel amp.
Each MIDI footswitch varies in style and function. Let's look at the simplest of these. It will have 10 preset buttons and 2 bank buttons. These simple controllers usually give you access to the first 128 presets only. For future reference please note that the Axe-FX allows 'MIDI Mapping' to the first 256 presets only.
The Axe-FX preset structure is as follows: 3 Banks of 128 preset slots for a total of 384.
Bank A = 000 ~ 127 Factory Presets
Bank B = 128 ~ 255 Factory Presets
Bank C = 256 ~ 383 Factory Presets (Ultra) User Preset Area (Std)
Some MIDI devices label their patches starting at 0 and some starting at 1. It is a good idea to always note what scheme your hardware uses.
Note: The Axe-FX default is 'start at zero' however for your convenience it can be changed to 'start at one' depending on your complimentary gear.
Note: The Axe-FX editor 'starts at one'. It is totally acceptable to mix schemes but attention must be paid to avoid preset overwrite mistakes.
Tip - Creating your own custom presets is rewarding. The Axe-FX offers more preset locations than most devices on the market. It is a good idea to come up with your own personal preset strategy to avoid overwriting your favorite preset, a desired factory preset or just plain getting lost.
Bank A ~ MIDI Mappable ~ Good 'Working Bank'.
Bank B ~ MIDI Mappable ~ Good 'Working Bank'.
Bank C ~ Not MIDI Mappable ~ Good 'Preset Scratchpad' area.
Your MIDI pedal is going to be able to access Bank A normally and Bank B through MIDI mapping. Hook Er' Up:
Using a previously mentioned tip hook (ex:) a 5-Pin DIN red MIDI cable from the out of the footswitch to the in of the Axe-FX and plug your power adapter in.
Note: This is where you 'could' plug the power adapter into the Axe-FX Phantom Power In jack and use a 7-Pin DIN MIDI cable to eliminate the separate power run to the footswitch. Your device must be capable of this and research on your part must be conducted.
Next the Axe-FX and your Footswitch must communicate on the same channel. MIDI offers 16 channels for communication. Utilizing instructions from both devices set them to the same channel. You may also, alternately, set the Axe-FX to receive on Omni which means it will hear any and every channel that is sent its way. Also the Axe-FX Program Change must be set to on.
Set Channel: Press I/O button, Page right 3x (to MIDI tab), Spin knob to Channel # or Omni.
Program Change On: Press I/O button, Page right 3x (to MIDI tab), Spin knob to On.
At this time you should have function. Press on one of the patch buttons and watch your Axe-FX change presets. Check and repeat the Hook Er' Up section until your presets change. Check cables, input, output, power and MIDI channels.
How It Works:
On these simple footswitches there are usually 2 types of buttons. Bank Buttons and Patch (Preset) Buttons. Your LED window may say something like 0 on default. That would indicate Bank 0. Now press preset button labeled 0.
Important: Bank 0 Preset 0 will give you either Preset #000 or Preset #001 depending on your devices but the best way to look at it is it will give you the 'first' preset you have. Many devices and footswitch pedals have settings to compensate for this offset. This is why many footswitches have 10 buttons but are numbered 0 to 9 for preset alignment.
Now press the Bank Up button to 2 and press preset button labeled 3. You now have Preset 23.
Dialing It In:
This is now great. You have superb control and access to 128 presets without having to spin the knob BUT what if you want to jump from Preset 060 for a Clean Sound to Preset 102 for a Lead Sound. That would be a lot of button pushing to do on the fly. You may also want to arrange your sounds on your footswitch to fine tune your selections.
Top Row - 5 Buttons - All Clean - Clean Dry on Left - Clean Reverb in Middle - Clean Chorus & Effects on Right.
Bottom Row - 5 Buttons - All Dirty - Crunch on Left - Distort w/effects in Middle - Searing Lead & Boost on Right.
This will allow you to establish patterns between bank to bank changes and always know where you can reach for a clean or lead sound. Nothing worse than being on the wrong bank and punching in your boosted lead squealer when you needed quiet chorus.
The ability to choose the presets of choice without rearranging their order in the device is a very powerful tool. This is called MIDI mapping. Very simply this means you press a button that would ordinarily would give you one preset # but you choose to recall a different preset #.
Example: Bank 0 Button Labeled 3 gives Preset #003 but you want it to select Preset #015.
MIDI Map Mode On: Press I/O button, Page right 3x (to MIDI tab), Nav down 2x to Map Mode, Spin knob to Custom (must only be done once).
MIDI Map: Press I/O button, Page right 3x (to MIDI tab), Nav down 3x to Map From, Spin knob to 3, Nav down 1x to Map To, Spin knob to 15. Press Exit.
Now when you press Button Labeled 3 you will get preset 15.
Important: Once you engage MIDI mapping realize the following. The mapping is in your Axe-FX not your footswitch. The Axe-FX MIDI Out will reflect Mapped Numbers the Axe-FX MIDI Thru will not.
Using the example above where Patch 3 is Mapped to Patch 15 on the Axe-FX:
Footswitch MIDI Out > Patch 3
Axe-FX Selects> Patch 15
Axe-FX MIDI Out > Patch 15
Axe-FX MIDI Thru > Patch 3
This can be used to advantage for powerful control of other devices or it can make you pull your hair out if you forget this.
When considering a few facts there are some advanced features which can be used. The footswitch above is fairly small and has not only an MIDI Out socket but also a MIDI Share. This allows you to gang 2 devices in a merged merge MIDI signal. The 10 instant buttons on the footswitch are the easiest to access vs bank changing. The Axe-FX has far greater than 10 good sounds.
You could acquire a second footswitch and gang them thru the MIDI Share port. Set one footswitch to Channel 1 and the other to Channel 2 and the Axe-FX to Omni. Then set the Footswitch One to Bank 0 and Footswitch 2 to Bank 1. Now, in a fairly small footprint, you have instant access to 20 presets with no bank changing. This could be repeated for even more devices if desired.