If you are among the millions of guitar players who have already picked up a Positive Grid Spark or Spark Mini, then at one point or another, you’ve most likely found yourself in a situation where hands-free channel switching would have taken your jam to the next level – enter the Positive Grid Spark Control.
The aptly named footswitch is designed to manage the many features included in the Spark series of amplifiers, as well as its accompanying mobile app. Utilizing wireless technology, the Spark Control seamlessly connects to your amp and phone via Bluetooth, with the desktop amp masters boasting that it can keep on rocking for a mind-blowing four months on a single charge - well, providing you keep your playing to around an hour a day.
Functions: Presets, Effects, Songs/Backing Track, Control Experience Jimi Hendrix expansion
Battery: Built-in rechargeable battery (150+ hours of playtime)
Dimensions: 248 x 70 x 45mm
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In keeping with other Positive Grid products, the Spark Control is lightning-fast to set up, taking just seconds to pair to our device and amp. To pair, simply start up the Spark app and connect to your amp like you normally would, and on the connection screen, you’ll be able to link your device to the footswitch at the same time – job done.
Even though it was very quick and easy to set up, this does bring us to our most significant complaint with this futuristic footswitch. Unfortunately, the switcher must be connected to the app at all times to work – meaning you cannot use the Spark Control if it isn’t linked to a mobile device.
While this is far from a deal breaker for us, we would like to have the ability to use the practice amp and footswitch together, with no need to connect to the app. Both of the amps in the series allow you to operate them completely outwith the application, with four presets for the Mini and seven for the original Spark, so it would be hugely beneficial if you could simply power up the amp, connect the footswitch and toggle through the built-in presets, without having to reach for your phone.
Of course, we aren’t the first to raise this issue, so there’s every possibility that this is something we’ll see rectified in future releases.
The physical unit feels sturdy and well put together, while the sleek design and small footprint mean it doesn’t take up too much space. The four switches housed on the top of the unit are responsive, quiet and satisfying to stomp on – everything you expect in a good-quality footswitch.
Measuring in at a mere 248 x 70 x 45mm, this really is a miniature footswitch, which may cause some issues for the particularly large-footed player. The switches are relatively close together, so there is the potential for accidentally pressing two of the buttons at once. Truthfully, this wasn’t an issue for us, but we could see it being a problem for others.
Where the Spark Control really shines is in its ability to adapt to a multitude of situations. Straight out of the box, it’s pre-loaded with a quartet of “scenarios” that are set to perform the most commonly requested functions. Preset mode allows you to toggle between the your favourite presets, ideal for users who not only like to change effects in the middle of songs but also amplifier models.
Next is Effects mode, which is our personal favorite. In this setting, the controller behaves more like a traditional pedalboard, giving you the option to switch on and off pedals at will. This felt the most natural for us, as we are used to using individual stompboxes in our live rig. However, we have to add that you can’t assign more than one pedal per pedal category. So, if you were hoping to have two delay pedals set to different delay times, you’re out of luck.
Playback mode is where this Spark Control strays the furthest away from a traditional footswitch. In this setting, the pedal has the ability to operate the playback controls on YouTube videos and Smart Jam backing tracks. Parameters such as start, stop, half speed, and rewind give you full control over your jam tracks without your hands ever leaving your guitar – a total game changer for those who rely on YouTube backing tracks to practice.
As well as the pre-loaded scenarios, the Spark Control also allows you to customize and save your own functions, with the ability to recall them whenever you want. Positive Grid has said that this pedal is “future proof”, meaning that as users give their feedback, they are likely to add more functionality. So, could we see a looper in the near future? We certainly hope so.
Positive Grid may not have completely knocked it out of the park with the Spark Control, but the potential with this footswitch is clear to see. Okay, we’d ideally love to be able to use it without the Spark app open, but we can’t deny that this is a sleekly designed, well-built and easy-to-use controller that is a must-have for Spark users.
Positive Grid has stated that this product is future-proof, teasing that the Spark Control is the only pedal compatible with forthcoming Spark firmware and app updates. So, with that in mind, we are excited to see what functions they add next.
- Switches: 4
- Functions: Presets, Effects, Songs/Backing Track, Control Experience Jimi Hendrix expansion
- Battery: Built-in rechargeable battery (150+ hours of playtime)
- Input voltage: Supports 9v power supply
- Dimensions: 248 x 70 x 45mm
- Weight: 0.31kg
- Included: Spark Control Foot Switch, USB Cable, Quick Start Guide
- Contact: Positive Grid (opens in new tab)