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How to replace Roland EV-5 expression pedal with Yamaha FC7 | Marichiba Consulting

“Can I use a Yamaha FC7 expression pedal in place of a Roland EV-5?” you ask? The answer is, “Yes!” and here’s how. In fact, you can substitute almost any expression pedal, with a little help. Here’s a look at a Yamaha FC-7 pedal driving the expression control on my Boss RC-50 looper, with the help of a converter cable (the short, white bit of cable) which I made myself for under $5.

yamaha fc7 used as roland ev-5

The EV-5 expression/volume pedal is standard for a lot of Boss and Roland gear. Unfortunately, they cost about $80 new. Meanwhile, the Yamaha FC7 is a heavy-duty pedal that you can get at Musician’s Friend for under $40. Inside the box, these pedals aren’t complex things. The electronics consist of a potentiometer, which has three terminals: top, bottom, and wiper. Each terminal is wired to one of three contacts on the 1/4″ TRS jack. “TRS” stands for “Tip-Ring-Sleeve,” which are the bits of metal exposed on the 1/4″ plug.

In short, the electrical difference between the pedals is that the Tip and Ring wires are reversed. You can easily solder your own female-to-male converter cable that reverses the wiring for the Tip and the Ring. Even easier, buy a 1/4″ headphone extension cable (< $5 on ebay, including shipping), cut it, strip the wires, and re-connect the wires reversing Tip and Ring. You can finish the whole project in 15 minutes using only wire strippers, and ohm-meter, and electrical tape! MacGyver’s ghost will smile down upon you.

If you choose to solder your own cable, TRS jacks cost about $2 each at Radio Shack or on eBay. (Make sure you buy 1/4in “stereo” TRS jacks, not mono TS jacks.) The table below is your wiring guide. For the sake of clarity, let’s assume that you use 3-wire cable with wires colored Black, White and Red. 

Female Male
Black Sleeve Sleeve
White Tip Ring
Red Ring Tip

If you’re interested in more detail about the internals of an expression pedal, including an electrical schematic of the Roland EV-5, see Martin Walker’s informative post in the Sound on Sound forum. His list of compatible expression pedals is especially handy. In short, pedals can be grouped into one of two camps, shown below.

CAMP 1: Wiper-Tip

CAMP 2: Wiper-Ring

WIRING

Wiper=Tip, Top of pot=Ring, Bottom of pot=Sleeve

Wiper=Ring, Top of pot=Tip, Bottom of pot=Sleeve

MANUFACTURERS

Roland, CME, Emu, Kurzweil, M Audio, Novation, Oberheim, Voce, pre-1995 Korg

Yamaha, Kawai, Korg

EXPRESSION PEDALS

  • Roland EV-5

  • M Audio EX-P (has polarity switch)

  • Lead Foot LFX-1

  • Yamaha FC-7

  • M Audio EX-P (has polarity switch)

  • Korg EXP-1 & EXP-2

  • Korg XVP-10

  • Behringer FCV100

If you’re still reading at this point, I hope you found this useful and that I just saved you $40.
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5 Responses to How to replace Roland EV-5 expression pedal with Yamaha FC7

  1. Jeff Ong says:

    Hi,

    The electrical difference between the Roland EV-5 and the Yamaha FC-7 is not just the polarity, but also the potentiometer resistance. It’s 10K and 50K respectively. Even with a polarity adapter, the FC-7 would sweep through the EV-5 full range with (all things being equal) just one fifth throw.

    I’ve been unhappy with the short throw and light weight of the EV-5 and am looking to have something of FC-7′s quality to use on my Roland keyboard. I’m keen to know how do people overcome the resistance difference between the pedals when swapping them (with the polarity adapter).

  2. Matthew says:

    Hi Jeff, thanks for the comment.
    I can’t say how all boxes work, but for the BOSS RC-50 that I have, my guess is that the circuitry compares two voltages, from wiper-to-top and from wiper-to-bottom, and figures out the pedal position based on the ratio. So the specific resistance shouldn’t really matter. In any event, the behavior I witness with my gear, including the FC-7 with polarity-swap, is a smooth range from 0 to max, over about 85% of the range of the pedal. It does seem to max out before hitting the max pedal position, but I never really noticed it until I specifically measured it right now.

    There can be a difference in behavior depending on whether the pedal uses a linear or log potentiometer, and what kind your gear expects to see. In case of the FC-7 and RC-50, they seem to be matched. I see basically linear increase from 0 to max as I push the pedal, which feels right. Though in truth, I’ve never actually used an EV-5 on this machine to know if my hack pedal feels the same.

    Good luck!

  3. Michael says:

    Hi Jeff and Matthew… thanks for the posts. I am attempting to use the FC7 as the volume pedal in an Alesis QS series keyboard. I too like the heavy duty quality of that pedal. Like Jeff, I discovered that all the volume range happens in the first 20% or so of FC7 pedal travel. This was not the case on my venerable DX7 (yup, still have it), so clearly the resistance difference between the pedal models is the issue. Apparently, unlike Matthew’s RC-50 setup, the Alesis QS doesn’t do a “ratio check”. For the inexpensive price of the FC7, it’s worth getting a second one, however, and modding it to match the pot specs of the EV-5. In my case, I guess that I should actually check the Alesis F2 expression pedal specs (discontinued pedal).

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