I’ve been steadily developing a new set of patches for the Digitech RP500, whose stompbox-inspired footswitch setup begs for patches that include every category of effect Digitech puts in the box.

The new patches are designed to take full advantage of that footswitch array for performance. Any of these patches can be thoroughly transformed with a single footpress, so that, for example, you can go from a simple direct sound with reverb to the same patch slathered in distortion, then modulated with a vibrato or pitch shifter, in two (literally) steps. I’m also including patches in this set that substitute the RP’s distortion models for amp models, which opens up some hard-edged territory for the box. I’ve set these things up so that the simple version is what you hear when you select the patch, and you can just hit the dedicated FX footswitches one at a time to hear how gnarly the thing can get when the FX are engaged.

Digitech RP500: pedalboard and amp in a box
Digitech RP500: pedalboard and amp in a box

For loopers, there’s a newly revised version of my MA816D patch (Matchless amp model with a pitch shift ranging from low octave to low double octave). This patch was always good for bass, and it’s good for more styles of bass now that I put options for a compressor, distortion, and delay in it. Put some low end on your loops!

By the way, for big bass on loops, in my own setup I add the iStomp running the multitimbral pitch shifter Swingshift as input to the RP500 running the MA816D patch. For bass line purposes, I always lower the pitch an octave on Swingshift, with the mix control set to about 50%. Depending on the material, I may also add a fifth above the root. So every note generates 2-3 pitches–original, octave down, potentially fifth up. When I run that through the RP500 with a low double octave, I get 6 pitches–original, fifth up, octave down, double octave down, TRIPLE octave down, fifth two octaves below the one generated by the iStomp–and the low end ranges from way down there around 50-60 Hz to 200 hZ all at once, with a lot of punch. It’s a very modern bass sound, especially with the Matchless amp model in the picture to make the sound bigger, warmer, and more assertive, and it completely fills out the low end in a loop.

My rig as of October 2015. Digitech iStomp is to the left of the RP500.
My rig as of October 2015. Digitech iStomp is to the left of the RP500.

Big Sounds with Lots of Options

These sounds will allow a player to work the RP500 as if it was an amp fronted with stompboxes, only with far more flexibility than any single amp and collection of stompboxes could provide. When you couple the ability to turn any effect on or off instantly–which is what most players do with their stompboxes on stage, i.e. turn them on and off–with the ability to shift with a single footpress to a completely different amp and stompbox setup, you’ve got a lot of tonal power working for you. And it’s plenty loud–when I played the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gig last month, the harp was actually too loud in the mix (to my dismay, but I wasn’t mixing it, so that was that). Check out the video at one hour 23 minutes here. Like I said, the harp’s too loud, but that generally makes it easier to hear what’s going on with the sounds and FX. You can also see me when I’m kicking the footswitches in many cases, so you can visually correlate the change in the sound to the motion. Lots of fresh emotions with just a few kicks to the switches. Boy do I love this rig.

Here’s the schedule

There are about a dozen new sounds in this set, and I’ll ship them as singles, not a bulk load, in mid-October2015. The update will go to all RP500 licensees. I’ll convert these patches to the RP1000 next, so RP1000 licensees should stay tuned.

It’ll take some time to convert these patches to the RP360/360XP. First, there is no utility software that I know of for converting patches from RP500 format to RP360 format. (There is such a utility for conversion from RP500 to RP1000. It’s called RPXplor, and it’s the reason why I can make an RP1000 set quickly, even though it only converts single patches, not bulk files.) That means that every patch must be translated by hand, one effect or parameter at a time. Yuck.

The translation to the physical hardware is not simple either. The 360 has 3 footswitches maximum for turning stuff on and off (in Stomp mode), not 5 like the RP500 (and that’s only the dedicated FX switches, not the ones for patch up/down, tap tempo, etc.). When you put the 360 in Stomp mode you can’t use the footswitches to move up and down in your patch set, which limits your ability to pull off REALLY dramatic changes in tone, like you might need, for example, if you were looping the parts for a song and wanted to follow a bass sound with an organ sound (or a clean reverbed sound, or an amped-up Chicago sound…). So the sound designer has to make more and potentially tougher choices about which FX get a dedicated on/off switch. That said, all the FX available in the RP500 and the RP1000 are available also to the RP360, so I can apply the new setups in their totality when I get to it.