Quickly becoming a staple for musicians, looping pedals have become more advanced and less expensive. Available in large, medium, or small design, manufacturers are offering a wide range of options and features that are intended to appeal to specific musicians or use in different situations. Here are a few tips on what you should look for in the best looping pedal and a few reviews to help you start shopping.
Best Looper Pedals of 2019
|Product||Type||Recording time||Power source|
|Boss RC-1 Loop Station|
|Budget looper pedal||12 min.||9V alkaline battery or optional AC adaptor|
|Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper||Looper pedal for live performance||12 min.||AC Adapter or 9V battery|
|TC Electronics Ditto Looper||Easy to use looper pedal for guitar and bass||5 min.||AC adapter|
|Zoom G1on||Cheap loop pedal and tuner for guitar||30 sec.||4 x AA batteries or optional AC adapter|
|DigiTech JamMan Solo XT||Stereo looper pedal||35 min.||AC adapter|
1. Boss RC-1 Loop Station – Ideal Budget Pedal for Beginners
Simple and user-friendly, the Boss RC-1 is not only fun but features the performance and quality that musicians expect. A great choice for synth players, the RC-1 goes beyond basses and guitars with a capability to be used by other musicians and instruments. This straightforward and simple looper gives you twelve minutes of one stereo loop to create and build your song, plus you can play with effects.
Featuring an innovative loop indicator, the RC-1 includes a circular pattern of 24-segment LEDs allowing you to always know the current states of the different modes. You can use amplifiers and stereo effects as well as connect stereo instruments like a synthesizer. It also comes with an external foot switching abilities that are flexible as well as AC and battery power.
Compact and Durable
Featuring a durable and compact case, the RC-1 pedal has an integrated switch that allows you to record, clear, play/stop, overdub, and undo/redo. It has a natural feel to operate and doesn’t have complicated features or controls. With the circular loop indicator, you can have feedback instantly and time your current loop.
You also get great sound quality that keeps your tone intact and the twelve-minute recording time lets you capture long jam sessions. Your last loop session will store in the memory even when the unit is turned off. You also get up to four and a half hours of battery time and can easily switch to AC power when you need it.
Similar to other Boss pedals, the RC-1 integrates easily with your favorite stomps. Plus, the RC-1 can be used either as a standard setup with just one amp or chained with a more serious rig for true stereo sound that includes reverb, delay, and modulation pedals.
2. Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper – Most Intuitive Pedal for Live Performance
Incredibly powerful and compact, the Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper pedal is the perfect choice when you are looking for a convenient looper for your pedalboard. With ten independent loops, the 720 Looper gives you up to twelve minutes of unlimited overdubbing along with high-quality performance. This is an intuitive unit that is great for both live performance and practice.
Included with the pedal are two silent footswitches and an output jack where you can add an optional 3-button controller that allows you to operate the unit hands-free. You also get reverse and half speed features that allow you sonic experimentation while the Cock Fight feature let you get that cocked wash sound without needing the wash pedal. The built-in distortion let you add more growl and grind, and the Talking Wah mode gives you that stuck voice-box sound.
The 720 Looper also includes a stereo in/out for improved usability so you can record two instruments at the same time. With a 44.1kHz sample rate and 24-bit audio conversion, the 720 Looper gives you powerful looping performance. You will find that there are actually ten individual loops that you can access with the foot switch or Loop knob. With easy control of its features, the 720 Looper is a great product for the price.
3. TC Electronics Ditto Looper – Most Affordable Pedal for Guitar and Bass
Designed with guitarists in mind, the TC Electronics Ditto Looper Effects Pedal is designed to take up very little space on your board while still including all the features you need. Even though there is just one basic knob, it includes all the essentials you need including record, erase, stop, and undo/redo. Using simple controls and layout, you get five minutes of looping time and unlimited overdubs.
Intuitive and Affordable
Easily accessed with different foot-commands, you can build loops, change parts, or add layers to your song. Taking all you want from a looper, the Ditto Looper sounds great, is intuitive, is affordable, and is a lot of fun to use. Without including all the complicated features, you get a flexible but controlled tool that allows you to focus on playing.
Great Backing Chords
With the single knob, you can set your loops for a mind-blowing performance or just as a subtle background. Plus, your dry sounds will pass without worry of it converting to digital so you can keep your tone pure and original. The Ditto Looper also stores your loops when the unit is disconnected from power or when you power down so you don’t have to worry about losing your creations.
4. Zoom G1on – Best Cheap Multi-Effects Pedal
With 100 awesome sounding multi-effects, the Zoom Guitar Effects Pedal is easy to program and integrate into your pedalboard. You everything you need including amp models that make you think you are listening to the real thing. You can use up to five effects at the same time, and they can be chained together in any order, plus you can layer up to thirty seconds of your performance with the effects of your choosing.
Tons of Effects
With 100 effects, you get reverb, delay, modulation, compression, and distortion as well as 68 rhythm patterns. The Zoom Pedal also has a looper and an onboard chromatic tuner and runs on either 4 AA batteries or an AC adapter that is an optional purchase. Along with the main input and auxiliary input that lets you connect personal music player, you can also use the pedal with headphones or amplifier through the output jack.
Flexibility and Power
You can select and edit any effect or use up to five at the same time giving you the flexibility and power to create complex effects and not need multiple pedals to produce the same sound. With the built-in chromatic tuner, it is always accessible and shows you when you playing dead on, flat, or sharp. By choosing the bypass features, you can get an unaffected and clean sound when you are tuning or mute it all together so you can silently tune. With the 68 realistic-sounding rhythms, you can access samples of drums playing several different genres from rock to blue, to Motown, plus you can use the Looper along with the rhythm accompaniments allowing you to play with the pattern of your choosing.
5. DigiTech JamMan Solo XT – Top Rated Sampler Pedal
Allowing you to build your own loop library, the JamManager XT lets you create JamLists and synchronize loops. You can even transfer loops from the Solo XT to your computer with the USB port through a free download that runs on both Mac and Windows computers. Through almost limitless looper, you can build up energy in your performances with a seamless transition between your loops making it an important tool when you are performing or composing.
Pre-Loaded Drum Loops
Drummer Pat Mastelotoo is featured on the Solo XT with ten pre-loaded drum loops allowing you to get started with the stereo looping experience you want. With straight-forward backing loops and complicated loop layers, you can store over 35 minutes of quality loops in 200 internal memories. You can also speed up or slow down any loop without having to change pitch, and you can perfect your performance with three separate Stop modes, adjustable BPMs, and both and Auto-Record and Auto-Quantize feature.
Full and Rich Sound
Giving your performance a full and rich sound, the Solo XT also comes with an optional micro SDHC card that stores more than sixteen hours of CD-quality audio. Housed in a durable metal chassis, the Solo XT comes with an included power supply. This is a hand-free unit that allows you to easily record a rhythm loop and then solo over it on the fly.
Finding the Best Looper Pedal
It can be hard choosing a looper pedal since you have to wade through so many features. Having a ton of features is only great if you plan to use them all. If you don’t, you can probably save some money and headaches by getting a simpler scaled down looper.
The right looper for your friend is often not the right choice for you. And, since there isn’t a one size fits all model of looper pedal, you need to not only consider the different features that are available but also think about the features you need and want. It is also a good idea to compare looper pedals, read their reviews, and look at what the limitations are for each of the models so that you can make an educated choice when choosing the best looper pedal for you.
What Are You Looking for in a Looper Pedal?
You can‘t get too far in your decision on a looper pedal without considering what it is you want the looper pedal to do for you. Will you just be using it in practice or do you need it to be flexible enough to use it live? Do you need something with lots of effects or would you prefer something simple that you can use to practice and jam at home? Do you need to save loops for future jam sessions or live performances or just use the loops to be creative on the fly?
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you shop for a looper pedal:
- Cost – What is your budget? Is this a piece of equipment that is worth a lot to you? Is this something you want to upgrade later or can you get something awesome now?
- Complexity – Are you looking for a complex pedal with tons of features? Or do you want a basic looper that will do the job?
- Versatility – Do you want to use the looper with a MIDI device and other pedals? Do you want to create several loops and switch back and forth as you create?
- Playing Live – Will you be using your looper pedal during a live performance? Make sure it is easy to use with hands-free operation so you aren’t constantly bending over to change settings.
- Size – How much space do you have? What size pedal will work in the space you are using?
- Quality – Are you fine with a decent quality looper at an affordable price or is having the highest quality pedal, no matter what the cost, more important?
Features to Consider When Choosing a Looper Pedal
With so many types of looper pedals on the market, you are going to be considering a wide variety of features as you shop. It is easy to see that a looper pedal that comes in under $100 will be much simpler to use than the one costing over $500 that comes with every feature possible. Even though they are both technical looper pedals, their capabilities are one both sides of the spectrum. This is why it is important to know what you want and can afford.
Number of Footswitches
How you will use your looper pedal and what you are able to do with it is affected mostly by the number of footswitches there are. Footswitches are used to control and create loops so the more footswtiches your looper has, the more control you have.
With just one footswitch, you will mostly be able to erase, record, stop, play, and overdub. It is controlled by a series of taps, so you tap once to record, twice to stop playback, and to erase, you have to hold the footswitch down. If you only have the one footswitch, you are limited in the number of functions you can use.
When you have two footswitches, you get a lot more control with your loops since the functions are now spread over two pedals. Add more footswitches and you get even more flexibility and control so you are able to create more and far fewer limitations. Even though this sounds great, keep in mind that depending on what you want to accomplish, a pedal with only one or two footswitches may have all the features you want and is actually the right choice for you.
If you plan to use your looper pedal in a live performance, then the number of footswitches will actually make a bit difference. Used to activate specific features like turning on or off certain loops or multi-layered loops, a single footswitch can cause you to have to turn dials on the pedal which can be distracting when playing live.
Keep in mind that some single pedal loopers have the ability to add footswitches into the pedal to increase its capabilities. This can add to your cost in the long run so it may actually be cheaper to just look for a looper pedal with several footswitches to begin with.
To give you more control, certain pedals have the option to connect external footswitches. This is important when considering how simple a looper is to use since having the ability to connect more footswitches makes a big difference when considering how much control you will have.
How long the loop length that can be stored by your pedal will tell you a lot about what your looper capabilities are. When you have a longer looping length, you have more options. In most cases, a looper will have enough recording time to be useful to you.
Some loopers that are built into a pedal will also have good loop times. Depending on what you are recording, a slower song could take you sixty second while the same 12 bars in a faster tempo could take around thirty seconds. So, it is important to know the loop length before you buy your looper and make sure it works with the type of music you are performing.
If you are using a stereo rig, this is an important feature. If you have a mono rig, then this won’t pertain to you. Since many guitarists like to record effects as well, they often prefer to place their looper in the chain after the effect pedals. Mono loopers mean that all the effects will go through it, so if you will be very limited on where you can place your looper pedal in the chain unless you have a stereo looper.
Mono loopers are usually great for use at home with your own amp when you are just having fun. For those that want to record in stereo, stereo output is necessary.
Multiple inputs are great when you want to create complex loops, especially if you are a solo guitarist. A microphone input can be a good place to put a shaker or tambourine into the loop as well as vocals. A foot stomp box can also be connected for adding some bass kick sound into your loop.
This is also a great option for live guitarists that want to create more complex loops. But, if you are only using the looper with an electric guitar, you shouldn’t need to worry about this feature unless you plan to use different inputs to experiment.
When the looper pedal loops backward instead of forward, that is reverse looping. Not everyone uses this feature but it is an awesome way to add texture to the background of your music. This is a common feature on most of the newer pedals so that you can try this type of audio experimentation.
Built-in effects like lo-fi filter, half speed, and reverse are found in many looper pedals. You can apply these effects to your loop without altering your tone. With the reverse effect, the loops are played backward which can be a fun addition and allow you to develop creative ideas.
Some people may use them regularly while others rarely touch them. They do have the ability to sound gimmicky, so it isn’t a feature that you should be using as a consideration when choosing a looper pedal since you may not use them at all.
As soon as some pedals are disconnected, they can often erase the loop you just created. Other pedals are able to save your loop with the use of an SD card so you can transfer the loop through a USB to your computer. This can be a handy feature if you do a lot of songwriting or need your loops for live performances, especially if you want to import a backing track or other audio to use in your performance or just to play with.
You can sync some looper pedals with an external MIDI device to your other gear that is time-based. By syncing up a drum machine, you can be guaranteed that the drum loop and your loop sync up well. If you don’t have gear that can sync up with a MIDI device, then this isn’t a feature to worry about. Allowing you to sync up your loops with other electronic instruments a MIDI device can be useful but since the technology is still pretty new, make sure that you are getting a device that has good reviews for reliability.
You will also find that you can play more than one recorded loop at a time with some looper pedals. You should have to worry about this feature if you are only practicing a solo. You can use any looper pedal to create an entire song but a looper pedal that allows you to interactively use loops at the same time allows you to add complex layers to your songs.
Accessories are not really needed to operate a looper like you would need with a standard pedal, so you don’t have to worry about spending any more money on it. Outside of 9-volt batteries and a regular power adapter plus a pair of connector cables, you shouldn’t need anything else.
Best Ways to Use a Looper Pedal
- Even though loopers can technically be used in a studio, there really isn’t any reason to. A looper’s main job is to let you create back rhythms or a melodic lead line to support you while you are performing. Studios already allow you to make these recording while a live performance setting doesn’t.
- While they are great for live performances and even just jamming on your own, street performers use them a lot and get great results.
- Loopers are great for beginning musicians to use as well allowing you to practice a solo on your guitar along with a recorded rhythm part. Imported audio files can also be used to take a song and go through a dissecting process with tempo and pitch changing features. Loop pedals are just great for anyone that needs helps to get those creative juices flowing.
Used in a wide range of situations, looping pedals can be handy to have whether you are playing solo at home or at a live gig. Available with varying features and options, these are handy tools for musicians to have to create songs with complex layers. Make sure you know what features you need for the projects you have planned and you shouldn’t have any problem finding the right looping pedal for you.