I love technology, it’s always kind of been a curiosity for me - the idea of being able to blend together software and hardware especially has intrigued me lately. There are a lot of guitar pedal companies that are doing exactly this - all of them to some extent, minus perhaps Analogman.
This collision of an older product/technology and newer software / digital technology is super interesting to me. There’s a reason that Chase Bliss Audio has such a following and companies like Strymon are able to release big box pedals so often Another company that does this incredibly well is Meris – they offer unique pedals in an interesting form factor with an absolute ton of features packed into them. This last point, having a ton of features is one of the issues that a lot of people run into with these types of pedals – the guitar pedal form factor makes it difficult to access a litany of information. Some companies go for giant menu systems with screens, others use dip switches, Meris has the alt functionality to open a second set of uses for each button. There’s a lot of ways into this solution and I don’t think any are necessarily better or worse than each other – they all seem to have the same limitation caused by the pedal form factor.
One solution is to use a GUI on a computer to edit settings and presets and build your sounds and then push those changes back to the pedal itself – TC electronics has come up with a really interesting way of doing this via audio with their Toneprint series of pedals, and the focus of this article is around someone trying to solve this problem for Meris pedal users in a cool maker style DIY way.
Elliot is my type of person – the type of person who sees a problem and goes about solving it. He wasn’t content without a preset editor / librarian for Meris pedals, and since Meris doesn’t offer this functionality out of the box. He decided to do something about it. We asked him a few questions about the project:
What started this whole idea?
I received a Meris Enzo guitar synth for Christmas 2018. I loved the sounds I could get out of the Enzo. I wanted to be able to see what was going on and get all of the controls on one screen. I also wanted to be able to save and name presets. I’d been doing some coding as a hobby, It was great to bring music and coding together.
The Enzo has a modest number of controls but is capable of creating a wide range of sounds. It is easy to get usable sounds, especially when compared to more complex synths.
After the basics of the editor were in place, I was interested in seeing what other users would have to say so I posted on The Gear Page, Reddit, TalkBass, and later in the Meris Facebook groups. A few users started to make some really clever requests.
My favorite users requested features include the ability to save and restore the 16 presets at once, and the A/B modes of the patch generator.
I’m guessing you have a background in software engineering, do you work in the pedal industry?
Right now, I’d say I volunteer in the pedal industry.
Have you talked to Meris about this at all?
I’ve had a number of conversations with the Meris team. They are very generous answering questions and providing information. They are very supportive.
What draws you into their pedals, especially enough to build something this seemingly complex?
Each of their pedals are quite non-traditional. They each combine a number of elements in interesting ways. The Enzo is more than a synth pedal it is also, a pitch shifter, a ring mod, and a delay. All of their pedals combine elements in new ways. It would be a mistake for example to consider the Polymoon just a delay. It is actually a flanger, and multi-tap delay with 16 x 2 modulation options, and a phaser. I like the way the individual pieces come together creates something unique.
Any future plans for this project?
I’m exploring creating an online-community library, to enable users to easily share patches. The concept is that the editor/librarian would have an off-line library, much like it does today and a shared online library. Users could publish patches to the online library, audition them and decide to import any of them into their local library.
The Editors are available for Windows 10 and macOS:
And your readers can see each of the editors in action at YouTube:
OK – enough with the project questions, what type of guitar / pedalboard setup do you have?
I’ve got a number of guitars my primary guitars are a Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster, and a Gibson R9 Les Paul. My amp is a Mesa Boogie Mark V (90W), with one open-back and one closed-back cab.
My primary pedalboard starts with a Kirk Hammett Cry Baby Wah, polytune, MXR Custom Comp compressor, a Leeds Fuzz – BYOC kit version of a Univox SuperFuzz, a Line6 M5, and a Strymon Mobius. I have a Strymon Timeline and a BossRC-3 Loop Station in the effects loop of the Boogie. There is also an EHX SuperEgo on the board – but it’s not connected at the moment.
I have another mess of effects on my desk, at the moment this includes a trio of Meris Pedals. The Enzo into the the Polymoon into a Mercury7 into a Boss SY-300. These run into a pair of QSC CP8 powered speakers. Those Meris pedals are amazing in stereo. On the floor I have a KMI softstep MIDI controller and an expression pedal. These pedals are also connected to the Meris MIDI I/O and connected to a computer – so I can easily save a store settings using the editors.
This type of project always interests me probably due to the fact that I’m always kind of enamored with the idea of taking action when nobody else is. If you’ve got a Meris pedal you’d like to unlock a bit, it might be worth checking out Elliot’s creation. If you’ve got questions hit him up on GitHub or find his posts across most of the forums that you probably frequent if you’re reading this website.
Keep an eye out for updates of this, and the inevitable moment when it’s absorbed into official Meris support. (You read it here first!)