Expression Pedal Blog

I got this email from a reader this week:

As a fellow keyboard player who has a three keyboard rig for home church and concerts on the road I am curious how if at all you incorporate expression pedals into your setup? I have a curious idea to consider, instead of a mod wheel for shimmer effect, etc. to perhaps instead use an expression pedal for this control and free both hands for the keys. Of course I would run this through Mainstage and assign the pedals accordingly. Any thoughts?


My response: 

Hi Donny,

I think you're on to a great overlooked way to control your Mainstage rig! With the virtually limitless ability to assign the volume controller to any parameter, there's a lot of options. Here's 5 things you might consider using it for: 

1. Filter cutoff on synths. Like you mentioned, this is a super easy way to duplicate the pumping synth sounds found on a lot of modern recordings. 

2. Volume on accordions. This will add a ton of realism to your live performance on acoustic tracks that feature this awesome instrument. 

3. Cross-fade between two instruments. Setting the volume pedal to bring up one channel strips' fader while lowering another can let you build some interesting blended sounds. 

4. Pseudo Side Chaining. A lot of synths "pump" on the down beat using side chains, which can be difficult for keyboardists to duplicate live. Using a volume pedal to simulate that feature really works well. 

5. Fading in a 2nd texture on pads. Use a basic pad channel strip, then blend it with another crazier pad. Map the volume pedal to the 2nd instrument, and ride it in whenever you want to add some excitement to your mix. 

For more information on how to map your foot controller to Mainstage's controls, check this out.