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The Best Loop Pedals - With Super Looper Performances

Published: Fri January 11, 2013  News Feed

The Best Loop Pedals - Fruity Loops And Sweet Beats

By Hugh McKenna

The Best Loop Pedals

If you're after more repeats, check out our delay pedal guide with analogue, digital and looping delay pedals.

NEW UPDATE: NOVEMBER 2014

THE BEST NEW LOOPER PEDALS - TODAY

Thanks to popular artists such as Ed Sheeran and KT Tunstall, loop pedals have become wildly popular with singer-songwriters. But, really, they're a great tool for any performer who want to create richer, layered sounds. In the last couple of years, we've seen an interesting trend: the best looper pedals come in either of those two forms - either super simple and basic loopers, with no-fuss operation; or delay pedals with great looping function, for the guitarist who wants to sometimes use delay, sometimes loops, but who doesn't want two different pedals to fill precious space on their pedalboards!

Image: Boss RC-1 Loop Station



The Boss RC-1 Loop Station is the simplest and most user friendly Loop Station ever... besides being tons of fun! With 12 minutes of recording time to capture any performance you can possibly imagine!

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Features:

  • Straightforward and easy to operate
  • Newly designed loop indicator displays the current loop mode (Rec/Overdub/Play)
  • Runs on a single 9-volt alkaline battery (approximately 4.5 hours of battery life)
  • Can be used with an optional AC adaptor (PSA series: sold separately)
  • 12 minutes of stereo recording time
Image: Electro-Harmonix Nano Looper 360 Pedal





This new Electro-Harmonix looper pedal offers great looping possibilities in one small, affordable package: besides 360 seconds of looping time, you can record up to eleven different loops, and select them via a rotary knob. This is fun, easy to use and a great new addition to the Electro-Harmonix range.

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Features:

  • 360 seconds of loop recording time which can be divided into 11 different loops for maximum control and flexibility
  • High quality sound and unlimited overdubbing with no degradation in fidelity
  • Uncompressed audio, 24-bit A/D/A and 44.1kHz sample rate
  • User-friendly layout makes recording a loop, overdubbing, undo-redo and erasing a loop quick and easy
  • Rugged die-cast package
  • 9.6DC-200 EHX power supply included
Image: TC Electronic Flashback X4 Delay & Looper TonePrint Effects Pedal













The Flashback X4 features a dedicated tap tempo footswtich, 3 presets available by the other three footswtiches, 4 tone print slots and excitingly a built in 40 second looper with undo function

On the rear of the unit, there are options for connecting MIDI, USB and an expression pedal, as well as stereo inputs and outputs.

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Features:


  • Expands the compact Flashback pedal into a four-pedal option
  • Features 16 delay types including Tape, Tube, Space, Analog, Analog with Mod, Reverse, Dynamic, 2290, 2290 with Mod Slap, LOFI and Ping Pong
  • Four slots for importing signature TonePrint presets
  • Controls for Delay Type, Delay Time, Feedback, Delay Level and Looper Level
  • Three footswitches for choosing presets
  • Fourth footswitch for Tap-Tempo control
  • When Looper is enabled, footswitches change function to Record, Play/Pause, Play Once and Undo controls
  • 40-second looper recording length
  • Connections for MIDI, USB, expression pedal and stereo jack input and output
Image: TC Electronic TonePrint Flashback Delay & Looper Pedal


















The Flashback delay features 6 seconds delay time of every delay type you could ever wish for, from TC Electronic’s legendary 2290 to a slapback, with 10 different types to choose from and it also doubles as a 40-seconds looper!

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Features

  • TonePrint- instant access to custom pedal-tweaks made by your idols!
  • 11 delay types including looper - expansive delay options from subtle repeat to total time-warp
  • Audio Tapping - set delay times by simply strumming your guitar!
  • 6 seconds delay - all the delay time your playing could ever need ... and then some.
  • Stereo in & out - for added flexibility to your set-up
  • True Bypass - zero loss of tone
  • Analog-Dry-Through - maximum tonal integrity and clarity
  • Delay Time, Feedback and Repeat controls - for total control of your delay sounds
  • Spillover on/off - super-smooth and natural transitions between sounds
  • Easy battery access - makes changing batteries fun! (well, almost)
  • Small footprint - save precious pedalboard space
  • High quality components - only the best will do when it comes to tone
  • Road-ready design - ready to follow you wherever your playing takes you
TC Electronic Alter...








































Near-perfect recreation of some famous vintage delays, including Binson Echorec, Echoplex, Roland Space Echo RE-201 and Watkins Copycat, plus a generous 40-seconds of looping time. An amazing pedal!

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Features

  • Twelve exclusive gorgeous Delay sounds, lovingly crafted
  • TonePrint® enabled
  • Beam enabled
  • Pedal simple - don’t read, rock!
  • Three Presets
  • Tap Tempo
  • 16 Delay Types
  • 40 second looper with undo/redo function
  • Independent loop and delay engines
  • True Bypass (optional buffer)
  • Analog-Dry-Through
  • Expression pedal input
  • Stereo inputs and outputs
  • MIDI enabled
  • Subdivision selector including dual delay
  • 9 Volt DC power supply included
  • Humongous headroom

Delay Settings
  • Binson Echorec 1
  • Binson Echorec 2
  • Electro-Harmonix blue face Deluxe Memory Man (chorus)
  • Electro-Harmonix blue face Deluxe Memory Man (vibrato)
  • Tel-Ray Super Organ Tone
  • TC Electronic 2290 with modulation
  • Reverse delay with modulation
  • Boss DM-2
  • Watkins Copicat
  • Maestro EP-2 Echoplex
  • Electro Harmonix Echoflanger
  • Roland RE-201 Space Echo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TC Electronic Alter Ego V2 Delay Pedal

TC Electronic Alter...








A simpler, more compact and affordable version of the x4 Alter Ego, equally reproducingthose vintage delay sounds, and also giving you 40 seconds of looping time.

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Features:
  • TonePrint® enabled
  • Beam enabled
  • Pedal simple - don’t read, rock!
  • Audio Tapping
  • 10 Delay Types
  • 40 second looper
  • True Bypass (optional buffered)
  • Analog-Dry-Through
  • Stereo in- and output
  • Spillover on/off
  • Easy battery access
  • Small footprint
  • High quality components
Zoom G1ON Guitar Effects Pedal














The Best Buy is the Zoom G1ON Guitar Effects Pedal at the moment, a multi-fx pedal with 30 seconds of looping time and costing under £50. Great for beginners or for someone who just wants to experiment with loop on the cheap.

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  • 5 effects, including distortion, compression, modulation, delay and reverb
  • Up to 5 effects can be used simultaneously, chained together in any order
  • 100 memory locations (10 banks of 10) for the storage of user-created patches
  • Copy and Swap functions make patch organization a breeze
  • Auto Save function for automatic saving of all patch parameters
  • Pre Select function allows you to scroll through patches silently while keeping the current patch operational
  • Onboard chromatic tuner supports all standard guitar tunings, including open and drop tunings
  • Looper feature for the recording of up to 30 seconds / 64 beats of CD-quality audio with seamless start and end times



Loop Station World Championship 3 With Boss

The title of world's best loop pedal artist (player?) has been handed out again at the House Of Blues in Anaheim. Won by British beatboxer Shlomo (check him out below) in 2011 the Loop Championship has been growing in popularity and it's easy to see why. With some staggering instrumental and technological acrobatics being performed, even if you're not big on the idea of loop pedals yourself then you can't help but marvel at someone composing a full arrangement in real time only using their voice. Here's current champ Grison from Spain doing just that...



In the past ten or so years the use of loop pedals has grown massively, with ever more complicated arrangements being constructed from number of any number of sources. Traditionally loopers only had a jack input for guitar/bass but more recently XLR inputs have been added for microphone use. So from solo beatboxers through guitar based songwriters to classical multi-instrumentalists now anyone can get in on the act. This has led to some mind blowing performances and indeed Boss established the Loop Station World Championship in recognition of this, loop pedal artists from around the world compete to get to the the final at NAMM every year and ultimately become the greatest loop pedal performer. Here's the gear and info you need to become king of loops.

Sound On Sound

It's easy to take things for granted and forget just how far we have come with recording technology. These days you can record countless channels simultaneously, apply FX and overdub on the fly on a device that fits in your bag. Many moons ago in a time before digital technology things were very different and being able to overdub on a recorded backing track was enough to get you a slot on prime time television. So it was with the late and truly great Les Paul (Lester Polsfuss to his mum) who is largely credited with being the inventor of sound on sound recording. Here's a break down of how he recorded 'How High The Moon' with Mary Ford, taken from the wonderful documentary 'Les Paul: Chasing Sound!'

Of course Britain had it's own great innovator in the form of Delia Derbyshire, described by the Guardian as 'the unsung heroine of British electronic music'. Back in the 60's and 70's the BBC was on the cutting edge of innovation in sound and synthesis, most notably composing the utterly futuristic Doctor Who theme tune. Certainly the most famous early example of electronic loops and of course the only way to get a sound on a continuous loop in those days was to literally run a spool of tape in a loop, check out the video below. Without Delia we might never have had house music, The Chemical Brothers, Kraftwerk or Gangnam Style (perhaps not such a great loss there).

Skip To The End

There were many developments in digital signal processing from the 60's through to the early 80's but things don't change significantly for loopers until the digital sampler becomes truly affordable with the introduction of the Akai S900 in 1986. Early pioneers such as Trevor Horn (producer for The Buggles and Frankie Goes To Hollywood), Herbie Hancock and the Pet Shop Boys all had an impact but these sampled loops might now be seen as a bit of a gimmick, perhaps most famously by Paul Hardcastle on his hit single '19'.

Eventually the whole musical landscape changed with the use of samplers, dance and hip hop dominated the charts and airwaves. However they still mostly concerned themselves with taking short musical phrases from old funk, soul and rock records. It wasn't until solid state memory and digital processing became small enough and cheap enough that we started to get the loop samplers we recognise today. Of course there are still fantastic modern samplers from companies such as Akai and Roland.

Best Loop Pedal Performances

We've seen increasingly ambitious use of loop pedals since their invention, whether it's a guitar, violin or a looping howl that's being recorded there is some amazingly proficient and technical use of loopers going on out there. It's probably easier to show some examples of great loop pedal performances and we'll stick to what we're good at and let you know how you get your hands on the gear to do the same.

Here's the amazing Alex Hutchings delivering a mind bending performance with a GR-55 guitar system, RC-300 looper and computer. A whole arrangement with guitar, synth, keys and even drums being played on the guitar.

Other Super Looper Performances

Artist What They Do Video Gear Used
Jamie Lidell An early pioneer of pure vocal looping, with many of the tracks on his 'Multiply' album being just his voice looped. We can see a small format Boss looper here as well as one of their vintage delay pedals. Complete the sound with a little combo amp.
Ed Sheeran Perhaps the most famous looper of them all. Combining a great voice with superb guitar/looper chops! As we've reported previously Ed uses an RC-20XL looper. Now replaced by the RC-30.
Shlomo Winner of the 2011 Loop Station World Championship. Not just a phenomenal beat boxer but uses the looper as an instrument in itself. Can be seen using an RC-50 (now RC-300) in this performance from the Loop Station World Championship. Might just be the best beatbox performance ever.
Andrew Bird Multi-instrumentalist Bird creates whole complex arrangements with an array of instruments. Uses a DL4 in this TED talk demonstration, along with a huge array of other pedals by the looks of things. A multi effects would be a good accompaniment for a huge range of sounds.
KT Tunstall Grammy winner KT Tunstall gets her freak on. A simple but effective looper setup based around the Akai Headrush E2.
Dub FX Shows ho to create a full-sounding performance using just his voice, some effects and new Boss Looper.
Simple setup: microphone into Boss GT-10B Multi FX Pedal (to alter the sound of his voice) and then into the new tabletop Boss RC-505 Loop Station.










TC Electronic Ditto




Akai E2 Headrush
Supremely affordable and comes in a great dinky enclosure which will fit on any pedal board. If you just need straight, simple looping then the Ditto is for you.
  • Small and affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Great price!




Seamless transitions between looped phrases make the JamMan Solo XT an invaluable tool for composing and performing

  • Store over 35 minutes of stereo, CD-Quality loops in 200 internal memories
  • Optional micro SDHC card can store over 16 hours* of CD-quality audio in 200 additional memories
  • Aux Input lets you import music from CD and MP3 players
  • Load up the JamMan with bass lines, drums, harmonies, and more; create an entire backup band, take it with you, and perform anywhere!

Not just a straight looper the Headrush is also a great tape delay simulation. Get those dub reggae repeats and Pink Floyd textures.
  • Two footswitches for looping.
  • Tap tempo.
  • Dedicated outputs for each tape head on the delay.




Performance Loopers - Under £250

There's some serious competition in this price range, containing dedicated loopers with massive memory and backing tracks, exciting performance loop pedals with inspirational effects and combined delay/loopers which allow you to get really creative.


Boss RC-3 Loop Station Pedal
TC Electronic Ditto X2 Looper Effects Pedal
TC Electronic Ditto X2 Looper Effects Pedal
Something of an industry standard for straight up looping. Masses of built in memory allowing up to three hours of stereo recording.
  • Undo/Redo functionality.
  • USB Connectivity.
  • Rhythm Guide - drum backing tracks.
  • Can operate on a 9v battery or a power supply.
  • Aux Input.





The TC Electronic Ditto X2 Looper Pedal takes the winning formula of the original Ditto and adds stereo I/O, dedicated stop/clear, FX (reverse, speed) and Loop import/export. You might think that means sacrificing the core simplicity and sound quality of the original pedal, not so as TC Electronic keep the true bypass, analogue dry through and 24bit audio.

  • 5 minutes of looping
  • Fade parts out, then bring them back with ease
  • Unlimited overdubs
  • You can now reverse loops or slow them down to ½ speed
  • Preload your perfected loops for a gig, bring backing tracks and easily
    export loops into your favorite DAW
  • Stereo In/Out
    Another much requested feature, your loops can now go nice and wide


.
More than a straight looper the VDL1 can apply FX to the live and recorded signals. These can then be manipulated in real time with the expression pedal. Put down a rhythm part, reverse it then lay down a distorted wah solo on top for a huge, trippy sound! Also available: the Vox Lil' Looper Pedal, a more affordable version.
  • Two independent loops can be recorded (up to 90 seconds combined).
  • 11 Pre-effects for live playing.
  • 11 Effects for the recorded signal.
  • Expression pedal for live manipulation.
  • Mic input.



Best Performance Looper Pedals

Great Delay And Looper Pedals

If you're on the market for a great, versatile delay pedal, but also fancy experimenting with looping, these are the best pedals for you. however, bear in mind that these are not dedicated looper pedals - loop is just another feature, so they more often than not will have less looping time: 40 secs with the Boss DD-7, for instance, compared to 5 minutes of the Ditto x2. But, in most cases, 40 seconds is more than enough, anyway!


Line 6 DL4 Digital Delay Modeler

Electro-Harmonix Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai

VOX DelayLab Delay Effects Pedal
Image: Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal
Boss DD-7 Digital Delay Pedal
A modern legend from the masters of gear modeling. The DL4 gives you 16 delay models, presets, true bypass operation and a quality looper in one large format pedal.
  • Get a tape, tube or BBD delay sound or get even deeper with huge wall of sound delays!
  • Tap tempo.
  • True Stereo operation.


An instrument in and of itself. The Memory Man gives you delays and a looper. Because the looper is dedicated you can actually record delay effects on the looper. This can give you a massive psychedelic arrangements, all via your pedal.

  • Tap tempo.
  • Intelligent reverse echo.
  • Echo filter.
  • Preset functionality.


A simply staggering number of effects have been crammed into the Delaylab. With 30 digital emulations of classic delays and wholly new inventions. The Delaylab is a cutting edge pedal.
  • Combine Loop and Delay effects simultaneously for exciting performances.
  • True stereo operation.
  • Preset functionality.
  • Tap tempo.


One of the most popular delays around, this pedal is an updated version of the older model DD-3 Delay, which is still popular but does not feature looper.

  • Expanded delay time, up to 6.4 seconds
  • Vintage-style delay sounds as well as clean, modern digital delays
  • Tap tempo controllable via external footswitch
    Delay time, feedback, and effect level can be controlled via external
  • Expression pedal (sold separately)
  • Up to 40 seconds of recording for sound on sound (Hold mode)


The Best Loop Pedals Money Can Buy

If the loop pedal is going to be central to your setup then you're going to want large memory, lots of dedicated controls as well as great features. Here's Dolphin's pick of the best loop pedals.

Greatest Loop Pedals Right Now

Line 6 JM4 Looper
Boss RC-505 Loop Station
Boss RC-505 Loop Station

Boss RC-30 Loop Station Pedal

Boss RC-300 Loop Station
  • Four dedicated footswitches.
  • Numerous presets and built in backing tracks.
  • Amp models and effects for guitar or vocals on the XLR input.
  • SD card support.
  • Headphones out.
  • Undo feature.
  • Built in tuner.
Although floor-based Boss Loop Stations are perfect for street performing or on stage, not everyone wants to use their feet to keep the show rolling.

The Boss RC-505 is a table-top Loop Station that fits right into a busy DJ booth or club environment, making it ideal for beatboxers, singers, and club performers.
  • Full stereo operation, stereo I/O and tracks for recording.
  • Built in loop FX.
  • Mic input with Phantom Power.
  • Rhythm guide with real drums for backing.
  • USB 2.0 connectivity.
For the dedicated looper who demands nothing but the best performance loop pedal.
  • Three stereo tracks with dedicated footswitches and controls for each.
  • Dedicated fader per track.
  • Expression pedal for effects control in real time.
  • 16 onboard effects optimized for looping.
  • XLR Microphone input with phantom power.
  • USB storage; import/export WAV files.
  • Import .Wav audio files from PC or Mac
  • Auxiliary Input mixes MP3 players with the loop output
  • Stereo mixdown track frees tracks for re-use
  • Overdub or punch in/out recording
  • Quantize or non-quantize (free running) modes
  • MIDI Clock Sync as master or slave
  • Most user parameters are MIDI controllable
  • USB port enables backup/restore with PC or MAC

 
 
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