Original Patches   Pedal/CV Jack   A Better Clav

Like aftertouch, the mod pedal is a criminally underused modulation source.  Kirk Slinkard shows you how easy (and cheap) it is to use a variety of 3rd party pedals, along with sample patches that help you realize the full potential of your pedal. 

And finally, Kirk has ”one weird trick*” for the CV jack that I’ll guarantee you never thought of!

*Well, we have confirmation that one other guy thought of it, so unless you’re him, the guarantee still holds!

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More on The Pedal/CV Jack

by Kirk of the Mountain People

This is for people like me who never (or at least rarely) use the modpedal set to function as a volume control. I figure why bother wasting a perfectly good modulator when really cheap brand new stereo volume pedals are so plentiful.

Or even better...—two separate volume pedals can be controlled together by one foot OR independently.

The Company Line

The ESQ-1 and SQ-80 control jack is designed to be used with either a pedal or control voltage from a synthesizer with a range from zero to ten volts DC. The ENSONIQ CV-PEDAL (model CVP-1) has a 10K linear-taper potentiometer which combines with the instrument's internal 2K resistor to form a voltage divider. The Ensoniq pedal has internal 12 volts—which drops 2 volts across it's internal 2K resistor— leaving a nice even 10 volts across the potentiometer inside the pedal. And finally, it uses a quarter inch 3-conductor TRS (or tip-ring-sleeve) connector.



Roll Your Own

If you want to modify some other pedal to use in place of an official Ensoniq, just wire it up like this:

So if you use a different value potentiometer, 500K or more may give you a noticeably uneven action, and less than 10K would give you partial adjustment range.

    For example, a 1K pot would give you 4 volts from that divider circuit - less than half of the normal adjustment range.

    And a 500 ohm pot will give you 2.4 volts from that divider - about one quarter of the normal adjustment range.

Some unmodified non-Ensoniq volume pedals will actually work in this application. But they usually come with audio-taper pots which give a somewhat lopsided action here. But at least it's extra easy to hook up - just plug a typical 2-conductor guitar cord into it's "output" or "amplifier" jack.

Strictly speaking, this application can never work exactly correctly, even with a 10K linear pot. But you may not notice anything wrong with it in actual practice.

Assigning Modulators to the Pedal

    Filter Fantasy

      Whatever source you are using, the instrument can assign it as a controller to most of the sound sources and modulators. One obvious pedal application would be to apply it to the resonant filter and use it as a wah-wah pedal (the "WAHWAH" patch).

    Pitch Perfect Patches

      By using sync, you could apply the pedal to the pitch of oscillator 2 and get a really gnarly kind of sound with some similarities to the wah sound (the "SNCWAH" patch). If you apply it to the pitch of all 3 oscillators with a -24 value, you will have a 1-octave pitch slider pedal like the Farfisa combo organ "Slalom Pedal". If you set it differently to each oscillator, you can slide from a single note into a chord (the "CHORD" patch).

    Crossfade Crossfire

      You can set it positive on one oscillator's DCA and negative on another oscillator's DCA to manually morph between waveforms (the "WAVFRM" patch).

Thinking Outside the Box

Along similar lines, if you use the WAVFRM patch, unplug the pedal and replace it with an on/off footswitch, you end up SWITCHING between the waveforms like the PATCH SELECT SWITCH on more recent Ensoniq synths. One really cool trick here is to think of this as an assignable "DC control voltage" that can be switched between two fully adjustable levels. A few ideas for that might include setting it up in the oscillators (value + or -24) for octave jumps (look like you have a 6-octave piano patch), use it on the DCAs to switch between distorted and non-distorted organ sounds, or switch between two different resonant filter frequencies for that weird keyboard sound in the Beatles' "Birthday".

Use All Parts of the Buffalo...I mean, Synthesizer

The applications for just a pedal or footswitch are nearly endless. For these example patches, I use the modwheel and pressure for other functions. My evil intention was to keep people who have no modpedal from just reassigning those functions to another handy modulator. If you don't currently have a modpedal, that's easily fixed! Just get one, or fix up some other old pedal to work as one. And if you are using an ESQ-1, these pressure-controlled functions will not work from your keyboard. But you don't have to settle for that. As of 2014, it's looking like the SQ-80s are never again going to be as cheap as they are right now. You could spend more money taking the family to the amusement park. Don't be a techno-wimp.

The Modular Connection

 If you use a control voltage from another synthesizer or circuit, keep in mind that the response starts to cut off above 25 Hz. So it would work fine with an LFO or envelope generator, but not with anything in the audio-frequency range such as a VCO, microphone, or guitar. You may well ask "why would I hook up an external LFO, my Ensoniq already has plenty?"

The Roland Jupiter 8 is an example of a polysynth with a "global" LFO approach: one single LFO controls all 8 voices at the same time. Our Ensoniqs use the opposite approach: each of the 8 voices has it's own independent LFOs and they cannot be synchronized between voices (layering plus setting the LFOs' RESET to ON doesn't count). So if you set up vibrato, each note is doing its own separate vibrato phase without any regard whatsoever as to what phase any other note's vibrato is in. One's at high pitch while another's at low pitch and yet another's in the middle, etc. That's great for sounding like a bunch of individual instruments or for certain chorusing effects.

But if you want an organ-like vibrato, or the global tremolo sound from the Rhodes piano, or that auto-wah sound like on LedZep's "No Quarter", you're out of luck. Here's where a simple custom circuit or an LFO from pretty much any patchable monosynth will really come in handy. That one external LFO will control all 8 voices simultaneously, just like the Jupiter 8. There's even an article in Transoniq Hacker (issue 41) about a Leslie simulator circuit. It's basically a specialized LFO (with an accompanying patch) that controls pitch, volume, filter, and panning to get a much more believable Leslie sound than using the individual voice LFOs on the Ensoniq.


 I hope that starts you thinking of cool things to do with your modpedal, switch, or other synthesizers. These old Ensoniqs are definitely not islands unto themselves. And we didn't even mention the MIDI control, that's a whole other story.

—Love long and perspire.

—Kirk Slinkard

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Patch Name: WAVFRM

OSC1   -1, 00, 00, VOICE1, LFO1, +02, OFF, -
OSC2  -2, 06, 00, SQUARE, LF02, 19, LFO1, +01
OSC3  -1, 00, 05, VOICE2, LFO1, +02, LFO3, +02

DCA1  57, ON, PEDAL, -17, OFF, -
DCA2  30, ON, PEDAL, +20, OFF, -
DCA3  57, ON, PEDAL, -17, OFF, -

LFO1  24, OFF, ON, TRI, 00, 00, 00, PRESS
LFO2  08, OFF, OFF, TRI, 63, 00, -, OFF
LFO3  22, OFF, OFF, TRI, 00, 00, 00, WHEEL



ENV4   +63, +63, +63, 00L, 00, 15, 00, 00, 17R, 00

FILT  071, 00, 00, PEDAL, +19, OFF, -

DCA4  08, 63, OFF, -



Patch Name: CHORD

OSC1  -1, 00, 00, SAW, PEDAL, +14, LFO1, +01
OSC2  -1, 00, 00, SAW, PEDAL, +20, LFO1, +01
OSC3  -1, 00, 00, SAW, OFF, -, LFO1, +01

DCA1  49, ON, PEDAL, +07, OFF, -
DCA2  49, ON, PEDAL, +07, OFF, -
DCA3  49, ON, PEDAL, +07, OFF, -

LFO1  24, OFF, OFF TRI, 00, 00, 00, PRESS



ENV4 +63, +63, +63, 00L, 00, 04, 00, 00, 08R, 00

FILT  051, 00, 00, ENV4, +49, WHEEL, -38

DCA4  08, 63, OFF, -



Patch Name: SNCWAH

OSC1  -1, 00, 00, SAW, LFO1, +02, OFF, -
OSC2  -1, 00, 09, SQUARE, PEDAL, +43, LF01, +02
OSC3  -1, 00, 04, SQUARE, LFO1, +02, OFF, -

DCA1  -, OFF, -, -, -, -
DCA2  52, ON, OFF, -, OFF, -
DCA3  00, ON, WHEEL, +55, OFF, -

LFO1  25, OFF, OFF, TRI, 00, 00, 00, PRESS

ENVELOPES 1-3 Not Used


ENV4  +00, +63, +63, 00L, 00, 04, 00, 00, 00, 00

FILT  082, 00, 00, OFF, -, OFF, -

DCA4  08, 63, OFF, -



Patch Name: WAHWAH

OSC1  -1, 00, 00, SAW, LFO1, +02, OFF, -
OSC2  -2, 11, 29, SAW, LFO1, +02, OFF, -
OSC3  -1, 00, 01, SAW, LFO1, +02, OFF, -

DCA1  63, ON, WHEEL, -08, OFF, -
DCA2  00, ON, WHEEL, +54, OFF, -
DCA3  00, ON, WHEEL, +51, OFF, -

LFO1  25, OFF, OFF, TRI, 00, 00, 00, PRESS



ENV4  +00, +63, +63, 00L, 00, 04, 00, 00, 00, 00

FILT  036, 24, 00, PEDAL, +30, OFF, -

DCA4  08, 63, OFF, -



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