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  • Writer's pictureJames

Strymon BigSky & MC6 Midi Controller

The "Ultimate Reverb" crown has been worn by the Strymon BigsSky since its release in 2013, and for a good reason too. Many new reverb pedals have been released since, but none comes quite close to the versatility and pristine audio quality the the BigSky has offer. From its simple Spring/Hall reverbs to its atmospheric Shimmer/Cloud algorithms, the BigSky shines in all aspects, putting a smile on your face and delivering the feels every time. Today we see how the MC6 midi controller makes the Bigsky so much more powerful and an even greater asset to your entire performance rig.

Strymon pedals are one of the easiest to use with a MIDI controller. All the information you need is clearly spelt out in their MIDI Implementation Charts. Here is a screenshot of the BigSky's MIDI Implementation Chart, taken from pg.23 of the BigSky User Manual:

Calling Up Presets

Using the MC6 to recall presets from any bank in the Strymon BigSky is a breeze. PC #0 to #127 correspond to the first 128 preset slots. Sending PC #0 recalls Preset A in bank 00, PC #1 recalls Preset B in bank 00, PC #3 recalls Preset A in bank 01 and so forth.

The BigSky has a total 297 preset slots spread across 3 MIDI banks (0,1 and 2). So if you need to use more than the first 128 presets (which I highly doubt anyone with an existent social life will), you will need to send a bank change message (CC #0 with value of 1 or 2) before the PC message to access the other 2 MIDI banks.

Wet, Wetter, Wettest

You can also control reverb mix levels with the MC6. In this example, we have three MC6 switches programmed to control mix levels on the BigSky. Do not that these switches are not preset-specific and can be used to control your reverb mix level regardless of whichever Bigsky preset is currently activated, making it even more useful.

In this example, we have named the three switches 'WET', 'WETTER' and 'WETTEST', each having mix levels of 50%, 70% and 90% respectively. Here's how you can achieve this. CC #15 controls the mix level on the BigSky. Since a value of 127 yields a mix level of 100%, we can multiply our desired mix level percentage by 127 to derive what value to send for each CC message. 50% of 127 = 63, 70% of 127 = 89 and 90% of 127 = 114. All you have to do is select the CC message type for each switch, and program them to send CC #15 with values 63, 89 and 114 respectively. Take note that our BigSky is set to MIDI channel 3 during this example.

Voila! You now have control over your reverb mix levels regardless of whichever BigSky preset you are on.

Temporarily Engage a Different Reverb Preset by Holding Down a Switch

This is a neat trick to allow you to be on a certain BigSky preset, and bring activate/deactivate another reverb preset by holding down/releasing your MC6 switch. In this example, we will use a single switch to activate a Spring reverb preset, this switch will also engage a Cloud reverb preset when it is held down, and revert to the Spring reverb preset when released.

To do this, first program your Spring and Cloud reverb presets to your taste on the BigSky. In this example we are using Bank 03 Preset A for the Spring reverb, and Preset B for the Cloud reverb. Now we will use the MC6 MkII action-based programming to achieve our desired result. To do this, program an MC6 switch to engage Preset A (PC #9) upon release, and Preset B (PC #10) upon press. This way you can still press and release your switch to engage your Spring reverb, and then hold it down to bring in the Cloud reverb. Here is a screenshot of the MC6 editor for details:

Now you can bring your Cloud reverb in and out as you wish by holding down/releasing your MC6 switch.

That's all for today! We hope that you've found today's tutorial insightful and applicable to your musical use. Thanks for tuning in. See you at the next one!


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