Best Looper Pedals – Buyer’s Guide

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New sound with looper pedals

Most guitarists don’t like complexity. Musicians prefer to use simple, proven instruments and gears. But when it comes to music experiments and the search for a new sound, you have to step out of your comfort zone. People have been playing guitars for a long time. The first gears appeared over 50 years ago. Throughout the existence of guitar music, every sound has been extracted and found. Therefore, young and even experienced musicians have to turn to non-standard guitar gears in order for their music to become remarkable. In this article we’ll explain how to get the most out of your looping pedal.

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What is a looping  pedal?

Let’s start by talking about what a looping pedal is? Looping pedal is way simpler than most guitar players think of it. In essence, it is a sort of recorder that records a moment that the guitarist is playing and then immediately starts to play it back in sequence. There are a large number of looper pedals on the market at the moment. They differ in basic parameters, but are similar in the way they are controlled. Typically, there are one or two footswitches on the front panel of the looper pedals. Let’s take a look at the control mods using looper pedals with one pedal as an example. Usually, when a guitarist pushes a footswitch, looping  pedal records a played sound. When the guitarist pushes it again, the looping  pedal immediately starts to play the recorded loop. When the guitarist pushes a footswitch again, it overdubs over the initial recording. To stop playing it’s enough to hit the footswitch twice. If one holds the pedal down – it erases. As you can see, most people overthink looping  pedals. But why do some looping pedals use two footswitches? They are needed for better user experience. In this case, the second footswitch is usually used to stop recording, and a long press is used to delete the recorded loops. Pedal assignments may vary depending on the brand and type of looping pedal.

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Comparison table

It is difficult to make a choice in favor of one or another looping pedal. Each gear has a different record time, number of overdubs, controls and memory slots. In order to make the choice easier, we have prepared a comparison table that will help you make a balanced choice.

Pedals Record time Overdubs Loop control Sound quality
TC Electronic Ditto X2 5 min. unlimited LED indication high
MXR Clone Looper 6 min. unlimited LED indication high
BOSS RC-1 12 min. unlimited Advanced LED indication high
Mooer Micro 30 min. unlimited LED indication middle
TC Electronic Ditto 5 min. unlimited LED indication high
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TC Electronic Ditto X2 – Best All-Arounder and Most Powerful gear

Ditto X2 is the natural choice for musicians who are serious about their gears and interested in finding unique sound in conjunction with height-level user experience. TC Electronic Ditto X2 takes most worked features from the older “Ditto Looper” like the simplicity and height-quality sound. But TC Electronic Ditto X2 is a new, more powerful device that adds some professionally selected features that make it perfect both for live performances and for guitar players who want to master looping.

Design

TC electronic is a Danish company. Like all Danes, the engineers of this company prefer a strict appearance. This feature of the Danish mentality is embodied in the strict forms and restrained colors of TC Electronic Ditto X2. The pedal is made in gray. The robust metal case, made of impact-resistant aluminum, is designed to extend the life of the TC Electronic Ditto X2 for a long time. The appearance of the TC Electronic Ditto X2 resembles a device for military use.

Controls

The front cover houses two metal switches, two footswitches, two LED indicators and a large volume controller made of durable plastic. Pedals with two foot switches are great for live performances and gigs. This is due to the fact that it is inconvenient to count the number of presses on one single footswitch during the show. It is much easier to have multiple footswitches available. While the left footswitch functions as a looper pedal, the right footswitch can be configured. The right footswitch can act as a loop effects pedal. To select the operating modes of the right footswitch, there is a right toggle. Just select between “Reverse”, “Half Speed” and “Stop” on the FX toggle switch. The left toggle is responsible for recording and playing loops. And this is another feature of TC Electronic Ditto X2 – the ability to connect and use with a computer. The right toggle works in two modes: “Store” and “Level”. “Level” mode allows you to take pre-recorded sound pieces from the PC or notebook and load it directly into Ditto X2 using the USB port on the back side. Guitar players can create their own loop using their favorite DAW or upload an entire song. In TC Electronic they created a great backing track package in collaboration with “Jam Track Central ” that owners of  Ditto X2 get for free when they buy the pedal. In “Store” mode a guitar player can upload recorded loops on the computer or delete them with the long holding of the knob.

Features

At the core of TC Electronic Ditto X2, you’ll find an amazingly simple looper that is built by guitar players for guitar players. So what buyers get first is an impressive looping time. It is a maximum five minutes which are available for recording. Considering the fact that on average a music track is 3-4 minutes long, this time is quite enough to realize any creative idea. Next, there are unlimited overdubs available in Ditto X2. For a full-fledged music track in most cases 4 or 5 layers will be enough. But the unlimited overdubs option will help to decorate the melody with short sounds or melodies. “Undo/Redo” option will help quickly correct mistakes and return to the previous step without having to start recording from the very beginning. The ability to store the loop even after the pedal has been turned off is another useful feature of the TC Electronic Ditto X2. Sometimes the creative process is delayed and you want to pause without losing your work. Ditto X2 allows you to do this. Such options as true bypass and analog-dry-through make this pedal a diamond among other looping pedals. In addition, there is a hidden extra feature inside Ditto X2. Most loopers on the market generally fall into one of two categories. Either they want the looping sequence to be “Loop, Play, Record”. But the other half gives “Loop, Overdub, Play”. TC Electronic engineers added a little dip switch inside the battery compartment that allows them to choose which mode must be run.

Connecting methods and power supply

TC Electronic Ditto X2 features stereo inputs and outputs, which means that it integrates perfectly into stereo guitar systems. All inputs and outputs, including the USB output, are located on the rear panel. The input for the 9V power adapter is also located there. Also the manufacturer added the option of running Ditto X2 off with two batteries for extended performance time. The battery tray is located on the bottom side of the pedal.

Recommendations

TC Electronic Ditto X2 was indeed designed by guitarists for guitarists. It has all the benefits of the best looper pedal. A rugged case, reliable controllers and footswitches, built-in effects, two footswitch modes, and the ability to load and save samples with the computer are all a guitarist needs to create distraction-free music. Long recording times and unlimited overdubs will help you concentrate only on the music. The only drawback of this pedal, which not all guitarists will be able to measure against, is the lack of loop control indication. But is this really a cons, given so many proses?

Positive
  • durable casing;
  • inbuilt effects;
  • two footswitches;
  • two operating modes;
  • PC connection (upload/download loops);
  • stereo jacks;
  • lack of loop control indication;
Negatives
  • lack of loop control indication;
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MXR Clone Looper – Made for freestyle performance

Design

MXR Clone Looper was created by engineers for musicians who love improvisation. They do now, that guitar gears are made to help musicians, not distract them. And the MXR Clone Looper is designed to be helpful and non-distracting. Minimalistic, austere design. Nothing extra. The size of the logo is slightly larger than the size of the labels. The body is made of durable aluminum. The foot switches are made of metal. The only plastic piece is the volume controller. The MXR Clone Looper is good in everything but size. It may seem to many that it is too small for constant use.

Controls

The MXR Clone Looper is equipped with two footswitches. The left footswitch operates in two modes – recording and overdub. The right footswitch also operates in two modes – play and stop. The only controller is centered. It controls the volume of the signal. There are 4 indicators on the front cover. The “REC / DUB” LED is solid red when the left footswitch is active. The “PLAY / STOP” indicator lights up green when the right footswitch is active. When the time of the recorded loop ends, the right indicator starts blinking. The other two indicators are responsible for the reverse and speed modes. All inputs and outputs are located on the back. First and last jacks are input and output for amp and guitar. In the center is the input for the 9V DC adapter. The other two jacks are needed to connect external expression pedals.

Features

With the MXR Clone Looper guitar player will get 6 minutes of high quality high sound recording with the unlimited  layers or overdubs. To start the record just press the left footswitch labeled “REC / DUB” once. In order to stop recording and instantly start playback, you need to press once on the right footswitch labeled “PLAY / STOP”. Pressing the “PLAY / STOP” footswitch again will stop the loop. In order to record a new layer over the recorded loop, you need to re-press the left footswitch “REC / DUB”. The left indicator glows red during recording. During playback, the right indicator glows green. The central controller is responsible for the volume. But it’s not just a controller – the volume knob is actually a button at the same time. It operates in three ways: “hold”, “one tap” and “two taps”. By holding the controller reverse mode is activated. Single tap activates a half speed of the recorded loop. Double tap activates a double speed of the recorded loop.  The operation of each mode is accompanied by indication.

Recommendations

The MXR Clone Looper is recommended for those guitarists who are looking to buy a simple and functional looper pedal. MXR Clone Looper sounds great. It doesn’t take long to master. It is simple and functional. If small size isn’t an issue, the MXR Clone Looper is worth purchasing.

Positive
  • long record time;
  • durable casing;
  • reverse and speed modes;
  • two footswitches;
  • jacks for exp pedals;
Negatives
  • small size;
  • pure looping indication;
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BOSS RC-1 Loop Station – Balanced chaise

Design

BOSS RC-1 Loop Station has already appeared in our reviews. If you already own any of the “Boss” pedals, it shouldn’t be hard to understand what the BOSS RC-1 is like. The pedal is made of durable metal. The front is adorned with a rubber patch with the ‘Boss’ branding. The BOSS RC-1 is exclusively available in red. All inputs and outputs are located on both sides. Also, on the right side is the input for the external expression pedal. The input for the 9V DC adapter is located on the rear side. The only LED indicator is red when the pedal is plugged in and works.

Controls

When it comes to BOSS controllers, the RC-1 Loop Station does not offer a wide variety of options. Management is carried out using one footswitch. In addition to the footswitch, you can adjust the output volume using the controller at the top of the pedal.

Features

BOSS RC-1 is one footswitch looper pedal. And this is its main feature. Understanding pedal control is provided by the tips at the top of the pedal and an informative LED display, labeled “Loop”. As always, one tap on the footswitch starts recording. Pressing it again stops recording and plays the recorded loop immediately. At this time, the LED indicator turns green. Its principle of operation is similar to that of a countdown timer. At the beginning of the loop, the whole circle is filled with green indicators. The indicators go out as the loop plays. When the loop starts playing again, all LEDs will light up again. The longer the loop, the longer the indicators go out. In overdub mode, red ones are added to the green indicators. To add a new layer on top of the recorded loop, you need to tap on the footswitch once again. To stop recording and start the recorded piece, press the footswitch once again. This sequence of actions can be repeated over and over again. To stop playing, just double-tap on the footswitch. In this case, the recorded loops will not be erased and you can play them again by pressing the footswitch once. To completely delete the recorded loops, you need to hold the footswitch for more than two seconds. In total, twelve minutes record time is available for BOSS RC-1.

BOSS RC-1 Loop Station – Buyer’s Guide

Introduction Loop stations appear to be portable devices used for recording music in real-time and playing it on a …

Recommendations

Boss products are designed for the beginner or intermediate guitarist. The BOSS RC-1 is no exception. This is a good pedal, but not suitable for serious work. It is made for fun. An informative display helps you create music. It’s really handy and simple. Stereo mode will allow the BOSS RC-1 to be used on concerts. But the lack of a digital interface for processing recorded loops on a computer, the lack of the ability to go one step back while overdubs, only one pedal and the lack of effects do not allow to recommend the BOSS RC-1 as a universal looper pedal. It can definitely be recommended to those who love improvisation. This is a simple and affordable gear for such purposes.

Positive
  • long record time;
  • durable casing;
  • stereo jacks;
  • jack for exp pedals;
  • informative LED display;
Negatives
  • small size;
  • one footswitch only;
  • no PC connection;
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Mooer Micro Looper Loop Recording Pedal – Recording time leader

Design

Mooer Micro Looper looks stylish and modern. Externally, the pedal looks like one of those small pedals with which young musicians begin their career. In terms of size, the Mooer Micro Looper is slightly narrower and slightly longer than a pack of cigarettes. The body is made of durable aluminum. The central part of the pedal is decorated with a pattern of an old audio cassette in a loop. The pedal is available in white. On the sides are audio input and audio output. On the back of the pedal is the input for the 9V BC adapter. Nothing extra. Completely minimalistic.

Controls

Minimalism in design – minimalism in everything. Mooer Micro Looper is equipped with only one footswitch. With just one footswitch, recording and playback modes are controlled. The LED indicator is located just above the footswitch. It works in two modes. Red light appears during recording or overdub mode. Blue light means play mode. When the loop ends, the LED indicator starts blinking. At the very top is a small volume controller made of plastic. The volume controller is designed for very small fingers.

Features

Mooer Micro Looper boasts a lot of features. This little pedal does a lot! As usual, the first loop will decide the length of all loops. To start recording one tap is needed. Second tap stops recording and activates play mode. To overdub, tap the footswitch again. To stop – one more tap on footswitch is needed. Mooer Micro Looper provides “undo” and “redo” functions. Just hold the footswitch for two seconds to undo the last overdub section. Hold again to redo the last overdub section. In this case only the last overdub could be returned. Double click will stop the play mode. Double click and hold and hold for two seconds will delete recorded loops. Huge functionality for such a small box. More than this, 30 minutes of recording time and unlimited overdubbing times are available with this pedal. It’s an absolute record among looper pedals from this review.

Recommendations

Huge functionality and low price have their own consequences. The Mooer Micro Looper sounds average. If the presence of just one single pedal and the absence of stereo mode is not a hindrance, then the Mooer Micro Looper is recommended for all guitarists as a home gear for experimentation and rehearsals. Also, this pedal is great for aspiring guitarists who want to try their first looper pedal.

Positive
  • longest record time;
  • huge functionality;
  • space-saving casing;
Negatives
  • small size;
  • one footswitch only;
  • no PC connection;
  • no stereo jacks;
  • no jack for exp pedals;
  • no LED display;
  • average sound;
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TC Electronic Ditto Looper – High quality sound in small box

Design

TC Electronic Ditto Looper is another small pedal in our review. Its main difference from the Mooer Micro Looper is its excellent sound quality. TC Electronic Ditto Looper is available in gray color. It is made of durable aluminum. The rough surface of the pedal makes it look like an expensive gear. As with the Mooer Micro Looper, the TC Electronic Ditto Looper features a mono input / output pair and an input for a 9V DC adapter.

Controls

TC Electronic Ditto Looper is positioned as a device with the most simple control. Therefore, this pedal has only one volume controller and one metal footswitch to control different looping modes. There is also an LED indicator for monitoring the operating mode. That’s all.

Features

TC Electronic Ditto Looper controls are identical to Mooer Micro Looper controls. One press activates recording mode. Second press stops recording and playback the recorded loop. A third press switches the pedal back to record mode. The fourth press stops the new recording and starts playback. And so on until the memory runs out. By the way, you can record only 5 minutes of music. This is a record low. A long press on the footswitch will take the pedal one step back . A second long press on the footswitch will return the footswitch to the last saved state. In other words, the “undo / redo” functions are available. Pressing twice will stop playback. Two presses with a hold will erase the recorded loops. During playback, the LED indicator glows green. During recording – in red. Interestingly, the indicator blinks not at the end of the loop, as with most pedals, but at the beginning of a new cycle. It doesn’t seem to be very convenient. TC Electronic Ditto Looper compares favorably with competitors with high sound quality. This is 24-bit sound. True bypass will delight actively touring musicians.

Recommendations

The TC Electronic Ditto Looper is actually an enhanced version of the Mooer Micro Looper. There are differences in the operation of the indicator, but the sound quality is much higher with the TC Electronic Ditto Looper. The downside is significantly shorter recording time. 5 minutes versus 30 for Mooer Micro Looper. TC Electronic Ditto Looper is recommended for all guitarists who appreciate the wide functionality of the small looper pedal.

Positive
  • high quality sound;
  • huge functionality;
  • space-saving casing;
Negatives
  • small size;
  • one footswitch only;
  • no PC connection;
  • no stereo jacks;
  • no jack for exp pedals;
  • no LED display;
  • smallest record time;
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Buyer’s Guide

Choosing the perfect looper pedal for your pedal is very easy to get confused. The huge number of offers on the market can confuse even the most professional guitarist. We have selected a number of the most important characteristics that you should pay attention to when choosing a looper pedal. We have arranged the characteristics in descending order of their value. In other words, the first characteristics on the list are the most important.

Sound quality. Never buy any pedal without soundcheck. If this is not possible, find information on the web or look at reviews so as not to regret your purchase. This applies to any audio equipment. Best matches from this review in terms of sound quality are TC Electronic Ditto X2 and TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper.

Number of overdubs. This important parameter will envy the creative potential of the composition. It is responsible for the number of layers that can be recorded and played back with the looper pedal. The amount of overdubs on good pedals shouldn’t be limited. All pedals from this review provide unlimited overdubs.

Undo / Redo. These functions are responsible for deleting or returning the last recorded layer. Most pedals operate in “Record / Play / Overdub” mode. This is the standard. Some looper pedals, such as the TC Electronic Ditto X2, allow multiple circuits. But the undo and redo functions will greatly simplify the creative process.

Informative display. Getting information from the display or LED indicator about the loop playback time will greatly enhance the user experience. Best matches from this review in terms of informative displays are TC Electronic Ditto X2 and BOSS RC-1.

Record time. This characteristic is responsible for the maximum recording time of loops. Less than 5 minutes of recording using looper pedals is useless. But even five minutes may not be enough to implement the idea. Best matches from this review in terms of record time are Mooer Micro Looper and BOSS RC-1.

Two pedals are better than one. This is due to ease of use. There is no need to memorize complex schemes and remember how many times you need to press the pedal in order to hit one or another effect. Best matches from this review in terms of record time are TC Electronic Ditto X2 and MXR Clone Looper.

Size matters. This applies to any pedal. Instead of giving in to the music, often the guitarist has to take aim in order to turn the pedal on or off. This is not very convenient. Best matches from this review in terms of record time are TC Electronic Ditto X2, BOSS RC-1 and MXR Clone Looper.Bypass and stereo jacks. These two feature options make any guitar pedal an excellent guitar pedal. Best matches from this review in terms of record time are TC Electronic Ditto X2 and BOSS RC-1.

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Conclusion

Looper pedals cannot be called popular pedals. When choosing a looper pedal, every guitarist wants to achieve his or her individual goal. In general, all pedals in the review can be divided into two categories. For professional musicians looking to record music or perform live, looper pedals such as the TC Electronic Ditto X2 and MXR Clone Looper are suitable. For aspiring musicians or live guitarists, the Mooer Micro Looper and TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper are great options. The BOSS RC-1 is a balanced choice. The golden mean between the two groups.

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FAQ

Is it possible to change the first overdub when 5 or 6 are playing?

Not. In order to change the first recorded overdub, if there are more than three layers, you will have to rewrite the entire set from the very beginning. With the “undo” function, it is possible to overwrite or replace only the last recorded loop.

If you turn off the power, will all recordings be lost?

In most looper pedals, all recordings are retained after power off. All pedals in our review provide this feature.

If I want to use the looper pedal in conjunction with other pedals or effects processes, how should I do it?

Looper pedal should be connected at the very end of the chain after all effects. This way you will have complete control over the sound you are recording.

Can the looper pedal be used with a bass guitar?

Sure. Looper pedal can be used with any sound source. Even with a video player.

If there are 2 inputs jacks in the looper pedal, can I use two different devices to record at the same time?

This option is not supported on all pedals, but most looper pedals allow you to do this.

In TC Electronic Ditto X2, when the effects are turned on, can new layers be recorded on the top, or do you need to turn them off first?

The built-in effects in TC Electronic Ditto X2 process the sound after recording. Therefore, you can record a loop, process it with effects and start recording another loop over the recorded one. In this case, the last recorded loop will not be processed.

Is it possible to stop only one loop among others?

There is literally no such function. But the “undo / redo” functions do exactly that – they turn the last recorded effect on and off. It is impossible to do the same with the previously recorded loops.

Can a looper pedal be used with vocals?

Any looper pedal can record vocals. It requires a wired microphone with a 1/4 “jack.

What adapter do I need for looper pedals?

A simple 9 volts power adapter will be suitable to get the looper pedals work. In order not to make a mistake with the size of the input, it is better to buy an adapter with a chain cord. The most recommended brands are D’Addario Accessories, Donner or NEUMA.

Do I need to purchase cables separately from the looper pedal?

Looper pedals are always sold without cables and power adapters. These items must be purchased separately.

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