Two new fretless fader projects

fretless fader

When John Beez first demoed his fretless fader project, the scratch and wider DJ world was wowed with the simplicity and creativity. Who would have thought that a crossfader designed to move in one axis could be made to work in two? Well clearly John Beez did, and inspired by this project two more people have come along with their own take on the fretless fader idea.

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First up is Machiel and his Vestax 05 Pro and PDX hack. In his own words:

More background at

The Midi Note Fader Mod enhances my setup with these capabilities:

  • Vertical movement of the X-fader translates into Midi Notes
  • Midi Notes are received by the turntable which will alter pitch in relative mode
  • The range of the vertical fader movement can cover multiple octaves if needed, but the PDX Midi Mod cannot, it allows you to do C3 – G4. This is why the vertical fader movement is scaled to fit that range
  • Pushing the X-fader down on the rail changes sample bank in Traktor which allows you to e.g. increase your Note range by using 2 samples which are one octave apart or to have 2 different sounds

More info on the PDX Midi Mod from Backtrack can be found here:

Using Backtrack’s PDX MIDI hack, the fader movement outputs to MIDI notes that in turn are read by the PDX and used to change pitch on a note level. Nothing new there, but what I do like (and is an apparent Z dimension) is that pushing down on the fader changes samples in Traktor.

It makes sense that it’s a hard push — I had considered the idea of a fader stem that moves up and down for a proper third dimension, but control would always be a problem. My further thinking on this is that instead of a switch, why not have a pressure sensitive pad under the fader so that smaller and more easily achieved downwards pushes can change things like filter sweeps, and also be mapped to a simple click.

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Next is Mark Hallinan’s variation on the fretless fader theme. In this one, the sliding motion is controlling voltage. In Mark’s own words:

This is the first public demo of my new Sliding Skratch System. It’s similar to John Beez’s Fretless Fader in that the crossfader can slide vertically. But it outputs a voltage, rather than Midi notes. You can use this voltage to do just about anything you want – you can convert it to Midi notes using a Voltage-to-Midi converter, you can convert it to any other type of Midi data, or you can use the voltage itself to control the depth or any other parameter of an effect. In this video I use it to control the blend between 4 different instruments in Serato.

The future for fretless faders?

Just like John Beez’s original idea, these projects are still home-brew hackery and quite some way from being commercially viable. I suspect that like the Vestax Controller One turntable that has been the inspirational for such projects, these are only ever going to appeal to a very limited number of people and most likely won’t ever be seen coming from mainstream manufacturers. But when have commercial interests ever stopped projects from making it out into the outside world? Kickstarter ad Indiegogo are wonderful things for that. We can only hope that such projects do get of th aground and into the hands of DJs who can do good work with them.

Finally, I’ll leave you with John Beez’s most well known video, plus one I hadn’t seen before.

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