Despite rumors to the contrary, Congress did not pass a law saying that mod wheels could be used only to add vibrato. Granted, the periodic vibrato a mod wheel adds is something only a synth can do, but try adding vibrato with the pitch wheel instead—it will sound more human, and more like the vibrato guitarists use. Now that you've freed up your mod wheel, here are some other uses for it.
You can use the mod wheel for a lot more than just vibrato.
Tone control. With bass patches, program the mod wheel to roll off high frequencies, like an electric bass's tone control. When you want the "bass" to lay back a little further, roll off the highs.
Morph among patches. If you can assign multiple parameters to the mod wheel, that may allow for enough change to morph between completely different sounds.
Add a suboctave. This is another fun trick for bass when you want to shake the floor.
Increase drive/distortion. This is one of my favorite mod wheel applications. Sometimes adding a little "grit" can really increase a part's intensity.
Control the hard sync effect. Assign the mod wheel to the oscillator that when swept, produces the hard sync effect.
Detuning. Sweep the fine tuning between oscillators for chorusing-like effects that you control.
Vary decay time. This is handy for percussive parts, where you want a staccato effect for emphasis, and a longer decay for the release part of the tension/release equation.
Over his career, Anderton has toured and recorded with the group Mandrake, wrote the seminal books Electronic Projects for Musicians and Home Recording for Musicians, foretold the rise of electronic dance music back in 1981, consulted for dozens of companies, and lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and in three languages.
Anderton created a mechanically programmable drum machine in 1970, invented multiband distortion, started the first media-rich website devoted exclusively to musicians in 1995 on AOL, and co-founded Electronic Musician magazine. He is currently working on a book series, "The Musician's Guide to Home Recording," for Hal Leonard..