It’s safe to say that looper pedals have steadily been gaining traction in the past couple of years. With the resurgence of the singer-songwriter (a.k.a the one-man-band) phenomenon, more and more people are ditching their bandmates in favour of looper and multi-fx pedals. These tools have the power to create a layered live performance that wows the audience.
Let’s face it – thanks to the wonders of technology, things are much easier nowadays. In the not so distant past, creating a loop effect meant that you had to cut the actual tape and lay it back together with sellotape. Fast forward to 2019, and you can purchase a looper pedal that can replace a whole set of musicians! Amazing, right?
Table of Contents
- What exactly is a loop pedal, and what does it do?
- Guitar players can greatly benefit from purchasing a loop pedal.
- TC Electronic Ditto Looper Pedal – Best Guitar Loop Pedal
- Electro Harmonix 720 Stereo Looping Pedal
- Boss RC 3 Loop Station
- Digitech JamMan Stereo Looper
- Vox Lil’ Looper Multi-effects Pedal
- Digitech Jam Man Solo Xt
- Pigtronix Infinity Looper
- Ammoon Nano Looper
- Zoom G1on Guitar Multi-Effects Pedal
- Line 6 JM4 Looper Pedal
- Donner Looper – Cheap Looper Pedal
- Boss RC- 300 Loop Station
- How do you use a looper pedal?
- How much should you spend on a loop pedal?
- What do you need a looper pedal for?
- Are you planning on solely using your guitar with the looper pedal, or are you thinking of doing more than just that?
- What’s the minimum recording time that you most definitely need?
- Are you going to use the loop pedal at home, or are you planning to use it during live performances?
- What is the difference between stereo and mono looper pedals?
- What are the best looper pedal brands?
What exactly is a loop pedal, and what does it do?
Well, we’re here to answer those 2 questions. Simply put, looper pedals serve as a grab-and-go mini studio that can record your instrumental/vocal part and play it back to you in an instant. You have complete control over your sound, and you can easily record, stop and playback a musical passage using a footswitch.
Guitar players can greatly benefit from purchasing a loop pedal.
First off, you can use it to hone your soloing technique. You can solo your heart out by merely recording a couple of chords to jam with. What’s more – it’s an excellent tool for songwriting. Record a couple of chords, overdub some cool riffs, and you’re good to go. It’s also an excellent tool for practising timing and rhythm. Last but not least, a looper pedal allows you to recreate a live band during performances.
Are you super indecisive when it comes to pedal shopping? Don’t worry; this blog post has got you covered (you can thank us later!) since we’re running down the 12 best looper pedals on the market.
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Looping time: 5 minutes
Power Source: 9V DC negative centre power supply which needs to be purchased separately
Dimensions: 4.83cm x 4.83cm x 9.40cm
The Ditto pedal from TC Electronic is ideal for those musicians who want to get started in the looping game, but don’t want to spend a tonne of money on a pedal that’s too complicated to use.
This 5-minute looper has got a single loop level knob that controls the playback volume, making it super easy to use. Furthermore, TC Electronic’s analogue dry-through signal path does not distort your sound in any way, meaning that the original sound created using your guitar and effect pedals is left untainted.
The recorded parts are also decent-sounding since this mini machine records the loops as uncompressed 24-bit audio. Moreover, TC also incorporated the true bypass option to make sure that there’s zero high-end loss when you decide to switch this pedal off.
The Ditto looper should definitely be on your list if you’re looking for a compact, easy-to-use, professional and reasonably-priced pedal. It combines sound and aesthetic, and it’s perfect for the guitarists out there who prefer straightforward pedals.
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Looper: 10 separate loops
Looping time: 12 minutes
Inputs: 2×1/4’’ (left & right), 1x ¼’’ (external foot controller)
Outputs: 2×1/4’’ (left & right)
Power: Battery option 9V & PSU
Dimensions: 5.72cm x 10.16cm x 12.07cm
Electro-Harmonix are widely known for their affordable and good-quality pedals. This looper pedal is no different. The 720 stereo looper is an intuitive and powerful machine that can be used in the studio and during live performances.
You don’t need to be wary of its affordable price since this looper’s A/D/A conversion is decent. The looped sound is recorded at 24-bit conversion and 44.1kHz sample rate, meaning that you’ll barely hear a difference in sound quality between the looped and non-looped sound.
It’s an ideal tool for experimentation since it allows unlimited dubbing. Furthermore, it offers the possibility to save 10 loops, which you can access at any point in time using the loop knob controller or the optional 3-button footswitch.
Other funky features? We are totally in love with the fact that you can loop 2 instruments simultaneously! Yes, you heard that one right! Furthermore, it’s got an ‘undo’ and ‘redo’ feature that empowers you to control your performance. Other worthy mentions include the ‘reverse’ and ‘½ time’ options, which are perfect for those of us who love experimenting with their sound.
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Looper: 99 phases
Looping time: approx 3 hours
Inputs: 2 x 14’’ instrument; 1 x ⅛’’ auxiliary
Outputs: 2 x ¼’’
USB: 1 x Type B
Power Source: 9V DC power supply which needs to be purchased separately; Battery Option (9V)
Dimensions: 6.1cm x 7.37cm x 19.95cm
The RC3 is another excellent product from BOSS which allows you to capture your ideas in a jiffy. If we could describe this Boss Looper in a few words, it would probably be ‘a songwriter’s perfect tool’.
With 99 memory locations, you don’t need to worry about not having enough space to save your ideas. Furthermore, it’s not just a guitar pedal, since you can easily connect stereo instruments, like synths, to it.
Additionally, the in-built drum patterns enable you to create songs on the fly. What’s more – the ⅛’’ input allows you to connect your mobile phone to this pedal, empowering you to expand your horizons and incorporate other samples and effects. Furthermore, we also love the USB option, which facilitates the transfer of your recorded sounds to your PC.
Last but not least, it’s quite compact and fits perfectly in any pedalboard configuration. Plus, who doesn’t love a nice shade of red?
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Looper: 99 phrases
Looping time: 35 minutes
Inputs: 2 x instrument, 1 x XLR, 1 x ⅛’’ stereo
Outputs: 3 x ¼’’
Dimensions: 7.34cm x 17.02cm x 17.37cm
This Digitech JamMan stereo looper is an updated version of the 2005 JamMan looper. This new and improved version is promoted as being ‘ready for anything’…but is it?
The JamMan stereo looper offers the opportunity to record up to 35 minutes of looped material. It’s good to note that the JamMan boasts CD-quality audio, which is a definite plus. Furthermore, it’s got 99 internal memory spaces, that can be boosted by simply popping in an SDHC card.
This Digitech product is ideal for different types of musicians: it’s an excellent tool for vocalists since it offers a balanced XLR microphone input, fully equipped with specialised gain control. You can also use this pedal if you’re a DJ – we can guarantee that you’ll love the reverse playback mode. If you’re a guitarist, bassist or a one-man-band, you’ll love the textured layering that this pedal empowers you to create.
This looper extends beyond the pedalboard. You can easily connect it to your PC via USB, and tweak and organise your loops using Digitech’s Loop Librarian software (included in the package)…perfect for all the tech-head musicians out there!
Looper: 2 loop phrases
Looping time: 3 minutes
Inputs: 1×1/4’’ (instrument); 1×1/4’’ (mic)
Power source: Battery Option (6XAA Included)
Dimensions: 6.20cm x 16.48cm x 14.40cm
We’re talking about loopers here, but it’s good to note that this lil’ machine is also a multi-effects pedal. It comes fully equipped with a whole suite of high-quality effects, and an easy-to-use looper that enables you to create an intricate and multi-dimensional performance.
You can record 2 independent loops that can be sculpted thanks to 2 separate controllers – meaning that you can create 2 completely different parts without having to rely on other musicians. Furthermore, its quantize function polishes your performance to a tee so that you don’t need to worry if timing isn’t your strongest point.
We love the fact that it also incorporates a couple of effects that users can experiment with. These sound effects are specifically designed for vocals and guitars and include classic and high-quality simulations that do not disappoint. We’re particularly impressed with the radio low-fi mode, which distorts your vocals in a very innovative manner.
Other worthy mentions include the fact that this pedal is highly portable and thus, perfect for touring. What’s more – we’re crazy about the battery option, which enables you to play wherever and whenever, without having to rely on a wall plug.
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Looper: 99 phrases
Looping time: approx. 35 minutes
Inputs: 2 x instrument, 1 x ⅛’’ (stereo)
Outputs: 2 x ¼’’
Dimensions: 2.13’’ x 2.75’’ x 5’’
It’s no secret that the Digitech brand specialises in loopers. The JamMan Solo XT is the smaller version of the JamMan Stereo Looper (also on this list). It’s a compact, but still, super professional looper pedal that’s perfect for any musician out there who wants to avoid the hassle of carrying a large pedalboard.
It enables you to record up to 35 minutes of CD-quality, stereo recording that can be used in the studio and during live performances. Furthermore, if you’re a natural organiser, you’ll be glad to know that the XT has 200 internal memory spaces up for grabs.
If this isn’t enough for you, you can pop in a microSD card to boost your total recording time to 32 hours, while adding another 200 slots to the mix. Other notable features include its in-built metronome, auto-quantise, auto-record and adjustable BPM functions.
This smaller version enables the user to tweak and further organise his/her loops externally since it can be connected to a computer via USB. Additionally, as a Digitech pedal owner, you can download the Loop Librarian software that enables you to edit to your heart’s desire.
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Looper: 2 X stereo
Looping time: depends on the size of the SD card
Dimensions: 3.81cm x 18.79cm x 11.68cm
2.0 Firmware Update features:
50 presets, midi CC overhaul, remote switch options, active MIDI tracking, advanced expression pedal mapping, vari-speed and a minimum loop time of 10ms
The world is your oyster with this Pigtronix Infinity Looper. This versatile pedal allows you to incorporate the limitless facet of a professional studio during a live performance. Furthermore, it’s not just a guitar looper – its excellent features make it an ideal purchase for any musician out there.
On its most basic level, the Infinity owner gets the unique opportunity to create 2 stereo loops that can be played simultaneously, and to boost the pedal’s internal memory by sticking in an SD card. The Sync Multi-controller enables you to record a second loop (that can run in parallel or in series to the first loop) that can be up to 6 times the length of the first loop.
Moreover, the ‘playback’, ‘overdub’, ‘undo’ and ‘redo’ functions allow you to tweak and sculpt your recorded loop to the max. Now if that doesn’t empower you to create a Grammy-award winning song, we don’t know what will!
Another distinct feature is its accurate MIDI sync function, which enables you to sync your loop to a variety of other sources. Additionally, the high-quality audio format allows you to transfer your recorded loops to your studio rig in no time!
Stereo or mono: Mono
Looping time: 10 minutes
Inputs: ¼’’ monoaural jack
Outputs: 1×1/4’’ mono jack
Power Source: 9V DC power supply, not included
Dimensions: 7.62cm x 4.06cm x 4.57cm
To loop or not to loop? That is the question. This super mini-sized Ammoon looper is an easy-to-use and affordable option for all those looping newbies out there. It enables you to check whether looping is your cup of tea, without having to spend a tonne of hard-earned cash on an expensive looper pedal.
With a recording time that’s super decent for its price and build (10 minutes!), this nano looper empowers you to start dipping your toes into the brave new world of looping. It allows you to overdub to your heart’s content, and also includes functions such as ‘undo’, ‘redo’ and ‘delete’ which come in handy.
What’s more – it’s got a straightforward knob that enables you to control the output volume. Furthermore, it comes fully equipped with a true bypass function, making sure that the sound you produce is crystal clear, even when you decide to switch this pedal off.
Last but not least, our favourite feature has to be the USB cable. As a user, you can use this to upload and download audio files to and from your personal computer. Pretty neat for such a cheap looper pedal!
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Number of effects: 100
Number of simultaneous effects: 5
Looper time: 30 seconds
Input: ¼’’ mono phone jack
Aux in: ⅛’’ mini stereo phone jack
Output: ¼’’ standard stereo phone jack
Power source: Battery option; 9V; 4AA
Dimensions: 15.5cm x 14.6cm x 4.3cm
In its essence, this Zoom pedal is a multi-effects pedal that also incorporates a decent looper function.
It offers 100 guitar effects, 68 built-in drum patterns, and the ability to use 5 effects simultaneously. In addition to all of these features, it’s got a 30-second CD-quality looper that adds an interesting element to this multifaceted effects pedal.
This Zoom guitar effects’ biggest selling point (apart from its affordable price) is the fact that its looper is better than we initially expected. Sure – it only allows 30 seconds of performance, but it’s recorded in HQ 16-bit 44.1kHz audio format.
Additionally, you can set the recording time or the number of bars manually – which is a super handy feature that prevents any unplanned mishaps on stage. Furthermore, starting and stopping the looper is very easy since you’re only required to press the ‘rec’, ‘play’ and ‘stop’ buttons.
Another noteworthy characteristic is the fact that the Zoom G1on looper can be used in tandem with the wide-range of in-built drum patterns. Drummers, move away, ‘cos you’re gonna be replaced!
Looper: 100 phrases
Looping time: 24 minutes
Inputs: 1 x instrument, 1 x XLR, 1x ¼’’ (auxiliary)
Outputs: 3 x ¼’’, 1 x ⅛’’ (headphones)
Power Source: Battery powered(4 x C), Power supply (included)
Dimensions: 6.10cm x 25.4cm x 15.24cm
This Line6 looper enables you to go from practice session to creative performance in a jiffy. It’s fully equipped with a myriad of jam tracks that will take your playing to the next level.
It’s good to note that these jam tracks were created by actual musicians (top L.A. and Nashville musicians too!), meaning that it enables you to hone your guitar chops alongside some of the best musicians in the biz. Pretty cool, right?
The looper has an easy-to-use interface, enabling you to record, stop and overdub using the in-built footswitches.
Additionally, the SD card feature allows you to boost the 100 memory slots available on the physical pedal and to edit your jams on your computer. Other essential features include the 3 tone controls, the in-built tuner, and, last but not least, the 12 Line 6 amp models that transform this looper into a powerful multi-fx unit.
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Looper time: 10 minutes
Input & Output: ¼’’ mono audio jack
Power Source: 9V DC (not included)
Dimensions: 7.5cm x 3.6cm x 4cm
This Donner Tiny Looper is the definition of what portability is all about. Donner pedals combined creativity, innovation, affordability and portability to create a mini pedal that is truly exciting!
First off, it’s got 10 minutes of looping time, as well as the opportunity to record an unlimited number of overdubs. Moreover, it’s got a decent undo/redo function that empowers the musician to have a certain degree of control over his/her performance.
Additionally, this Donner looper allows a certain degree of tweaking. Its straightforward level knob enables the user to control output volume. Additionally, the 3 inbuilt models (½ speed, normal & reverse) empower the user to experiment and sculpt a unique sound.
Our favourite aspect of this mini looper pedal is the fact that you can import and export loops using your PC (44.1 kHz, 24 bit, below Windows 8). Pretty neat for this bang-for-your-buck pedal!
Stereo or mono: Stereo
Looper: 99 phrases
Looper time: approx. 3 hours
Inputs: 2x instrument, 1x CLR, 1 x ⅛’’ Stereo
Output: 2 x ¼’’
Dimensions: 7.62cm x 53.66cm x 23.18cm
The Boss RC-300 is considered by many to be at the very top of the list when it comes to professional looping stations.
In our opinion, the Boss Loop Station is perfect for those musicians who like to take complete control of their sound.
It’s got the option to record, playback as well as control 3 individual stereo tracks with separate transport-control footswitches. With a master expression pedal, a 3-channel mixer, volume controllers for each independent channel, 16 inbuilt effects that have been crafted specifically for looping, and MIDI I/O, it’s safe to say that you can loop like a boss if you purchase the RC-300.
Its price reflects its high quality. Therefore, we can highly recommend this Boss looper pedal if you’re set on transforming your solo act into a one-man-band, or if you’re planning to take your sound to the next level.
FAQ’s about Looper Pedals
How do you use a looper pedal?
Looper pedals can serve as excellent practice tools for those individuals who are seeking to better themselves as musicians. For starters, it offers a myriad of opportunities to improve timing and to practice soloing. Before using a looper pedal, it’s highly suggested that you get used to the ticking sound of the metronome. Learning how to play in time will definitely help you when it comes to starting and stopping your loop, as well as prevent a whole timing mess. While the loop pedals on the market are all different, they usually all have a footswitch or multiple footswitches that are used to record, start and stop the loop. Your looper may also feature ‘undo’, ‘redo’ and 'overdub' functions which come in handy when layering guitar parts.
How much should you spend on a loop pedal?
Thankfully, there is a wide range of loop pedals out there that can cater to different budgets. Before you set your mind on a super expensive and sophisticated loop pedal, here are some questions that you need to ask yourself before making any rash decisions.
What do you need a looper pedal for?
Figuring out how the looper pedal fits in your guitar regime and lifestyle is super helpful when it comes to making a well-informed decision. Are you planning to create a one-man-band? Are you a professional, touring musician who's looking to elevate your live performance? Or maybe you’re a newbie guitarist who just wants to practice with a backing track.
Are you planning on solely using your guitar with the looper pedal, or are you thinking of doing more than just that?
While the average guitarist uses his/her looper pedal to spice up his/her guitar playing, there’s a group of musicians out there who use it as an extension of their studio. If you belong to the second group, you should prep to raise that budget.
What’s the minimum recording time that you most definitely need?
The loop length depends on the pedal’s model, functions, and memory. Loop pedals on the lower end of the price spectrum usually have a memory and recording length that’s set in stone. On the other hand, the more expensive pedals generally have an SD card slot that enables you to boost the recording length to some degree.
Are you going to use the loop pedal at home, or are you planning to use it during live performances?
This is another aspect you need to consider. If you’re using the looper pedal during live performances, you will undoubtedly need to consider portability, in addition to sound quality. For home use, you can afford something clunky that doesn’t yield the best sound results. Additionally, opt for something a tad more complicated if you’re planning to use the looper pedal in the studio.
What is the difference between stereo and mono looper pedals?
Stereo pedals split the signal in a way that produces two different types of outputs - which can be processed separately. This is particularly useful in the studio since you'll be able to create a fuller and richer sound that you won’t get with a mono pedal. If you run a stereo rig, it’s super important that you purchase a stereo looper, or else you’ll be very frustrated when it comes to positioning your looper pedal in your effects chain.
What are the best looper pedal brands?
Without a shadow of a doubt, BOSS is widely considered as the best loop pedal brand on the market. The company has a wide range of looper pedals that cater to different types of musicians and skill levels. Digitech is another top contender. This brand primarily focuses on versatility and cutting-edge technology, especially when considering their high-end looper pedal models. Other worthy mentions include Vox, Electro Harmonix and TV Electronics.
Looper pedals are pretty amazing. There’s also the pedal type of the moment. A tonne of famous musicians and songwriters have recognised the power of this technological tool, and are using it to write some of their most adventurous material. If you’re still unsure, we’re facilitating your decision by pinpointing the looper pedals that are best suited for particular categories of musicians.
If you’re looking for simplicity…
Let’s face it. Not everyone is interested in technical intricacies. If you want something simple and straightforward, we can 100% recommend TC Electronic’s Ditto. While its footswitch can be viewed as limiting, it’s as simple as you can get and it certainly does its job. It’s also very affordable, and you can start experimenting without spending a lot of money on a high-end looper that you would never use, anyway.
-Its affordable price (it’s under a hundred bucks, people!)
-It’s simple and straightforward. It’s only got 1 footswitch 1 controller
-5 minutes of recording time
-It’s a compact, mini-pedal that won’t take up a lot of space
-An aesthetically pleasant pedal
-The single footswitch may cause some confusion during live performances
-Loops cannot be saved
-Recording time can be seen as a limitation
-No external footswitch
If there’s any pedal that can replace the Ditto, it’s the BOSS RC-1 Loop Station. It’s got a couple more features, and best of all, it’s in the same price range. The RC-1 offers 12 minutes of stereo recording time and is still very straightforward and easy to operate. Additionally, you can purchase a separate footswitch – making things a bit more organised when performing live.
Now we’re on to the next category: if you’re looking for flexibility…
The BOSS RC-30 is a staple. However, we picked the lesser-known Digitech JamMan Stereo since it offers a lot of flexibility in terms of the loops that you can formulate.
The innovative 4-footswitch setup comes in handy during live performances. Moreover, there’s the possibility to connect an external footswitch.
-35 minutes of recording time
-SD card slot
-Stereo input and output, XLR input and aux input
-3 stop modes (stop, finish and fade) which, in our opinion, is a unique characteristic that you don’t find very often
Last but not least, we’re crowning the top high-end looper pedal. Ladies and gents, we can confidently and proudly present the Boss RC-300.
The Boss RC-300 has a serious number of options, including but not limited to many inputs and outputs, a dedicated fader per track, and 16 onboard effects. What’s more – there are 8 inbuilt footswitches…plus the option to add external footswitches! Moreover, we simply love that you can set up 3 loop tracks which can be controlled independently using dedicated controllers. Yes, you heard that one right. Talk about pluralism! It’s no wonder that the RC-300 is considered by many to be the top looper pedal in existence!