Hacking the Jamman – Working with the Beat Buddy..

So I had a play with the Jamman and the Beat Buddy last night and made some progress to the point where I think I have a setup will work. I say ‘will’ because I need to upgrade the OS in the Beat Buddy to the latest (but still beta) level of the firmware in order to get certain midi functions that I need (ability to set tempo from midi).

In it’s current state, the idea is use an Arduino based ‘black box’ that I have programmed to convert the sysex from the Jamman into midi signals to set the tempo in the Beat Buddy.

So this is the basic midi setup:


On the Jamman from tracks 1 to 200 I have every five tracks setup to the same tempo as the track number. So track 60 is 60 BPM, track 65 is 65 BPM etc. On tracks 201-400 (on the SD card) I have prerecorded backing tracks (for longer songs) with the tempo already set in them.

So any time I select a track on the Jamman (using the up/down buttons on the three button switch that is plugged into it), the jamman sends a sysex midi message to the the Arduino that then convers that into midi CC messages to set the tempo in the Beat Buddy.

When scrolling (quickly) through the Jamman tracks, it does not send out midi messages for every track so it’s a case of getting up the track you want and then maybe stepping up a track, pause and then down to the track you want, just to ensure the Jamman has time to settle and send the midi sysex out for the new tempo.

So the way this will work is like this:

  • Select the drum track you want to play on the Beat Buddy (using the foots witch to step up/down through the tracks).
  • Select the tempo (or track if prerecorded) on the Jamman which will set the Beat Buddy to the same tempo.
  • Press the Beat Buddy pedal to start the intro drum sequence.
  • When the next bar starts, press the Jamman pedal to start the Jamman recording for a blank track or playback if a prerecorded track.

I’ve already established that they stay in sync (provided they are set to the same tempo and started on the beat) even without midi sync messages so I’m not to worried (at this stage) about timing drift although I’ll see how it works out in real life soon I guess!

Stopping Playback

At the moment I have to stop each pedal independently which is a bit of a pain (and a mess) and results in some fancy tap dancing. however I ‘think’ I’ve come up with a way to have the Jamman tell the Beat Buddy when to stop (with help from the Arduino).

At the end of recording the initial phrase to a blank track or at the end of playback the Jamman sends out a ‘stop’ message which I think I can convert into a ‘play song outro’ midi message for the Beat Buddy which should cause it to play the outro and then end.

Because the Jamman seems to send the SAME midi message at the end of recording AND playback I’ll need to keep track of what I think the Jamman is doing (playing/recording or stopped) in the Arduino but so long as they are both in the same state (I’ll have a little LED on the Arduino box to tell me what state it ‘thinks’ the Jamman is in) it should work.


I’ve contacted Digitech support about getting hold of the sysex spec and maybe even them making some changes to it but I got the usual canned “we’ve passed your message on” sort of reply so I’m not expecting much, such is the nature of large corporations (that seem to think their customers don’t matter) but they may surprise me yet.








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