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Thread: Looper Pedal/Stations

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    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Looper Pedal/Stations

    Hello all. Is anyone here using a looper that they really like (or really hate)? I've decided I'd like to use something like this for practice - lay down a rhythm, then "improvise" over it. A looper seems like one option. Another might be to record the pattern on a PortaStudio, then bring it into something like Audacity to copy the pattern a few more times? This seems like work, but might be cheaper, as I already own the equipment. Other options? (rent a guitar player?)

    Thanks - DWP

  2. #2
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    I like a looper just for that reason (among one other). Working out solo lines is the bomb on a looper. I also like the fact (this is the other reason) that if I play a fairly extended rhythm line for the loop, I can really hear if my timing is off a tiny bit. Most of those errors get glossed over when you're jamming or playing with a bunch of people, but when it's you, alone, with yourself (sort of an existentialist moment) you really hear every little thing that's less than perfect. I just have one of the relatively base Boss models, and I just made sure that it would record at least 45 seconds of a loop. Other than that, it's just a one-switch thing, no extra multi-tracking or anything.

  3. #3
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Charlie, that's exactly what I'm looking for at the moment. I was thinking either the Boss RC 3 or the Digitech Jamman Solo. Both seem to rate well. The Digitech will take an SD card, and connect to the computer. Not sure about the Boss. I can't talk myself into springing for the looper "stations"; the pedals seem like they'd work fine.

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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    I have a few loopers, the Boss RC2 and RC50 and the Akai Headrush. The Akai is good fun and has a geat analogue delay mode but very short loop times and no save function. The RC2 is my main pedal and works really well. This one doesn't link to a PC but I don't know about the new version, might have a USB connector. I generally use it for violin, layering up pad sounds and it's very easy to use on the fly. The RC50 has three seperate loops that can be synced together or used automatically. It's a great creative tool but takes a lot of fiddling to get the best out of it. Ironically if I were only to have one Boss looper it would be the RC30 - less tap dancing and more memory - but the RC3 is easy enough to manage.

    There's also a new Vox looper coming out soon at a similar price to the RC3 which has two seperate loops in one box.

  5. #5
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Thanks, Jay. The RC3 seems about the level I want/need, both the price and the simplicity (or lack thereof). The only Vox I can find is the VDL1, which looks a lot like the RC30, and is also similarly priced. Are you saying that Vox will come out with another looper, closer to the RC3? I hadn't seen the Akai, but will check that out too.

  6. #6
    In The Van Ben Milne's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    I have an electro harmonix memory man which loops quite well, but it dies so much else so well, I tend to use it for delays verbs sustains etc.

    Warren Ellis uses this digitech, (there's a mono version too) which looks and sounds the goods. When I have a budget to be looking at expanding my pedals, this will be pretty high on the list.
    Hereby & forthwith, any instrument with an odd number of strings shall be considered broken. With regard to mix levels, usually the best approach is treating the mandolin the same as a cowbell.

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    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    After forgetting to add the pedal details earlier, I went and looked and the Boss RC3 is exactly what I've been using and loving.

  8. #8
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    I have the RC30. What Charlie said is dead on, I use mine all the time for practice, composing, its metronome, and as a noisemaking toy with my 3 year old.

    IMO, the only difference on the 30 is the handy additional pedal/controls which are overpriced though very useful. You can get an external pedal for the RC3 to do the second-pedal functions. Not sure if the 3 has dual sliders for channel 1/2 of the loop, I use that the most (have learned to run this pedal barefoot in last year, sliders and all).

    For live looping the Boomerang is really something, wish the RC had backwards play and fade-out loops but the huge memory is nearly full of saved loops ('rang does not save loops).

    I have a DP008 recorder and could do it via computer as well ... But the instant going nature of the pedal removes a lot of hassle and time. For me, going from 'music mind' to 'computer mind' back and forth does not help my focus. Hard enough to play baseline on synth, rhythm on 6 string, rhythm on mandolin, then get back to the melody.

    I run mine through a small Soundcraft board, it is nice to have a couple different mics/inputs live so that I can jump to different instruments for my rhythm parts.

    It can turn into wasting of time noodling, but I have developed my best solos by practicing with looped verse/chorus on a tune day after day (saved in memory so day 2 you just hit play).
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    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Thanks. The consensus here seems to be one of the Boss pedals, which I'm leaning towards based on ratings. A friend mentioned that I should be able to do this with a computer, which I'll try this weekend. But like you, Markus, I think that the computer will take thought that should be used on playing, and be a bit more hassle (computers usually are...) So I,m definitely thinking pedal in the very near future. (I like the "computer mind" vs. "music mind", btw.)

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    Registered User Verne Andru's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    I have a Boss RC2 and hate the thing. The sound is so "digital" and noisy and the tap-tempo drives me crazy. YMMV, but these are for quick and dirty stuff only IMHO.
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  11. #11
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Over the weekend I pulled out the laptop and an electric guitar, plugged in the USB interface, and recorded once thru a blues progression, then looped using Audacity. Works fine, except that it can't go thru the guitar amp, and my little computer speakers can't compete. OTOH it seems that, if I get a looper, I then have to put a pedal in front of it if I want any distortion, as using the amp for that would also distort the recorded rhythm loop? I'm quite on the fence about a looper pedal at the moment.

    Verne, were you looping an electric instrument, or an acoustic? I hope to loop both at some point.

  12. #12
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    What sort of in/out options does you amp have, does it have an effects loop, or does it apply distortion to every signal?

    If you are running straight instrument -> looper -> amp, then distortion applies to everything out of the looper.

    The only distortion I have run through it was via pedal or effects/DI box ... but if you have additional inputs on your amp to run the looper into you may be able to bypass the distortion that way.

    Do you have an effects loop, what in/out options does your amp have?

    Generally I run instrument -> effects -> mixer (mics for acoustic instruments) -> looper -> aux in on amp ... which also allows me to send everything to my recorder as well when I want to do more than just use it for practice. That way, when I stumble on something good I also have a perfect quality signal recorded, instead of only what the looper got and only the loop length.

  13. #13
    Registered User Verne Andru's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    I've used mine for everything from synth guitar to my double-neck [6 string/bass] to mandolins acoustic and electric.

    If you're playing in a noisy venue and not recording, the Boss is okay at best. But it does add a fair amount of hiss and digital artifacting that becomes prevalent when recording or when you turn the volume up. It's fine for quick and dirty loops to play over for practice, but a professional tool it is not.

    Another Boss quirk happens when I use the optional FS-5U footswitch. When playing I'd find the pedal would randomly stop looping for no apparent reason. The problem went away when I unplugged the FS-5U but then I lost the use of the second switch. Frustrating, to say the least.

    Perhaps my fave looping system is using Abelton Live. It's pretty much the loop master. It does require more work to make it happen, but the results are far better IMHO.

    Dave over at Pigtronix is working on a looper that focuses on preserving your tone. Hopefully it'll be out before the end of summer.

    If I was to buy a looper today, I'd look to the new Digitech Jamman series. They are pretty feature rich and the reviews claim the sound is very good. A bit more expensive than the Boss, but with loopers it appears you really do get what you pay for.
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  14. #14
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Markus: My amps only have one channel, one instrument input. No effects loop. So yes, I would be going instrument->looper->amp. So with a looper, I would probably want a pedal before the looper: instrument->distortion pedal->looper->amp, after I've recorded the loops, of course, and then keep the gain on the amp down. Sounds like your setup is a bit more sophisticated than mine. As I'm mostly looking for a practice aid at this point, that's okay (or as Rob Chappers's put it, "if you don't have any friends...")

    Verne: I was considering the Jamman Solo as well as the Boss RC3, as they seem pretty equivalent. One review did mention noise with the Boss. Another nit on the Boss is that every review says that there is a delay when switching "phrases". Not sure if I would care, but I might someday. OTOH, I'm not looking to perform live with this, which is why I'm thinking about delaying the looper purchase until I see what the computer option can do. Or I'll keep an eye on EBay to find one used at a decent price. Abelton is a music software package? I'll take a look.

  15. #15
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    CelticDude - a close friend of mine scored a Boss RC20xl with 2 pedals [footswitches always seem quirky as Verne mentions] for $125 on CL. Sure, it doesn't have the extended memory ... but for practice/home based looping it does the trick quite well. I'm no expert on used pedals ... but if, like me, this isn't intended for performance - I might watch the local used market and find a similar deal. [End of year at the local Univ always finds people selling their equipment, upgrade in the fall].

    You are unlikely to get such a deal, but yet the upgrade from RC2/20 to RC3/30 is memory space and that's about it. Given Verne's observation, perhaps the sound quality is a bit better - I would agree with him that if you're recording the loops this is not your tool. You can record everything prior to the looper and reconstruct on PC, but that's a good bit of labor putting it together.

    If a 20xl is available for cheaper than the RC3, it might be a good choice. If it's a good price, you can always resell it with no loss [as opposed to new product, unless you return quickly].

    Regarding the gap in switching tracks - that is a correct observation. Switching from loop 1 [currently playing/active] to loop 2 [prerecorded] leaves a short silent gap between the two. A serious failure of the pedal, kills any live use of prerecorded loops [assuimg you want to jump mid-song into a pre-recorded different loop]. I don't do this, so it doesn't bother me ... but impossible to do smoothly if you do that.
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    Registered User Verne Andru's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    This is the one I'm thinking about:



    http://www.zzounds.com/item--DGTJMD

    If you go new on a small Boss or Jamman, you're spending close to $200 making this one, at $250, a fantastic deal. Reviews are great.

    Ableton Live is software for Mac/PC that's built around a great looping engine. I've been using it since version 1. It's great for putting together backing tracks to practice over. I've also used it to sketch out my DV8 tune which got a rave review in Guitar Player magazine, so it can go the distance.

    You can also marry Live to a MIDI footpedal and use it in a performance situation. The most common one, although quite large, is the Behringer FCB1010:



    They come up on Craigslist used from time to time.
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  17. #17
    Registered User Verne Andru's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Since this is about loopers, I just have to post this. Love this lady...

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  18. #18
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Hmm, Amazon also has the Jamman Looper/Delay for $250. Makes me think these are being discontinued? In any case, the suggestion to go used, or look for deals, on the larger stations, as opposed to the single pedal, seems good to me. Thanks.

    Verne, I've seen this woman here on the Cafe before. Quite the use of loopers, as well as a talented player. I always think, though, with bare feet, is she not risking electrocution?

  19. #19
    Registered User Verne Andru's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Electrocution? Maybe a bit of a tingle. Modern electronics runs on +/- 7 volts for the most part - 18 v in extreme cases.
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  20. #20
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Excepting the amp, everything in my signal chain runs off some powersupply that doesn't seem to run much juice. I'm happy about that, as I like the barefoot at home.

    I can run the two sliders on the A / B channel of my looper barefoot - it's nice to change the mix of the two loops there.
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  21. #21
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Okay, so not as shocking as I thought...

  22. #22
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Better not be any current in there, frankly. If there's any current that's hitting the outside skin of the box, you have some serious grounding issues or wiring defects. My favorite Theresa Anderson looping video, by the way, is this, and was good enough for me to spend months trying to hunt down her agent:


  23. #23
    Registered Mandolin User mandopete's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    That's a pretty incredible performance. I wonder how long it took her to work that out. She seems totally at ease with the technology and it does not detract from the performance one bit.

    5 stars!
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  24. #24
    poor excuse for anything Charlieshafer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    That's what I love about her; it's all just an organic outgrowth, no fishing around for pedals, no strange jerky movements or anything, just flow.

  25. #25
    Registered User CelticDude's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looper Pedal/Stations

    Question for anyone using the Boss RC30: do you ever use the XLR input? This seems like a really handy feature, letting me use my acoustic mando, and I think this one's the only looper with it. Saves on getting a little XLR-to-1/4" adapter. I also note that Musician's Friend is having a Memorial Day sale, so this may be the week to pull the trigger.

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