If you love Tash Sultana, Ed Sheeran, or Kurt Vile, something they all share is a great looper pedal. Here are 10 of the best in 2021.
Whether you’re jamming out in the bedroom writing riffs, or getting on stage with your acoustic guitar and creating multiple layers of sound, the right looper pedal is integral to optimising your performance.
Brian Eno and Robert Fripp may have launched what we know as guitar ‘looping’ into the world in the ’70s, but today there are so many varieties of pedals on offer. From single switch pedal-board friendly models to behemoths that can double as NASA’s mission control, finding something that suits your needs and flexibility can be hard.
Whether you hunger for simplicity of workflow, or a plethora of looping and arranging options, there’s something in this list for every player.
Pigtronix Infinity 3
Launched in June 2021, the Pigtronix Infinity 3 somehow extends upon the musical possibilities of its illustrious predecessors. Some loopers offer simple operation and simply stack loops upon one another — which is fine for plenty of situations — but if you’re after a comprehensive tool for crafting entire musical works, the possibilities offered up by the Infinity 3 are, well, infinite!
Multiple loops lengths, parallel and series playback (which is like a ‘song’ mode in a sequencer), the ability to send one source to a loop while the other bypasses it, and even sample rate tweaking for jumping octaves and halving or doubling playback. This is the looper that has it all — and if you’re keen to invest your time in learning it, it will reward you handsomely.
See Pigtronix for more.
Mooer Audio Groove Loop
Mooer Audio Groove Loop combines simple looping tech with a drum machine, 8 grooves with 2 variations, each with its own level control, giving you a simple and effective bedroom tool for writing tunes.
The Groove Loop won’t railroad you though — three different modes named Looper, Drum, and Drum + Looper means you can use this as a standalone looper as well. With 20 minutes of record time, tap tempo, and a pocket-friendly size, it is a neat addition to a composer’s pedal collection.
More info at Mooer Audio.
TC Electronic Ditto+ Looper
TC Electronic is no stranger to the looper market. It has been 7 years since the introduction of the classic Ditto, and now TC Electronic has plugged in more features into the Ditto+. The main con of the old Ditto was that you would lose your tunes if you started a new loop — that’s been fixed by adding onboard storage!
With 60 minutes of record time, a new hi-res LCD display, and unlimited overdubs, you can loop to your heart’s content. Importing and exporting is an easy USB connection and a simple drag and drop system. With no nightmarish menus, you can simply select which of the 99 loops you’ve saved and hit go. Offering all this in the same pedalboard-friendly size, true-bypass, and analog dry-through that you might already know and love.
Full feature and specs list at TC Electronic.
NUX Loop Core
Building upon their original loop design, this turbocharged model sits nicely above other small format pedals in ‘bang for buck’ value. The original covered all the basics in a versatile looper pedal, and this version is now filled with 40 built-in drum patterns 99 personal-user memory. Together with 6 hours of record time, it’s an interesting contender.
Noteworthy features include a tap tempo and the ability to change the tempo in recorded phrases without changing the key. Low latency phrase switching, auto-start mode that waits for you to put a signal in before Loop Core starts tracking, and USB connectivity allow you to add your own MP3s by using the free NUX Audio Converter software.
Read more at NUX.
Digitech by Harman Trio+
Test the limits of AI with Digitech’s Trio+. Plug in your guitar, and let the pedal automatically generate bass and drums parts for you! All this can be done by just pressing on the ‘band’ footswitch. Pick from 12 genres and then a further 12 styles for each, and hey presto, you’ve two new bandmates that won’t talk back to you.
Notable features include bass and drum parts that have an individual level control, 3 bass line controls from simple to busy. Trio+ can learn up to 5 different song parts to allow on-the-fly changing of sections if you choose. Storage is managed by flash storage on an SD card that is included in the package, and if it’s not enough, you can upgrade. To manage all this, the free Librarian Manager software is available from Digitech.com for both Windows and Mac.
Get into more of the nitty-gritty specs at Digitech.
BOSS got into looping in 2001. Two decades on there’s a reason they’re still being used by performers all over the world. From buskers to the big stages, the RC5 is one of the most powerful small-format looper pedals with incredible 32-bit depth sound quality, 13 hours of record time and stereo in/out, to mention just a few features.
With 57 preset rhythms and 7 different drum kits, the RC5 is packed with songwriting and accompaniment tools. Other functions like reverse can be used to create some interesting textures, adding in external hardware like expression and MIDI foot pedals provide greater depth to control. All with a neat LCD display to show you what you’re doing in real-time, there’s no wonder it’s a staple.
A full rundown of its potential is at BOSS.
VOX Lil’ Looper
VOX has been quite inventive with their pedal series — from their wahs to their multi-FX units. The Lil’ Looper places it right in the middle of a super affordable price range and has plenty of tools to create interesting textures, be it in the writing stage or performing stage.
7 hours of battery life gives you the freedom to loop on the go, a mix of distortion/overdrive and modulation effects that can be applied to whatever signal you desire, whether that be guitar, bass or vocals.
More details at VOX.
Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper
Electro-Harmonix has a few looper pedals on offer, but the 720 Stereo Looper strikes a balance between building upon the old tech and aiming at different needs and versatility, featuring 12 minutes of stereo recording time in 24-bit, 10 loop memory banks with some creative performance functions.
It has stereo in/out which can be paired beautifully with any of EHX’s modulation pedal range that outputs in stereo, a buffered-bypass, and silent footswitches. A couple of notable features are its reverse and 1/2 speed function allowing you to instantly tap into some Jimi Hendrix style solos or get that tape slowdown effect.
Head to Electro-Harmonix for more.
Boomerang Looper Rang III
The Rang III by Boomerang Looper is a powerful contender for large format looper pedal stations. Another 24-bit 48k capable unit with 1-2 more loops available than the Infinity Looper bringing its potential total to 3-4 loop banks. 4 distinct playstyles each with its own level control, ranging from a tradition looper to build a song’s structure, to more rhythmic building on other loops and can all be played simultaneously to achieve some serious soundscapes.
Maximum recording time varies but can be up to 35 minutes depending on what level of quality you have selected. All of this fits into a rugged steel chassis ready to knock around on your next gig.
For full specs and functions head to Boomerang.
Entering into the fray is arguably one of the most complete looper pedal stations, offering a ridiculous level of control over anything you need to loop. At over half a meter wide, there is a lot on offer from the RC-300, including but not limited to 3 hours of internal recording at CD quality, 3 stereo tracks with a dedicated footswitch control for each, and 16 onboard effects for more than just guitars, along with an expression pedal input for further hands-free control.
Included in this goliath package is BOSS’ auto-quantize function, a drum machine to keep time, the independent reverse of each track, MIDI sync, and more. An array of input connections included XLR as well as a jack, a built-in audio interface over a USB connection to stream audio to your computer and store/recall your loops. All of this astoundingly runs off a single 9V AC adaptor
Head to BOSS for the complete rundown.