Poor man's Taurus pedals?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by davesisk, Dec 31, 2012.


  1. davesisk

    davesisk

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Hey folks...like some of you, I've always been interested in grabbing some Taurus pedals...but they're expensive AND glitchy. There's a couple or three foot-operated "organ pedal" midi controllers that could be paired up with a sound module for a Taurus-like experience...also not exactly a cheap approach though. Plus, any of these options are large and heavy to lug around. And considering that it's probably not something I'd use frequently (just guessing), it seems awefully hard to justify all the expense to just try it and see if I like it.

    So, I was thinking...:eek: :p...most synths are essentially a tone source (like a sawtooth or squarewave oscillator or such) and then some envelope filters, distortions, etc. We already know from just simple effects pedals that we can get some very synth-ish sounds from our bass guitars...for instance, the EHX Bassballs, EHX Bass Microsynth, or some fuzz + envelope filters + whatever other effects. Many of us already have some of these pedals, either in singular analog form stompboxes, or built into bass multi-effects units. The only thing we lack is a foot-pedal operated "keyboard" (ie. "organ pedals") that is a tone-source.

    That said...I'm wondering about the possibility of building an inexpensive pedalboard with 1) a simple analog circuit to generate a tone signal, and 2) thirteen stompbox-style momentary footswitches arranged like a piano to function as the "keys". Then, just run the output through whatever effects pedals or multi-effects unit that you choose. You could even use an ABY pedal or box to route the "synth pedal" output through the effects, the bass guitar through the effects, or both through the effects. With just simple footswitches rather than the big organ-pedal type foot-friendly "keys", the "synth pedal" tone source itself would be fairly small, lightweight, and portable, compared to even the midi-controller foot-pedals.

    What do you guys think of this idea?

    For instance, I've got an old Ibanez SB-7 bass guitar synth pedal lying around that I've "decommissioned" (plus a couple other old pedals)...the SB-7 sucks for bass guitar (IMO...really washed-out tone, no attack at all...but very good tracking)...I've tried running a keyboard through it with some sustained portamento string sounds, and that was actually a pretty darned cool and useable tone (and similar to what I'd be able to do in terms of playing sustained notes with my feet). So, I could see something like this being a really cheap but decent solution to Taurus-gas.

    There are plenty of simple circuit designs to create an "electronic organ" or similar...I'm not anything remotely resembling an electronics guru, but the circuit schematics look simple enough that I could probably put one together without a huge amount of difficulty. I *think* I could probably kludge something together for well less than $200 (including all of the electronic components, footpedal switches, knobs, power supply, wood and supplies to build the pedalboard itself, etc....it might make sense to just built it into one of the wood pedalboard cases if I can find one wide enough to fit 13 footswitches in a piano-like arrangement, that way it's already it's own case).

    So, if I'm going to go to all the trouble of putting something like this together, then I'd probably want to build a few of them and sell all but one. (I'm referring to just the "synth pedal" tone source...specific effects pedals would not be included, add your own.) No commitment necessary (just gauging interest), but would anyone be interested in buying one if 1) the result turned out pretty decent, and 2) the price was $200 or less?

    I've got a little more reading/digging/etc to do before actually attempting this...but just wanted to guage the level of interest here. Let me know what you think. :bassist:

    Cheers,
    Dave
  2. jimfist

    jimfist Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    Location:
    Boston, MA (USA)
    don't know if this helps, but the Behringer FCB1010 MIDI Pedal allows you to transmit MIDI notes, individually programmable via each of its 10 preset patch buttons. True, it's not a full octave or anything, but we are talking about "poor man's" stuff here. You can control any old MIDI keyboard synth module's sounds with the FCB1010 while changing it's preset to boot, and many synth modules can be had for cheap cheap cheap these days.
  3. SactoBass

    SactoBass There are some who call me.......Sactobass Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2009
    Location:
    Sacramento California
    Another option would be to pick up a used Roland PK-5 (full octave midi pedals) and then just hook up a synth module to it.
  4. davesisk

    davesisk

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    Hey guys, thanks for the posts. Yup, I've seen the Roland PK-5 (and there's another one similar, but I don't recall the model). There's also the Zoom B9.1u that has synth module built in...you can play 8-9 notes with your feet in it's synth module. I wasn't aware of the Behringer FCB1010 midi pedal though...I'll check that out.

    Cheers,
    Dave
  5. Grimoire

    Grimoire

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2001
    Location:
    Ålesund, Norway
    What do you mean by glitchy? I have the Taurus III, it's not glitchy at all.
  6. avvie

    avvie

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    Location:
    Maui, HI
  7. davesisk

    davesisk

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
  8. davesisk

    davesisk

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    I've seen several posts on here about how the Taurus pedals are "temperamental"...things like they won't play until warmed up, etc. Maybe that was just the I and II pedals though...thanks for correcting me if I was incorrect, because I dont' have any personal experience with any of them.

    Dave
  9. Grimoire

    Grimoire

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2001
    Location:
    Ålesund, Norway
    It's true in regards to the T1, and most older VCO synths, that they need time to warm up before they are in tune, but modern designs have generally dealt with that problem. The fact that T1's are over 30 years old also means you are going to get problems associated with wear and tear.

    Good luck with the project, if you can pull this off for less than $200 you'll be doing well. :)
  10. eddododo

    eddododo Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
  11. davesisk

    davesisk

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2004
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC
    So, looks like this Keith McMillen 12 Step sells for about $260 new, plus the Midi Expander to allow it to control a hardware synth module for about $45 new. That's not a bad price...notatall.

    Dave
  12. avvie

    avvie

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2010
    Location:
    Maui, HI
    I have one on my wish list to play Taurus sounds live from Mainstage on a tablet or Mac Mini. Not until I can make it pay for itself though.
  13. Mod Bod

    Mod Bod

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    Hello there. I registered so that I can show you my poor man's Taurus.

    [​IMG]

    If you are a Facebook user, you can see some of the build sequence here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.491017110956384.110720.100001442984290&type=3

    I've used the 12 Step/Minitaur set up for a couple of weeks now and I'm getting a positive response from it. The set up and transport was a bit of a pain on my first week but this housing made it a breeze. I plugged it into AC power, ran a couple of 1/4" cords to my instrument and my amp and tuned the synth and I was ready to go.

    I have a little Behringer line level mixer in the set up and I use that to blend the pedal volume with my bass so I don't have to worry about the FOH guy making a decision about levels unless I want them too.
  14. bludog

    bludog Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2012
    Location:
    Brooklyn, NY 11211
    ^This is awesome. Really well done. How much did it run when all is said and done? And time invested? just curious if don't mind sharing...
  15. coyote1

    coyote1

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    The beauty of the FCB is that you have far more than an octave at your disposal, because you can program any note number to any pedal. Furthermore, with the right synth attached (I use a JP-8000) you can actually conjure up three note chords. Makes doing Police, Rush and other stuff possible.
  16. Mod Bod

    Mod Bod

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2013
    It worked great. It was a bit of work getting some overly long USB cords to fit in the box. I intentionally tried to keep the foot print small to preserve the 48 x 48 riser space I'm working on. It was a bit cramped.

    I've got some short (1 ft) USB midi cables on the way and I will replace them this weekend. It all worked regardless.

    The savings in set up time was incredible. And not having to pack up all the pieces on breakdown was great.

    I built the unit in 4-5 hours.
  17. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Whoa, exactly what I have been looking for. Thanks. I wanted to get the Roland pedals but the amount I would play them doesnt justify the cost, but this just might be on its way to my house soon.
  18. jgroh

    jgroh Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Im a relative noob to this but, can you use the behringer fcb to play notes like you would use the roland midi pedals?
  19. coyote1

    coyote1

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2012
    Yes. It can send a single note# for each pedal.
  20. grouse789

    grouse789

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2004
    Location:
    Westchester NY
    I used to use the roland PK-5 with a Korg Micro Korg as the "brain". That unit can get some nice warm taurus like sounds. That was a few years ago.
    I now use the Pk-5 in conjunction with a Korg triton at my church. hehehe. Who ever thought I could borrow an idea from geddy lee & company and use it in church. No taurus sounds but for more "warm" pad sounds, or string instrument sounds.

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