The FLAMMA FC12 is a tiny drum machine pedal with a variety of styles and patterns built in.
In this review, I’ll give you a thorough look at whether you might want one on your pedalboard and how you can use it.
FLAMMA FC12 Drum Machine Pedal Features
Here are the main features of the FC12 Drum Machine pedal:
- Mono input/output
- 6 Music Styles (Pop, Rock, Funk, Blues, Metal, Jazz)
- 44.1kHz/24-bit sample rate and depth
- 48 Drum Grooves (8 per music style)
- Unique fill variations for each pattern
- Tap Tempo and Speed Knob
- Drum level knob and EQ
- Multiple function footswitch (on/off, fill, tap tempo)
- External Power Supply Only (not included)
- 210 mA power draw (9V)
- Dimensions: 82 x 47 x 52 mm
FLAMMA FC12 Drum Machine Pedal Ease of Use
The basic idea with this pedal is to connect it to your rig with all of your other pedals. Then at any time if you want to play along with drums, you hit the footswitch. You’ll still hear your guitar through your amp, but you’ll also hear drums playing through your amp as well.
To get this to work properly, you need to be careful with how you set everything up. I’ll cover the basics on how to set up and use the FC12 to give you an idea of what it’s like to use.
As you might expect from the tiny size of the pedal, it doesn’t have a battery compartment.
The FC12 requires an external power supply that can supply 210mA of current (at 9V).
This is quite high compared to typical guitar pedals, so you must check your power supply before connecting anything to this pedal.
Many power supplies will supply only 100mA, which isn’t enough to properly power this pedal.
If you have a power supply you’re currently using with another pedal that offers enough current to power both pedals (eg: 300mA), an easy way to power this pedal with it is to daisy chain the pedals together as explained in this guide.
The position you place the FC12 on your pedalboard matters and can mean the difference between great-sounding drums and a distorted mess.
For example, if you use a distortion pedal and the drum machine is positioned before the distortion pedal, the drums will also pass through the distortion pedal and sound terrible.
So the best practice is to place the drum machine as the last pedal in your rig.
Of course, you may choose to place some pedals after the drum machine if you want to apply those effects to your drums. A good example of an effect you might want to apply to the drum machine is reverb.
If you use the drive channel on your amp, the only way to use this pedal would be if your amp has an effects loop (covered later in this review). If your amp doesn’t have an effects loop and you regularly use the drive channel on your amp for a distorted guitar tone, you won’t be able to use this pedal properly.
Setting Style and Patterns
Once you have connected your pedal to your rig, you can set the music style and drum patterns.
This is as easy as flipping the toggle switch to your chosen style:
The toggle switch has three positions with two music styles per position (eg: Pop/Rock).
Once you set the toggle switch, you can choose between the two music styles using the rhythm selection knob:
The numbers on the left match the music style with the white-filled text (eg: Pop) and the numbers on the right match the music style with the green text (eg: Rock).
It’s a very simple system to use. Set the music style, then scroll through the 8 drum patterns for each style as you like.
As you’ll hear in my demo later, switching between drum patterns is completely seamless and works perfectly.
Most of the patterns are in 4/4 but there are some patterns in 3/4, 2/4, and 6/8 as shown in the below table:
There are two ways you can set the tempo of the drums – the speed knob or tap tempo.
Setting the tempo with the speed knob works well enough and covers a massive range of tempo.
The 12 o’clock position is set to 120 bpm, with the full range between 40 bpm to 260 bpm.
I found that it’s difficult to dial in the perfect tempo with the speed knob because the knob covers such a wide range. But the tap tempo is an easy alternative.
If you turn the power off to the pedal, the next time you power it back up it will remember the tempo you set.
Drum Fills and Footswitch Functions
The footswitch can be set to a few different functions: play/stop, fill, tap tempo.
At first, I found this confusing (of course I didn’t read the manual at first), but once you get the hang of assigning the footswitch function it makes the pedal very easy to use.
Play/Stop: this is the default function of the footswitch. Hit the footswitch to start the drums and hit it again to stop. The drums will stop as soon as you hit the footswitch, it won’t wait until the end of the bar. The LED will show red when in Play/Stop mode.
Fill: press the LED button to switch to fill mode. The LED will turn blue when in fill mode. Now when you press the footswitch, it will trigger a fill for the current drum pattern. Every drum pattern has a unique fill. If you double-tap the footswitch, the drums will stop after the fill, which is a nice way to end a jam or song.
Tap Tempo: to switch to tap tempo mode, hold down the footswitch until the LED blinks in red. Then you can tap the footswitch to set the tempo. The tap tempo mode times out after 3 seconds and switches back to what you had the footswitch set to before (eg: play/stop mode).
The Speed knob also doubles as an EQ adjustment knob. It took me a while to figure this out, but to change the EQ, you hold down the LED button while turning the knob.
Depending on your guitar amp, you may find that you need to adjust the EQ to get the best-sounding drums possible.
The EQ you set will be saved after you power off the pedal.
Playing Guitar With The Drum Machine
You can easily adjust the level of the drums to fit with your guitar playing using the Level knob.
Overall, I found the pedal easy to set up and use. Once I understood how to change the footswitch function, I found the fill mode very useful in breaking up the drums on occasion.
I wish there was a way to change drum patterns with a footswitch. But for such a tiny pedal, I’m happy with the functions they’ve managed to pack in.
FLAMMA FC12 Drum Machine Pedal Sound Quality
The sound quality of the FC12 depends heavily on what type of amp you connect it to and what other pedals you have running after it in your signal chain.
I’ll go through a few short clips of the FC12’s drum patterns so you can get an idea of how it might sound in your rig.
This recording demonstrates a few patterns in the Rock style:
This was recorded with the FC12 connected directly to my audio interface. So keep in mind that it will sound different when played through your guitar amp (covered later).
I turned the pattern knob a few times during the above recording so you can hear how seamlessly the pedal shifts between patterns. The pattern doesn’t change until the start of the next bar, which works very well.
The speed knob can adjust the tempo on the fly, which I demonstrate in this clip:
As you can hear, you have a vast range of tempo to play with. The extreme ends of the knob’s range are pretty much unusable for almost all the patterns, but it’s good to know you can adjust to pretty much any tempo you want.
Here’s a longer recording as I cycle through a few different patterns in the styles of Jazz, Funk, and Metal.
I purposely avoided adding in fills to make it clear that these are the normal patterns. You can set the footswitch to trigger a fill at any time, which I found quite fun to use. Some of the fills are better than others, but it’s a simple way to break up the constant playing of a pattern.
It would have been nice to have a way to cycle through the patterns using your feet, but unfortunately, you’re limited to changing patterns with the pattern knob.
As mentioned earlier, these recordings are a direct capture of the pedal, so the pedal will sound different when played through your amp and cabinet.
As an example of how the tone of the drums may change, here’s a direct capture of the pedal:
Compare the above clip to the below clip which is passed through an amp and cabinet simulation from TONEX (link to my review):
The most obvious difference is how the high end of the cymbals isn’t as clear when run through an amp.
Every amp colors the tone in very different ways, so you may find that the drum machine sounds completely different through your amp.
To get the best results, I recommend placing the FC12 in your amp’s FX loop if it has one. Learn about effects loops and the 4 cable method in this guide.
Placing the drum machine in your amp’s FX loop will also allow you to use your amp’s drive channel without destroying the drum tone.
Overall, in terms of sound quality, the FLAMMA FC12 Drum Machine is good enough to use as a useful practice tool. If you wanted to use it in a performance, I would recommend connecting it to a mixing desk or directly to a full-range speaker system.
Guitar cabinets aren’t designed to work well with drum machines, so you will never get perfect results with one.
Overall Impressions of the FLAMMA FC12 Drum Machine Pedal
I have tried a few different pedals over the years with inbuilt drum patterns. The BeatBuddy (link to Amazon) is one of the best options available, but at almost $400 it’s an expensive option.
The FLAMMA FC12 Drum Machine packs plenty of features into a tiny pedal at a low cost. It now has a permanent place on my pedalboard thanks to the tiny size, good variety of patterns, and it’s easy to use.
The drums won’t sound as good playing through your amp compared to an FRFR speaker system, but I find it’s a good enough compromise to have easily accessible drums while practicing.
If you like the idea of jamming or practicing with drums but don’t need something as complex as the BeatBuddy, I recommend the FLAMMA FC12.
How to Get the Most Out of the FLAMMA FC12 Drum Machine Pedal
Here are some tips to get the most out of the FLAMMA FC12:
- Use daisy chaining to power the pedal
- Place the pedal in your amp’s FX loop if possible (read about the 4 Cable Method here)
- If you don’t have an FX loop, place the pedal last in your pedalboard
- Learn to switch between Play/Stop, Fill, and Tap Tempo footswitch modes
- Pick a simple drum pattern to practice along with instead of using a metronome