Looping & Controlling MG2/3 With Foot Controllers & Pedals

I’ve been using MG2 on and off for about a year, and just got the MG3 beta. Love this software! Lofileif’s videos are inspiring, but a little bit too fast for me (I’m not at all a midi expert). So I hope you’ll forgive my spate of noob-like questions below. (For reference, I’m using a Mac Air M2 w/ 16gb RAM, a Presonus 68c audiobox, and Studio One 6.6 as my DAW.) I’d love some help on the following:

  1. When I look at Lofileif’s amazing videos with their seamless performances, my sense is that he’s not doing this within a DAW, but rather using MG2 or 3 in standalone form as the primary software intermediary between the guitar and the amplifier. Is that right?
  2. Following that question, is it fair to say that the goal of MG3 is to replace as many other pieces of intermediary software and hardware as possible? In effect, MG3 is supposed to be the ultimate pedalboard for live performances (or for recording into a DAW for subsequent editing)?
  3. If that’s the case, then I see that using some kinds of live midi controllers - like expression pedals or breath controllers - is absolutely necessary, yes? For example, MG3 has a looper module, and I can’t see any way that looper can be operated effectively by hand, if your hands are on the guitar?
  4. Let’s assume that’s right so far: So what’s the simplest setup to operate MG2 or 3 standalone with foot switches, and which ones? @maximum has posted about his setup, but I’m not quite clear on the routing setup. If I’m reading it right, he’s got both a guitar and a midi foot controller both going into an audiobox; the audiobox is outputting to his laptop with MG2/3 installed; the sound output from the audiobox is going into a hardware looper; and the looper is outputting to an amp. Is that the basic routing for playing or practicing live?
  5. Second to last question (for now): Assuming my primary interest is being able to use my foot pedal to switch among various MG2/3 instrument emulations (a sax, a synth, a string ensemble, an acoustic guitar, etc.), what’s the easiest foot controller to work with? @maximum is using a Behringer FCB 1010, but it sounds like a pain in the butt to learn to program, and it appears to require hardware to upgrade its firmware. And I guess it also needs a midi to USB interface? Is there something simpler?
  6. Now the last question: Let’s say I’m successful in setting this up to loop different MG2/3 instruments together for practice. Now I want to record. Can these midi controllers be used to control my DAW?

Sorry for this lengthy post. If there’s a “for dummies” version of how to use MG2/3 for live or live-to-tape performances, I’d welcome a link!

to help you select a foot pedal controller, i’d first suggest listing all the things you want to control. most options do not have enough expression controllers, imho.

my list includes wah, aftertouch/channel pressure, crossfade (loops vs not loops), blend (raw midi vs effected midi), and rotary speed.

this effectively rules out options like the fcb1010 (which you don’t want to lug to a gig anyway) and the line6 FBV EXPRESS MKII (a great controller).

there are some options here:
https://www.audiofront.net/MIDIExpression.php

(i haven’t used any of these but i think a few board members have reported positive experiences)

building your own using an arduino cpu and opendeck is also worth considering. this is the way i went, with three $20 nektar expression pedals and four momentary switches.

Now I want to record. Can these midi controllers be used to control my DAW?

midi cc is needed for mg2 but daws want midi pc or mackie control. so, you won’t be able to control mg2 and your daw at the same time.

it’ll be much easier to have a dedicated controller for recording purposes.

I’ll try to give you my opinion to your questions

  1. It very much depends on how you intend to use MG2/3. If you just want to play live most can be done with the standalone application. As soon you want to record something or the setup is getting more complex the DAW is the right thing to work with.
  2. MG3 is something complete different than any other “pedalboard” out there. If you replace all other board, effects or hardware synths is your decision and probably not the goal why MG was developed (just my opinion).
  3. Using any controller is not “necessary” but very recommendable since only then you can make full use of all the features.

Now your questions 4-6 can’t be answered that easy. You are seeking help where one doesn’t know your intensions and knowledge of MIDI controllers in general.
There are so many different controllers and all have their pros and cons. To start and stop the looper and switching single chains in MG3 on and off a simple 4 knob Bluetooth controller will do it. If you want to have expression pedals and more flexibility to even control your DAW I recommend the Behringer FCB1010. You will have to change the EPROM to get the full functionality out of it and you will have to learn how to program it. But what I could learn, everyone else should be able to learn as well! With the bank up and down options you can get 20 different CC commands on your 2 expression pedals and 100 different CC, PC or Note command on your switches depending on how you program it. With my FCB1010 I control a VG99, SY-1000, GM-800, GR-55, GP-10 and Cubase in parallel. I set-up one bank that is for guitar rig 7 exclusively and one I use for MG3 only.

Thanks for your help, folks! It’s much appreciated. I don’t think the FCB 1010 is for me. I looked at this video, and while I can get comfortable changing the chip, the unit itself is the size of a tank (and honestly, it seems nuts that in 2024 we’d have to be changing hardware for what is essentially a firmware upgrade).

At this stage in my noob-ness, I’m looking for something that’s as close as possible to plug and play, either Bluetooth or wired.

Speaking of noob-ness, on the midi pedal interfaces offered by Audiofront that you link to, is the theory of the case that one can plug multiple expression pedals or on/off switches into the interface, and the interface plugs into the laptop (or the audiobox)?

behringer fcb1010 change eprom - Google Search -

Correct, you can connect pedals and/or switches and route it via USB cable to your laptop.

although the audiobox does have midi in and out, it is simpler to run your pedals directly into the computer via usb. in most cases devices which connect exp/momentary pedals to midi do not have 5 pin ‘real’ midi ports, only ‘virtual’ usb midi.

midi input devices which do not have usb (like the fcb1010) would attach to your audiobox via 5 pin cables.

there are some inexpensive bluetooth options on amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/HHOP-Chocolate-Wireless-Controller-Rechargeable/dp/B0B8GCD2SS/ref=pd_ci_mcx_pspc_dp_d_2_t_3?pd_rd_w=mksKW&content-id=amzn1.sym.568f3b6b-5aad-4bfd-98ee-d827f03151e4&pf_rd_p=568f3b6b-5aad-4bfd-98ee-d827f03151e4&pf_rd_r=CB1STZXZRHQXW60M0V22&pd_rd_wg=huirt&pd_rd_r=d60318be-5b4b-4703-aaf0-656e9e92369b&pd_rd_i=B0B8GCD2SS

one reason i haven’t experimented with bluetooth devices is that i’d be likely to forget to power them down in between sessions and end up having to connect them to the computer for charging anyway.

The other downside of the M-VAVE Chocolate pedalboard is that you need to install and run two programs in the background that the Bluetooth connectivity really works (at least on a win system).
It’s firstly MIDIberry and secondly loopMIDI. The set-up also requires some knowledge since it sends out PC messages per default.
It’s cheap in all regards!

Again, I really appreciate all this help. Here’s what I’m going to do: I’m going to get the @LoFiLeiF setup from his video - the Boss EV-1-WL expression pedal, the Boss FS-6 footswitch, and the CME Widi Uhost Bluetooth interface. I still don’t understand why I need the latter, since my Mac Air M2 had Bluetooth, but I’m trusting that I need this. I’ll have cables to run this directly. And I’ll experiment with this to see how to get the controls functioning optimally.

If I’m missing anything, please let me know!

So, just to be clear, I never claim to have exhausted all possible avenues when finding any of my gear. I know of a lot of guys in here who probably are more thorough in their research, before investing in any particular pedal or piece of gear. Having said that, I don’t show or suggest anything in my videos that I don’t use myself. Also, I have NEVER gotten a piece of gear for free (yet).

When it comes to solutions such as using the WIDI Uhost rather than my Macs’ own Bluetooth receiving capabilities, those decisions are based on my own experiences of connecting MULTIPLE Bluetooth devices with a single solution. I have stuff like the Livid Guitar Wing, My Roli Seaboard, My breath controllers as well as stuff like my EV1-WL, that I like to be able to connect and disconnect to MG3 just by turning those devices on and off. And I can do that using the WIDI Uhost. Not saying that everybody needs that solution though. It might be an unnecessary expense if you are just connecting one device at a time and feel your computer is handling this without hiccups. I am all about due diligence when it comes to purchases. Try it before you buy it, whenever possible! If you don’t know why you should have it, don’t buy it.

i don’t think you’ll have enough momentary pedals. i haven’t used the mg3 looper, but it probably requires 2 pedals.

multiple looper instances would require more.

and switching between instruments will require another 2. (i’m not sure that mg3 accepts patch up/down)

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I’m glad nana try the setup and see if I can get it working. It’s all geeky fun. And working within the DAW may prove to be more effective. For example, I’m kind of seeing that I can set up multiple tracks in Cubasis 3, each with a separate instance of MG2 that are set to different instruments, and start building improvisational loops on top of each other in the DAW. That way, the foot switch can (I hope) help me switch among tracks… anyway, I’ll try it and see. Stay tuned!

What you want to do is not impossible but it requires a real DAW where you can build and configure your own MIDI Remote Controller according the hardware you have. However a DAW is not a real good looper at all.
You better buy a proper looper plugin and route all relevant audio tracks into that. With foot switches you can easily mute and unmute single audio tracks in your DAW and control what is recorded by the looper or what you want to hear in addition to it. For the looper itself you need at least 3-4 switches (record/play, stop, undo & redo last track recorded, maybe delete).

this is truly a terrible shame. in terms of skilled product demonstrators there are only a handful as deserving as you.

it is possible in my daw to use one footswitch to simultaneously mute track1 and un-mute track2. this would address switching between two instruments.

the main question then becomes how many loopers you expect to run? for songs with verse/chorus many people get by with two instances.

@JamO is ‘long press’ possible in mg3 with a typical midi controller? some loopers use that option quite effectively.

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We did experiment a bit with a one-button approach for both record and play, but it wasn’t immediately obvious to me how it should work. I guess “long press” would start recording after half a second or so, but you kind of loose the timing then?

Related: There is some argument for “starting recording when you play the first note”, but in a way that somehow preserve the loop timing. I think way to implement this, is to skip any number of initial loop rounds of recording silence. That will almost feel like it wait recording until you play the first note, but with timing intact.

I just got one of these, and if its able to send out any kind of MIDI/Sysex or other kind intelligible data, I’ll make it work out of the box, without flashing the EPROM:

timing sensitive triggers like record and play really need to be single shot/immediate, imho.

long press would be useful for loop delete or undo. or to transition between section A and section B.

here’s the latest iteration of my pedalboard (parts = ~$200, not including the blue controller):

Good choice! I’m sure you can make it work out of the box. Below is the MIDI implementation table and as you can see you will have PC, CC and Notes.

With the Uno2 EPROM you have just much more possibilities since you can write your own scripts including variables etc. Switches can be toggle switches and not just monetary as per Behringer default. You can program toe and heel switches for the expression pedals…and so on…

If you are interested to read more here is the link to the Uno2 chip.

https://www.fcb1010.eu/uno2.html

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