So there hasn't been a bigger buzz word than "MIDI" in the pedal world lately. What does MIDI stand for, what does it do, and why do I need it? These are all great questions and I plan to answer them in today's post.
What Does MIDI Stand For?
"MIDI" stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface, it is a technical standard that describes a communications protocol, digital interface, and electrical connectors, that connect a wide variety of electronic musical instruments, computers, and related audio devices for playing, editing and recording music.
What Does MIDI Do?
In the guitar pedal world it is most commonly used for either expanding the functionality of a specific pedal or is used as the "technical" brains for controlling a complete pedalboard system. In most situations you will be dealing with MIDI PC (Program Change) messages and MIDI CC (Control Change) messages. PC messages are used to recall presets on your guitar pedals and CC messages usually control the individual knobs, switches, and various guitar , pedal specific features, like switching algorithms or preset scrolling, etc.
Why Do I Need MIDI?
Let's take a closer look at our JET Micro and our JET MCX. These two pedals look very similar however they offer two very different styles of using MIDI. Earlier we mentioned "MIDI is most commonly used for either expanding the functionality of a specific pedal or is used as the "technical" brains for controlling a complete pedalboard system". Expanding the functionality of a pedal is the main reason why we created the JET Micro and controlling a complete pedalboard the reason we created the JET MCX.
The JET Micro was designed to give the user complete functionality over the HX Stomp by giving them access to 6 additional stomp buttons plus control over the 3 snapshots, preset scrolling, tap tempo, the tuner, and the most commonly used looper controls. The JET Micro was designed to be a plug and play MIDI controller with all of the MIDI commands preprogrammed so the user doesn't have to worry about the in's and out's of learning how to program MIDI. The benefit is a true plug-n-play solution (no programming required) and setup is quick and easy. One drawback is the JET Micro is not customizable, meaning you cannot change the layout of any of the buttons or controls.
The JET MCX was designed to control multiple MIDI enabled pedals simultaneously, giving the user access to control up to 16 MIDI pedals with a single click of a button. The MCX's name is an acronym for MIDI Controller X (X for ten) because the MCX has 10 presets per bank. Which is achieved by multifunction switches that allow single press, long press, & 2-button presses (single and long). Each preset will send 16 MIDI messages that can be user assignable via our easy to use web editor. The user can send multiple messages to a single pedal or any combination of messages to multiple pedals at one time, the possibilities are limitless! The MCX also has 8 different banks of 10 presets per bank allowing the user to store and send up to 1,280 MIDI messages. I personally use the MCX's presets as song presets, the Intro preset will send out the MIDI clock/BPM for song then call up all of the individual sounds I'll need from my individual pedals for the intro of the song. Then I'll assign another preset to the verse, another for the chorus, and another for bridge, and possibly another for the lead hook if required for the song. I'll use the MCX's 8 different banks as my setlist for Sunday morning, bank 1 - first song, bank 2 - second song, etc. Others may want to save each bank to control specific MIDI pedals.
An example would be setting up the first bank as a utility bank, one preset for tap tempo, another to control the tuner on an HX Stomp or other MIDI enabled pedal with a tuner. Then you could use the reset of the presets to jump to other banks on the MCX. Those banks could be used for specific pedals like a Strymon BigSky or Timeline, etc. then the user could set one preset to return back to the utility preset. This will give you quick access to jump back and forth between your utility bank and other specific pedal banks.
While both examples only scratch the surface on what each pedal can do, I think by now you can see the differences between the JET Micro and the JET MCX to help make an informed decision when comparing the two different MIDI pedals.
How do you use MIDI and which pedal better suits your needs? Let us know in the comments below!