When I was younger, I used to believe that in order to be a good musician, you had to do everything yourself. For my inexperienced soul, using different devices was cheating. This sounds really weird and awkward now, but back in the day I could not understand one major factor: it does not matter how you create the music, only the final results speak volumes. After realizing that, I started exploring with various pedals, one of them being loopers. I am not exaggerating when I am saying that they changed my life. How exactly, you might wonder. They helped me perfect my tone (more on that below) and discover the part of myself I never knew existed. This effect is definitely not for everyone, but those who love the taste of repeating sounds, keep on reading in order to find the best looper pedal on the market.
Table of Contents
- Top 10 Best Looper Pedals
- BOSS Audio RC-3 Loop Station Pedal
- TC Electronic FlashBack Delay & Looper Guitar Delay Pedal
- VOX VLL1 Guitar Looper Multi Effect Pedal
- Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper Pedal
- TC Electronic DITTO X2 Looper
- Digitech JMEXTV JamMan Express XT Compact Stereo Looper Pedal
- NUX Loop Core Guitar Effect Pedal
- Digitech JMSXT JamMan Solo XT Stereo Looper/Phrase/Sampler Pedal
- Electro-Harmonix 360 Nano Looper Guitar Looper Pedal
- Donner Deluxe Looper Guitar Effect Pedal Loop Station
- The qualities a perfect looper pedal should have
- Mono vs Stereo Looper Pedals
- How to use a looper pedal
Top 10 Best Looper Pedals
The qualities a perfect looper pedal should have
Loop pedals are those devices that can change your performance drastically. They add rhythm and repetition to your sound – the qualities highly desirable during the last couple of decades. A single loop pedal can turn your solo performance into a band-like one, making your music richer and more textured. In order to achieve all these effects, you have to look out for certain features that even the simplest loop pedal should have. I will discuss some of them below and, hopefully, assist you in understanding what makes up a quality stompbox.
First things first: the sound that is recorded or delivered must be natural, without any artificial characteristics. This means that the pedal of your choice should be able to produce clear sound without any kind of sonic interference. So, it is very important to have a quality recording on hand.
Moving onto your preferences. Are you looking for a one trick pony or the jack of all trades? The answer to this question will quickly define what kind of pedal you should look for. You might want a simple looper that does its job well or require additional features (such as tap tempo, reverse, rhythm control and etc.) that provide more control. One way or another, there is a pedal for every taste. Just think carefully about your aspirations and preferences and make a decision accordingly. Do not forget, though, that more features mean more color and interference with your tones.
Nevertheless, there are some general qualities that should never be overlooked. Some of them are so essential that it is rather hard to achieve the desired sound without them. For example, a single knob that supposedly tweaks a lot of parameters will not give you the control you need. This means that you might have to spend a bit more. However, features such as durability and versatility will let you get your money’s worth. After all, we want to splurge on items that will not give up on us in the middle of the performance.
Now, let’s dig even deeper and find out, to what extent different things matter.
This is probably one of the most controversial subjects. When discussing the individual pedals, I have outlined several times that you do not need that much of a recording time. Let’s be honest, we usually play a one-minute-piece and loop on top of it. In that sense, even the most basic 6 minutes will be plenty. Just in case you do want to record more, there are pedals that offer up to 35 minutes of recording. Once again, take all the features personally and determine how much length you actually need during a performance.
As far as I am concerned, I do not want my footage to get lost. If you are anything like me, you will probably be disappointed with pedals that erase the loops as soon as you switch them off. Fortunately, many pedals nowadays come with internal storage and an array of memory slots. In some cases, it might be possible to insert an SD memory card in your pedal or simply connect it to your computer and store your masterpieces there.
The number of footswitches and their importance
In the world of pedals, the quantity of the footswitches matters the most when it comes to loopers. At first glance, this is too much to ask for, but if you think about it, it all comes down to making your job easier. This means that one footswitch will still allow you to create the effect you want, you will just have to learn how to tap it like a pro. Such kind of pedals lay a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the footswitch. It has to start and stop the recording, set the rhythm, activate undo/redo functions or even erase unwanted sections. Thus, you have to try harder as well. Every mistaken tap might ruin your tone a great deal. So, if you want to avoid all this fuss, go for multiple footswitches. In the latter case, the job of controlling different features of your sound is divided, making it way easier to grasp what you are doing. In short, if you are on a budget, you probably will not be able to get your hands on this fancy multi-footswitch pedal, but if you are willing to pay an extra buck, you will not regret even a penny. After all, nobody wants to bust their heads about every tap during the performance. We want that process to be enjoyable because music is not about thinking – it is about feeling every single note you deliver.
Mono vs Stereo Looper Pedals
If you have taken a look at the list above, you have probably noticed that stereo nature of the pedal is always outlined. To put it simply, stereo pedals are “cooler” and give you more options for experimenting and improvising. They allow you to plug in two amps or microphone (or any other device of your choice) to your pedal with the help of double inputs and outputs. This means that you can create amazing loops that will be saturated with character and personality. If you want something simple, though, mono pedals might be more suitable for you.
The majority of advanced looper pedals offer several effects that change your loop up a bit and add versatility to it. Reverse, ½ speed or forward can be interesting for some. Once again, this is the matter of taste. Some might be fed up with “typical” loops and want something different, while others might get bored with effects soon and not even remember them after a while. In my opinion, it is always good to have some options. Look at the subject this way: if you do not feel like using an effect, just don’t. But it is better to have them on hand than having to purchase a new pedal every time you decide to change something in your loops.
How to use a looper pedal
It is important to note that none of the things we mentioned above will matter unless you know how to use your loop pedal. First of all, let’s discuss different setups you could utilize. If you play an acoustic guitar, things are very simple: your guitar à looper pedal à amplifier (or headphone). Things get a bit more interesting in case of electric guitars. You can add looper pedal to your chain, but it is advisable to place it at the end (or towards the end). You might want to add a tone-shaping pedal (like a volume pedal) afterwards for clearer sound. One way or another, looper pedals will turn you into a single-man-band and can assist you during live performances with a lot of backing tracks and repeating sections.
Apart from gigs, looper pedals can be utilized for practices. If you are a beginner and have a hard time nailing the rhythm of your sound, this might be a great solution to your problem. Plug in a looper pedal, play and replay your pieces until you can discern the mistakes you have made. What is more, many pedals allow you to import sounds, which means you can play your favorite song at a slower rate and get every note right.
Last but not least, loopers can activate your creativity. They are so easy to experiment with and even the single loop can change your music in a unique way. It is possible to come up with a new composition even while playing with the pedal. Do not be afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone – the more risks you take, the more innovative your sound will be. How do you think this effect was created? Musicians, who were willing to try new things, came up with the idea of using different devices in order to produce looping sound. They utilized tape recorders for creating rhythmical repeats. Shortly after the introduction of pedals to the market, the effect became even more popular. My advice to you: listen to the music of legendary guitarists (Les Paul, Robert Fripp), who were way ahead of their time and did their best to deliver special sounds to their audiences. Take an example from them, lose yourself in music and who knows, maybe one day you will be the legendary musician yourself!
In conclusion, I believe that each of you will define the best looper pedal differently. This stands to reason, since we all have our individual preferences. Apart from all the things I have mentioned, your skills play a huge role in purchasing a pedal. If you are a beginner, take small steps, start from simple pedals and upgrade gradually. Whether you follow this advice or not is completely up to you. Just keep in mind that those fancy features might confuse you at first. However, anything is possible with the right determination. The main thing is to let go of your fears and devote yourself to the magic of creation.