The Line 6 MM4 Modulation Modeler is a multi-effect unit from Line 6′s popular Modeler range. Line 6 provided with this box, a got-to tool for any kind of modulation any musician would need – Leslie tones for the keyboardist, Mutron Bi-Phase for the funk, vintage Fender amp tremolo for the old-school guitarists and off-the-wall ring modulation for the experimentalists. Vox, Fender, MXR, A/DA… they are all modeled here to provide the next inspiring sound at a click of the switch.
Like the FM4, the blue MM4 has four footswitches that allow you to instantly recall four saved presets. The five control parameters allow you to select the Speed, Depth, Tweak, Tweez and Mix of each setting. Expression Pedal control allows you to morph between two different saved settings in the one preset. For example, heel down of the expression pedal can be saved for 50% Speed and 50% Mix and toe down can be saved for 100% Speed and 100% Mix. This lets you morph between these two settings and stop at any parameter along the way – useful for keeping in time with a fluctuating rhythm section.
The Line 6 Modeler range has gained a bad reputation as unreliable due to some design limitations. Firstly, the switches used are not on/off switches, but spring actuators that “click” a surface mount switch on and off. These switches feel unsturdy and are normally the first things to break. Secondly, many users noticed a volume drop when activating the pedal. The output level was affected by component values in the buffer circuit with varied levels of “drop” in different pedals.
The DIY community was pleased when pedal designer Jeorge Tripps (Way Huge, Line 6, Dunlop) released information in tackling these initial limitations, it led to a number of pedal makers and modders to offering their services to improve the Line 6 Modelers. Robert Keeley offers a hi-fi mod involving the replacement of IC chips for Burr Brown’s and some part-time modders (DRASP at Harmony Central Effects Forum) improving on the flexibility of the pedal. After intensive experimenting successes (and failures), cubisteffects now offers a number of modifications to the Line 6 Modelers.
cubisteffects offers not only a modification to rectify the initial design flaws but also has a number of modifications that can improve the flexibility of the unit, and some that push the pedal to become a new experimental tool.
The Standard Modification involves three changes;
- SWITCHES – The spring actuators are removed and momentary SPST “soft-touch” switches are installed. These switches are screwed to the pedal chassis and are wired to the place of the switch providing thousands of clicks without touching the PCB.
- VOLUME DROP – Selected capacitors and resistors are removed and, if required, replaced with metal film components.
- LEDs – The four red LEDs are replaced with superbright, waterclear LEDs of your choice.
A rugged 24mm Alpha pot is placed on either side of your preference. This allows you to use the Expression Pedal controls without having an expression pedal take up pedalboard real estate. The modification enables you to save and morph between two settings per preset by rolling your foot over the knob. Settings are saved as per the Line 6 instruction manual.
This modification involves re-routing the output of the Modeler back into the input, and the new output selected by a switch on the top of the chassis. This is a feedback loop, and causes spontaneous bursts of noise, squeals, oscillations, drones – all depending on the setting selected. This modification is definitely for the more adventurous musician, but with every effect, the feedback can be used subtly. Most times the feedback can be deafening so it must be used with caution. However, I have installed a small knob that sits aside the switch allowing you to control the amount, pitch, speed of the feedback. A superbright, waterclear LED indicates whether the feedback loop is on or off.
The cool thing with this modification is that the MM4 becomes a stand-alone noisemaker or “synth” as a loose term. I found it best run through a mixer to control its levels more accurately and left as a table-top unit.
Other modifications offered are:
TWIN PRESET MODIFICATION
This preset lets you save two different settings per preset as per the Expression Mod. However unlike the Expression Mod, the two settings are selected via a stomp switch. This allows you to instantly switch between two settings without the need for an expression pedal. The selected preset is indicated by a superbright, waterclear LED.
DISTORTION CIRCUIT BENDS
WARNING: Volatile and extreme modification. Not for the faint-hearted.
This mod involves two circuit bends that work around the same principle as the Feedback Mod but are much more pronounced and distorted. Crackling, white noise, fuzzed insanity can all be activated via two independent toggle switches with a knob controlling the output volume for both. Superbright, waterclear LEDs indicate whether bend is on or off (but you can clearly hear them if they are on!)