Launchpad’s Custom Modes: Expand Your Horizons

Get closer to your music-making setup with Launchpad’s Custom Modes.

With Launchpad Pro [MK3], Launchpad Mini [MK3] and Launchpad X, we’ve created Custom Modes, a feature that allows you to design custom layouts for whatever your specific setup demands.

Custom Modes can be used to bring to life software and hardware (or a mixture of both), by providing a blank canvas for you to build unique control layouts. Custom Modes are great because they let you transform your Launchpad without displacing factory features, such as Session, Note and Sequencer modes.

Launchpad Mini [MK3] has three Custom Modes, which are selected using the Drums, Keys and User buttons on the top row. On Launchpad X and Launchpad Pro [MK3], Custom Modes are accessed by pressing the Custom button on the top row of the Launchpad. On Launchpad X, the outer right-hand column of scene launch buttons lets you choose which Custom Mode is in focus — there are four in total. On Launchpad Pro [MK3], the eight Custom Modes are selected using the Track Select buttons on the second-from-bottom row.

To set up your Custom Modes, you’ll need to connect your Launchpad via USB to your computer, then navigate to Novation Components.

Select your Launchpad from the home screen of the Components hub page, then select Create Custom Mode. Here you can drag and drop widgets onto the on-screen Launchpad, and arrange them to tailor your Custom Mode layout. Widgets are ready-made sets of pads that make it possible to create your own custom modes in no time. Widgets include drum grids, chromatic or scaled keyboards, virtual faders, and more. Each widget has it's own settings page where you can customise everything to suit your personal setup. You can easily create shortcuts to your favourite patches on the grid with Program Changes, or set faders' CC numbers and MIDI channels to control parameters on your hardware synths. Drum grids can be configured to address exactly the range of MIDI notes you wish, and CC buttons can be set up with momentary, toggle, or trigger behaviour, so you can design almost any conceivable layout to control your MIDI-compatible gear, in the studio or on stage.

Once you have designed your Custom Mode layout, rename it to something memorable, then save it to your Components account. When you’re ready to send it to your Launchpad, select Send To Launchpad and choose a Custom Mode slot to store it in. From here, your Custom Mode will be active on your device, and it will remain there until you change it, even if you disconnect your Launchpad. If you replace the Custom Mode in the future, the original configuration will stay in your Novation Components account, so you can switch out your Custom Modes for specific projects or performances, then recall old settings whenever necessary.

Now that your Custom Mode is configured, it’s time to map your controls to parameters. In software, use the MIDI learn feature to match your pads to virtual sliders, rotary controls, buttons and switches. In Ableton Live, hit ‘Command + M’ on a Mac or ‘Control + M’ on a PC, and click on the parameter you want mapped, then hit the pad that you’d like to use to control it. In hardware, you’ll have to ensure the receiving device is connected via MIDI, and operating on the correct MIDI channel. Most MIDI hardware devices have an implementation table that details which parameters can be controlled by sending specific MIDI CC messages from external equipment, so have that close to hand when setting up your Custom Modes.

As you’ll discover, Custom Modes are a powerful way to gain deeper control than ever over your music-making setup. Take a moment to think out of the box about how Custom Modes could be used to unlock your gear’s potential. If you have any unused or difficult-to-program MIDI equipment lying around, check out the MIDI implementation chart to see how a Launchpad Custom Mode could bring it back to life. If you’ve always wanted to design your own hands-on controller for a plugin or virtual instrument, use Custom Modes to create the perfect layout.