In the previous tip, we discussed using a volume pedal to control the loop feedback on the Gibson Echoplex. However, there are many more useful features that are difficult or complicated to access from the front panel during performance – and that’s where MIDI comes in. MIDI interacts with the Echoplex in a number of ways. For example, you can virtually control all front-panel buttons with Note On or Continuous Control messages, as well as those difficult complicated features we mentioned earlier. MIDI Note On messages can be used to trigger loops, and MIDI clocks can be used to synchronize the Exhoplex’s cycle time with drum machines and sequencers, which is the subject of this tip.
In Echoplex-speak, a cycle is the time it takes to play through one loop (without Insert or Multiply functions activated). The 8th/Cycle parameter determines how the loop is divided. For example, if 8ths/Cycle = 8, the subdivisions are on 8th-note boundaries of the loop time. If 8ths/Cycle = 4, the subdivisions are on quarter-notes. When synchronizing with MIDI, 8ths/cycle determines the number of 8th-notes that make up each cycle. In order to use this feature, you must have a device that generates or syncs to MIDI Clock messages. In order to sync the Echoplex to a drum machine or sequencer, do the following:
- Set 8ths/Cycle=8.This means that each cycle will be eight 8th-notes (one measure) long.
- Set Sync=Out.
- Connect the MIDI In port of a sequencer or drum machine to the Echoplex MIDI Out port using a standard MIDI cable.
- Load a pattern or sequence into your drum machine or sequencer. Set the clock parameter to Internal and play back the material to verify that your MIDI and audio connections are working. Stop the device.
- Set your drum machine or sequencer to sync to incoming MIDI Clocks.
- Press Play on your drum machine or sequencer. It will wait for incoming clocks before taking off.
- Record a loop one measure long (in 4/4 time) in the Echoplex. As soon as you press Record the second time, MIDI clocks will be transmitted. Your drum machine or sequencer should play back in perfect sync.
If you want to sync to loops that have different lengths, set 8ths/Cycle appropriately. For instance, set 8ths/Cycle=6 to sync to a 3/4 time measure, or set 8ths/Cycle=16 to sync to two 4-beat measures.