I need to use looping and FX switching without having to hop back and forth between Looper mode and "normal" mode. That's just not usable for live performance, as it requires too much time and thought. This morning I started playing around with using the flexible MIDI assignments in the pedal to assign looper MID controls to the bottom row of switches, using the upper row of switches for FX as usual. Its a useable though limited workaround. Heres what I did:
1. Use a MIDI cable to connect your HD500 MIDI In to MIDI Out, with channels assigned identically. (If you need other MIDI stuff, use an external MIDI box and route accordingly.)
2. Make sure you are using "PedalBoard Mode" so you are using FS1 - FS8 switches.
3. Set up your FS1 and FS4 foot switches any expression pedal(s) to any FX or amps, as usual.
4. Use MIDI Assign to assign the following MIDI controllers: (be sure to use correct MIDI channels):
RECORD LOOP: Foot switch FS5, CC message, CC#60, Value 127
PLAY/STOP LOOP: Foot switch FS6, CC Toggle message, CC#61, Value 00
OVERDUB: Foot switch FS7, CC message, CC#60, Value 00
UNDO: Foot switch FS8, CC message, CC#63, Value 127
You may want different assigns or configurations. Use what works best for how you perform.
5. Assign some "dummy" FX to FS5 - FS8 so that your lower bank of switch LEDs toggle on and off for your looper switches. I use Noise Gates with the controls turned off, so the guitar signal is unaffected but the lights turn on and off so I can see what is activated for the loop switches. (There may be a better way to do this, but I haven't used the pedal enough to know.)
With this setup, I use the upper row of FS switches and pedal to turn my FX and amps on and off. The lower buttons control my looping. This is the way I loop for live performance:
Tap FS5 to record a loop, then FS6 to "close it" and play it. Tap FS6 to toggle Play/Stop.
After a loop is recorded and playing, FS5 has no effect. It only records a new loop if Stopped. (It would be nice if this thing would let you use Rec/Overdub toggle intuitively, but so far thats not working out for me).
Use FS7 to turn loop Overdubs on and off, as often as needed.
Use FS8 to turn your last recorded Overdub on and off, as needed.
I may tweak this some more, but this is what I just tested, and its working out pretty good for my needs. The loops are clean and tight enough for live performance as long as your timing is decent. Yeah, its not like a full-blown dedicated loop pedal (I own a Boomerang III), but I don't want to take up any more floor real estate than I have to, and if this setup will get my basic looping done, I'm basically good. There are still big issues with how the looper switch LEDs relate to what is going on.
LINE 6 GUYS: this is an OK workaround, but far from a great one. You have a fantastic and flexible FX/amp sim pedal with the HD500, and a decent looper for live performance looping. Why not work on the firmware to come up with a better out-of-the-box solution for live performance looping + FX switching? Really, this box has all the internal bells and whistles and chipset to do it, it would just require some software modifications, right??!! As any hardware guy knows, software is easy C'mon. Pretty please??
UPDATE: Ideally I would like to be able to program footswitch functionality just like the Looper mode uses. In Looper mode, the REC/OVERDUB and PLAY/STOP buttons are interactive, via internal software logic. In other words, each switch interacts with the other to enable more intelligence in the looping. For example, After you start a REC, tapping the same switch again closes the loop and starts OVERDUB mode. In addition, the LEDs do useful stuff. For example, the REC button blinks when OVERDUB is active. And the PLAY/STOP switch LED tells you what is currently active, etc.
BUT....if I try to use MIDI CC#s to program the buttons, I can't access this cool, internal logic. So, my workaround involves having to use a separate OVERDUB switch, assign LEDS., etc. Even then, I haven't been able to configure LEDs to tell me what is happening with any accuracy.
If Line 6 would simply allow us to assign this interactive logic to switches, all would be WONDERFUL.