By now you must have seen videos of a performer doing something like tapping out a rhythm on the body of their guitar, stepping on a pedal on the floor, and then suddenly the rhythm is playing ad infinitum.
Then, once they have the groove going, they add guitar part after guitar part–stacking them up before finally singing a melody over all the layered and repeating parts. Well, the piece of gear they are utilizing to accomplish this is called a looper and there are so many on the market now that it can be difficult to assess what one might be right for you. Thankfully, we are here today to go through eight different devices on that are available so that you can make an informed decision about which one you might want to give a spin. Additionally, we are going to go ahead and give you our call on what is the overall best of the eight in terms of being just the general all-around ideal pedal for across-the-board looping applications.
Our Rating of the Best Looper Pedals
- Ease of operation.
- Just one knob and foot-switch.
- The ability to not merely undo the last loop but also redo if you decide you want it back.
- 24-bit sound quality.
- The ability to export from the pedal to the computer.
- Add tracks (like drums), and then import back into the pedal.
- Unlimited overdubbing.
- There are many user reviews of the product not working and of the software having issues.
- It also appears that the software is only available for PC.
This is actually one of several looper pedals that Rowin has on the market.
It appears that the software for uploading your loops to your computer is only available for PC.
The redo function (to recall your last loop after you have deleted it) is a great feature of the pedal.
Rowin’s Looper Guitar Pedal falls into the budget class of looping devices that, like the Donner Tiny Looper, keep the frills to a minimum. The pedal has an in/out, one knob, and one foot-switch–all cased in a small package. It boasts of ten minutes of recording time with unlimited overdubbing.
You also have the ability to export loops from the device to your computer, add whatever you like (bass, drums, etc.), and import it back into the pedal. It’s a nice feature but seems like a lot of trouble to go through. It also seems that the software is only available for PC, which is a letdown.
Probably the most exciting feature of the pedal (one that separates it from others in its price range) is the ability to not merely undo your last loop, but then recall it if you change your mind about its deletion.
There doesn’t appear to be many complaints online about the Rowin’s sound quality with the recorded loops, which gives the pedal the edge above other pedals we have reviewed in this round-up in the under $50 range.
- A much more intricate design of loop pedal than the RC-1.
- With features like tap tempo.
- the ability to set individual volume settings for your playing vs the loop.
- Adds the ability to use an expression pedal.
- Saves loops for future use (like a live performance so you don’t have to do the loop from scratch every time).
- More to learn than necessary if someone wants a simpler looper.
- More expensive than RC-1 at $179, but a lot more features.
Boss’s Loop Station pedal has become so ubiquitous and iconic among musicians that loop tracks, there was even a well-known band out of San Francisco for years named after the device.
The pedal has a lot of features which may not be necessary for someone just wanting to get their feet in the world of looping.
For features, price, sound quality, and durability–it would be hard to find a better looper pedal.
The Boss RC-3 takes everything great about the RC-1 (except the nifty circular LEDs) and adds the best features of almost all the other pedals on this list. You get ten types of rhythms, two-volume controls (for the rhythm and the loop), the ability to import/export your loops to a computer, and takes recording time to an astounding level at a whopping 3 hours.
An exciting feature of the pedal that really sets it apart is that you can store your loops in the pedal with 99 presets, so that you can recall loops on the fly–eliminating the need to build layers from the ground up every time.
- It is very small with only one knob and one switch to worry about.
- Very inexpensive.
- Half-speed and reverse playback.
- USB and MicroUSB connectors for downloading recordings to a laptop.
- A good introduction looper due to cost and ease of operation.
- Playback appears to be fairly low quality in some pedals.
- The software only works with Windows.
The Donner Tiny Looper is just one pedal in a full line of mini pedals offered by Donner that also includes a phaser, delay, and wah. Each pedal retails for around $50 or under.
Simplicity in controls, ease of use and affordability could make this a fun starter pedal for looping.
First off, Donner’s pedals are tiny and we do mean tiny. This new little buddy of yours would take up very little room on your pedalboard. It also couldn’t be simpler with its controls–just an in/out, one knob for level, one toggle-switch (to decide on the loop being in reverse, at half-speed, or normal), and one footswitch.
A USB and MicroUSB output gives you the ability to upload your loops to your computer which is a nice touch. You would be hard-pressed to find a better looper for the price and its simple controls make it an ideal pick for someone that wants to add looping to their arsenal, but don’t need all the bells & whistles of the more expensive pedals.
While the manufacturer does advertise the looping rate at being at 24-bit, there does appear to be some sound quality variance from pedal to pedal. There have also been reviews of consumers having their pedals stop working after a short amount of time. Another potential drawback is that the software runs on PC or Mac, but only using the Windows operating system.
In one demonstration video, the sound quality of the loop sounded a bit lo-fi, so there may be some sound quality inconsistency pedal to pedal.
- 24-Bit superior sound quality of looped parts.
- 40 rhythm loops so you aren’t relegated to just scratching out rhythm loops on your guitar.
- 99 internal presets.
- 8 hours of recording.
- True bypass or buffer bypass.
- Tap tempo.
- Cabinet simulator for direct out to a mixer.
- Separate volumes for rhythm & loop.
- Adding drum pattern later–adjusts playing to match tempo.
- Finish Mode.
- It would be a better option to have the additional A/B footswitch housed in the same pedal.
- The A/B footswitch’s size causes concern that it could get lost if not affixed to a pedalboard.
NUX has been at it with looper pedals for a while with their 16-bit-quality Loop Core pedal. The Loop Core Deluxe is the company’s first foray into the 24-bit-quality realm.
The A/B footswitch expander is small and easily lost in a gigbag.
Being able to not only create loops but have adjustable drum machine rhythms play along with you makes this unit not only fun but potentially a really useful practice tool.
If you are on the look-out for a looping pedal that also can give you rhythm options to work out your parts with, all in an affordable package, this looper is a rock-solid choice.
The pedal offers the pristine 24-bit sound quality of your loops along with 40 different drum patterns with a range of genres from rock to jazz. A thoughtful touch is that it has two volume knobs so that you can alter the relationship between your loops and the drum machine rhythms. Another hip feature is that the rhythms adjust to your playing. Smart.
There is also a Finish Mode, so that you can incorporate a fade-out at the end of your performance. An included A/B footswitch adds even more control and versatility.
- It is a true bypass pedal, in that when it is not engaged.
- It does not use power or suck any energy from your sound
- Can be used to switch between two different effects signal chains or amps.
- Inexpensive price.
- It is absolutely not a pedal for recording loops and with the name can easily get confused as one (hence it being part of this review).
TTONE is the manufacturer of this pedal. They are a small company that focuses primarily on DIY homebuild effects kits.
This is not a loop pedal and is not what you are looking for (presuming that you are reading this because you are looking for a pedal that you can make loops with) It is more of an A/B switch, if that is helpful for you.
TTONE is a company worth checking out and their analog tremolo, delay, and fuzz pedals look like fun projects to take on. They also make a triple foot-switch version of this pedal, so an A/B/C switch.
It turns out that this pedal is not actually a looper at all, but an A/B switch. If you are here to find a looping device, this is not it.
- A band-in-a-box type pedal.
- Allows you to “teach” your band by introducing apart and then the pedal plays back to drum and bass parts in time with what you were playing.
- You can then pick from several different genres of drum patterns, opt to have simplified or more intricate bass lines, and then loop guitar parts on top.
- You can also have things set to cue different parts so that you can switch between verses and chorus arrangements.
- Extremely intuitive design for such a powerful device.
- limited looping time (230 seconds).
Along with BOSS, Digitech has been one of the most trusted names in the pedal business for many years now.
The pedal lacks the features one might look for in a dedicated looper, since that is not the true focus of the unit.
The pedal is an excellent choice for someone that can benefit from a band-in-a-box unit with the added benefit of some looping capability.
If this round-up were naming the best overall pedal of the bunch (looping aside), this one might take the cake. With Digitech’s Trio+, you have the ability to loop a guitar part and then the pedal will assign drum and bass parts for you, playing along with you in perfect time. Once things get going, you can assign the style of the drum and bass parts, even make different sections of a song for a seamless performance. You even have the option of intricate bass parts or simplified ones (just riding the root note, for example). It is a truly remarkable little box. However, the looping amount of time that is available to you (a total of 230 seconds) prevents one from recommending it as the best overall looping pedal.
- 12 minutes of stereo looping.
- Rugged construction.
- Ease of operation makes for a great introductory pedal.
- Circular LEDs make knowing where you are in a loop a breeze.
- No loss of sound quality.
- Around $100.
BOSS compact pedals have been around and immensely popular now for over 40 years.
As great as the RC-1 is, you may eventually feel the need to upgrade to its big brother, the RC-3.
At around $100 dollars for a powerful pedal from a trusted company, this pedal will be a great choice for most diving into looping.
BOSS is arguably the gold-standard in road-proof pedal construction and this pedal is no different.
It is sturdy enough that it is sure to give you years of worry-free playtime. Its color is appealing as well as the organization of its LEDs assures that you can see it easily on stage in a dark club. The RC-1 keeps things as simple as possible to get you going.
One level knob and a circular LED display to know where you are with the length of your loop. It also has some basic instructions on the pedal itself (Stop: Press Twice, Clear: Press & Hold > 2 secs) if you forget what to do during a gig. It is also a true stereo pedal with dual in/outs.
You also are unlikely to find a looping pedal in this price range that offers this amount of stereo recording time for your loops–a whopping 12 minutes! The bundle comes with additional goodies like a polishing cloth, some picks, a patch cable, and an instrument cable.
- Extremely intensive.
- Well thought out reverb and delay unit.
- You have the ability to do everything under the sun you might imagine with two separate channels of delays and reverb.
- The looping section of the pedal is definitely not meant to be the main selling point here.
- 44 seconds of looping time compared to more looper-centric units.
Mooer has an extensive line of pedals, including dedicated loopers like the Groove Loop.
While an incredible unit, the Mooer Ocean Machine is not the way to go if you are looking for a dedicated looper pedal.
If you are looking for a device that can give you all manner of otherworldly sounds from many reverb/delay options and how to combine them (along with some looping capability added to the mix), look no further.
This pedal was developed over years by Mooer along with Devin Townsend, solo artist and former front-person for extreme-metal band Strapping Young Lad. It is, in essence, three or four pedals in one.
It has an extensive reverb unit, two independent delays, and the looping section. There are nine different types of reverb, from standard varieties like Hall & Room for much more esoteric options.
Topping that in the delays, you have 15 types of delay to choose from and with two actings independently, you can make quite the whirlwind of sound.
A neat function of the unit is that you can step on the foot-switch when the effect is activated and freeze the effect so that reverb and/or delay sustain, allowing you to play some phrases over it. It really is a remarkable unit for reverb and delay.
That all being said, this probably isn’t the ideal choice for someone that is looking for a dedicated loop pedal. The looping section of this unit is sort of just icing on the cake, not really its focus. This is confirmed by its rather low looping time for a unit in this price range (44 seconds).
When deciding what was overall the best looping device of the bunch, there were several factors to consider. The price of the unit compared with the features it offered was one.
If it was intuitive enough for beginners, but powerful enough that you weren’t likely to outgrow it. Then, obviously, how much of the unit was dedicated to actually looping, thus disqualifying the New True-Bypass Looper and calling into question the pedals where looping was not the primary focus.
With all that to consider, we would have to say that the BOSS RC-3 is the way to go. As much love as the RC-1 gets, once you get adept with it, it is easy to imagine that you may want some other features. As stated in its review, the RC-3 takes the good things about the RC-1, puts those on steroids, and then adds on nearly all the features we loved about the other looper pedals in this review.
Add all that to BOSS’s unparalleled construction, superior sound quality, and all for under $200? It is a clear choice that the BOSS RC-3 is the right pedal to go with if you are looking for a dedicated looping pedal.
This was, by no means, an exhaustive overview of all the looping devices available on the market today. There are tons out there with more seemingly coming out every week. There is always room to go bigger too, with Electro Harmonix’s 95000 Performance Loop Laboratory (unveiled at 2018’s winter NAMM conference) being one such example.
That being said, we hope we have given you a solid overview of some of the best of what is available in the compact pedal format. We feel confident pointing you towards Boss’s RC-3 for most readers looper pedal needs. In fact, Boss has sold more than 1 million of its LoopStation pedal since 2001, so we think you are in pretty good hands.
- Our Rating of the Best Looper Pedals
- 1. Rowin Looper Guitar Pedal – Editor’s Choice
- 2. Boss RC-3 Loop Station Bundle – Best Straightforward Looper Under $50
- 3. Donner Tiny Looper Guitar Effect Pedal – 10 minutes of Looping 3 Modes – Best Down & Dirty Budget Looper
- 4. NUX Loop Core Deluxe Upgraded Guitar Loop Pedal – Best Looping Pedal For Having Rhythms To Play Along With For Under $200
- 5. New True-Bypass Looper Effect Pedal – Most Misleading Pedal Name
- 6. Digitech TRIOPLUS Band Creator and Looper – Best Looping Device For A One-Person Band
- 7. Boss RC-1 Loop Station Bundle – Best Starter Pedal That You May Never Need To Upgrade From
- 8. MOOER Ocean Machine Premium Dual Delay Reverb and Looper – Best Pedal For Making An Incredible Wash Of Sound Where Looping Is Secondary
- Buyer’s Guide
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