6 Best Looper Pedals
In the array of pedals out there, all with different effects, this is one that you’re likely to overlook if you don’t give it much thought. It’s not a necessity, I mean, all it does is record some tune you play and plays it on a loop for you. Pretty simple, right? Why would you need a pedal for that? Add to that a frustration that a lot of people get when they can’t get the recording part right, followed by a quick sale or return (and a lot of salt on the internet, of course).
Well, I’m here to tell you that whether you played for years, or you’re just starting out, this is an item you’ll want to have. A looper pedal is an invaluable practicing tool for anyone from a newbie still struggling to hold his fingers in place during a chord to a pro working on a new song. It’s the pencil and paper of the guitar world.
We’ve selected some of the top looper pedals currently on the market for different price ranges as well as their overall performance.
Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper
Best Value Pick
Electro-Harmonix have created a compact and affordable, yet powerful and top-quality pedal that managed to make its way on our list of top looper pedals – the 720 Stereo Looper.
This pedalboard-friendly stompbox offers up to 10 loops with up to 12 minutes of uncompressed sound recording. The 10 simultaneous loops can all be accessed via a knob, and with the help of a digital display, you’ll be able to sort everything out. Via the two footswitches you’ll be able to stop, undo, redo, and loop, and you can always add a third, external switch via a foot control output. To spice things up, Electro-Harmonix have added the half-speed and reverse functions to this looper pedal, giving you a chance to further play with your creations and traverse into new musical realms.
Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper is a very easy to use looper pedal, and this is one of its biggest qualities, making it beginner friendly, while also offering a thing or two for the advanced player. You should definitely check out this little stereo beast.
Nux Loop Core
Best Newbie Pick
Nux Loop Core is one of the cheaper looper pedals on this list, but this shouldn’t discourage you at all. It’s actually one of the best options for the musician on a budget who’d like to keep the price low but still get a little extra out of his pedal.
Nux have definitely done the extra mile with the Loop Core, giving it a metal and durable casing, 6 hours of mono or stereo audio, and 99 memory slots for storing your recorded jams. If this wasn’t enough, it features tap tempo (with a total of 40 rhythm patterns already assigned to the looper pedal, out of the box), and an external pedal can also be plugged into the looper pedal, giving you more control. A USB port gives you the opportunity to import or export your favorite loops via PC. While possessing only one footswitch, you won’t have to be bothered by having to use it for all the functions. This looper pedal has a dedicated save button for your recordings, as well as a delete button if you’d like to get rid of some loops. The up and down buttons will walk you through the small digital display, so you can pick your recording.
Overall, this is one of the best practice pedals, and the ease of use makes it a great beginner looper pedal. For a hundred bucks you’ll get a high-quality product with a small pinch of that high-end feeling we all strive for.
Top Budget Choice
Now, this bad boy isn’t a true looper pedal, but looper is one of its options, and we thought that it deserved a place on this list due to the fact that it can boost your creativity to the limits, while recording and exploring all the effects it has to offer.
Having trouble with coming up with a great solo for one of your songs, or trying to overcome that creative block that’s been bothering you for some time? Zoom are here to help, with the G1on multi-effects pedal. Having to choose from over 100 (yes, a hundred) effects, there is little that this pedal can’t do to help you with your songwriting. As for the looper – the reason why we’re all here – it will provide you with 30 seconds of recording while letting you explore all the effects that the pedal has to offer (some of them being modulation, reverb, delay, distortion). 30 seconds may sound a little limited, but the pure fact that you’ll have so many effects at your disposal compensates for the lack of time. The backlit LCD screen will let you easily browse through your favorite effects and options. What’s more, you’ll be able to craft your own effects, as well as save them and use them in loop recordings.
If you’re always struggling with creative chaos, blocks, or you’re looking for more inspiration and possibilities, while also being able to loop and record your findings, the Zoom G1in will be the perfect tool for you.
Mooer Micro Looper
Another looper pedal for the musician on a budget comes from the English company Mooer. They specialize in creating quality audio processors and digital audio effects. Their looper pedal, the Micro Looper, will be a great companion for practicing.
Mooer Micro Looper is very small, and with minimalistic controls – it has a level knob, and a footswitch, that’s it. But this is more than enough for what they offer. You can record up to 30 minutes of content with unlimited overdubbing times. Record, stop, playback and overdub can be done with the use of the footswitch only, giving you a hands-free experience, and the LED light will change colors (red and blue) depending on the function that you’re using. True bypass is also present with this looper pedal, letting your original signal pass through it, but we would not recommend using it while performing live since it produces a click sound when turning it off.
With a great and durable design, the Mooer Micro looper will be able to provide you with hundreds of hours of guitar practice, and will not let you down for a long, long time.
Pigtronix Infinity Looper
Pigtronix have come up with the perfect looper pedal for the performer – Infinity Looper. And the best part is, it’s not solely designed for guitarists, it can be useful for any type of stage performer – DJ, synth player, bass player. Your band will surely be happy to have one.
Pigtronix Infinity Looper pedal is very simple to use – you’ll be able to record, play, stop, overdub and undo/redo the two of your loops, and each one has its dedicated footswitch. There is also one footswitch for stopping and deleting. With the Sync multi-function you’ll have another loop at your disposal next to the one that’s already playing, and you can either play them in parallel, or in series. MIDI sync is also supported. The latest Infinity Looper Firmware update added 50 loop presets into the pedal, with a total of 100 maximum presets that you’ll be able to create. You’ll also be able to reverse your loops, individually, as well as change their pitch for up to 3 octaves.
When it comes to inputs, the Infinity Looper had two separate inputs and outputs for two instruments, so that you and your band can do your magic on stage. The AUX output lets you play your loops separately on stage monitors. There’s also an expression pedal output, giving you even more control over your stage performance.
Being one of the best stage looper pedals out there, Pigtronix Infinity Looper may come at a bit higher price tag. But, since it’s designed to be used by a band, and more than one musician at the same time, you and the rest of your band may want to think about investing together in one of these.
BOSS RC-300 Loop Station
BOSS have long since made clear that they want to be the kings of music effects, and they may have created the ultimate loop pedal station, the RC-300.
This monstrosity comes with 8 (yeah, eight) footswitches, as well as a built-in expression pedal – and there is even more space for another, external, expression pedal, giving you more control on the fly. You can record, loop and control three separate tracks, and each track has two footswitches assigned to it (rec/play and stop). It can hold a total of 3 hours of recorded material and has 99 memory slots. There is one footswitch for play/stop all tracks, and an FX pedal is also included – did we mention that this pedal also has 16 built-in effects that you can use while recording? The USB port gives you the ability to import and export WAV files, and have your tracks and loops stored up nice and tidy externally. While we speak of connectivity, there are also AUX and Mix ports. This big boy is very easy to use, having a display that shows exactly what’s currently going on.
While the BOSS RC-300 Loop Station comes at a very high price tag, all the functions and connectivity justify the price, really – it’s like a mini studio. If you’re looking to spend your hard-earned buck on one of the most complete looper pedals out there, you can easily end your search here and get this one.
Things You’ll Want to Know Before Buying a Looper Pedal
Like we’ve mentioned in previous articles about other stompboxes, there are always certain features and characteristics that you need to look out for before you choose your pedal. Some of them are just your preference, while others can be a mark of poor quality or craftsmanship.
If we take away the looks and design (which do matter after a fashion), you want to get a pedal that’s built like a tank, because this is one you’ll be stomping a lot if you’re using it properly. Another major factor you want to check is the quality of the recording – if it’s not authentic to the sound of your guitar, and the rendered sound is a bit off, you’ll want to skip that one immediately
Next thing you want to look at is some additional options and features. A lot of beginners sell their looper pedal in frustration a month after they bought it because they just couldn’t get the right loop timing. Pushing buttons at the right time is the biggest challenge when you’re starting out, so you want to get a loop pedal that will have tap tempo or a rhythm function. More advanced pedals even have additional rhythms that will let you set your tempo up front and help you smooth out your recording process.
Still, at first – it’s best to just focus on the quality of the recording and not worry too much about the extra features.
What is True Bypass?
I just mentioned that you should be focused on the quality of sound coming out of the looper. Well – this is it. True bypass feature allows your tone coming out to match the one coming in from the guitar, eliminating interference. It’s something to pay attention to since looper pedals with this feature are generally more reliable.
Loop Length and Memory Storage
When it comes to loop length, it’s quite simple – any looper with a loop length up to 1-2 minutes should be enough to meet anyone’s needs, and even the most affordable ones can go a lot higher than that.
For storage, on the other hand, you might want to give it some thought. If you’re just using the looper for practice and some light composing you don’t need to dwell on this a lot. Every looper pedal can store your recording long enough to fit your needs.
However, if you don’t want your loop to get erased each time you start a new one or when you have to turn the looper off – you should invest in a pedal that has internal storage. Some advanced models even have an SD card slot where you can store your recordings for later use, or load them up from your PC.
So, You Think You Can Dance?
If budget is a non-issue for you, then you can skip this part, as you can probably afford a looper pedal with three or more switches. Two and above can help you navigate the recording, stopping, erasing, overlaying with relative ease compared to the alternative.
They will save you from sitting in solemn silence while deciding which morse code signal you have to send with the footswitch this time so it could do what you want, which is the only option you have when you’re working with just one. Is it the one tap, the double tap, the long hold? This exercise will, however, have a profound effect on your tibialis anterior muscle, so you might as well learn some tap dancing moves too, while you’re at it.
To save yourself the trouble, you can always plug in more footswitches to most smaller loopers and simplify your dance steps.
Mono / Stereo Option
Just like delay pedals [insert delay article link at bolded text], if you want to play through separate amps, you’ll want to take the stereo variety. This variety will also let you add a microphone, and pretty much anything a microphone can record – voice, drums, crickets, zoo animal noises, and other fun stuff to add to your loops.
A lot of looper pedals will only allow you a single loop that you can play over. While this is just fine if you’re new and are using the looper as just a practice tool, it becomes an issue whenever you’re looking to do more. If you want your looper to help you record more complex songs, a multiple loop feature is a must-have.
Loop Effects – Yay or Nay
Some of the more advanced models have additional features like reverse or lo-fi that are more or less useless other than for fun and won’t really be used more often than once or twice before you never use them again. But, not to be overly judgy – perhaps in the future, someone will find a decent use for them through a lot of experimentation.
What’s The Average Cost of a Decent Looper Pedal?
Now that we’ve covered most of the features you’ll want to check out, let’s discuss the budget. If you want a decent single footswitch looper with basic effects, you can get one for under $100. For a price range of say, $100 to $300, you can get multiple footswitches, some memory storage and some additional effects thrown in the mix. Most pedals above that price range will include almost everything you’d ever want from a looper pedal, along with some things you probably don’t, but the added versatility and quality will make you a one-man-band performer with relative ease.
Should I Try Getting a Used Guitar Looper?
In the case of most pedals, unlike guitars, I’d always suggest going new. Unless you know your way around the bits and pieces of electronics inside the box, you’ll be better off grabbing a new one that you can return or replace. If you have an electrical engineer handy (or if you’re the engineer), then by all means – you can get some great deals out there.
How to Use a Looper Pedal?
Well, you just buy it, plug it in and voila.
Nevermind, let’s elaborate a bit – if you have other pedals, you want to place it at the very end of the chain, just before the amp. The looper pedal is not an effects pedal, it’s a recorder, so you want it to record every previous pedal effect you chose to use. I’d also recommend a pedalboard if you have 3 or more pedals and I’m sure we’ll be reviewing some of those in the future.
Another relevant suggestion would be to tap your foot a bit while playing and create a rhythm for yourself before you stomp on the looper (even if your looper has tap tempo). You’ll need some time to get the hang of it, but once you do – you’re off to the races!
There are some great things you can do with a looper, so let’s suggest a few in an ascending order of complicated:
- You’re a beginner and can’t get your chords/riffs right? Record them and hear which notes you’re choking off, and play them again until you get the sound right.
- You want to make a solo for the rhythm you just came up with, or want to practice a solo from a song you really love? Check.
- Want to put some scales over your chords, or play harmonies to your solo to see how it would sound? Check
- How about adding voice, bass and/or keyboards to your loops for a full one-man band experience? Check
- Need to find enlightenment? Sorry, it can’t help you there.
These are all some basic suggestions, and there’s plenty of talented people out there (some of which have youtube channels), making some spectacular music using loopers. Hell, Ed Sheeran even made a career out of using loopers, along with some great singing of course.
Well, if you managed to get this far, it means you really feel like getting a looper pedal would be a good choice and I salute you for it. Take another look at the list, check your wallet or bank account (or check with your parents, heh) and get down to business!
Jason Swartz is CEO of Alliance Talent, he’s helped stars like 2 Chainz, Lil Jon, and Ludacris earn anywhere from $150 to $500K a year in passive income through this proven methodology.
Both guitars have been played by guitar legends such as Eric Clapton, David Gilmour, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Root, and Keith Richards.