Compact MIDI controllers for your fingers are plentiful, but tiny foot controllers are far fewer. map~map aka Marcus Fischer decided to build his own by performing a simple but clever mod of the KORG nanoKEY. Now, personally, I find the nanoKEY the one product in the nano series that’s lacking; it feels more like a QWERTY keyboard than anything resembling a MIDI keyboard. But Marcus transforms it into the world’s most compact and portable foot controller. You may have to be somewhat delicate with your toes, but he says the solution works perfectly!

i’ve been wanting a compact usb midi foot pedal for a long time. i built one out of a usb number pad last year but it was less than ideal. tonight i popped all of the keys but five off of my korg nanokey in order to see how it would work as a pedal. it turned out that it worked really well. i cut some small pieces of plywood out to raise the key height and some scrap plexiglass to cover up the missing keys. a little spray paint and double stick tape and it was all finished.
i think it turned out pretty well. not bad for a cheap keyboard and scrap materials.

279 / nanopedal

Those wooden blocks look quite lovely. KORG, you may have inadvertently created a new product.

  • peter

    I almsot lost my lunch as i've been looking for for a compact foot controller for weeks. Pulling the trigger on one just the other day and thinking this was an actual product announcement.. whew!

  • Frank Schultz

    This looks great. I have been using the frag pedal for a while and it does the trick. It sends keyboard commands vs. midi but works great in live.

  • mapmap

    thank peter,

    yeah it's a bit sturdier than you'd think. i tried the idea out the day before using some 1/2" foamcore on the keys and it worked like a dream for controlling Ableton Live's looper + Expert Sleeper's Augustus Loop.

    i love it.

  • J. Tang

    Great idea, maybe now I will get some use out of my nanokey… I had one where 3 keys wouldn't trigger, and the replacement that Korg sent me has 1 sketchy key.

  • Kilgore Trout

    Cool stuff – at first I thought it was a product announcement too! Nice work!

  • Jaime Munarriz

    yes, I bought mine and then one key jumped out… replaced, and a key jumped out…

    so stomping and kicking it seems a nice idea

    Akai's mini keyboard is whay this nano should have been, and I really love Korg

  • mr. tunes


  • Robotkid


    Anybody have any ideas for a small midi foot controller to hook into my V4 video mixer? I just want something to trigger the fader to one channel…

  • Mudo

    It is a upgrade from keyboard DIY footpedal… but I think will be more useful and compact wiring DPDT switches… Do you believe that nanokey will support some many gigs and kicks?

    Make it an enclousure and some switches!!!


  • DJSDive

    Are there even non DIY usb foot pedals?

  • Kim

    Nice! Mine also lost a key, just after a few months of use. But stepping on them.. I would think they all would fall off pretty fast? What about the Nano Pad? I got it here, and it seems a lot more sturdy built.

  • stevieraysean

    there is definitely a lack of affordable midi foot controllers out there

    I took the computer keyboard approach and mounted it in a brownie tin

    cost about $40US all up i'd say..

  • Leon Tricker

    Good work! I always thought a Nanopad would work well with this kind of modification.

    But where are the cheap, simple, straightforward USB footpedals from the likes of Behringer?

    Surely someone could design a two or three switch unit that retails for about £30???

  • J. Phoenix

    I use the Behringer FCB1010 midi footcontroller regularly in my live performances, as well as transport & punch in/out.

    Its about $150, and it doesn't have a usb out, but it might serve some people's needs. It serves mine, as its fairly roadworthy.

    I do think this idea is a definite option to try if one's Nanokey has gone awry…have definitely seen a few of those.

  • bitmap

    this rules!

    i am an fcb1010 owner too. and while it is a good pedal, it is not very convenient. it's huge, a pain to program & requires a midi interface.

    someone totally needs to come up with a compact low cost solution for our midi foot pedal needs.

    …oh wait, someone did. long live the DIY nanoPedal!!!

  • john z

    my nanokey lost a key after merely riding around in my backpack.

    disappointed in it generally.

    the idea of stomping it is appealing.

    perhaps it will finally surprise me.

  • JavaJ

    Sorry, but I have a nano key and it can barely handle playing with my fingers- the design is flawed as it is- if you were to accidently nick the edge of the key- it will pop off.

    Now what would make more sense is to make an overlay where the raised pedal is notched under the plexiglass- thus eliminating this issue.

  • S. Dassieu

    I do totally agree with bitmap : i'm a FCB1010 owner, it's a pain to program, it require a midi interface and a power cord.

    I'm waiting for long time for an good USB foot controller, with a least one expression pedal. But instead of that i'm seeing tons of keyboard/pad controllers clones here and there!

  • alienjournalism

    awesome, thanks.

    I am also in the FCB1010 club, primarily wanted it for saxophone stomp boxes but it really is waaaay too big for the small bars I play at.

    side note: has anybody had any luck soldering the usb connection socket back into a nano? ive busted two nanopads that way, now I have electrical taped the hell out of the usb cable running into my nanokontrol. its wicked sexy and fun to transport that way :-/

  • michael c

    i was looking for a midi foot controller that could trigger effects and synth from my mac (logic) for live applications. does anyone have any ideas, or should i try building this?

    please help.


  • James Levine

    So I jumped on this project for the shear purpose of abusing this keyboard, bought used and dirt cheap, not to retire one that I had bought for other purposes (I might of considered giving it a job as my notation entry keyboard first, til the keys broke, but that didn't occur to me.) I really wanted to find some dedicated means of firing off my Clyphx scripts in Live. Not sure if I found it.

    The keyboard can work in MIDI CC mode, and each key can be disengaged from sending any message at all. So the first thing that came to mind after I ripped off all the keys was: why not simply glue on an attachment to the keys I will use for the foot controller, and leave all the other keys in place? You'll either crush some of the little keys with your foot over time, or you'll break some deliberately popping them off (if you're not careful).

    I decided to use only 4 keys, separated by a tritone starting with the top C and working down. That way, I can shift the whole configuration down a half-step (most likely I'll go with CC changes and keep the same numbers), once I've killed that those particular keys (yes, you would end up with them all on white keys: B,F,B,F. Not sure what really goes first, the key and action itself, or the circuitry.) And bottom C goes untouched as added assurance that I won't hit the interface panel's keys. 

    Then the question becomes whether you'll dare to bank octaves of notes being used as a remote, or stick to 4 puny CC's? Assign them to channel banking, for example, and you'd only have 2 left to do your selecting. And would you really want to use one slot of your native control options in ableton live, much less one of your last USB ports, to something like this? I'll get back if I find the ultimate purpose for these few controls (a looper? Really?).

    Then add the price of the acrylic, which should be nothing, but ends up being more if the shop does the cutting for you (you just need a table saw), or you buy fancy things to step on; half-domes like I did.

  • Michael Klier

    I just recently remembered this article when I was looking for a cheap foot switch to control the ableton live looper. I took the idea a step further and used PureData along with liveOSC to use a modified nanoKey to be able to control 3 loopers in an ableton live session.

  • blort

    This is old, but figured I’d post this in case it’s useful to anyone… With the octave shift buttons, the nanokey2 can be used as a footswitch with effectively 5 scenes – two presses of the octave shift button in either direction gives you fresh keyboard values that you could map to different control functions. You just couldn’t use the high C as a button if you were also using the low C (notes would repeat in different octave settings) – use the high B and the low C instead.

    Also, by putting thicker pads on the black keys to raise up the buttons a lot, and thinner pads on the white keys, you can squeeze 9 foot-buttons onto this thing – I’m using 5 white keys for stuff I access a lot, and stuff I have to hold down, and 4 black keys to trigger less commonly used stuff.

    Cool idea, thanks…

    • Arturo Amaro

      But what would you like to trigger with your foot? Also, isn’t that hazardous for your nanokey 2, I mean, you could step a little to hard and break it :(