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FM3 Footswitching options

hippietim

Fractal Fanatic
Based on the obvious, likely, and what's been posted by folks from Fractal:
  • We get three builtin footswitches and the switching paradigm from the Axe3/FC will be carried over so each switch can potentially have separate tap and hold functions
  • There are two switch/pedal input jacks - each one can accommodate 2 switches or 1 pedal.
  • Assuming Stand-In switches make it in (they are still working on this stuff), external switches can do anything that builtin switches can.
    • Note: this is a new feature for Axe3 5.07 that went in yesterday. I've been beta testing this and it really works well. Normal and reverse polarity (NO/NC) switches are supported as well as latching and momentary. It's particularly handy for the sorts of things where having a status LED doesn't really matter.
  • The number of footswitch layouts is still TBD as far as I know but the Axe3 has 9 including the Master Layout Menu so that's probably not an unreasonable guess
  • Fractal products have all had pretty extensive support for bypassing any block via MIDI as well as controlling a whole slew of other things via MIDI. It seems likely that they'll continue this.
  • Via FASLINK, you can add two FC controllers giving you up to 27 FC switches, up to 20 external switches, and up to 10 expression pedals
    • For the purposes of this discussion, I'm going to focus on the options for having a pretty small rig. Adding FCs opens up so many possibilities and has few limitations so there's not a lot to really have to worry about.
So you can put together a pretty capable rig with the FM3 by itself - hold functions should be able to take you to other layouts pretty easily so you can get around if you have to. This is probably for folks that use few presets and run pretty traditional simple rigs.

By adding a dual momentary switch and an expression pedal, you open up the possibilities considerably. Here's a configuration I've considered:
  • Have a couple "performance" layouts. One layout could have something like drive, vibe, delay on/off on tap and toggle channels on hold. Another layout could have scene 1-3 on tap, 4-6 on hold.
    • Note that for any preset that has some other effects or special things you may want to do, you can override the switches on these layouts on a per-preset basis if you want to.
  • Preset change layout - configure bank size to 3, tapping switches 1-3 will be Preset In Bank 1-3, hold 1 and 2 will be bank +/- 1 and hold 3 would be go to a specific bank (the start of my presets)
  • Configure the external dual switch as follows:
    • SW1 - Tap = tap tempo, Hold = Tuner
    • SW2 - Tap = toggle between performance layouts, Hold = Preset changing layout (or maybe the Master Layout Menu)
  • Configure the expression pedal as External 1 so I can use it as a Wah or whatever.
By adding an Audiofront MIDI Expression IO to the above, I can then add another dual momentary switch and a couple more expression pedals.
  • Maybe add a third auxiliary/performance layout and use one of the additional momentary switches to go directly to it.
  • Have separate switches to go directly to preset picker vs. MLM
  • Add an extra expression pedal - External 2
  • Add a "knob" expression pedal that controls input volume (same size as a small tap tempo switch) - this is super handy to have so you can adjust for changing guitars live. Choose a guitar as a baseline and then set accordingly for different guitars as needed.
  • Note that the MIDI Expression IO draws 33ma and can be powered with a USB battery no problem. https://www.audiofront.net/MIDIExpression.php


I'm personally trying to avoid needing the FC6, a full blown MIDI controller, or running additional power. Even if I go with the MIDI Expression, I probably won't end up using the second dual momentary switch because I think my switching needs are covered without it - it's just another possibility.

No matter what, I can get everything I need on a very small pedal board along side the FM3 - I'll keep them separate for stage placement flexibility.

What are you considering?
 

Sean D.

Regular
I have pretty much decided to get the FC6 and two 2-button external switches. I will place the FM3 on my back line. with this configuration, I will have 10 switches and up to 4 expression pedals( I will use two, one for volume and one for wah). The main benefit of this configuration is cable management. I currently run four cables to the front of the stage (power, monitor signal x1, and FOH signal x2). With this configuration, all the power and signal cable remain on the back line and I need to run only one FASLink XLR to the front of the stage. This will also reduce the footprint of my rig at the front of the stage as the FC6 is smaller than the AX8 and I will move my Relay G70 to the back line as well.
 

ksandvik

Veteran
I need to put the FM3 on a pedalboard anyway, looking at the chaos at last night's gig where the singer invited up two more singers an two horn players. Might as well add a couple of analog pedals to the loop such as my trusted CE-2 and FE-2 Boss pedals and a good delay pedal system, but that's then it. So I could get the best of switching between clean/dirt/solo states and using external pedals for gigging. For some gigs an FM3 alone would be fine. I will only add in a foot switch of MIDI controller if I really need more switching such as tuner on/off, boost and so on. But that depends on experience using the unit for live gigs.
 

brokenvail

Fractal Fanatic
I have a friend who wants to roll with just an FM I told him to def us a dial switch. I said if I were him I would use one button on the dual switch to switch put layouts and the other to handle tap/tuner functions. Even just that little bit opens up some flexibility
 

Robboman

Fractal Fanatic
Great post Tim, really good detailed info. Thanks.

I really want to love this FM3 thing but I'm still not sure. Have yet to decide my absolute min footswitch requirement, but I know it's way more than 3.

The Fractal FCs seem really slick, with the layouts, lights and scribble strips and the XLR FASlink connection. Using 3rd-party switches feels like a compromise compared to an FC6 or FC12.

I will place the FM3 on my back line.
To me, that feels like a compromise too. If I wanted a box in my backline I'd still have an Axe-Fx in a rack. My preference is the full rig on the floor, pre-cabled in a single pedalboard case.

I actually have 3 different pedalboard cases right now.. one has my AX8 rig, the other has my analog pedal rig which I still use for one of my bands. 3rd one is currently empty, but NONE of them are big enough to fit FM3+FC6 plus an expression pedal. I don't really want to drag around a bigger case anyway, so I'm back to considering the non FC options for FM3... OR scrapping the FM3 idea all together and sticking with my AX8.

Hmmm...
 

Smittefar

Fractal Fanatic
It depends a lot on how you like to use the machine - Since I got my AX8 (first real batch in Europe), I have always run one preset per song with a scene for each sound I need in that song. For some songs, that is one sound, in others it is two. No problem on the FM3. But some songs run up to five sounds in the same song, and then it becomes problematic. Tap and hold does not work (for me) for scene changes.

I will be taking advantage of the dynamic link between layouts and foot switch presses. For example, if I am in scene 1 and layout 1, I press a footswitch to go to scene 2, but I also switch to Layout 2 that have other scenes available. If I get this worked out perfectly, I will mostly be stomping one button all night. This will be really cool.

I would like to have an option to do a more pedal board style setup from time to time. In that case 3 FS is just not enough, so I might add a small and cheap midi pedal for those times - The MC6 looks really attractive.
 

gdgross

Veteran
To me, that feels like a compromise too. If I wanted a box in my backline I'd still have an Axe-Fx in a rack. My preference is the full rig on the floor, pre-cabled in a single pedalboard case.
Yep. That's the whole reason I went to the 8 over the AXII: tired of lugging rack + pedalboard/floor controller.
 

jefferski

Fractal Fanatic
What's on the bottom of the FM3 and FC's? Are there feet or screws that we can remove to attach to something like a Templeboard? I could see putting both on a 24" board, and pedals/switches on the floor next to it.
 

Patzag

Fractal Fanatic
But some songs run up to five sounds in the same song, and then it becomes problematic. Tap and hold does not work (for me) for scene changes.
Consider using Scene Toggle instead of Scene Select. Tap switch 1 once, you're on scene one. Tap it again, you're on Scene 2. Tap switch 2 you're on Scene 3, Tap is again you're on scene 4. You may have to double tap switch 1 to go back to scene 2, but that's pretty fast. Faster than holding a switch for 1/2 a second.
 

brokenvail

Fractal Fanatic
Great post Tim, really good detailed info. Thanks.

I really want to love this FM3 thing but I'm still not sure. Have yet to decide my absolute min footswitch requirement, but I know it's way more than 3.

The Fractal FCs seem really slick, with the layouts, lights and scribble strips and the XLR FASlink connection. Using 3rd-party switches feels like a compromise compared to an FC6 or FC12.



To me, that feels like a compromise too. If I wanted a box in my backline I'd still have an Axe-Fx in a rack. My preference is the full rig on the floor, pre-cabled in a single pedalboard case.

I actually have 3 different pedalboard cases right now.. one has my AX8 rig, the other has my analog pedal rig which I still use for one of my bands. 3rd one is currently empty, but NONE of them are big enough to fit FM3+FC6 plus an expression pedal. I don't really want to drag around a bigger case anyway, so I'm back to considering the non FC options for FM3... OR scrapping the FM3 idea all together and sticking with my AX8.

Hmmm...
It is 100% a compromise. Some guys compromise to save money and some to save floor space.

I personally use 10 of the 11 buttons on the Ax8 all the time so I would absolutely need the fc6 and to avoids getting a new pedal board that would be easy to big I need to keep my exp on the floor. I currently have a 24x12 board which would fit the FM/FC perfect but no exp. I am not going to step up to a 32 inch wide board because I don’t need the extra real estate
 

Patzag

Fractal Fanatic
I plan on using my FM3 in 2 fashions:
1. as a stand alone fly rig. For tiny gigs or fly dates where I just want to take my guitar and the FM3 in the gig bag pocket.
2. With an additional foot controller for bigger dates. For those, I will have my FM3 as my backline. A single XLR cable to the FC (6 or 12) on stage. Super neat. Same way I use my Axe FX III. I hate having tons of cables on stage. I also hate having a unit that may end up stomped on by less than careful people. I'd MUCH rather have it behind me, safe, and only have to deal with the FC.
 

Smittefar

Fractal Fanatic
Consider using Scene Toggle instead of Scene Select. Tap switch 1 once, you're on scene one. Tap it again, you're on Scene 2. Tap switch 2 you're on Scene 3, Tap is again you're on scene 4. You may have to double tap switch 1 to go back to scene 2, but that's pretty fast. Faster than holding a switch for 1/2 a second.
I would find that quite confusing in the heat of battle. I would definitely use scene 1/2 toggle a lot for songs that require 3 or less scenes, but when it gets more complicated, I would prefer to just keep pressing FS1 troughout the entire song. With a little bit of careful preparation it can be done.
 

Johan Allard

Forum Addict
  • Add a "knob" expression pedal that controls input volume (same size as a small tap tempo switch) - this is super handy to have so you can adjust for changing guitars live. Choose a guitar as a baseline and then set accordingly for different guitars as needed.
How do you do this? Do you use the global guitar input (Midi 10) or do you configure a block in each live preset? I've been thinking of doing the same thing.
 

yek

Moderator
Moderator
How do you do this? Do you use the global guitar input (Midi 10) or do you configure a block in each live preset? I've been thinking of doing the same thing.
Level in the Input block would be a good choice but I don’t think it allows a modifier (can’t check right now).
 

Johan Allard

Forum Addict
This is a very interesting concept with these new switches, and the Midi Expression IO is a great find @hippietim. I might need two :)

Obviously I've also been thinking how this will work for me live and that I'll ideally would make my rig even smaller. Here's what I've come up with:



This is on a Pedaltrain JR (down from the 2 I'm using now). In this case I'd think I'd use the switches on the bottom rows as Scene 1-5, and then add hold functions for 5 different layouts, possibly Preset Select, and then different layouts that can turn on/off different effects. The final button could be Tap/Tuner.

2 Mini Expression pedals for Lead Volume and possibly now guitar input gain. One Expression pedal for mostly wah and the Line 6 G10s wireless, and this would be a super powerful, flexible and very small rig.
 

Johan Allard

Forum Addict
Level in the Input block would be a good choice but I don’t think it allows a modifier (can’t check right now).
Just checked, unfortunately it's not possible (on an Ax8 at least) to attach a modifier to the input block level.
 

TravisG406

Inspired
This is a very interesting concept with these new switches, and the Midi Expression IO is a great find @hippietim. I might need two :)

Obviously I've also been thinking how this will work for me live and that I'll ideally would make my rig even smaller. Here's what I've come up with:



This is on a Pedaltrain JR (down from the 2 I'm using now). In this case I'd think I'd use the switches on the bottom rows as Scene 1-5, and then add hold functions for 5 different layouts, possibly Preset Select, and then different layouts that can turn on/off different effects. The final button could be Tap/Tuner.

2 Mini Expression pedals for Lead Volume and possibly now guitar input gain. One Expression pedal for mostly wah and the Line 6 G10s wireless, and this would be a super powerful, flexible and very small rig.
Are you planning on a FC6 to connect all the peripherals? It only has 2 inputs on the back for pedals. Edit: Ah I missed what your device in the top left is - carry on :)
 

hippietim

Fractal Fanatic
It is 100% a compromise. Some guys compromise to save money and some to save floor space.

I personally use 10 of the 11 buttons on the Ax8 all the time so I would absolutely need the fc6 and to avoids getting a new pedal board that would be easy to big I need to keep my exp on the floor. I currently have a 24x12 board which would fit the FM/FC perfect but no exp. I am not going to step up to a 32 inch wide board because I don’t need the extra real estate
It is not a compromise for me at all really. At my last gig I paid more attention to my tap dancing on the AX8. I used 4 patches total all night. I never switched more than 3 blocks on/off in any song (most were one or two). And even with the AX8, I have my expression pedals at an angle away from it so the FM3 is really pretty good for me.
 

hippietim

Fractal Fanatic
How do you do this? Do you use the global guitar input (Midi 10) or do you configure a block in each live preset? I've been thinking of doing the same thing.
A Filter block set to type Null right after In1 is perfect for this. You can set a minimum level so if the knob gets bumped and turned down you'll still have some reasonable level - the idea here is not to turn the guitar off, just to balance levels between guitars a bit.
 

hippietim

Fractal Fanatic
The other guitar player in one of my bands (and fellow Fractal user) built a cool footswitch for doing level boosts. It's got 4 switches and depending on which one you select, a different fixed resistor value is selected. To any effects unit, it looks like an expression pedal. It's pretty cool.
 
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