Automating Axe FX Pre-set Changes With Cubase

This post covers how to use Cubase to send midi information to the Axe FX II in order to change pre-sets and/or scene changes on the Axe FX. It also covers sending Bank Changes to access pre-sets numbered higher than 127, e.g. 128-383.

The tutorial was made with Cubase 6.07 and Axe FXII Firmware 9.0 Full Release.

The tutorial assumes that you already have basic Cubase knowledge and will show how to use Cubase to automate Bank, Pre-set and Scene Changes. (Scene Changes are available in Firmware 9.0 and later)

Why would you want to do this?

There could be a couple of reasons to automate changes from Cubase to the Axe FXII

  • You don’t own an MFC-101 or similar foot controller
  • You do own an MFC-101 or similar foot controller but want to use a DAW as an alternative when in a studio situation
  • For playing along to a backing track and selecting a different pre-set or scene for the solo for example.
  • For playing along to a track you are working on and want to automate a pre-set or scene to kick in at a certain point in the track.
  • When re-amping to automate the pre-set or scene to use for the chorus or solo for example

There may be others but the above are the main reasons I can think of to do this so without further ado here is the how to.

Setting Up The Axe FXII as a Midi Device in Cubase

This is the first thing we need to do as if the Axe FXII is not set up as a Midi Device the following steps of the tutorial will not work.

  • Ensure the Axe FXII is connected to the computer via a USB cable into a USB2.0 0r compatible port.
  • Power up the Axe FXII
  • Start Cubase

Note: The USB Connection is used to transport the Midi information. If for some reason you use the Midi In port of the Axe FXII for this it will still work but this guide doesn’t cover setting up alternative connection scenarios. However as long as you take care of getting the midi connectivity set up the Cubase part of the guide is the same.

Open up Cubase and the project you want to work with.

Open up Midi Device Manager Devices/Midi Device Manager.

snip1

Click Install Device.

mididevice2a

The Add MIDI Device window opens select Define New… and click OK.

mididevice2b

The Create New Midi Device opens, give it a name Axe FXII as indicated in the red circle and click OK.

mididevice2c

The Axe FXII Device Window now opens. Note that all midi channels 1-16 are added. If you are using the default midi channel of 1 for the Axe FXII, highlight channels 2-16 and click the delete key of your keyboard to delete them as they are not needed.

mididevice2d

After deleting channels 2-16 click the + button indicated by the blue arrow and it can be verified that only Channel 1 is available.

mididevice2e

Close the Axe FX II device Window. It can now be seen in the Midi Device Manager, that the Axe FXII is now installed as a Midi device. In the output section shown underlined in red select AXE-FX II Midi in. Close the window.

mididevice2h

The Axe FXII is now installed as a Midi Device that Cubase can control. This will now be available to all projects in Cubase.

Add Midi Track

The next set of steps is in the project where we want to add automation of pre-set changes we need to add a midi track.

In Cubase open the project if it isn’t already open.

Right click in the area shown and click Add Midi Track…

miditrack1

Click Add Track

miditrack2

The track now exists but has nothing in it.

miditrack3

Using the Pencil tool draw in the midi track just added from start to finish of the track. This is step is important as otherwise the next steps for adding changes to the Midi Track won’t work.

pencil

miditrack5

With the midi track selected, set the Midi in and out as shown in the red circle in the diagram below. Not connected on this track we don’t need to receive any Midi. On the output select Axe FXII Midi in. We are sending via the Midi Output of Cubase to the Midi  in of the Axe FX II, and make sure 1, is selected for the midi channel.

miditrack6

The In Place Editor

So that when we add events such as Program changes or CC messages for Bank or Scene changes add the In Place Editor to the midi track.

With the midi track selected go to Midi/Open In-Place Editor shown in red. (Ignore List Editor for now)

editor

Now the In-Place Editor will be visible in the midi track

miditrack8

Left Mouse click the little grey square Velo which is short for velocity.

velocity

Then click Setup…

setup

In the Midi Controller Setup dialog use the <<< button to move the highlighted CC34 (Breath LSB) to the Visible column. Also CCO (BankSel MSB), needs to be in the Visible column.  Click OK.

miditrack10

Right Click the area just under the grey Velo square and click Create Controller Lane. This needs to be done twice.

CreateControllerLane

Now the In Place Editor will show 3 * Velocity Controller Lanes as indicated by the red arrows. This isn’t what is needed and is changed in the next step.

miditrack13

Left Mouse click the little grey squares Velo in turn and select CCO (BankSel MSB), Program Change and CC34 (Breath LSB) .

miditrackcontrols

This should now look similar to the below screenshot. I have it arranged from the bottom up in the order CCO (BankSel MSB), Program Change and CC34 (Breath LSB) but it can be arranged in another order.

miditrack15

Adding Changes to the Midi Track

We are now in a position to add to the midi track the event changes we need. This can be done via the In Place Editor. However I find it a lot easier and more accurate to do via the List Editor. These changes might be a Clean Chorus sound for an Intro, Crunch for Verse and Chorus and a Lead Sound for a solo.

We will be adding :-

Axe FXII Cubase Midi Event Name
Bank Changes CCO (BankSel MSB),
Pre-set Changes Program Change
Scene Changes CC34 (Breath LSB)

CC34 is used to send Scene Change Information. The values to use are in the table below.

Axe FXII Scene Cubase CC Change Cubase Data2 Value
Scene 1 CC34 (Breath LSB) 0
Scene 2 1
Scene 3 2
Scene 4 3
Scene 5 4
Scene 6 5
Scene 7 6
Scene 8 7

 

With the midi track selected go to Midi/Open List Editor shown in blue.

editor

The List Editor, opens. To the right is a grid where events can be added with the pencil tool and to the left the details of what those events are.

miditrack18

To enter events select whether it will be a CC event (Bank or Scene Change) with Controller selected or a Program Change for a pre-set change. The values can then be adjusted by double clicking and making a change as needed.

miditrack19

miditrack20

The below List Editor shows some events that have been added.

miditrack21

Focusing in on the events.

image

The events added are :-

Bar 1: a CC0 value of 1 in the Data2 column and a Program Change of 1 (Data2 Value is left at 0 for Program Changes)

This means Bar 1 starts with Bank B on the Axe FXII and Program change 1 gives Pre-set 128

At Bar 4: a CC0 value of 0 in the Data2 column and a Program Change of 24 (Data2 Value is left at 0 for Program Changes)

This means at Bar 4 a change to  Bank A on the Axe FXII and Program change 24 gives Pre-set 23 (remember by default the first pre-set is numbered 0 on the Axe FXII)

Bar 8: a  Program Change of 1 (Data2 Value is left at 0 for Program Changes) and a CC34 value of 0 in the Data2 column.

This means at Bar 8 we have no Bank change on the Axe FXII and Program change 1 gives Pre-set 0 (remember by default the first pre-set is numbered 0 on the Axe FXII). In addition the CC34 which is used for Scenes in the Axe FXII value of 0 in the Data2 column gives us Scene 1 of pre-set 0. This logic is opposite to Program changes as the CC34 values begin at 0 but is equal to Scene 1 as scenes are from 1 – 8.

Note at Bar 8 as we were changing pre-set via a Program Change, Scene 1 is selected by default so the CC34 value was not needed but just shown to illustrate the example.

Bar 10: CC34 value of 1 in the Data2 column.

This means that we have no Bank or pre-set change at bar 10, but CC34 sends a value of 1 giving us Scene 2 of the previously selected pre-set.

Bar 12: CC34 value of 2 in the Data2 column.

This means that we have no Bank or pre-set change at bar 12, but CC34 sends a value of 2 giving us Scene 3 of the previously selected pre-set.

Close the List editor when finished editing.

This looks as follows in the In place editor of the midi track. When the list editor is closed.

miditrack22

Play the track and watch the front panel of the Axe FXII display the changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy…

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