Amp build enquiry

Hi all, this is my first time posting and I was advised to post here by Arduino support, so please forgive me if I’m asking something dumb.

A friend and I are in the process of building a guitar amp, and I am currently trying to get my head around a means of controlling the amp using a footswitch. In addition to swapping between 2 amp channels (low-gain and high-gain/distortion), I will also be using an Empress Echosystem, which has the capability of switching between 35 presets using MIDI.

We will either need to buy a footswitch to control both the amp and the Echosystem (such as the Morningstar MC6), or build one ourselves, but I’m not sure if I would need to include Arduino hardware in the amp itself or in the footswitch – or both. How would I go about achieving this?

We’ve dealt with standard electronics before but this is the first time delving into the world of MIDI/microcontrollers etc, so I might find that I’m out of my depth, but I thought I may as well ask the question.

Any suggestions or tips would be greatly appreciated.

I'm not understanding exactly what you want to do and I'm not sure if a footswitch is a practical way of switching between 35 presets, plus a few amplifier options. At a minimum, you'd probably need a numeric LED display showing which preset you've selected.

I'd say you should think about the user interface first.

The amp doesn't have to be MIDI controlled, but you'll need some simple logic if you want to rotate-through the options by activating a single switch. You just need a simple "counter" or shift-register circuit to switch relays (or an analog-switch chip). But, if you are "deep-into" building a MIDI controller it should be easy-enough to build MIDI into the amp you're building.

The downside of using MIDI for the amp is that you'd always need a MIDI controller. If you use a momentary footswitch, any-old simple footswitch will work. (Or, I suppose you could design it with 2 connections so you could use either one.)

You can get a MIDI shield for the Arduino and you can program the Arduino as a MIDI controller and/or a MIDI device/instrument.* Once you figure-out how to send or receive a MIDI command it should be straightforward from there.

There is a way to do USB-MIDI with the Arduino but I don't know much about it, or if it works as a controller or device, or both... If you want to use USB-MIDI instead of using a "classic" 5-pin serial MIDI interface, do some research first.

* The Arduino itself doesn't have enough processing power to make a good instrument and it doesn't have a DAC so you can't get high-quality sounds out of it.

Thanks a lot for the reply DVDdoug, sorry for my slow response I hadn't realised you had commented on my thread.

I think all I will need is some component which will be incorporated into the amp I am building - as opposed to building a footswitch from scratch. I've decided to simplify things a bit, so I just need to be able to switch between the two amp channels using a Line 6 HX Effects (Line 6), which has the ability to change amp channels on compatible amps with via MIDI jack or a 1/4" jack which can be used for controlling amp channel changes - from the manual, "... the jack can be connected to your traditional guitar amp to switch its channels or turn its reverb on and off. Use a TRS cable for dual operation (A=tip, B=ring)."

So you are correct, it doesn't necessarily need to be MIDI, just something that the HX can speak to.

Do you reckon Arduino has a part that would do the trick?