Well, clearly, these two pieces of gear are entirely different. I’m sure Behringer didn’t rip off the Roland. They’ve got two expression pedals. Totally different.

Brad Sucks, the one-man band known for Internet stardom and Brad’s brilliant title “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing”, is taking on laptop performance. First job: find a way to use limbs on your body other than your arms and hands, since those need to play the guitar.

Like many Ableton Live users, Brad finds his way to the Behringer FCB1010 foot pedal. Before you scoff at the brand name, this foot pedal’s configuration is unusual (ten stomp pedals, two “scene” pedals, and two expression pedals), and the price is ridiculously cheap (often US$150 or less).

Of course, it is from Behringer, which means there are lots of things wrong with it: it doesn’t work out of the box with Ableton Live, and it’s a pain to program. Enter an aggressive community with tutorials, homebrewed Windows editor software, patches, hardware mods, and even a $10 firmware hack. Brad has rounded up all of them in a central location so you can skip Googling and get straight to modding:

Behringer FCB1010

Brad has a great idea: Behringer should open source the firmware. Unfortunately, I think the odds of Behringer doing that are about the same odds as CDM naming Behringer our “Product Manufacturer of the Year.” We’re just getting over our rage and frustration involving Behringer’s BCD2000. Short version of that story: Behringer finally fixes the screwed-up firmware on that model, but orphans its existing users, repaints the thing, and renames it the BCD3000. No, thanks.

So, I have mixed feelings. I love hardware mods and user communities and cheap gear. But if you’re curious which gear Behringer ripped off to create the FCB1010, it’s this:

Roland FC-200

More than a passing resemblance, huh? Now, the Roland costs twice as much — US$300 — and it lacks the second expression pedal. (Oh, yeah, and Behringer moved the display. And that is a slightly different typeface.) But a quick look through the product manual reveals Roland’s MIDI implementation makes a lot more sense, even if Roland also failed to produce a software editor. Programming is actually logical, and the manual is great. Well, okay, it’s a music gear manual, so “great” might be the wrong word — let’s just say accurate, detailed, and far better than Behringer’s.

Just one paid gig could make up the difference in price. I’m torn. As much as I love the community support, I’m about ready to toss my FCB1010 for the Roland on principle alone. I can mod the Roland’s gear, too — and I probably won’t need to touch the firmware.