Greetings and all that holiday crap, I hope you had a good one. Welcome back to the Rig’s Den. Recently there have been a shortage of articles fom our side of the fence. But we’re back and today we’ll be reviewing pedals that are very very dear to me. I’m talking ‘bout loopers or loopstations, the pedals that take your sound and playthem back while you play another layer or phrase on top of the previous sound. Simply put loop pedals let you record and play over what you recorded live.
I first started getting interested in looping during the dawn of youtube and dsl connections, I was to put it plainly, trying to make a one man band and have been thinking of ways on how I can take my act live. I learned about looping through youtube but alas it was not until 2008 when I first saw a loop pedal that was available locally , the pedal was bought in from Ishibashi in Japan by this dude who eventually sold the pedal to me unused .Fast forward to 2013 ( or 2014 depending on when this article gets published). I have had a couple of loop pedals that I have had been using since 2008 and am now currently gigging with a looping setup.
Since I started bringing my looping act to the stage , I have gotten quite a few people interested. As Such I have already sold a bunch of loopers via THE RIG and to this day a lot of people have asked me on my opinion about various looper pedals.
We’ll check out some the pedals that I’ve owned or atleast have had my hands on, all the pedals that I will review in this article are available locally at shops or from locals who sell items through the internet.
Disclaimer: All Pedals and trademarks are owned by their recpective companies. All the pedals that I will review are those which I personally used , other pedals I may have missed are the one’s I haven’t used. Prices are approximations of what are in the market and is not intended to be a full reference . feel free to comment your own opinions about these pedals at the comment section below :)
The entry level looping unit from boss. It has a familiar boss stomp box shape and it easily fits any pedal board. It is powered by a 9 volt battery although I recommend using it with a power supply to avoid sudden power loss as these loopers eat a lot of power.
-A total of 11 Minutes max loop time,
-loops can be saved and recalled, tap tempo switch, lots of drum presets for almost any genre , RC2 also includes odd time drum patterns.
-RC2 Includes real time undo and redo functions. And has a basic Play –Record- overdub operation. It Also has an auxiliary input so you can loop phrases from other audio sources. Boss pedals are tanks so stomp away!
Cons: since it only has one stomp button stoping a loop means you have to tap twice on the button which can be tricky for timing with some arrangements. Also the boss rc2 has a notable quality loss or “tone suck” after you go through a couple of layers . from my experience the quality goes down after you overdub your 5th or 6th layer ( since this was the first looper I’ve owned , I’ve only noticed this when I tested other looper pedals)
Where to get: Currently phased out by boss the unit goes for anywhere between 5000 to 7000php used, the price depends on the condition of the unit and you can get good deals at sulit, facebook and other sites.
The big brother to the RC2, the RC20xl features longer loop times, a reverse playback function and two stomp swtiches . one acts as the playback and overdub while the other functions as the tap tempo and stop switch. It also allows multiple inputs from different sorces IE: play acousticguitar and loop along with your microphone. Both inputs have their own volume control.
- better control over loop playback via the second footswitch,
-individual control over both inputs.
-The reverse function( ie: back maskfunction_ adds interesting effects.
-As with the rc 2 all boss pedals feature quantized looping which is perfect to nail timing parts especially with percussion and drumloops.
- Sound on sound quality is noticeably much much better than the boss RC2
Cons: extra switches means a larger foot print on your pedal board, not to mention that the rc20xl is also more heavier and cannot run on battery power. Also noticeable is that boss seemingly cut down the number of built in drum loops to just a handful compared to the boss rc2.
Where to get: Currently also phased out by boss the unit goes for anywhere around 6000 to 8000 php used, priced also depending on the condition of the unit.
DIGITECH JAM MAN
Boss’s rival in the looper market digitech jan is closer to the boss rc 20xl. The main thing that separates it from boss is that the jam man’s memory is expandable via upgaraded cf card and as such can hold longer loops and more samples. It also can be connected to the pc via cable or card reader. The digitech jamman is powered via AC adaptor. And also features an XLR balanced input for microphones.
- familiar control scheme, one switch acts as arecord play overdub switch , the other functions as a tap tempo and stop switch,
-it is also a little smaller than the rc 20xl. And features excellent sound quality and a nice and bright lcd display ( which the previous boss units do not have)
Cons : power adaptor is AC and as such , will not be compatibale with existing pedal power sources that are usually DC. Also for some reason digitech requires all recorded loops to be atleast 3 seconds long, which means triggering short sound loops are not supported. Also note that the quantize feature is absent among all digitech looping units which might not necesarilly be a bad thing except for people who work with percussion or drum loops
Where to get: Somewhat rare in the used market, you can get a jam man for around 7000-8000 php used from second hand online sellers.
Digitech JAM MAN SOLO
Digitech’s newest loop pedal which follows in the Boss Rc2’s foosteps. Featuring a smaller foot print and single footswitch design , the JAM MAN solo also is the first looper that utilizes SD cards for its memory. It kinda operates the same way as boss pedals: by using the play- record –overdub precodure and also features a bright lcd to tell you which loop you are on. It also has live undo and redo functions.
-smaller and lighter than the boss pedal
- utilizes sd card storage, which is very cheap and readily available in the country.
-Digitech also redesigned the adaptor to DC so no more lugging extra power supplies around , sound qulaity is alo noticeably cleaner on overdubs
Cons: as with all single stomp pedals, the double tap to stop feature , might be a dealbreaker for some people who are looking for more control with their loops. Also, as all digitech models, loops are required to be longer than 3 seconds and their pedals still lack the quantize function ( probably due to a boss patent)
Where to get: since the digitech jam man solo is a newer model it is readily available at Digitech’s local retailer which is Audiophile. you can also preorder from local online sellers. A new unit costs probaly around the 9000-11000 php estimate and used goes around 6000-7000php.
TC Electronics DITTO Looper
The realitve new comer to the looping market, TC’s Ditto looper promises to be a no nonesense looper. Which means no extra features and extra controls just one switch and a level control. The TC’s target market is the guitar player who has a lot of pedals and want’s to incorporate a small looping solution. Did I mention that its actually smaller than all the previous loopers that I reviewed ? If you know the mooer mini pedals that’s being sold recently than you get the idea, the ditto is 1/3 of a boss pedal. Also did I mention that the Ditto features true bypass? Nuff said
- the smallest pedal yet, the ditto can fit anywhere literaly.
-Tc tried to make a no nonesense approach which maybe perfect for the ocassinal looping or practice session, just one button and one knob ‘
-and ofcourse for the purists True Bypass, no other pedal has yet to have this feature
Cons: being a no nonsense pedal also comes with a cost, the smaller enclosure means that there is not enough room for a battery, as such the ditto will require a power supply, but it’s not a bigdeal if you already have a psu for your pedals. Also the ditto only has 5 minutes of loop time which enough for a song but maybe not enough to store various samples, owh wait it can’t store samples too.
So the TC Ditto might be perfect for the ocassional loop player or the ambient shoe gaze pedal guy who has all the pedals.
Where to get: a newer model currently sells at JB music , being TC’s local retailer and is also availabel brandenew from online sellers. At JB it costs around 9000php and from online sellers it costs 6000-7000php bnew , I saw a dude sell his ditto once for 5000 php used and that was it.
The Successor of the RC2, where in they seemed to fix everything that was off with the RC2, the pedal now has a small LED display and fewer knobs in place of buttons , the qulaity loss also associated with the rc 2 was already rectified . although the biggest features of the rc 3 is that while it does not take external memory, it in itself can hold approx 3 hours worth of loops which you can save and transfer to you computer via USB cable ( the one that looks like your printer’s USB).
- Longest built in loop capacity at 3 hours and all recorded material can be easily backed up to your pc via USB and overall better sound qulaity upgrade vs the old Boss RC2
Cons: Pressing the stomp pedal twice to stop ,( I really don’t like this feature). The extra drum patterns from the Boss RC2 is also notably lacking.
Where to get: I rarely see them in Yupangco and perfect pitch , probably goes around for 10,000 to 14,000 php from local retailers you can get order it online for about 9,500to 10,000 php approximately. Used goes for around 8000 up depnding on the cosmetics. I have since last year, only saw 3 being sold locally in online sites.
Honorable mentions: gadgets and pedals that I have tried to loop with that have varrying degrees of success
(all these pedals and effects are available locally)
Zoom G2nu : features a 20 second loop function and sync with its built in drum sounds.
Zoom G3/G3x: features a 40 second looper and can also sync with built in drum sounds
Line 6 M9: line 6’s stomp box modeler features a shor looper around 30 to 40 seconds, I think this is what zoom tried to copy with their G3 series of pedals
Nux MG 100: colorful cheapy multi fx (think zoom from 10 years ago) features a 20 ish second looper that is wonky at best
BOSS DD3: able to hold a few seconds of sound and play it back infinitely (it’s almost a looper)
Korg AX1500g and KORG AX3000g: long hold delay function can loop a few seconds and also has a sample and play function which lets you play over one phrase with a length of approx 20 seconds
Korg KaossPad 3: able to loop via 4 sampling buttons and can also handle different inputs, the loop length will depend on the tempo of the samples or song
Iphone and Ipad: there are a host of apps are designed for looping , albeit some are more suited for the beatboxers who loop their performance. IOS looping apps also require some accessories to be useful for live use . Some notable apps are:
LOOPY, Everyday Looper, Jam Up XT
For more information on looping and stuff
Check out youtube’s boss world international looping championship
Facebook’s Live Looping Philippines
Or my Live looping Act/ alter ego at facebook.com/morbeef
***TIL NEXT TIME***