How to program a Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 for Ableton Live

UPDATED *****************
I finally bit the bullet and purchased the amazing iFCB software for an easy $20. WELL WORTH EVERY PENNY! You can basically program everything on the FCB1010 to do whatever you want right from your computer. You can download it here

If you want to stay the $free.99 route, Severin commented below about a remote control mapping for the FCB1010 that’s ready to roll. Unfortunately I had a little trouble with it, all of the switches were 1 off. There is no support for it so you’re kind of stuck. But hey, it’s free!

If you really need something custom for your needs then you can still follow my instruction below, but if you just need it to be a general control surface for Ableton then you can save a lot of time and headache by downloading one of these.

Here are the instructions for how to program a Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010 for Ableton Live. There is ample instruction all over the net but I personally found most of it confusing, sometimes inaccurate, and a headache to sort through the volumes of information for other applications of this unit that didn’t apply to me. So here it is in what i hope to be it’s simplest format.

Here is the beauty in question:

Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010

Behringer MIDI Foot Controller FCB1010

Now what was confusing for me was understanding what kind of information needed to be sent from the Behringer unit to Ableton in a way that Ableton could understand. I’m not a big MIDI guy at all. I barely know enough to get by. Whatever messages are being sent out of the box, I have no idea what they are, nor really care. But what Ableton needs from it are CONTROL COMMANDS. And you can set what commands are being sent by each footswitch.

The Behringer has 10 banks of presets. That means you can do everything in this lesson and set up the most schweetest set up ever, then have something completely different for another bank. Nice. I currently only am using one bank. The first one. Zero. The other banks laugh at me at night so I don’t use them.

Let’s say you want to use Footswitch #1 to start the scene in Track 1 of Ableton. Step on that Footswitch.
Step and hold the DOWN Footswitch for a few seconds until a little green light starts blinking on the display.
Hit the UP Footswitch. This takes you into programing mode. Now if some of the lights come on at this point above any of the other Footswitches then press and hold them until the light goes away. The light is scary. It must be gone.
Press and hold down Footswitch #6. Fear not, you are still programming #1, this is allowing you to enter Systex Send which is that magic controller number that Ableton so desires. The LED light above Footswitch #6 will now stay lit.
Press Footswitch #6 again but quickly this time and it will start to blink.
Press the UP Footswitch again. Now a number will appear in the display. That is the command number. I’ve read that you have to only choose from certain sets of numbers but any of them seem to work fine. Now my Axiom has it’s own preset numbers so if you’re using another controller make sure you’re not using any that will conflict, unless you want them to serve the same function. You can enter the command number with the Footswitchs themselves, or you can use the Expression Pedal A to scroll to it.
Press the UP Footswitch again and another number will flash. Will probably already be at max 127. This is the velocity. I’d leave it at 127.
Press the UP Footswitch one last time to go back. Then press and hold the DOWN Footswitch to save everything.

BAM you’re done! Now click on the MIDI button in Ableton Live:

Find the button that you want to control with that Footswitch and click on it then step on the Footswitch #1 that you just programed. There should be a little white box that appears on that Ableton button with a number (should be the command # you programed). Follow the same instructions for each Footswitch that you want to program.

“But what about the Expression Pedal’s???”, you say. “I want to be able to crank my wah wah while I whammy my Washburn!”. To do that follow STEPS 1-3, then on STEP 4 instead of pressing and holding Footswitch #6 (it should already be lit) you press and hold Footswitch #8 for Expression Pedal A (you may notice that it says EXP A above the #8) or Footswitch #9 for Expression Pedal B (EXP B).

After the light stays lit then press the same Footswitch (8/9) again so that it blinks.

Press the UP Footswitch. Once again you’ll have a number appear on the top display which is the command number. Select which number you want it to be by pressing the numbered Footswitches or using Expression Pedal A.

Once you’ve entered your number press the UP Pedal again and it will display the velocity. Now here’s where it gets a little tricky. Since it’s an expression pedal you don’t just have an ON/OFF function, you have a bottom and top. The first number that blinks will be the velocity when that expression pedal is ALL THE WAY DOWN (as in your heel is on the ground and your toe is on the air). Set it to 00 (that’s zero zero).

Then press the UP Footswitch again. The next number is the velocity when that expression pedal is ALL THE WAY UP (toe down, heel up). set this to 127 (that’s one hundred and twenty seven… you probably knew that though).

Press the UP Footswitch again. Then press and hold the DOWN Footswitch and you’re done!

This only set’s the expression pedals for which ever Footswitch you had selected at the time. This means you have to redo it (for both EXP A and B) for every Footswitch! Sucks right? Not necessarily. Depending on our function this means you can have the expression pedals serve entirely different functions depending on which Footswitch you are using. That can be pretty useful. Especially if you’re Frank Zappa. But he’s dead.

Related posts:
Using a Behringer FCB1010 and M-Audio Axiom with Ableton Live
My Ableton Live template setup

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