Loopers: All You Need to Know

Loopers: All You Need to Know

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Loopers. Regardless of genera or skill level most of us have a use for one. Practicing, performing, or for just playing by yourself, these sound on sound devices can make the guitar much more interesting. If you’re in the market for your first or next looper there are a few tips and specific recommendations I want to send your way. Let’s start off with something that tends to be overlooked.


Delay Pedals w/ Loopers -

Often, people looking for their first looper pedal will miss a very important detail, not all loopers have to be dedicated. There are several great delay pedals on the market that already have loopers inside of them. Due to the nature of most delay circuits, it is actually not that hard for manufacturers to include this feature for their customers. I have a theory that some companies avoid doing this just so people will still purchase their other loop pedals. Regardless of why not all delays are going to include this feature. Yet, there are plenty of great ones that do. So, here are a few standouts across a wide range of price points.  

 

  • EHX Canyon: $151.00
    • A swiss army knife for delay lovers at a hard to beat price. With 9 different delays to choose from, there are few that compare to this pedal under $200. It sounds great, is versatile, and not overwhelming for those who like as few knobs as possible.

The looper on the Canyon is 62 seconds and does exactly what a looper should. Unfortunately, it is not the easiest looper ever, which is to be expected considering there is only one switch. Recording the first loop is simple enough but overdubbing feels a little finicky in practice. However, this is still a remarkable unit for the price and deserves praise. Yet, if the looper is a large part of why you are buying the pedal in the first place, you may choose to look elsewhere.


  • Boss DD-200: $249.99
    • As a very new product in the market, the DD-200 has already made its mark as one of the best values for a delay of its stature. Sporting 12 delay modes this one has plenty of tonal variety to go around. Additionally, the power of its 32-bit processor ensures that you’re getting some of the best sound quality out there. The two big Without a doubt this one sounds and functions great. 

As for the looper, its 60 seconds and controlled by holding the on/off switch. Holding this switch for two seconds will set you off on your first loop, just press it again and it repeats. After into the loop the on/off switch acts as a switcher between overdub and playback. To stop the loop, you press the memory/tap button and you can clear it by the holding of this button as well. This process is going to be easier to work with than that of the canyon. 

  • Strymon TimeLine: $449.00
    • The king of delay pedals. As it should be for its cost. Yeah, that’s pretty much enough said on this one.

The looper on the TimeLine is one of the best out there in its own right. At its core, it is a very simple to use and effective sound on sound tool. Simply hold the tap switch to enter looper mode and then the A button is to record/overdub and the B button is to Play/Stop. The feature that takes this looper up a notch is the ability to choose where your loop sits in the signal chain. Essentially this function lets you run your delays into your loop, which then means you can move knobs and change the sound of the loop. When using the looper like this your TimeLine starts to feel a whole lot more like a synth pad. While not for all (or even most) players, some will find there is no alternative to Strymon.  

All these delay/looper pedals are great buys. Nevertheless, for some, there are a few deal-breakers that exist here. Things like ease of use and looper length are what cause certain players to avoid the 2 in 1 route. If you are one of these people, stay put as we move on to some dedicated looper units.  

 

Looper Units -

For those still looking for a dedicated looper, you have a lot of options to choose from. The choice between these is going to be very specific to the players' use case. For practicing, all you need is something that lets you record and overdub yourself very efficiently. Though, if you are looking for a tool for live performance you may want to consider something more robust. All of the following are going to be great selections no matter the use, but make sure you keep your own needs in mind.

  • TC Electronic Ditto: $118.00
    • You will see this guy on a lot of boards for good reason. It’s easy to use and does its one job very well. It is also a great size if space is a concern for you, there should be no issue fitting this into most rigs. The Ditto also comes in other (more expensive) forms that cater to things like vocals, stereo loops, and built-in effects. So, if the original ditto is not right for you, there is probably something in their line that will be.
  • DigiTech Trio+: $249.95
    • The Trio+ is more than just a looper. While you could you this to practice, this is meant to be a killer live performance box. Think of this as a stomp box full of controllable backing tracks that you can loop over. With 12 genre and style selections to choose from, almost any gigging individual can find something that works for them. You can even record your loop to the SD and set song parts for the Trio to remember. This is really a full-on workstation for anyone playing guitar out and about.   
  • Boss RC-10R: $299.99
    • Consider this one a slight step from the Trio. The two share many of the same features but are executed in different ways. The Boss takes a further programmable approach that revolves around a more digital feeling (not sounding) experience. With more detailed intros, outs, and fills the Boss comes out on top for customization. However, some are going to prefer the workflow of the Trio over the RC-10R and vice versa. Ultimately, both sound great and will fulfil all your looping and performing needs.

 

With that I have covered all I wanted to in regard to loopers. There is actually quite a bit more to picking out one of these pedals than one might think. Or in some cases it might be as simple as buying a Ditto and calling it a day, everyone’s different. In this and all cases regarding guitar gear, there is little consensus of the best overall product to buy. Just remember to let your needs influence your decision in the end.
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