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So you've decided to buy a loop pedal. Good choice. This article will provide you all the information you'll need for selecting the best loop pedal. Loop pedals - otherwise known as loop stations, or looper pedals - have begun to find their way onto stages and into studios within the last ten years.
They allow the player to record their instrument and loop multiple tracks to create a unique mashup of sounds and recordings. Unfortunately, knowing exactly what you'll get with a looper pedal can be confusing.
Fortunately, we've created this guide in an attempt to give you all the information you'll need to choose the best loop pedal.
Having a good understand of what you want in a loop pedal is the natural first step.
How long do you need your pedal to record for? Is it for multiple people, or will it be just for you? Will you want effects built into your pedal?
Each pedal will provide different features and ultimately determine the final price point. We'll briefly go through the considerations you need to make when selecting your loop pedal. Here's what you need to know:
TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper
Digitech JMSXT Jamman Solo XT
Boss RC-300 Loop Station
The Considerations for Selecting the Best Loop Pedal
A quick way to determine the versatility of a loop pedal is by counting the number of foot switches. Are you looking to loop just your guitar? If so, just stick with a single foot switch to keep things simple. If you want multiple inputs, with multiple tracks, look for a pedal with multiple foot switches, or a pedal that can be connected and synced to another loop pedal. This will allow you to loop your instrument and vocals, all with the same pedal. We've broken down some considerations we think are important for selecting your pedal below.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
- Loop Time
How long do you need to loop for? The loop time refers to how long each loop recording can be. Looping time can range from 5 minutes to 3 hours. While most people will never need loops longer than 5 minutes, there are some niche musicians who like to be a bit more creative.
- Number of Tracks /Inputs
More advanced loop pedals will allow you to record and playback more than one looping track. Say, if you were looking to record a verse loop and a chorus loop, you'll need to have multitrack recording on your pedal. Some pedals will offer multiple inputs to allow you to loop more than one source (a mic and a guitar for example). Multiple track/input looping is usually found on more complicated pedals, whereas most simple pedals only allow a single track/source to be looped.
- Mono or Stereo
Your loop pedal output will either be stereo or mono. If you are using a single instrument, such as a guitar, you will only need a mono loop pedal. If you run a stereo setup, such as a synthesizer or keyboard, look to get a looper that outputs stereo.
- Additional Features
Do you need additional effects on your pedal, such as delay or filters? Small features, such as Boss's Auto-Start (starts recording the instant it picks up an audio signal), makes looping much easier for beginners.
We've broken down the best pedals into three categories: Beginner, intermediate, advanced. You'll want to pick a pedal based off of your skill level and what you need it for.
Top Picks For Beginner Loop Pedals
These pedals are great for beginners, or someone looking for something simple.
TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper
- Single track looper
- Simple and affordable
- True bypass with 24-bit, analog, uncompressed audio fidelity
- 5 minute loop time
Reading forums and discussion boards, it quickly become apparent this is the number one recommendation when it comes to loop pedals. The Ditto has a number of things going for it. Firstly, it's dead simple. Designed by guitarists, for guitarists, it has a single, durable, footswitch that controls all of the looping. Other pedals have a somewhat complicated user-interfaces that can be frustrating at times. The ditto keeps it simple, with one switch to turn on the recording and one switch to stop. Don't like what you just recorded? By holding down the foot switch you can 'undo' the loop. It's also possible to 'arm' the Ditto to start recording at the start of the loop (avoiding any tricky timing mistakes).
The sound quality of the Ditto is fantastic. It uses uncompressed, analog, 24-bit sound recording. Through avoiding any digital recording, the Ditto is able to playback multiple stacked tracks in high fidelity. The huge benefit to being analog is your guitar signal is played back unaltered. Even when the Ditto is turn off, the true-bypass will have no effect on your signal.
You also get unlimited overdubs. Meaning you can stack as many loops as your heart desires as long as they are under the 5 minute limit. However, the Ditto is not perfect. You must power it with a 9V power supply and you are not able to store any of your loops. Mirror issues for most guitar player.
Bottom line: The Ditto is the perfect loop pedal if you are looking to loop one input. It focuses on what's important, and leaves out any additional features that would just add to the cost. The price is exceptional for the value. Highly recommended.
- 12 minute loop length, unlimited overdubs
- Two inputs (stereo and mono)
- LED loop indicator light
- Optional additional foot switch
- No true bypass or uncompressed recording
Don't want to spend hours figuring out all the lights and buttons? Say hello to the RC-1 from Boss - a fantastic, easy to use loop pedal. A list of the best loop pedals wouldn't be complete without including a Boss pedal. The RC-1, part of the RC linage, is a great entry level looper. Although simple and straight forward, when it comes to basic looping, the RC-1 provides you with everything you need.
The simplicity of the RC-1 is instantly apparent. One foot switch, and one volume knob. One tap to record, another to over dub, and another to playback what you recorded. Press the pedal twice to stop playback and hold it down for over a second to erase what you've recorded. It's built with Boss's rugged design, so you know it will last forever.
It has two 1/4'' inputs for multiple looping inputs. One for stereo and one for mono. 12 minutes of loop recording with unlimited over dubs. A loop indicator LED light - turning red for record, red and green for overdubbing, and green for playback. This little light feature will give you an indication of what is going on with your loops. It also has a separate optional foot switch for the stop/undo functions. Additionally, any recorded loops will be stored in the memory when the pedal is turned off.
It's powered by either a 9V battery (4.5 hours of battery life) or external 9V power supply (not included). While lacking features such as true-bypass, uncompressed recording, and auto-record, the RC-1 still gives the basic looper everything they need.
Bottom line: If you're concerned with having a true bypass, or analog recording, pick up a Ditto. If you'll find the LED light useful, need two inputs (or stereo), or would appreciate the extra food switch, pick up the RC-1.
Best Intermediate Loop Pedal
Digitech JMSXT Jamman Solo XT
- 35 minutes of 44.1 kHz 16-bit loop time
- USB compatible
- Auto-Record, Auto-Quantize, Time-Stretch features
- Sync multiple pedals together to create a multi-track looper or loop with other musicians
Out top choice. This loop pedal will give you a ton of options for a reasonable price. The Jamman Solo XT will give you many more features than the entry level loop pedals, but keeps the price reasonable compared to the advanced pedals.
We love the Auto-Record and Auto-Quantize options to keep all of your loops in sync. The Auto-Record function lets you record your loops feet free if needed. You can also link up two Jamman Solo XT pedals if you want to create a multi-track looper or loop with another musician. Additionally, It's possible to load external samples from your computer using the USB port or the micro SD card. This opens up a world of possibilities for onstage accompaniment.
The Time-Stretch feature allows you to change the BPM of your loops without changing the pitch of the notes. This feature will be great if you want to upload a solo and slow it down to learn. It also comes with a metronome with multiple rhythms and sound signatures. Great for practicing.
It stores over 35 minutes of stereo, CD-Quality loops in 200 internal memory slots. You also have the option to use a SDHC card to store over 16 hours of additional loops. This is a great option for the intermediate looper who wants a few more features!
Best Advanced Loop Pedal
Boss RC-300 Loop Station
- Three stereo tracks with dedicated foot switches and controls for each
- Dedicated fader per track
- 3 hours of internal recording with 99 inboard memories
- XLR microphone input with phantom power
- USB storage to import/export WAV files
The ultimate mega looper. One of the most power looping stations on the market, the RC-300 features 3 synchronized stereo tracks with dedicated knobs and footswitches for each track. It also comes equipped with an expression pedal, effects, and a huge control panel for live performances.
This pedal is great for a single performer who is looking to create complicated loops onstage. Plug in your keyboard, guitar, bass and create 3 separate loops on each track. The XLR input (with phantom power) provides the opportunity for singers, percussionist, violinist, or beatboxer to join in.
The RC-300 lets you record for up to 3 hours directly to internal memory and the USB connection lets you save your loops externally. You can also import any WAV file via the USB to store in the pedal for future use. In addition to recording your instrument performances, you can record other external stereo sources via the AUX in. This means you can use sounds from digital-audio players or other devices.
It also comes with the Loop Quantize feature to keep all your loops in sync, as well as the standard undo/redo features.. The Auto-Recording feature will start to record your loop the instant you start playing.
Bottom Line: Definitely a contender for the top loop pedal. If you're looking to create complicated loop arrangements on stage or during a jam, this is the pedal for you.