I hope this information can help some of you to find that useful midi controller that works well with the AxeFXIII and has tons of options you can easily configure yourself. This unit can do it for sure!
Coming from the AxeFXII with a MFC-101 to the AxeFXIII, I had no clue that the MFC-101 would not work with bi-directional communication like it did with the II.
FAS had released the FC-6 / FC-12 as MFC for the III and I would really like to own one of these, but unfortunately for me this is financially not an option at the moment.
I started searching for a third party midi controller that would have bi-directional communication with the AxeFXIII
This controller has to qualify as a replacement for the MFC-101 and also fit my budget. I found just that device!
The device is from Siberia, IMO build like a Russian tank and also can be easily programmed just how I like it. I am referring to BJ-devices, in my case the TB-11P
I did not know about BJ-devices until i read some info on the fractal forum:
I came across another thread about custom firmware possibilities: “Build your own midi controller based on BJ Devices open hardware platform:”
This TB-12 review finally made me decide I really wanted a controller like this:
I visited the store on https://bjdevices.com/en/ to see what products they sell
The TB-11P got my interest because of the 11 buttons and the futuristic build-in expression-pedal that has multicolor LEDs on it
*Buying a MFC:
I got in touch with the owner of BJ-Device @Sergei Burenkov on Reverb.com. I ordered the TB11-P here because paying with Paypal was optional
The package was send with Russian post with a track and trace code, so to me this was all good
Because of the virus situation around March 2020, it took a long time for the device to get to me because of all lockdowns
All credit to Sergei for localizing my package at some point, as the tracker was not updated for many, many weeks
The packaging whas okay to me. The package looked like it had seen a lot of the world, but still it had survived the beating of the travel
*Opening the package:
The unit was wrapped in bubble plastic and had styrofoam on the edges to protect the sides of the MFC
Also included in the box:
- Power adapter
- Usb connection cable
- Hexagon key to adjust the expression-pedal
- The package also contained two gift guitar pics with the BJ-Device logo on it
- I also ordered 1 pair of 5 pin midi cables from BJ-device. One of the cables is powered so this way the midi cable powers the footcontroller from the input connection side of the AxeFXIII
*My impression of the quality build of the footcontroller while holding it:
My overall impression of the build quality is good
The footcontroller and the build-in expression-pedal are made of metal and protected with a layer off black (powder) coating
The dimensions in centimeters depth x height are: 44 x 18 x 5cm. The unit is not very heavy but still feels very solid to me.
The footswitches are okay. They work easily, although they make a firm click sound when using them but that is no big deal for me.
The build-in expression pedal length is 18cm. Quite small for my foot to use, but as a volume pedal it will do the job
The expression-pedal has the 11th button at the toe position.
*External Input / output on the back of the footcontroller:
On the back of the unit are the following inputs: SW 1/2, SW 3/4, Exp.P1, Exp.P2, USB, Midi IN, Midi OUT, AC/DC9-15v 500mA port
*My first actual use with the AxeFXIII out of the box:
My first use of the TB-11P with the AxeFXIII and the default firmware out of the box was not a great success. I don't know much about midi CC's, PC's etc, so i had to dig in the manual. Unfortunately the official manual of the BJ-Device was partly in Russian, so i had to use google translate to understand the full manual
*Display of the unit:
The display is a blue color 2 x 16 LCD. It is bright and clear enough for me and IMO big enough to show plenty of info:
In very short time getting the footcontroller to work with the AxeFXIII, I bypassed the official firmware and started working with the @GM Arts custom firmware and software that i found here: http://www.gmarts.org/tb2/index.php
GM-Arts provides custom firmware for all BJ-Device footcontrollers
Beside the firmware GM-Arts has additional Microsoft Windows software called MFC-Edit, that gives you the power to configure your own personal settings that you can upload to the footcontroller. With the firmware and the MFC-Edit software you can use the following options with the BJ-Device
Have a look here: http://www.gmarts.org/tb2/index.php
Flashing the firmware is very easy using the usb connection (The footcontroller is powered by the usb)
Using the Microsoft Windows "Chip45" software you can select the BJ-Device and your firmware file that you can download from GM-Arts website and then you can flash it directly to the footcontroller
*Using the MFC-Edit program:
MFC-Edit is very versatile and lets you set commands to the controller in a very simple way. You can easily select and assign a function of your choice.
*Configuration test emulator:
MFC-Edit also has a emulator that lets you test your setup before uploading to the BJ-Device.
If you have Axe-Edit running on your screen, you can see that the AxeFXIII is responding to your "software" footswitch commands. Really useful feature
*Uploading with the MFC-Edit software:
Uploading the configuration file from the pc into the footcontroller only works with midi.
You need to power the footcontroller with the power adapter. I use a Native Instruments (Audio Kontrol) soundcard that is USB connected to windows and can transfer the data through midi to the TB-11P. This is the only tool i have used to upload software to the unit and it works flawlessly. An upload takes max. 5 seconds to load into the footcontroller
*Bi-directional communication with the AxeFXIII:
The firmware configuration already has Sysex code pre-installed in the functions for AxeFXIII
With the response of the sysex the firmware for instance knows the effect block ON/OFF states and it gives you this information on the footcontroller.
Setting the looper ,Tuner, Tap tempo or multi effect groups...it is all available
Also there are many options you can set in combination with the AxeFXIII. For instance:
In MFC-Edit, you can configure 8 pages, were you can make use of main button functions and HOLD button functions. Really brilliant stuff.
Sum in my case: 8 pages with 11 buttons = 88 Main and 88 HOLD controls. That’s a lot off power at your feet and personally customized
*AxeFX information on the 2 x 16 LCD screen:
You can influence the screen information on the footcontroller with MFC-Edit.
The software provides options for you to configure what you want to see on the LCD
*My configuration with the TB-11P:
I have very straight forward settings. I use two pages with my setup
Page 1: "Preset page"
Footswitch 1 -10 main function setup as preset 1-10
Footswitch 1 - 4 & 6 - 9 HOLD function is setup as stompbox on/off. (LED is red when effect is OFF, green when ON. Not burning means the effect is not optional) Footswitch 5 HOLD function is setup as Bank-Down , Footswitch 10 HOLD function is setup as Bank-Up. The toe footswitch under the expression pedal selects page 2
Page 2: "Scene page"
Footswitch 1 -8 main function setup as scene 1-8. Footswitch 9 is a backtrack footswitch to go to the previous patch that was used. Selecting it again goes back to the current patch
Footswitch 10 main function is setup as TAP tempo with flash
Footswitch 5 HOLD function is setup as Bank-Down , Footswitch 10 HOLD function is setup as Bank-Up
Footswitch 1 - 4 & 6 - 9 HOLD function is setup as stompbox on/off. (LED is red when effect is OFF, green when ON. Not burning means the effect is not optional)
The toe footswitch under the expression pedal selects page 1
*My LCD configuration shows the following:
Row 1: Page number + bank number + preset name
Row 2: Scene name For me, this is enough information in combination with the burning LED on the footcontroller.
The active LED on the footswitch-number gives me the information on the active patch or scene number. On page 1 the active number is a patch, on page 2 this would be the active scene number
See the .zip attachment for my current setup configuration file:
You can import and test my configuration if you like with the MFC-Edit software emulator
*I am thinking of my next configuration will be something like this:
Page 1: Button 1-10 main function are presets. The HOLD function will be Scenes 1-8, 9 and 10 will be bank up/ down. Button 11 wil go to page 2
Page 2: Button 1-10 are stompboxes on the main and the HOLD function will be stompboxes also, but then the 2nd like Delay 2 and Pitch 2 etc... and a button to go to page 1 or 3
Page 3: Looper settings, page 2 and page 1