This tip’s message is simple. You’ve got an expression pedal. It makes the RP more expressive (as you might expect from a pedal whose name includes the word “expression”). So use it on every patch to express something.

On every RP from the 250 up, you can assign the expression pedal to control just about any parameter of an RP patch. Two of my favorites for this purpose are delay level or reverb level. If I’m running a rotary speaker or vibrato patch, I might assign the pedal to control rotary speaker speed, or vibrato depth, either of which add a lot of emotion (um, expression?) to the basic tone and effect. (Change in a sound equals emotion; a sound that is unchanging is also unfeeling, or at least unvarying in its feeling.) Another favorite is using the pedal to control the Whammy pitch-shifting effect.

What do the Digitech RP500, RP1000, and RP355 have in common?  An expression pedal.  And we're glad.
What do the Digitech RP500, RP1000, and RP355 have in common? An expression pedal. And we’re glad.

If you’re in a dull mood and don’t want to think much, you can always assign the pedal to control overall volume (or as the RP puts it, POST volume, meaning volume control after every other effect in the chain). This is a dull move because 1) a harp player can control volume effectively with breath, and 2) there are more interesting things to assign to that pedal. And 3) the best place to locate a volume control for harp is right on the mic or mic handle, so put one there and use the pedal for something better.

But whether you take the lazy route and use the pedal to control volume, or get more creative and use the pedal to introduce a range of changes to the sound, USE IT. Make sure you take advantage of one of the simplest and most powerful performance features of the RP.

To program the expression pedal:

  • Use the up-down tabs on the left hand side of the front panel to light up the EXPRESSION row
  • Moving right, turn the knob for linking the expression pedal to a patch parameter until you see the name of the parameter you want show up. Two of my faves are delay level and reverb level. (You can do that big, shattering crescendo that Little Walter gets on “Blue Lights” with a studio reverb by setting the pedal to control reverb level and pushing it to the floor when you want the climax.) I also like Speed for rotary speaker patches, Depth for vibrato and chorus patches, and FX On/Off for Tremolo patches.
  • Moving right, select the minimum value for the range you want the parameter (and the associated sound) to have. For example, a minimum Delay level might be 5–audible, but just barely.
  • Moving right, select the maximum value for the range you want the parameter to have. You might set maximum delay level at 25 to be heard clearly, and at 50 to be as big as the original signal.
  • You’re done. STORE the patch with your new pedal assignment so you don’t have to mess with it every time you start up the RP. Now what ever part of the sound you assigned to the pedal will change as you move the expression pedal. Wicked.
  • I repeat: you’ve got a pedal. Know how to use it. You can do amazing things with it that can’t be done any other way. Get on it, man.

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