Frequently Asked Questions & Tech Tips

Here are some common questions answered about our products. If you don't find what you are looking for, please do not hesitate to email with your questions.

FAQ - Switchblade Family

Q: Why do I need a switching system like the Switchblade.

A: Three words: flexibility,   organization, and creative control. A switching system serves as the central hub   of your rig. Our products allow you to route and reroute connections between   your gear on the fly without ever touching a patch cord, providing a degree of   flexibility that's unheard of in the world of wires. Switch the order of effects   on the fly; run in series or in parallel alongside an unprocessed signal. It's   like having the best "virtual pedalboard" features of today's top digital gear   without being stuck in a one-box-does-it-all effects situation (cause you know   you love those pedals).

Next, a switching system   provides an easy way to keep your setup and sounds organized. Our products allow   you to wire your gear in advance and save preset scenes of each setup you   "invent". There's even a feature for adjusting the overall level between your   programs to help you be balanced. Your band and the audience will be blown away   at how together you've gotten.

Finally, a switching system   is really all about control-- a kind of creativity that's just not possible   otherwise. With our products, you can create any number of interesting effects   "configurations" to finally achieve the sounds you've always wanted; improve the   integrity of your tone while opening the door to imagination. A Switchblade is   like a blank piece of graph paper you can use to design the ultimate   effects/mixing rig, again and again and again. With MIDI in the mix to select   scenes, and even adjust settings like mix, pan, volume, or balance on the fly,   there is virtually no limit to what you will accomplish.

If you're interested in   learning more, visit the Switchblade   pages, or check out the list of pro   artists who are using our products for the flexibility, organization, and   control they provide.

Q: I'm not sure which Switchblade product is right for me. What are the key differences between the models offered?

A: The main differences lie in the capacity and features of the models offered. The Switchblade GL supports 16 inputs and 16 outputs, while the 8 and 8B have eight of each. The GL and the 8B have fully balanced inputs and outputs, which can be VERY nice to have if you are using any 'pro grade' rack gear (or if you hope to avoid ground loops). Other than that, all switchblade models offer the same great features like realtime midi control, preset memories, . For more on the similarities, see our page on Switchblade "family" features.

Q: How extensively can the products of the Switchblade Line be controlled by MIDI?

A: VERY extensively! The basic operating mode allows you to summon Switchblade preset scenes via midi program changes, and every scene can employ two realtime (CC) controls to vary the I/O level of any patch. In Sysex mode, the unit becomes completely midi controlled, with options to make or break every connection, vary levels, and more. Download Switchblade manuals for an in-depth exploration of this topic and the complete midi spec.

Q: Does the Switchblade operate in the analog or digital domain?

A: The Switchblade is an ALL ANALOG audio router. It is digitally controlled, but the audio path is 100% analog (just like YOU and your GUITAR!)

Q: Will the Switchblade affect my sound?

A: The quality of the audio paths in the Switchblade is extremely high. Ultra low distortion and noise as well as an extended bandwidth well into the supersonic range assure that the not only flawless audio passage but very low phase shift to make the signal look like it’s going through no more than a simple audio cable. The audio paths are always short and direct from any input to any output regardless of the complexity of the preset.

Q:  How can I create a controlled feedback loop using my switchblade?

A: Controlled feedback is usually performed by holding a guitar in front of an amplifier so the audio from the amp can vibrate the strings and guitar body and sustain the loop causing a controlled wail. Although you cannot get exactly the same effect using an all electronic loop, you can get some seriously interesting feedback effects using just the Switchblade and attached effects. See the applications section for details about how to create electronic feedback loops.

Q: I heard that (insert famous person here) uses a Switchblade system. Is this true? Which model do they use?

A: Yes. More and more top artists have finally discovered the Switchblade and install them in their touring rigs and session rigs. Some of these artists have informed us that they don’t know how they got by without the Switchblade switching system.

Q: Can I insert effects both before my amp head and in the amp head effect loop using the Switchblade?

A: Yes. To do this connect a cable from the SEND of the head to an input on the Switchblade and another from an output on the Switchblade to the RETURN on the head. Name the input and output something like HEADLOOP on both the input and output. To insert any effects into the loop, simply include the loop in your connections. For example, HEADLOOP->REVERB and REVERB->HEADLOOP will insert your reverb to the FX loop on the amp. Other effects can go before the input at the same time using the usual methods. CAUTION: If you are not inserting an effect into the head loop, then you must always remember to connect the loop anyway by doing a HEADLOOP->HEADLOOP connection. The reason you need to do this is because by inserting a cable into your head loop, you break the audio circuit, so you must connect it in the Switchblade.

Q: What are ground loops and can the Switchblade help tame them?

A: Ground loops are literally audio ground pathways that form a loop. These loops can cause a buzzing noise. The most common ground loop occurs if you are using more than one amplifier since a potential loop exists between the AC power line ground and the audio ground of the two amps. Using the special Amp Lift Cable shown below, you can use your balanced Switchblade to break these loops and eliminate the buzz.

NOTE: If you are using a Switchblade with UNBALANCED outputs, this cable will do nothing. We may still be able to help with a solution however; contact us for more information.

TECH TIPS - Switchblade Family

What Foot Controller Should I use with the Switchblade?

We get asked this question a lot, so here is the complete guide to selecting a foot controller for use with the Switchblade.

Most MIDI Foot Controllers only transmit a subset of the entire set of commands available under MIDI since they have a specific job to do. Here are the three commands (two really) that you need to know about:

Program Change Message: All MIDI foot controllers have this command. This is used to change programs on effects or to change presets in the Switchblade. Basically each switch on the foot controller will transmit a different program number (set by the user) so you can randomly jump to any preset when you step on a switch. This message consists of two parts, the command itself and the program number to go to.

Control Change Message: This message has three parts: the command itself, the controller number (similar to a program number) and a "value". This third part allows this message to offer "continuous control" to do cool things like swell volume, pan, or change the amount of some effect such as the speed of a tremolo for example. This command is usually tied in with a movable pedal called an "expression pedal" and when the pedal is moved the "value" changes in proportion to the pedal position. In the Switchblade this command can be used to do a volume swell, pan between amps, or crossfade between effects. The Switchblade GL can respond to 2 different controller numbers (two expression pedals) and the 8F can respond to 8.

Control Change Message on/off:
This message is exactly the same as above, but some foot controllers allow you to assign this command to a switch instead of an expression pedal. Since a switch doesn't move like a pedal does, it instead transmits the "value" of 0 (full off - like a pedal heel position) or 127 (full on - like a pedal toe position) when the switch is repeatedly pressed.  This is a cool message to assign to a switch as it is a convenient way of just turning on or off an effect (in a multi effect unit for example) without changing presets. In the Switchblade, this is useful for turning on or off individual effects in a preset using the Smart Insert feature. This type of function is sometimes referred to as a "instant access" switch (probably coined by Bob Bradshaw of Custom Audio Electronics years ago) as a way to instantly access an effect.

So which controller should I get?: There are a few things you need to ask yourself. One is how big a controller do you want. Are you setting up a small space efficient floorboard, then you need to get a controller that maybe only has 6-8 switches. Want a big controller with lots of switches so you can easily jump to many presets and have many IA switches available, then you need one with 12-24 or more switches. Do you need expression pedal control? Some controllers have a built in expression pedal, others have expression pedal input jacks, and others do not offer expression control. Having at least an expression pedal input jack is useful if you change your mind down the road. Do you need IA switches? Having a foot controller than only transmits Program messages may actually be all you need with the Switchblade as you may not care about turning on/off effects but rather would prefer to just change presets to route/engage your effects.