MPD18 setup tips

  • I bought an MPD18 tonight! I plugged it into my ThinkPad and JACKed into Hydrogen; spent an hour noodling around with it, redoing the percussion for my latest track on SoundCloud. I like the MPD a lot, but I'm wondering how you more experienced folks have your MPDs setup.

    Which sounds do you like to place on which pads? What goes on the fader? What are some fingerdrumming styles/exercises that avoid carpal tunnel and other stress? I don't know if I'll mostly do one-handed drumming the way the live monome/beatsmiths do, or if I'll be using both hands.

    Also, how many of you have done the "tape mod" on the pads? Mine are nowhere near as responsive as they need to be, so I'm thinking I'll have to crack the thing open. Is the end result worth the effort? Thanks!

  • there was a little layout that was posted on cdm a while a go but i cant find it now, basically working on the idea of symmetry so you'd have two kicks at the bottom in the middle then toms either side of those and build it up like that.

    generally i only play with one hand so symmetry isn't that helpful. kicks stay at the bottom for the thumb to have fun with. my fader is reverb dry/wet but not for the drums.

    tape mod was very effective for me. took a little while and cutting little squares of electrical tape is not the nicest way to spend a sunny afternoon but it should give you a lot more control over velocity and also increase the amount of time you can play them for before you break a finger ;)

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com/2010/02/fast-fingers-video-mappings-shows-you-pad-drumming-on-mpc-ableton-beyond/

  • good hunting :)

  • MPCstuff.com sells cork pads for MPDs (They also do replacements pads that are thicker than standard). And you can order them off eBay as well if you don't fancy cutting the tape yourself.

  • yeah the tape mod is definitely a winner in my book — brings you closer to your instrument too (rather than buying shit off ebay)!

  • the tape mod is well worth it. i used duct tape which worked well. it takes trial and error though to figure how much you need and how sensitive you want it.

    as with samples, i'd mess around and figure out what works best for you. i've been doing one hand drumming lately and use thumb with snares and kicks with pinky and ring fingers. throw percussion in with the others and switch it up sometimes. best thing i can tell you is to practice and see what works best for you.

  • hmm, that mpcstuff site has the mpd18 for $99! Thats well worth it. Has anyone made use of their 'thick fat pads', http://www.mpcstuff.com/akmpcthfatpa.html ? I'm intrigued...

  • and, while im wasting my time on the google, found a nice tutorial vid on finger drumming with an mpc from cdm last year...

    http://createdigitalmusic.com/2010/02/fast-fingers-video-mappings-shows-you-pad-drumming-on-mpc-ableton-beyond/

  • heh. lokey, look up :-D

  • sigh. I'm asleep at the wheel.

  • Yeah, well I clicked on lokey's link and not the one above, so put two of us in the sleeping department!

  • ok, so can someone fill me in here: looking through the manual, i cant see any way to set the pads to send cc data. Is there a way that you can use these pads individually to control a single live knob per pad? If it just sends note data, then a single pad wont be able to map to continuously control a single parameter, is this so?

  • Guess I'm gonna track down the best tape mod instructions and crack this thing open. I've got spare electrical and duct tape lying around. I definitely need it several times more sensitive than it is now. Even with "full level" turned on, too many notes are being missed, and I don't like to hit it that hard for more accuracy.

    Thanks for that fingerdrumming video, everyone. It is geared toward two-handed performances, but it's got some good things to think about.

    Also, $99 for an MPD18 is a rip-off. These are now going for $70-$76, new, on places like eBay and B&H. I wouldn't pay more than $80 new, that's for sure. As it is, I only spent $60 for a like-new unit, as a local pickup.

    @lokey:

    I poked through the internet and a manual, but didn't find anything that suggests the pads can be changed from notes to CC values. The preset editing program doesn't offer a way to do it; only the fader sends CC data. There were a couple of folks on the Logic forums who had your same question, but didn't get far either. I suppose Akai figured if lots of CC functionality was desired, people would buy the MPD24, rather than the 18. I almost got one, thinking about all the knobs, but it's cheaper to get a used nanokontrol and 18 separately than one used MPD24.

  • ahh, damn. That would have been too easy i suppose. I actually had a mpd24 a few years back, sold it due to its being a beast to lug, and that the pads couldnt send cc. Although its not the problem it was before i had max, should be not a problem to run a velocity/aftertouch to cc patch to sort that...

  • i have an mpd24 and 32. (trying to sell the 32). the 24 is a more practical size but definitely their size and weight are a huge downfall. i would love a slimed down, lighter 24 because i like having some extra knobs. or even just pads like and 18 with only 6-8 rotary knobs.

    depending on how much i incorporate knobs into my live set will depend if i just get a mpd18. how heavy is it?

  • It's really lightweight. Less than a pound. I can comfortably pick it up and carry it with two fingers and a thumb.

  • well, what can i say. I just ordered one. mpd18 with big black pads. Damnation...weak, leif, weak ;]

    but i am looking forward to it. Be nice to have a drum set i can throw in my bag or have on my lap...

  • I finally got around to doing this mod today. Didn't take long, maybe a half hour to cut and stick the electrical tape to the bottom of the pads. I used 4 layers, which may be enough -- only about 1/4 of the pads have the responsiveness that I'd like. The rest I still have to hit somewhat hard to get full volume. Another layer of tape might suffice.

    However, the tape mod definitely changes the MPD's feel. The pads are much stiffer, since they don't travel much/at all, so it's almost like using a rubbery touchscreen device. Almost, but still friendlier.

    Also: the corners are still dead zones. I really don't know why Akai used square electrical sensors and square pad tops, but only used a small circle on the pad underside to actually contact the sensors. Means that if you don't hit the thing straight on, even with the tape mod, you've got a good chance of not getting any sounds out of it.


    I'm still happy overall with the device's performance; it's much more expressive and sensitive compared to the stock configuration.

  • ive been playing around with my fat pads, and they stick out so much that you can grip them between thumb and forefinger on the corners, and twist them to trigger the sensors, makes for some glitchy behaviour ;]

  • personally i like the circle pads — it means you don't accidentally trigger if your finger accuracy isn't right on... definitely something you learn to work with though.

  • @lokey - I've been thinking about purchasing those thick fat pads for my mpd32...how do you like them? Are they worth the investment?

    I also heard that getting the smaller pads off of the website and using the cork pads works as well...have you heard anything about that?