Triggering live samples, Geddy Lee style

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Naggon, Feb 4, 2019.

  1. Naggon


    Nov 8, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    Hey folks,
    I'm trying to figure out what equipment I need to trigger samples in a live setting using a midi foot controller while I'm playing bass, much like what Geddy and Rush do.

    I have midi foot controllers (Roland PK-5 and Digital Music 'Ground Control') but I'm not sure what's best for the actual midi-brain. From the research I've done, it seems to be either super old school rack mount gear that's heavy, expensive, and needs floppy disks to load audio (I haven't had a floppy drive for well over a decade!) OR it's this super complex modern stuff with way too many features that's designed for DJ's or electronic music artists. All I want to do is trigger backing tracks at certain moments in the songs! Seems like there should be a simple piece of equipment to do this, right...?

    Assistance is greatly appreciated!

    PS. I've tried using a simple looper pedal (DigiTech Jamman) which ALMOST does the trick, but the trouble is that all the samples automatically loop and repeat, and you have to hit the pedal twice at just the right time in order to stop it. This makes it really hard to trigger one sample, then trigger the next one, not to mention scrolling through the damn interface to get to the next sample while I'm already playing bass and singing!
  2. Adamixoye

    Adamixoye A PT Pro is cool for worship, right?

    Apr 9, 2012
    Occasional Beta Tester for Confusion Studios, Singular Sound, and Source Audio
    Pigtronix Infinity maybe? I own one, have not tried it for this. But maybe?
    monsterthompson likes this.
  3. escaraBAJO


    Apr 24, 2000
  4. The Akai MPX8 or MPX16 work well with the PK-5. I know someone who does it that way. The downside is if you sample a lot on every song, you could run into issues with loading times. I personally use the BeatBuddy. It has to be the full pedal and not the midi. This gives you one sample per part of a song (if you know how the BeatBuddy works that sentence makes more sense) that you can trigger with a normal foot switch. Otherwise you can build drum kits within the BeatBuddy that are assigned to the notes of your PK-5, but use custom samples as the specific parts within your drum kit. Again, file size limitations are the big "maybe" of whether these would work for you. One thing I do is pan all my samples on one side, and pan a click track to the other side so all my samples can be synced to the tempo and I can give a click track to all the other members of my band using only the BeatBuddy. We are using in ears for that though. I personally using the Keith McMillen 12 step.
    Adamixoye likes this.
  5. Adamixoye

    Adamixoye A PT Pro is cool for worship, right?

    Apr 9, 2012
    Occasional Beta Tester for Confusion Studios, Singular Sound, and Source Audio
    I own a Beat Buddy as well and should have thought of this! This is actually a really good solution.
  6. Naggon


    Nov 8, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    These are good suggestions - I didn't know that the Jamman had a 'one shot' option which doesn't cause loops to repeat! That's a good start!

    Ultimately, though, I'd like to find something where I can load up each 'song' and then have the pedals on my PK-5 correspond to different samples (chorus, verse, etc) rather than scrolling through 30 numbers on my Jamman and trying to remember which is which.

    Thanks for the help so far!
  7. Adamixoye

    Adamixoye A PT Pro is cool for worship, right?

    Apr 9, 2012
    Occasional Beta Tester for Confusion Studios, Singular Sound, and Source Audio
    I'm thinking the Beat Buddy could be a really good solution for you. You have songs, and each song has multiple parts. You can assign one "accent" to any part, that can be triggered at any time.

    I'm not sure what a PK-5 is...
  8. Naggon


    Nov 8, 2006
    Vancouver, BC
    PK-5 is a midi bass pedal trigger... like what you'd find on an organ, just one octave of pedal keys to play synth or trigger whatever you want with your feet. Rush used Moog Taurus pedals which are basically the same thing.
  9. jimfist

    jimfist "Cling tenaciously to my buttocks!"

    Mar 28, 2011
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I used the Behringer FCB1010 to trigger MIDI notes on a BOSS SP-303. I didn't need to trigger a whole lot of sounds (SP303 could hold 4 banks of 8 sound = 32 total), so it was relatively compact and did the trick. And the FCB1010 was my MIDI effects controller for my bass modeling/multi-fx, so it all integrated nicely.

    What you're doing is using MIDI note data from your pedal to trigger custom samples that are "mapped" across a virtual keyboard (notes 0-127) on the sampler. A simple concept, but may or may not be so easy to achieve to your satisfaction, again, depending on what your needs are.

    The FCB1010, being a programmable pedal with 10 banks of 10 programmable switches, pretty much allowed me the flexibility to trigger whatever I wanted within the confines of a 10 switch bank. Every switch could trigger a unique note of my choosing, or it could be set up with sequential notes to play melodies of "static" synth sounds. Difficult to get the hang of programming, but a very flexible pedal for low $$$.

    The Boss SP303 "Dr. Sample" was cool because it had ALL of the various trigger/re-trigger modes I needed (gate playback, one-shot, looped) and was pretty small.

    I won't say it was the most elegant method of doing this, but it worked well for me for a number of years.

    Here's a link to the SP303 manual if your're interested:
  10. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Mainstreet and 12 Step is something I've got in mind for triggering samples and soft synth.
  11. Sub-hoo-fer


    Nov 27, 2015
  12. cosmicevan

    cosmicevan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Inactive

    An electrix repeater can do this in spades...I know because it was one of the many things I used to use it for (mine is currently listed for sale in my sig ;)). I believe you can access a play once command through MIDI. Depending on your controller, you can also sequence MIDI commands as well to accomplish a play once and do all sorts of other awesomeness. Alternatively you could always keep your existing setup and just leave black space at the end of your clip so if it is going to loop you have time to stop it before it repeats.

    That's just one of the many ways to handle it. Repeater would be overkill for JUST that, but its got some amazing time/pitch stretching and shifting powers if you are looking for more.