TB-3 pattern creation & recall FAQ


  • Download the front panel guide, that information is more accurate and up-to-date than this.
  • If you came looking for the TB-3 hardware templates for BCR2000, the links are at the bottom of this post.


This post is more for me to document what I’ve been doing, and contains a lot of esoteric and germane-only-to-me information, but maybe there’s some information people out there might find useful as well, so here’s my basic setup for getting pattern creation going on the TB-3. Also at the end, I’ve linked my presets for the BCR2000 to control most of the values on the machine. For reference, brackets around a button means to hold it, otherwise it’s a press only. I like to use lock mode which has a bit of a different workflow,  so I start with that, otherwise any pattern you are working on gets overwritten by default. When you use lock mode, just make sure to press REALTIME REC when switching between modes so that you don’t lose what you’ve been working on.  Someone on the internet also made this overlay which is helpful as well.

  1. Set up lock mode [optional] :
  2. Semi-randomize the notes pattern:
  3. Set the number of steps 1-32:
  4. Semi-randomize the accents, glides and octaves:
  5. Transpose a pattern by half steps:
  6. Change swing amount (0-50):
    1. [TEMPO] → VALUE
  7. Change to triplet timing:
    1. [STEP REC] → TEMPO

This is sort of how I get the creative juices going, create a few patterns, make variations of them, and then start modifying those. If you go ahead and choose 32 steps, this gives you more random phrases to choose from.

Additional Features

If you’d like to use the TB’s internal sequencer, there are some other features available to you. Unfortunately you can’t select patterns via midi, which is one reason I don’t use the internal sequencer. Here are some cool features of the TB-3:

  • Scatter modes (using internal patterns):
      1. SC1: repeater
      2. SC2: repeater 2
      3. SC3: reverse
      4. …slicing, gating, random seed, glitch
      5. SC8: HPF
  • Change pattern pitch in half steps (pattern playing):
    • you can also hold down the [KEYBOARD] button and then press a key on the PAD. The pattern’s base key will transpose, C to B, when the sequencer is being played back.
  • To save a sound to a user bank after editing:
    • [ENV MOD]  → VALUE, select U01-U15, then PLAY/PAUSE to verify
    • a sound can only be saved in KEYBOARD mode
  • midi modes (local off, local on, midi only):
    • [SCATTER]  → VALUE
      • if the panel isn’t responding, check this setting
  • Interrupt pattern and play glissando:
    • XY PLAY → PAD
  • Change global master tuning -7.0 → + 7.0 (pattern stopped):
    • turn off STEP REC / REALTIME REC
    • ENV MOD → [ENV MOD] → PAD
      • Unless you really need to do this for some reason, I would advise against it, as it is global. I went back and loaded some patches and everything was out of tune -2.8. 🙁
  • change the master tuning (on power-up):
    • [SCATTER] → power-on
    • [ENV MOD] → VALUE (430-450hz in 1Hz steps)
      • Another thing I would avoid messing with unless you really know what you’re doing, as it’s also global.
  • change key, C → B, chromatically:
    • [XY PLAY] → VALUE
    • This is just an easter egg that appears to do nothing, sequencer playing or not.
Problems to Iron out

Here’s where it gets kind of workshop-y and relevant only to me, but I’ve managed to solve almost all the problems I had externally controlling the machine. I recently added more time between the 11 sysex calls I use to recall parameters in case any data was being cut off, as it was in some earlier iterations of my midi parameter request sequence. Interestingly I think the CTRLR panel sends all the sysex parameters simultaneously over USB midi, so it could be possible to do it that way from your computer, but I just use the MPC2500.

  • hung notes
    1. There is a problem I’m encountering with hung notes, but it seems that a slide set but not turned off is causing them. I have been adding a 0 value slide (CC102) to the end of phrases that exhibit this issue, and so far so good, it appears to address the problem.

SOLVED: If a phrase ends without a 0 value for slide, notes can hang. Sending CC102 & CC103 with values of 0 after the offending TB part seems to address the issue. 

  • restarts necessary
    1. Sometimes for whatever reason the TB-3 doesn’t seem to respond properly to new information, with stuck notes continuing even when playing from the keyboard and there are no external sequences playing. To this point, the only fix is to restart the machine. It could be overload of sysex information or incomplete handling on the part of the TB-3. Sometimes they occur when I have them in a loop, so I always try to remember to unplug the output cable if I’m not using it. I haven’t tried any of this using USB midi, but the CTRLR plugin I use can update its values, so there should be no issues there.

SOLVED: This seems to be due to stuck notes. Following the procedure to avoid stuck notes (above) seems to fix it.

  • sound only loads properly when patch is changed or parameters are re-sent 
    1. The full sound doesn’t always seem to be loaded correctly using my parameter recall method and I seem to have better success on some than others. Some of them return nearly all the right values but one or two are missing. For example, I recalled one patch and after some investigation I found that the main problem was that the delay was set to stereo and I have moved the module to a mono input, so either it wasn’t saving properly or it was just not playing properly because it was formerly in stereo.  Note to self here: Every parameter on the synthesizer is mono EXCEPT the stereo delay 1 & 2, if set to stereo mode.

SOLVED: I found that I was missing a section of the parameters that was supposed to be being sent. Everything started to work once I restore that section. In the full set, CK seemed to still have problems loading properly even after the sysex parameters were verified, but it turns out the problem was again stuck notes. Once the stuck notes problem and missing sysex section problems were solved, this problem disappeared. 

  • sequence not always accurate when played back from external sequencer
      1. It seems that most of the time sequences play back properly from an external sequencer, but occasionally there are differences which I can’t really figure out. As far as my hardware sequencer is concerned, it seems to record the same loop different ways. For example, accents and slides may be a tick or two after the note, but it’s not consistent so it’s hard to fix if it doesn’t seem to record correctly. Even copying/pasting working phrases to non-working areas doesn’t seem to fix it. I have read that transcribing patterns for external sequencing from this machine and machines like it presents problems, and different people use different methods to address them. The TB-3 uses the long sustain method I think.

SEMI-SOLVED: The only way to avoid this issue is to test to see if it plays back properly when recorded. If the problem seems to be slide-related, try turning off slide on the last step and re-recording. If that doesn’t work, the only solution is to play the patterns directly on the machine. However, most patterns seem to be largely played back as desired, only towards the outer range of possibilities do problems appear.


Epic Post Epilogue

I have reached a pretty good stage of the live setup which I hope will be stable for a while. The process of saving patterns and sounds to midi has taken some trial and error, but there have been no “deal-breakers” to this point. Accessing all the sound parameters live is also possible with an external device like a BCR2000, and to be honest if I couldn’t adjust and save these values I would probably not be able to use it in a serious setup, but as it is, this synth is a diamond in the rough. Sometimes patches are at different levels but I found I don’t have to adjust the main volume, I can either raise or lower the individual levels on the TB-3 (preferable though more complicated) or adjust the preamp level (easier). The level is quite hot so I keep it at about 3 o’clock so that I have a little headroom to get loud if I want. And if you just want that “classic” acid sound, pick preset A01 or A02 and tweak away, as it is actually one of the closest emulations out there based on videos I’ve seen. This has been a really fun machine to sound design on and now I use it in almost every track! And as promised, here are some links to my TB-3 BCR2000 presets in BCR format:

  1. TB3-SOUND
  2. TB3-FX Library 1-1
  3. TB3-FX Library 2-1
  4. TB3-FX Levels & Distortion
  5. TB3-FX RV,PS,EQ