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Thread: Need advice on how to set up for looping

  1. #1

    Default Need advice on how to set up for looping

    Hi all, I have a Boss RC-3 gathering dust and Iím very interested in how to set it up so I can then be frustrated trying to learn how to use it...I really want to use it but every time I pull it out I get discouraged and just put it back so I thought this time Iíd ask the good people here on the Cafe for some guidance.

    I donít have the first idea how to go about setting it up. Iíve searched this forum and read lots of threads about loopers themselves, Iíve searched the web and watched YouTube but all i seem to come across is tutorials on how to use one not how to actually set them up.

    Do I need a pickup or microphone for the mando?..Iím open to any and all recommendations.

    Do I need an amp?

    Is there some program I can use on my iMac or do I just stay with an amp?

    I read something about a mixer...donít know what it is but if I need one Iíll learn about it.

    And since I donít know what I donít know any other advice will be most appreciated.
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

  2. #2
    Mandolin Player trodgers's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    Hello. You will need to use some sort of pickup on your mandolin and an amp to hear what is going on. You would plug a cable from your mando pickup into the looper, and then another cable connects the looper to your amp. I don't know if there is some sort of interface that you could use to ditch the amp and play through your iMac, perhaps someone who does home recording can chime in on that. You shouldn't need a mixer.

    Pickups for mandolin can be a real rabbit hole. There are a variety of piezo pickups you can stick on or have permanently installed in/on your instrument. They range from super cheap ($10-15) to kinda pricey ($150). They all benefit from having a pre-amp, yet another piece of equipment that gets plugged into the chain.

    Another option would be to get an electric mandolin with pickups like an electric guitar. These generally don't sound like acoustic instruments. Some folks love them, some folks hate them.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    You can use a microphone for the looper but you have to be very careful about how you aim the microphone. If you want to start playing around with the looper without altering your mandolin, using a microphone makes sense. Yes, you need some sort of amplification but there are headphone amps which are about the size of your looper pedal, and if you want to use a microphone, using headphones makes good sense since whatever sounds are in the room may come through the microphone and will in turn get looped again. You would plug the microphone (be sure to get a mic cable which ends in a 1/4" phone plug, not XLR) into the looper, run a short cable from the looper into the headphone amp, and plug a set of headphones into the headphone amp.

    If you have an amplifier already, hopefully it would have a headphone jack which will cut off the speaker.

    Warning -- using a looper is very frustrating at the start because you hear exactly what you played, so any intonation issues or timing issues are glaring when the looping starts to play back. Read the manual very carefully to understand the pedal presses - for an open memory slot pressing the pedal once starts recording, pressing it again stops recording but keeps it playing, pressing the pedal a third time keeps the loop playing while you record additional material, pressing it a fourth time stops the looping and stops the recording. If you already have something recorded in that slot, pressing the pedal once starts the loop playing, pressing it twice keeps the loop playing and records new material in addition to it, pressing the pedal a third time stops the looping and stops the recording.

    I've got that same pedal and what I use it for is to store backing tracks from my computer. You can attach the pedal to the computer and using Boss software you can load a wav file into any of the slots. That way it's easy to have backing tracks to play with without having an mp3 player or a computer nearby. And since the pedal powers up when you insert an output cable, there's no need to plug anything into the input jack unless you really want to use it for looping.

  4. #4
    Registered Muser dang's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    I pretty much agree with what others have posted, I would add that I find looping chords and playing a solo over them is an amazing learning tool we should all use more often. I ended up with a couple of different pedals that I use with looping features and a full on boomerang looper that I use. I have used a couple of different setups with these pedals but generically:

    Pickup > Preamp > [Preamp effects loop with Looper pedal in it] > preamp XLR out to PA or speaker

    or

    Pickup > Preamp > Looper Pedal > Amplifier (all via 1/4" jacks)

    I have used an inexpensive ribbon microphone (instead of the pickup) in both of those setups before, but I had to use some pretty specific and expensive equipment to make it work. It sounded great and I left it set up for a long time to practice with. It can be finicky as stated above. Now the delay pedal on my pedalboard has a looping slot you can set it to and use it a lot like the RC3. So my regular rig has a looper in it all the time and if I need to practice I have all my toys right there ready to go on my pedal board. Technology has progressed in some very cool ways...
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    also makes your realize how bad your timing really is !

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    Quote Originally Posted by kjbllc View Post
    also makes your realize how bad your timing really is !
    Yup! Pushed me back to using a drum machine (Alesis SR16.....much more interesting than a metronome) in conjunction with the looper. Amazing how much the music "breathes" without a steady background beat.

  7. #7
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    Quote Originally Posted by kjbllc View Post
    also makes your realize how bad your timing really is !
    True! Especially in live performance. You need a very steady tempo in your playing, and you have to nail the foot press right on time, or disaster ensues.

    I fooled around with loopers years ago; it didn't last long but it was fun for a while. I think it works better for "experimental" or "ambient" music than structured songs in verse/chorus format, or fiddle tunes with different A/B sections, because you can develop a single long phrase, moving loops in and out. It gets complicated with tune or song formats that have sections with different chords.

    The other problem I ran into, not just with my own looping but in watching live performers with looping, is that the audience can't always tell what you're doing. It can look like you're playing along with a pre-recorded backing track instead of doing the risky act of "live looping." I admire people who can pull it off, but in the end it wasn't for me. I'd rather play with other musicians when a larger sound is desired than what I can do solo.

    I don't mean to be discouraging. Looping is great fun, and it can help train consistency in your rhythm. Good luck with it!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    Thanks for the replies, I’m leaning towards a clip on mic specifically the Myers Feather. It’s more expensive than some other like the Shure or Audio Technica but it has a built in preamp for power.

    Now another option is to buy another mando...well that’s always a welcome option...
    Northfield F5M #268, AT02 #7

  9. #9

    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    I've been thinking of getting a looper, but to get an XLR input it seems like you need to buy a whole lot of stuff you might not use, like canned drums. I HATE canned drums, and reverse, and all the stuff the ambient guys like. But some quantize, so your loops can get tighter.I'd never save loops either. If you can't do something real time I'm not interested.
    A friend asked me to play mandolin with him on Tennessee Waltz, and to work out what I was going to play I had to record it, when just making a loop would be easier. I know I can loop my recording, but a quick and dirty loop would have been handy.
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    Registered User Martin Ohrt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    I've got a TC Electronic Ditto, which is really easy to use as it doesn't have much features (just lets you record your loops and gives it back, nothing more.) I use it for practicing improvisation with the electric OM by looping the changes of the tune I want to practice. However, it also works with a microphon althoug it's not designed for that.
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  11. #11
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    I've been thinking of getting a looper, but to get an XLR input it seems like you need to buy a whole lot of stuff you might not use, like canned drums.
    If you need an XLR input from a mic or other balanced line, one option would be to use a small battery-powered preamp with a 1/4" output on the floor next to the looper pedal. That's what I did in the past to run my clip-on mic into a tuner pedal, using a Sound Devices MP-1 (very good, but not cheap). With that arrangement you can use any guitar-type floor pedal. The TC Electronics Ditto mentioned above is a popular one for basic looping.

    Another way to skin that cat would be using a FX loop from an acoustic amp, or a send/return from a small mixer if you're using one. For normal "acoustic" music you would normally use a looper at the end of any other signal chain you're using.

  12. #12
    man about town Markus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    Quote Originally Posted by Br1ck View Post
    If you can't do something real time I'm not interested.
    Being able to save loops was incredibly useful with an old band of mine. Every new tune our guitarist wrote I would bring my looper and at practice record one Verse/Chorus loop that I would save into the memory.

    Being able to practice solos and rhythm for every new tune made that feature worth every penny as I was able to quickly master our new tunes - and when it came time to record I had an easy practice tool still hanging around in my 100 memory slots.

    I now use it a lot more for songwriting [record an idea, record backup, listen while I do the dishes - then re-record the melody with a change, listen while I clean the kitchen, then redo + listen, etc etc.

    I also use it a lot to sample riffs off tunes to jam over, to steal licks from, or just to spice up practice.

    Yes, practice is needed to make sure you're starting/ending loops exactly right - it takes time but after a while you can generally nail the timing. If you are looking to do live-looping as perfomance, then that would take a lot more practice as you cannot even be slightly [workable] off. Really the biggest trick is to be tapping exactly on the one to start and exactly at the one of the measure after the last one you play.

    My looper has been my favorite practice tool for the last decade as it helps extend practices, provides a break from metronome or other very sterile practice, and can make a quick weekend afternoon practice turn into a couple hours [a good thing!].

    Note: pay attention to how long the loops can be. I have a multi-effects pedal that does looping, but as it maxes out at 30 seconds most fiddle tunes do not work [esp 3 parters]. I don't know if I would want anything over 2 minutes very often, but I would be wary taking one with a 30 or 45 second limit.
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  13. #13

    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    The Boss RC3 can handle loops of great length, so it could handle complete songs if desired.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    I too have been returning to looping as a practice tool. It appears you have another option with your RC-3. It has a mini stereo aux in which enables you to record and loop audio from any MP3 player. So if you already own a microphone and a mixer or recording interface with line level out, you could just mic your instrument and take the line level from the mixer/interface into the aux in on the RC-3. (I have an older RC-50, which has a phantom powered mic input. I play mostly acoustic instruments so I usually just set up a mic into the looper.) If you really start getting into looping with your RC-3 and happen to have an iPad, at some point you might want to check out Loopy HD. This is a really great app - best looping experience Iíve yet discovered. You can layer multiple loops, export loops to other programs, and set up a Bluetooth foot pedal for hands free control.
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  16. #15

    Default Re: Need advice on how to set up for looping

    Here's a video of me with my Infinity Looper. It's lots and lots of fun!

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