Expression Pedal Recommendations?

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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by Wonks »

I don't know of any. The fact that it's an expression pedal means that you don't get the audio path going through it, just a control voltage, so if the pot did become slightly scratchy, you wouldn't hear it in the same way as you would as if it was a pure volume pedal with audio going through it.

A pot-based expression potential divider pedal can work with any extra-low DC voltage level likely to be thrown at it, say from 15v dc down to millivolts (though 9v and 5v are more likely). An optical pedal may need to be built for a specific input voltage, or else ignore the provided input voltage completely and have its own selectable output voltage range.

And optical volume pedals like the Morley 20/20 volume pedal are expensive (more so in the UK than the US), so I'd expect an optical expression pedal (if anyone made one) to be similar. If you've got a mid-price keyboard and want three expression pedals, by the time you've got three optical ones, you could have spent the best part of the cost of the keyboard again. Pot-based expression pedals are certainly far more affordable, and most can be DIY repaired by replacing the pot.

Using a splitter cable (TRS to 2 x TS) it should be possible to use a basic optical volume pedal as an expression pedal with a TRS style expression connection (provided the volume pedal doesn't have any DC blocking capacitors in the circuit). Whichever of the TS jacks provides the constant voltage output, then that goes in the input to the pedal and the other TS jack goes into the output of the volume pedal.

Any more complex optical pedal with boost functions is likely to have DC blocking capacitors, so your DC voltage will never get through. I've read on the web that the Morley 20/20 volume pedal can be used as an expression pedal, so that indicates that there aren't any DC blocking capacitors, but I can't guarantee it. It's also expensive and large and needs its own power supply, so will take up a lot of real estate on a pedalboard. Also, I once had a Morley Power Wah, and I couldn't get on with the range of pedal angle; it was all wrong for my feet and I had aching ankles after 30 seconds or so. On an angled pedalboard I'd imagine it would be even harder to use. But YMMV.
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by Folderol »

Just to clarify, the one I was referring to had the LDR in the signal path. There weren't any voltage controlled amplifiers in those days. The organ was populated entirely with discrete transistors - mostly germanium ones. If I remember right, the only silicon ones were in the 12 (yes 12) master oscillators, so the instrument was semi free-phase.
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by BWC »

Yeah, that's what I thought, not worth it when a potentiometer will do well enough, but you never know, I've seen crazier things brought to market.

So, I think I might prefer the Yamaha to the Moog, but looking again, it looks like the Moog has the advantage of being easier to keep out the dust, and hair, and such. Hard to be sure from pictures, any thoughts?
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by Wonks »

Hair and dust are going to find their way in on any pedal with a pot, a treadle and a notched gear arm to operate the pot. It's a fundamental law of nature.

Otherwise you are balancing the facilities of the Moog's minimum output setting and tip/ring input selection switch with the Yamaha's fixed connection configuration (without doing any rewiring) and the adjustable pedal angle . Both have 50k pots.

The Yamaha has a fixed 5' cable, whilst the Moog has a TRS socket and comes with a 6' TRS/TRS cable. Both fine for under keyboard use, but the Moog is more flexible if you want it further away from your device by simply using a longer TRS/TRS lead.
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by BWC »

With this interface, I don't think the controls of the Moog will be needed, though I can't be 100% sure of that at this point.

I've never been fond of fixed cables, mainly because of the extra effort required if they need replacing, but an extension could always be added if more length is needed. In this case, as little as 4' would be plenty.

Neither pedal is terribly expensive, I might just have to order them both.

...unless anyone has any other options worth considering...
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by merlyn »

There's a company Lehle that has developed a magnetic system :

https://lehle.com/EN/Lehle-Dual-Expression

I don't own one but I was looking at volume pedals and saw the Lehles. It seems like a good concept -- nothing to wear out.
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by Wonks »

Very interesting. Thanks for finding that, Merlyn.

Expensive though, £179 in Andertons.
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

The Yamaha pedal has been sat on the floor in my studio for years and, despite the tumble-weeds of dog hair and dust that occasionally manifest, I've yet to have any problems with it at all.

The Lehle pedal is an interesting design, and obviously very versatile. But very expensive, and while the sensor won't wear out, you do have yet another power supply to remember and rig up. And I reckon I could change quite a few pots in the Yamaha pedal for the extra cost of the Lehle!
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by Wonks »

Hugh Robjohns wrote:The Yamaha pedal has been sat on the floor in my studio for years and, despite the tumble-weeds of dog hair and dust that occasionally manifest, I've yet to have any problems with it at all.!

One day you'll actually get round to plugging it in. :D
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by Hugh Robjohns »

:bouncy: One day I'll get the mojo back to start playing seriously again!
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by merlyn »

It's a digression into volume pedals but --

I was looking at an Ernie Ball MVP which is also expensive for what it is. Built like a tank, though and they have the best actions. They use a string and rollers and ... well it felt right when I tried it (Pre-Covid). It also has gain boost, so yes that would need power, but for me it's just another connector on the daisy chain. So given I was already in that ballpark the Lehle didn't seem that expensive.

Scratchy pots. You just know it's going to go in the middle of a gig, or without sufficient time to change it before the gig.

Perhaps not quite so important for an expression pedal.
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Re: Expression Pedal Recommendations?

Post by BWC »

The Lehle does seem cool, but is a bit more than I'd like to spend on this right now, and for my current setup, I'm not loving the additional power supply.

As for poorly timed failures, for the price of the Lehle, you could get several of the Moog or Yamaha pedals for backup.
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