Gear used in this article:
Axe-Fx II (Original, Mark II, XL, XL+)
MFC-101 (Original, Mark II, Mark III)
Playing guitar live is great, but we always wish we had a few more hands to play like Steve Vai, or at least to control some extra things while our 2 hands are busy playing. That’s where Expression Pedals can help, and the Axe-FX II and MFC-101 Foot Controller make this very easy and powerful.
The MFC can host up to 4 expression pedals at once, each one controlling a different parameter. You can create a Volume pedal, Wah pedal, or even control parameters within effects and amp blocks such as delay mix, or amp gain, and many, many other things.
However with most things, it’s all about the setup and making sure everything works and communicates well with each other. In the video above, I go step-by-step and explain how to connect a single expression pedal to the MFC. I discuss the default settings as well as how to change things so your expression pedal can control any parameter that can be modified. I show how to use a Volume Block for volume control, how to setup a Wah pedal and then how to control an effect parameter. Finally I show how to use 2 expression pedals at once (repeat the steps for up to 4 pedals) and then how to calibrate your pedals to get the full range of control.
I explain how CC#s are responsible for selecting what the pedal controls and how to change the numbers so the Axe matches the MFC. As I stated in the video, I highly recommend that you leave the Axe-FX II I/O Control page at default settings. There are so many things to control in the Axe-FX II, changing the defaults will most likely cause conflicts with some other setting. Instead, change the MFC settings to match those of the Axe-FX II.
This video was created with the latest firmware at the time, Axe-FX II version 6.02 and MFC-101 version 2.02. We are in Axe-FX II mode, Preset mode and connected via CAT5 cable using the Expansion port on the MFC.
If you are not familiar with the MFC-101, please watch my Initial Setup video that explains the basics of the MFC as well as navigating through the menus.
Added Bonus!!! – Maybe I’ll do a short vid showing this part later, but once you set your expression pedals, I’d suggest going to I/O – MIDI and scrolling down to EXT CTRL 1 INIT VAL. This stands for External Controller 1 Initial Value. Your options are 0% or 100% and there’s one for each of the 12 External Controllers.
Let’s say you have your MFC and expression pedals plugged in. The Axe knows to set External 1 control to where ever the pedal is. But let’s say you then go somewhere and play the axe without your MFC plugged in. If EXT CTRL 1 is a volume block control, you’ll get no sound because External Controller 1’s Initial Value is 0%!!!
Change this to 100% for each controller you use (if appropriate) and instead of being at 0% with no pedal present, it will be at 100% and you’ll have full sound. I remember when FA added this back in the Ultra days and it was amazing!