From bassists to beatboxers to solo acoustic performers, it seems everyone is using loop pedals, and rightfully so they, are great fun!
The recent success of loop pedals has come by way of popular artists like KT Tunstall and Ed Sheeran using them on the live scene whilst Dub FX and Shlomo have gained huge followings displaying their beatbox skills across plenty of youtube videos and at the Roland LoopStation World Championships.
Many find loop pedals as an ideal tool for song writing in the studio, whereas others use them in a live scenario to layer tracks and fill out a song. There are a countless number of options as to what can be done with a loop pedal giving you the opportunity to layer multiple loops and build ideas quickly.
So what is the best loop pedal? Well, these pedals come in a variety of shapes and sizes, giving you more variants and added features as the range goes on.
For starters and at the lower end of the spectrum is the Akai E2 Head Rush (NOW DISCONTINUED) - as used by Katie Tunstall. Designed as more of a delay pedal but with up to 24 seconds worth of looping capability, designated play/stop and record switching, it is definitely worth a mention. With a choice of modes, level controls and doubling up as a delay pedal it is definitely a great choice for musicians wanting to test the water with both delay and looping.
Similar to the Head Rush is the TC Electronic Flashback - designed primarily as a delay pedal - it is able to loop for up to 40 seconds in mono and 20 seconds in stereo regardless of how many overdubs you make, it’s perfect for added loops in live situations. A recent addition from the same brand is the ultra compact TC Electronic Ditto Looper. This loop pedal has been designed especially for guitarists with a stripped back, essentials only layout. It delivers up to 5 mins of recording time, has a simple one button operation and delivers true bypass, analog dry-through, ensuring your tone always stays true and 24 bit uncompressed audio. The Ditto Looper is a high quality, pedalboard friendly, budget 'aware' loop pedal! TC Electronic have now added the Ditto X2 Looper Pedal to the range. Taking all that was great about the original Ditto but adding some essential features like a dedicated stop footswitch, looper effects: Reverse and Half Speed, loop import/export, plus FREE backing tracks from JamTrackCentral, making the Ditto X2 the perfect looper for guitarists.
BOSS RC1 Loop Station video:
Boss' most recent addition to their Loop Station range is the affordable BOSS RC-1 - a simple to use loop pedal that delivers all the essential features that many people require in a looper. Next is the BOSS RC-3, it features up to 3 hours of stereo recording, has the ability to store 99 loops, “real drums” and also features USB connectivity to conveniently run loops straight to another platform or even import WAV files.
The next model up, the BOSS RC-30 is more of the same but with 2 synchronized stereo tracks and built-in loops effects. Catering for both instrument and microphone with an XLR input as well as phantom power. Finally, and the biggest in the family – the BOSS RC-300 – is the flagship looper by BOSS which features an impressive 3 synchronized stereo tracks, dedicated volume controls and separate footswitches for each track. On top of the RC3’s and 30’s, it is possible to put even more into the 300. For example you can plug in your guitar, bass, keyboard, or instrument of choice and create a variety of loops in real time. Also providing an XLR input, complete with phantom power means singers, percussionists, violinists, beatboxers, or anyone with a mic’d instrument can all get involved! Like the younger siblings it has up to 3 hours internal memory whilst still being able to add any of the 16 effects at the same time.
BOSS RC-3 Loopstation video:
This is our guide to a range of ever popular guitar loop pedals however there are many more models available at GigGear which can be found here.
As with most FX, testing and experimenting is the key to finding what is right for you, so feel free to pop into our Harlow Superstore where we have a great range available on display to try out or if you can't get down just give us a call (01279 432900) and our friendly, knowledgeable staff will be happy to help.
Posted on 8th June 2012 by Rob Evans