Following my feature on MIDI controllers in the June '97 issue of SOS, distributors BCK sent me a sample of their VP3 volume pedal. This is designed so that the potentiometer inside operates over its full 270 degrees of travel (which you need to give a MIDI control swing from 0 to 127). The attached cable is wired to a stereo quarter‑inch jack plug. This arrangement should work with most MIDI devices featuring a socket marked 'Expression' or 'Control', and the pedal is specifically designed also to work as a normal volume pedal with Roland products.
The pedal features a standard rack‑and‑pinion assembly, which is well greased to avoid creaks and squeaks, and the action is smooth over its full range of travel. It has enough mechanical resistance to 'stay' in any intermediate position, which can be useful if you use it to control MIDI volume levels, and need to take your foot off to do something else. The casing is a fairly lightweight plastic moulding, but it has a metal baseplate that adds some weight, and this, in conjunction with the rubber feet, stops it slipping about in use.
Other models in the range include the VP1, which is a stereo volume pedal with two mono jack inputs and two mono jack outputs. This is suitable for in‑line use between stereo keyboards and mixers. The VP2 is similar, but only wired for mono use with a single mono jack input and output, and is more suitable for use with mono keyboards or guitars. Some guitar amps have built‑in effects, including wah, and the VP2 could be just the job if you have a rear‑panel socket for this purpose. For Technics keyboards there's a VP4 version available, similar in concept to the VP3 but wired in reverse.
Although the action is not quite as 'silky smooth' as the Korg EXP2 I tried out previously, the VP3 works perfectly well and, at £17.99, is about a third of the price. BCK say that you should be able to buy their pedals from your local music shop, but in case of difficulty you can ring them direct to find your nearest stockist. Martin Walker