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Geddy Lee - Samplers/Sequencers/Foot Controllers - where to start?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by snoopyjc, Sep 22, 2004.

  1. I read with interest about Geddy Lee's stage setup and his ability to trigger Samplers and Sequencers with a Foot Controller:

    Geddy also began using larger 76-key controllers onstage to play or trigger what were now, more and more being loaded offstage into Akai-made samplers, which would record old sounds and "events" from their past songs.

    The advent of programmable sequencers was a major addition to the Rush sound. They allowed the band to trigger keyboard passages, while they continued to play their regular instruments.

    As the years go on, and technology became more sophisticated, keyboard parts and even background vocals would no longer need to be played from the stage, or even an offstage synthesizer. They simply could be recorded onto a sample and triggered from the foot of any one of the three musicians.

    http://framisdave.com/rush/Rush Gear & Gizmos Geddy Lee Rush Archives.htm

    My question is - how do I CHEAPLY get into using such things? What would I buy for a foot controller, and what can I add to my bass rack to store sounds that I can trigger by my foot?

    --joe http://www.simplegroovenj.com/
  2. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    Cheaply? That's a pretty subjective term.

    As far as MIDI pedals go, the Roland PK-5 seems to be widely used.

    I have a small keyboard rig that consists of an old Ensoniq SQ-2, Tascam US-428 interface and a laptop loaded with Cubase and various VSTi's. (Including the PPG Wave 2.3). With this setup, I can still use the old keyboard sounds and have tons of options from the laptop.

    You could do similar with any MIDI keyboard, (I would recommend one with its own sounds in case the computer takes a dump.), a MIDI interface and old laptop. As an alternative, you could look at the Roland PK-5 and any MIDI rack unit. Ensoniq has several you can find on eBay.

    -Good luck.
  3. I'll echo the above posters comments. Cheaply....is what you make of it
    I use a Pk5 midi foot controller and a alesis nanobass or nanosynth. Works pretty well to emulate moog pedals and other bass synth types sounds. For triggering sampler you'll need a sampler in addition. The nice thing w/ the Pk5 is that it has the capacity to activate a few functions via midi, if you set the thing up properly you can trigger a keyboard or midi rack mountable unit which is filled w sequences, triggerable samples and sounds where you do nothing but step on pedals to activate these events. For me I've had great success using the Pk5 for playing bass notes, bass synth and layers of sounds. but remember your using your feet, so practice and wear skinny shoes
    As for how cheaply, here are some approx costs..the pedal are about 400-500US the synth module 100-200US, samplers 200-500
  4. Thanks for the pointer to the "bass pedals" - they look like the ones I used to use when I played my neighbor's Lowry Organ back in the day!!!

    Here's a totally different idea:

    I just came across the ZOOM BFX-708 II in a local music store, and was wondering if (after I added a SmartMedia card), if it would be good enough to give me the samples I wanted to add to live playing. This thing is only like $150.

    o Sampler Function
    Up to 6 seconds of your favorite guitar sounds or musical phrases can be sampled through the AUX IN. Using an optional 128 MB Smart Media card, the sampling time can be expanded to 32 minutes. Using a foot pedal, sampled sounds can be played once, or looped indefinitely. Built-in data storage is 16 bit un-compressed high quality sound. You can slow down the re-play speed of a sample up to 25 percent without changing the pitch--excellent for phrase training.

    o Patch-Sync Function
    60 effect patches can be linked with 60 drum patterns, and 60 files of sampled sound. You can perform highly sophisticated playing techniques with simple operations, such as changing effects and drum patterns together while playing, or re-playing different sampled sounds with each patch.

    o Using Smart Media Cards (optional)
    Using a 32 MB Smart Media card as expansion memory, you can store up to 60 files for the sampler and 5 groups of patch memory. Using a Smart Media reader/writer with a USB interface, Smart Media card can also be used as an interface between the 708II and your PC. You can back up data, as well as exchange patches and samples on the Internet.


    Any opinions?

  5. its hard to say how good it will be. Obviously the more data the better the sample, quality wise
    next how many samples will it make or take? if it only stores one sample them all you can trigger is one, not good.
    Also can you assign midi triggers to each sample? so one pedal= one sample
  6. It's supposed to hold 60 samples. I just grabbed a gently used one from eBay for only $80, so I'll check it out and post the results.

  7. yes please do post the result.
    I've been looking for a "cheep" sampler. Out of curiousity can you trigger each of sixty samples from midi?
  8. I've got a Zoom 708II- triggering several samples live would be a nightmare- you need to get down and turn the rotary controller to select the sample.
    also, if you're playing your bass through it the setup- ie. a bass amp won't be ideal for a keyboard sample- samples are best routed to the PA.

    I've got an old Roland mini sampler- the MS-1, which allows samples to be assigned to MIDI notes, edited etc.
    and triggered by a MIDI input (or a footswitch for one sample).

    there's also the Boss DR Sample that was similar, the yamaha SU10 and AKAI S20 ;
    all of these should be going cheap on ebay.

    ps. www.loopersdelight.com for info on samplers.
  9. Smash- Thanks for the heads up.
    I've seen that pedal setup on EBAy before.Its reasonably priced for what it is. I believe its a FATAR pedal board. The yamaha FB-01 is a old school sampler which has to be preloaded w/ a Flash Ram, so these guys apparently have access to them. Its should work fine for emulating Moog style pedals.
    The reason i went w/ the Pk5 is the versatility. I can control a few different Midi units at once(daisy chained), transpose octaves (very uselful), add polyphony, and the pedal action is velocity sensitive. So besides bass pedals, you can play synth, trigger samples, start/stop loops and even play drums w/ your feet (should you be so inclined).
    IIRC for Geddy's playing, most of its is sampled phrases or synth loops which he's turning on /off
  10. Ok - I finally got to try out using the Zoom 708 II as an on-stage sampler, and it's NOT going to work. The song in question for this trial is White Lion - Radar Love. I was trying to get the motorcycle sound effect. Here is what happened:

    I was able to load the sample into the pedal, into stored sample #01. Then I was able to assign this sample to a patch. What this means is that if I push the expression pedal down really hard (you almost have to jump on it), then it prepares this sample for play. You then press the left pedal to play the sample. So far, so good. I was encouraged.

    Here is where the major snafu comes in: once you push the expression pedal down all the way to select "sample mode", then your bass sounds STOPS!! All you get is total quiet, no bass! This is the first (show stopper) problem. The second problem is that once you select "sample mode" then you have to bend down and push a little button to turn it off!!! The third problem is that if you accidently press the right pedal while in sample mode, you have just wiped out your sample, and you have to re-record it.

    So, I'm back to square one with this pedal, and I'll probably list it on eBay real soon!

    And I went to all the trouble of preparing the motorcycle sound for my gig this weekend - oh well. :(

  11. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I do it and it sounds pretty good (16bit @ 31.25 KHz is enough for live use). Just keep in mind you have to record the samples with no EQ so they aren't affected by the EQ you will use for your bass. This little piece of cheap gear saved me for losts of these kind of applications. I use a 128MB SmartMedia card so, in theory I could be able to store up to 32 minutes of samples (and up to 60 samples). Do it, it works!!!! Just be carefull to record the samples so that they start exactly when you press the pedal (leaving no leading silence) so you can sync it more precisely live.

    Regarding your other problems:

    - For the pedal switch problem (hard to push for turning on the sampler), just calibrate the pedal (it's in the manual).
    - You can go back to patch selection mode by stepping on the exp. switch once again (would be easy once you perform the aforementioned calibration).
    - Don't know exactly why your bass doesn't sound while playing a sample (in my 708II this works ok), but maybe you have "AUX" selected as the input source for that patch (maybe you did this initially to record the samples) and in that case, the "BASS" input is cancelled. Change this setting to "BASS" (see tha manual, I don't remember how it's done). Confirm this simply without changing anything, just plugging your bass in the AUX input (if my theory's right, you should be able to hear it -but at a very low volume as this input is less sensitive-).
    - I think there's a way to protect the SmartMedia card so that it doesn't allow recording on it, and therefore, keeping your samples from being overriten.

    Good luck!

  12. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I'm sure your bass should be able to sound while playing back a loop. In fact, the sampler function is intended for that purpose.

  13. Wow - you are Da Man!!!

    I got everything to work, except the part where I can protect the sample - one slip up onto that right pedal, and it's gone!! For this, I recorded the same sample into 3 locations in case I "goof".

    FYI, after recording the sample, you press the left "Type V" button in order to change the sampler input from AUX back to BASS. This lets you hear the bass again when using the sampler.

    Thanks so much!

  14. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I do the same thing (write the same sample in several locations or even have a backup SmartMedia card) but I think there has to be a way to make a card "read-only" (mine doesn't have any tab or such a thing for protecting it). I'll keep trying and let you know if I find something. Happy it helped! Who said us spaniards can't help americans!!!! Ok, I'm not exactly a spaniard (I live in Spain but am Argentinian). Take care...

  15. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Look at this. This is a digital voice recorder's owner's manual and on page 4 it explains which part of the SmartMedia card you have to cover in order to write-protect it. Hope this helps. I'll try with mine.


  16. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Ok, so now, with the mentioned seal attached, if the 708II attempts to write on a write-protected card, the "WP ERR" message appears on the display, which leads me to think you won't be able to record a new sample neither you'll lose the one previously stored in that sample no. ¿Was I right? (I cannot check this out now as I'm at work). Good luck!

  17. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    I wasn't able to protect the SmartMedia card until I found out by myself that the write-protect seal has to be reflective (kind of silver plated paper). I attached some freezer paper to the card with transparent tape and it worked ok (I'll look for a more flexible solution later on). When I try to record on a given sample number, the 708II displays the "WP ERR" message, no recording starts, and the previous sample at that position is kept safe and sound.

  18. buahahaha.....
  19. Don't laugh... It's working now!!! Read the posts from andruca.

    ... and to think I bought this on eBay for only $80!!! ...what a deal!!

  20. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    Just last night I played "ACOUSTIC GUITAR" on my 708II during a song. I'm working with a band that although they use no sequences nor recorded tracks, the drummer does use a metronome, so we recorded an acoustic guitar with a parallel track with the click of the song (on my Audacity -I use Linux-), EQed, compressed and reverbed it, and then sampled it on the 708II. As the acoustic guitar plays the intro of the song too, I just started the playback and then the drummer started his click synched over it. Just perfect for these kind of stuff!!!!