A MIDI footswitch might be the least glamorous thing in the entire guitar gear oeuvre. It doesn’t make any sounds, some of them are difficult to program and use, and it’s a nuisance to have to worry about and spend money on. So this review will be short and sweet, so you can get back to spending money on shit you can actually get excited about.
The MeloAudio MIDI Commander is a no-frills, battery/USB powered compact MIDI footswitch with 10 buttons, 2 expression pedal jacks, and a small screen. It features USB MIDI capability, as well as regular MIDI output. It has pre-programmed modes for JamUp Pro, Bias FX, Kemper, AxeFx, Atomic Amplifire, and 2 custom slots. It’s really, really simple. It’s not the most powerful MIDI footswitch out there, but it is really easy to use, and plenty compact.
I tried it with my Line 6 HX Stomp to increase the flexibility of its onstage controls, with the addition of more than 3x the footswitches and an expression pedal (the HX has an expression pedal input already, but if you’ve got it remotely placed then it’s easier to plug your expression pedal directly into the MIDI footswitch than to have another 30ft cable). It needed no setup at all to do the basic patch switching, bank up/down, and simple expression pedal stuff.
Compared to the most popular MIDI pedal on the market, the Behringer FCB1010, the MIDI Commander is probably about a fifth of the size. The possibilities and power of such a pedal might be somewhat greater, for the same price – however, so is the size, and therefore stage space. If you want something that has the potential to fit on your pedalboard, the MIDI Commander has a very good size-to-function ratio.
The main drawback I found with this unit is that it can only be powered via USB or battery. That makes having it on your board a bit of a liability because you can’t plug it into a standard pedal power jack or IEC cable, and it could run out of batteries in the middle of a performance. I think the addition of a power cable of any kind would make this pedal a much more likely candidate for my rig.
Overall, a simple and easy-to-use footswitch with plug-and-play compatibility for a decent price that’s solidly built, with what could be a fatal flaw – I leave it to you.