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RJM Mastermind MIDI Controller Review

RJM MasterMind Midi Controller
Click here to read our review of the RG-16
Sometimes you say a certain four letter word to a guitar player and they run screaming. No, not a vulgarity—I’m talking about MIDI! Other guitarists claim to be “old school” and insist they have no need for MIDI; all they need is their Les Paul and their Marshall. Oh, and their wah pedal… and that Uni-Vibe pedal, and… next thing you know, they’re keeping it truly “old school” by tap dancing all over their pedals like a rock version of Riverdance! It’s those guitarists that could use a little MIDI in their lives. They need a device that will combine multiple foot taps for different effects into just one foot tap, thus saving time, and stage space, too. RJM Music Technology is introducing a MIDI foot controller called the Mastermind. It is designed to work in conjunction with all of RJM’s products, such as the Amp Gizmo, the RG-16 Audio/Function Switcher and their new products as well: the Mini-Amp Gizmo and the Effects Gizmo. The Amp Gizmo allows you to control all of the footswitchable features of an amp, while the Effects Gizmo can control up to 12 effect pedals, all with a MIDI controller. The RG-16 allows the guitarist to control effect pedals, rack gear, amp functions and other electronic devices from a single MIDI footswitch. Although all of the RJM products work well with any other MIDI foot controller, RJM now has a MIDI controller they can call its own.

The Mastermind is powerful, compact and durable enough for the touring guitarist. It contains 125 presets, transmits up to four Program Change messages and eight Controller messages per preset, and can control up to fourteen MIDI devices on separate MIDI channels. It has an expression pedal input, phantom power capability and a remote in-jack to allow the synchronized use of multiple MasterMind controllers.

For this review, we’ll be looking at how the Mastermind works with the RG-16 unit. The MasterMind makes programming the RG-16 simpler, faster and a no-hassle process. To program the RG-16 with other MIDI foot controllers can be a mindboggling process. For presets, you would have to go into the controller’s edit mode, select an empty bank and preset, and designate a program number that corresponds with the RG-16 preset number, before even designating what the preset number is going to be. For instant access switching, you would have to go to the designated instant access button on the controller and assign the controller number that corresponds to one of the eight audio loop or eight function switches. Oh, you also have to refer to the MIDI Implementation Chart in the manual to figure out what the controller number is. Way too many programming steps for me!

When using the Mastermind with the RG-16, it’s literally a “plug and play” operation. I created audio loops with a few effect pedals into the RG-16, and then started planning out what kinds of presets I wanted. For the first preset, I wanted my distortion pedal with my analogue filter pedal, and a bit of delay. On the second preset, I wanted a clean sound with a chorus pedal, and so on. I began programming my first preset. On the RG-16, my distortion pedal was on Audio Loop 1, my analogue filter was on Audio Loop 3, and delay on Audio Loop 4. First, I simply pressed button 1 on the Mastermind controller to designate that preset. On the RG-16, I selected Audio Loop buttons 1, 3 and 4 and pressed “Write”—that’s it! I was then able to turn on my distortion, analogue filter, and delay all with one footswitch. I continued to program ten different presets of all kinds of effect combinations in under five minutes. The Mastermind also includes an “Alternate Presets” feature, allowing you to call up a slightly different sound (adding chorus to a clean tone, for instance) for every preset. I can imagine the possibilities if I’d spent more time planning out a more detailed setup, incorporating rack gear, amp channel switching and other MIDI devices. I could probably even program this thing to start my coffee maker in the morning via MIDI.

Both amateur and professional players will appreciate the Mastermind, since it can handle simple rigs as well as more complex setups. It allows instant switching of pedals, rack effects, amps and more with a single press of a button. Since it’s so easy to setup and operate, MIDI-phobes will be running to the MasterMind, instead of away from it!

Buy if...
You want to put together a high quality guitar rig that’s easy to control.
Skip if...
You really want to show off your tap dancing skills on stage.

MSRP $349 - RJM Music Technology -