Scene Controllers are a new feature introduced for the Axe-FX II in Firmware v12. It’s a great addition because now we can change the parameters within blocks to particular settings when we change scenes, and we can have different settings for each of the 8 scenes. So if I want a Drive setting of 3 in Scene 1, 5 in Scene 2, 1 in Scene 3 and 7.8 in Scene 4, I can now do that!

*NOTE* Much of the information on this page applies to all Controllers. So while the focus is on Scene Controllers in the Axe-FX II, Ultra and Standard users can still benefit from the information here.

Scene Controller Setup

Setting up a Scene Controller is the same as setting up any other Controller like an LFO or External Control 1. Move the cursor the parameter you want to Modify that has the {} brackets under or to the right, then press the Enter button on the Front Panel. This takes you to the Modifier screen.  In the Source field, choose either “Scene 1” or “Scene 2” for the 2 available Scene Controllers.  Note that “Scene 1” actually stands for Scene Controller 1 and “Scene 2” stands for Scene Controller 2 – this doesn’t mean you can only control Scene 1 out of 8 and Scene 2 out of 8.

Once this is set, press the Control button on the front panel and Page Right to the Scene page. Here you’ll see you can set different Controller values for all 8 Scenes with 2 different Scene Controllers.  Each Scene within a preset can have a different value, and each Preset has its own set of Scene Controllers.  This allows a lot of control.

Similar to how we would sweep an Expression Pedal from 0 – 100% (heel down to toe down on the pedal), we can sweep through the range using percentage values on this Scene Controller page.

However, with an Expression Pedal, we can change and adjust the parameter in real-time as we play our gig. Just move the pedal until it sounds good to you, then remember where that pedal position was if you want to return to that setting again. With Scene Controllers, we need to choose a particular value ahead of time, so when we change to a particular Scene, it has that setting and sound.

But how does this Scene Controller percentage value of 0 – 100% correspond to a Reverb Time parameter which is measured in Seconds? Or a Drive parameter in the Drive block with a a range of 0.00 to 10.0?

Setting up the Controller is easy, but choosing your desired values takes a bit of preparation.
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Choosing Parameter Values with Controllers

With Scene Controllers we need to choose a certain value instead of just using an Expression Pedal in real-time to get close to our desired value. Maybe when you were using a Volume Pedal, you weren’t concerned with hitting exactly 80%, but just something that sounded loud enough at the time. With a Scene Controller, we need to choose 80% exactly or some other percentage value.

First you need to know that 0% in the Controller screen is equal to whatever value is set in the Min field of your Modifier screen. (Remember we get to our Modifier screen by pressing Enter on the front panel while our parameter is selected.) And similarly, 100% in the Controller screen is equal to whatever value is in the Max field of your Modifier screen. This is the same for any Controller, whether it’s External Control 1 with an Expression Pedal, or an LFO, Sequencer, etc., and now with Scene Controllers.

0% Controller = Min Value and 100% Controller = Max value

Everything in between 0 – 100% in the Controller screen is calculated as a percent of the range between the Min and Max values.

For example, the Mix parameter in the Reverb block has a default Min of 0% and a Max of 100%.

0% Controller = 0% Rev Mix BECAUSE the Min is set to 0%
100% Controller = 100% Rev Mix BECAUSE the Max is set to 100%

And with percentage-based parameters like Mix with a range of 0 – 100%, Controllers are easy to set because all the values in between directly correspond: the Controller is a range of percentage from 0-100% and Mix is a range of percentage from 0-100%. So this means that 1% Controller is exactly 1% Reverb Mix, 59% controller is exactly 59% Reverb Mix, and so on.

But what about that Time parameter in the Reverb Block that’s based on Seconds?

0% Controller = whatever is in the Min field – it is .10 seconds at default
100% Controller = whatever is in the Max field – it is 20 seconds at default

Now what about choosing something in between? If I choose 50% in the Controller, what is my resulting Time value? 50% of what? Or looking at it another way, if I know I want my value to be 5 seconds, what percentage do I choose in my Controller to make it 5 seconds exactly?

Well there are a few ways to do this.

“Just turn the knobs ’till it sounds good”

That may sound funny, but it’s actually how many of us have been doing it for a while. Let’s say we use an Expression Pedal for our Reverb Mix instead of a Scene Controller for now. As we play we use the pedal to add more or less reverb. Since we’re playing and not looking at the screen, we don’t know what specific % value we’re at – we just stop when it sounds good and then maybe memorize where the pedal is for next time.

Well we can do the same thing for finding out where to set the Controller value for the desired sound in that scene.

First let me point out that when a Modifier is adjusting a parameter, the knob/dial in the Edit screen of that block moves, but the Number Value above will not change – it’s always been like this.

With our Scene Controller attached to the Reverb Time parameter, changing the percentage value in the Controller screen from 0% through 100% is the same thing as changing the value with an Expression Pedal and is also the same as turning the original Knob in the Edit screen.  Also, now that a Modifier is attached, we actually can’t use that original Knob in the Edit screen – the values may change and the Knob may move temporarily, but it will bounce right back to the value that is dictated by the Controller.  So we have to set this now with our Controller.

So we will now set this Reverb Time parameter with our ears by changing the percentage value in the Controller screen until it sounds as desired – this is what I meant by “turning the knob ’till it sounds good,” but instead of a knob, we are changing the percentage value in the Controller screen.

So I can set Scene 1 to 0.0%, Scene 2 to 50%, Scene 3 to 13% and Scene 4 to 3%. (Of course I could continue to set values for all 8 Scenes). Do I know the exact amount of Time 50% translates to in Seconds? Or 13% or 3%? No, I don’t, but maybe that doesn’t matter. All I know is that a setting of 13% is what I want it to sound like in this Scene. If I want another Scene to sound exactly like that, I set its Controller to 13%.

For many users, setting values by ear like this will be sufficient. But sometimes you may want to choose an exact value for a parameter. There are a few ways to do this.

Choosing 2 Exact Values

This first method allows us to choose 2 exact values that the Controllers will jump to, however, we are limited only to those 2 values.  This may be enough though, if you know, for example, you want to change the Drive parameter in the Drive block only to either 4 or 7.5 among the different Scenes – for example Scene 1 = Drive of 4, Scene 2 = Drive of 7.5, Scene 3 = Drive of 7.5, and Scene 4 = Drive of 4.

Remember that 0% Controller = the Min value in the Modifier screen and 100% Controller = the Max value in the Modifier screen. At defaults in the Drive parameter, the Min value is 0 and the Max value is 10. Those are actually the 2 easy values, because we can set them directly. Right now they say 0 and 10, but we wanted 4 and 7.5.  So just change the Min from 0 to 4 and the Max from 10 to 7.5.

Before:

0% controller = whatever is in the Min field – 0 at default
100% controller = whatever is in the Max field – 10 at default

After:

0% controller = whatever is in the Min field – 4, since we changed it
100% controller = whatever is in the Max field – 7.5, since we change it

Now whatever Scene is set to a Scene Controller of 0% will have a Drive value of 4, and whatever Scene is set to a Scene Controller of 100% will have a Drive value of 7.5.

Scene 1 = 0% Scene Controller = Drive of 4
Scene 2 = 100% Scene Controller = Drive of 7.5
Scene 3 = 100% Scene Controller = Drive of 7.5
Scene 4 = 0% Scene Controller = Drive of 4

The Axe-FX has a convenient behavior that helps us with these 2 easy values.  The Min and Max values in the Modifier screen use the same unit as the parameter being Modified and has the same range as the Knob in the Edit screen.  This allows us to directly choose the values we want from the parameter since it’s the same available values, rather than being on a different scale or unit, like a percentage.  I can choose a 4.5 value in my Drive parameter from its Edit knob, and I can choose that same 4.5 value in the Min value in its Modifier screen. Similarly I can choose a -22.3 dB Level value in my Amp block with its Edit knob, and I can choose that same -22.3 dB value in the Min value of its Modifier screen. The Min and Max will change units and range depending on what specific parameter is used.

That’s why this method is easy – we don’t have to calculate percentages in the Controller screen. We just need to choose the direct value for the Min/Max in the Modifier screen and use either 0% or 100% in the Controller screen.

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Math (OH NO NOT MATH!!)

Another method of setting exact values is all math. For this method, we need to leave all values in the Modifier screen at default settings, except of course for the Source, where you choose your desired controller. (You can also change the Damping and Auto-Engage settings without affecting the following calculation.)

We know that we have 2 easy settings made already: 0% controller = whatever the Min value is and 100% controller = whatever the Max value is. But now we are going to calculate everything in between using a simple formula:

Range = Max – Min
Desired VALUE – Min  = X
X/Range = Controller %

Looking at Reverb Mix, we have a Min of 0 and a Max of 100. Let’s say we want a value of 49 from our Controller:

100-0 = 100 Range
49-0=49
49/100 = .49
49%

Because the parameter happens to have a range of 0.0% – 100%, which exactly matches the Controller range of 0.0% – 100%, it’s easy to calculate a middle value.  49% Reverb Mix = 49% Controller. 24.6% Reverb Mix = 24.6% Controller.  But only if the Min and Max values are set to 0 and 100 and all other settings are at default. So this one is easy and you actually don’t have to do much math.

What about something like Drive with a Min of 0 and a Max of 10. Let’s do the math for a desired value of 7:

10-0 = 10
7-0=7
7/10 = .7
70%

Well that one is easy too, since it’s based on 10. We can see for this one, just move the decimal over by one and that will be the % we need from the Controller. So 7 = 70%, 2.5 = 25%, .5 = 5% and so on. Again, all Modifier screen settings are at default.

Now for that Reverb Time parameter with a Min of .10 and a Max of 20 Seconds. Let’s say we want a value of 5 seconds:

20 – .10 = 19.9
5 – .10 = 4.9
4.9/19.9 = .246
24.6%

This one isn’t so easy, and you may have to calculate this one for each specific desired value. But once you calculate all of these and make a table of values, as long as the Modifier screen settings are at default, you can just choose the Controller value from the list.

I have calculated and compiled Controller values for some of the most often used parameters, with the Modifier screen at default settings.  Click here to see these charts.

2 Easy Settings & Math (Ugh more math!)

You may have figured out that you can set the Min and Max values to 2 easy settings like I showed above, and also use the formula to figure out values within the new range you’ve set.

Going back to the Drive parameter in the Drive block, let’s set the Min to 2 and the Max to 8. Now, the main drawback with this method is you can never choose anything lower than 2 since you’ve limited the minimum to 2, and you can never choose a value higher than 8 since you’ve limited the maximum to 8. So just keep that in mind.

Let’s say we wanted to calculate a value of 5.5, which is within the new range. It’s the same formula, but just with a different range:

 8-2 = 6
5.5-2 = 3.5
3.5/6  = .583
58.3%

So for a drive value of 5.5 using the new range with Min at 2 and Max at 8, set the Controller to 58.3%.

Because we changed the range, the chart I linked to earlier won’t work anymore, but you can now easily calculate your desired values with whatever range you’ve chosen.

Exceptions

Of course there are exceptions to this formula.  Many of the parameter values behave on a Linear scale. Decibels, for example, have a range of -80.0 to 20 dB and is set in increments of .1 – this is Linear and the formula above will calculate the correct desired value. Similarly, a Balance parameter has a range of -100.0 to 100, and even though it is set in increments of .2, it is still Linear and the formula will work.

But a parameter like Frequency in the Synth block has a range of 40 – 4000 Hz and its increments are not Linear. Starting at 40 Hz, with one click of the Value wheel, it moves from 40 to 40.18 to 40.36 to 40.54. Skipping ahead it moves from 400 to 403.6 to 405.4 to 410.9. Then later from 2999 to 3013 to 3027 to 3040.  This is not Linear, but Logarithmic. So the formula above will not work for Logarithmic parameters like Frequency, Q, Rate, and Trim, among others.  (I actually charted out the Synth Frequencies manually, available here.)

So that’s it! Have fun with Scene Controllers!

Chris
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Chris

Founder at AxeFxTutorials.com
Chris is a guitarist and drummer in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has been using the Axe-Fx since 2007, starting with an Axe-Fx Ultra, and now the Axe-Fx II. He has been helping people successfully use their FAS gear for years and the creator of many video tutorials as Katsu Kuri Media.

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Chris
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