What Kind of Pedal Is This?

This is a dumb question but nothing ventured…

I need a foot pedal to start & stop my drum machine (Roland R-8 mk.II) to which my sequencer and synths are slaved. The attached photo shows the pedal I use to scroll through patches in my MIDI patch bay - it will also do what I need but I need at least one more. These were ubiquitous and like $15.99 at almost any music store when I first used this rig in the mid 90’s.

What is this type of pedal called? Thanks in advance!


That is a simple switch pedal - the type used for Sustain in most keyboards. The complication is that there are two flavors (polarities) of these pedals, and you have to match the right type to the manufacturer of the gear you’ll be using it with.

Ensoniq, Korg, and others use a pedal that makes contact (closes the circuit) when you press the pedal. So putting an ohm-meter across the tip and ring of the plug will show infinite resistance until you press the pedal, then it shows continuity. Or, if you have a circuit tester that beeps with continuity, hooking it to the tip and ring of the jack will cause it to beep when the pedal is pressed.

Yamaha, Roland, and others use a pedal that breaks contact when it is pressed. So hooking the beeper across the jack will cause it to beep until the pedal is pressed.

Using the wrong type of pedal won’t hurt anything - it will just work backwards. So if you use your pedal to start the drum machine, and it is the wrong type of pedal, it will not start when you press it - it will start when you release the pedal. Using the wrong type of pedal as a sustain pedal causes all notes to sustain UNTIL you press the pedal.

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p.s. Many pedals have a reverse switch on the side too, so you can swap polarity.

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Thank you Sam and Robbitybob for your replies. They give me enough info to move forward.

I’m plug & play. I plug in and play without knowing much of anything about the inner workings of synths. Hopefully hanging out here can help rectify that as time goes on.

All the best.

First point…there are no dumb questions. Everybody learned somehow, so ask away.

Secondly, the guys above answered your questions, but here’s a popular “generic” brand you might consider, M-Audio. Pretty much what you have there now. As Sam mentioned, polarity is important, and this one is switchable.



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Looks like exactly what I need. Thank you Dave!