Help me play with my feet!
August 22, 2009 10:59 AM   Subscribe

I play guitar with my hands and want to play beats with my feet. Can't figure out what kind of (digital) equipment I would need to accomplish this.

I didn't get the idea from Bob Log III but he definitely inspired me push for it. I already fool around with a little bass drum and cymbal stand but it would be nice to be able to rig up some triggers (?) and a drum machine. Is that what I would need?

Any ideas for the fullest foot-powered percussion possible?
posted by metajc to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The first thing that comes to mind would be a small set of MIDI bass pedals (e.g., the Roland PK-5) with a computer, drum machine or sampler to make the sounds. It's the standard way for guitarists to play notes with their feet, but it'd work fine for percussion too. Those tend to be ridiculously expensive, though (~$500 new, a lot less used), so maybe there's some more economical triggering device out there for beats.
posted by abcde at 12:17 PM on August 22, 2009

There's a device out there designed specifically for guitarists to have a percussive thump that can be stomped out with your foot. Being that you want a little more, I'd suggest getting a Roland V series kit. You won't need most of the pads, but you will need the main module, the bass pedal, and the high hat setup. You could even use multiple bass pedals in other trigger slots for more sounds. It's a bit more intuitive than the PK-5 setup, and would definitely be easier to stomp out some simple beats.

Another question: have you thought about just triggering samples of pre-made loops? That might be a better solution for what you want.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 12:28 PM on August 22, 2009

Response by poster: Yes, I would like to trigger samples of pre-made loops.

I've been searching for "foot triggers" and not finding much. Any specific suggestions?
posted by metajc at 1:55 PM on August 22, 2009

The Digitech Jamman is made to do live, on-the-fly looping, but there's no reason you can't load up its memory card with loops in advance and then trigger them in performance. And if you spring for the optional footswitch you can select loops without bending over.
posted by timeistight at 2:55 PM on August 22, 2009

Best answer: I would not recommend the Jamman for that purpose. I have one (the new pedal version, which is a lot like the Boss Loopstations), and while it's a great looping pedal, it's a real pain in the ass to load samples into and there's not too much memory.

Do you have a laptop? If so, you can just get a simple MIDI interface for it and look for MIDI foot pedals. There are loads of options out there. If not, you'll probably still want a set of MIDI foot pedals (which is what the PK-5 is, but in an organ pedal style box, which I think would not be the best choice) hooked up to a sample looper.
posted by nosila at 3:13 PM on August 22, 2009

it's a real pain in the ass to load samples into and there's not too much memory.

I disagree. It's easy to transfer loops to it over USB (as long as you follow the format and naming conventions) and if you put a 2GB CompactFlash card in it, you can store over six hours worth.

Here's a page on using the Jamman for this application:
posted by timeistight at 3:39 PM on August 22, 2009

Yeah...that tutorial is definitely great. It was mostly the stereo to mono that got to me. I was using a laptop on stage as well, though, and preferred to just figure out a way to trigger that instead, as all my samples are already sitting there and I didn't have to do any conversions whatsoever.

The Jamman still rules, though.
posted by nosila at 6:27 PM on August 22, 2009

This contraption isn't digital, but from what I've seen and heard it can provide the fullest foot-powered percussion possible without resorting to percussion loops, which for a one-man show are a small step above playing along to a CD.
posted by waxboy at 10:40 PM on August 22, 2009

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