Best looper pedal for live use with a band?

Discussion in 'Effects, Pedals, Strings & Things' started by teleguido, May 27, 2011.

  1. teleguido

    teleguido Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    I've been gettin' the itch for a looper pedal lately, and I've been trying to figure out which one might be best for using with a band. It seems like 99% of the demo videos of looper pedals are some dude in his bedroom layering ambient noises. While that's cool and all, I really want something that will be easy to use live, with a band.

    As of right now I'm considering the Boss RC-3 (or RC-2), JamMan Solo, Digitech Hardwire Delay, and the Line6 DL4. As much as it pains me to say it, it seems like Line6 actually designed a great looper for live use. I haven't been able to put the Boss or JamMan units through the paces very well, as they are mounted on the stupid display stands at my local GC which inhibits me from actually stomping on them to create loops! I've watched demo videos though, and both seem pretty cool.

    My main concern is finding one that is easy to get "in the pocket" with. If the switching is cumbersome, I could envision some -very- frustrating moments onstage while your out-of-sync loop gets repeated over and over and over. I'd love to hear from players who use their loopers in this context, and are able to stay in sync with the band. I'm really not into the whole ambient soundscapes type of looping... while some of it sounds cool, I just don't "get" why some of those guys on youtube are obsessed with endlessly layering volume swells.

    Any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
  2. JB Eckl

    JB Eckl Member

    Jan 1, 2008
    Potentally great thread... I want to know this too!
  3. triviani

    triviani Silver Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2008
    So what exactly do you want to loop?

    The hardwire delay is really easy to use, up to 20 seconds. For multiple loops the Boomerang III is great and easier to use live than anything else.
  4. J.T.

    J.T. Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    I'm right here
    One thing to consider with playing a looper with a band is that the band has to be able to hear and listen to the loop and be tight . You can't breath with the tempo once the loop is on .
  5. guitarslinger21

    guitarslinger21 Member

    Dec 6, 2005
    F Dub, USA
    If your drummer isn't a robot, prepare to be disappointed with every looper.

    The easiest one I've tried is the Boss RC-2 with the FS5U footswitch. No gaps or glitches.
  6. splatt

    splatt david torn / splattercell Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    i just don't "get" why you'd ask for advice,
    while offering backhanded insult to such a broad range of looping musicians.....
    ..... many of whom might be the very ones who could assist you in yer search.
    weird, imo.

    that said:
    the "fastest-switching" of the looping-devices
    --- in terms of quickly learning to get your loops into precise & concise rhythmic sync ---
    is probably a rack-mounted device,
    like the EDP or one of the Looperlative units.
    or, maybe the original rack-mount Lexicon Jamman.

    but, many of these newer, likely cheaper loopers
    --- like the L6 or Boss offerings ---
    are likely to be found completely suitable for what it seems you're trying to achieve.

    the rule-of-thumb might be:
    the fewer "stomps" required to set & re-set a loop, and/or to "overdub" into a loop,
    the better-off you're likely to be.
    ditto, that the faster & less cumbersome the mechanical switch is, itself,
    the better-off (ie, faster) you're likely to be.

    but, as someone else might already have said or implied:
    to do this well requires practise..... alone, and with the band.

    and, you'll want to provide very clear & distinct monitoring of the loop,
    in relation to your further guitar-playing in the given tune,
    for both you and the band.

    i believe that you might wanna investigate the manuals
    for each of the looping-devices that interest you,
    most especially if you cannot try them:
    which seems almost absurd, to me:
    can't you simply ask to try the pedals as they're intended to be used????
    in the device manuals,
    you can see how many "clicks" it might take to achieve your musical goals, and etc.
    by playing the devices, you can experience the reality of the speed-of-switching, etc.

    anyways, hth.

    back to both rhythmic & ambient looping, for me.....
    and playing guitar.

    dt / spltrcl
    JB Eckl likes this.
  7. lux_interior

    lux_interior Member

    Aug 5, 2008
    Somewhere between heaven and hell
    Two artists/bands that use loops extensively (and in a great context), KT Tunstall and Russian Circles - that I am a huge, huge fan of - have gone through all of them and use the Akai Headrush 2. It's also a delay, but it's terrific (very easy to work with, precise and with good sound quality) for live use.
  8. mbargav

    mbargav Member

    Sep 23, 2009
    Washington, DC
    I like the Boomerang a lot. My friend does a bunch of solo acoustic stuff and uses loopers extensively and swears by a Boss RC50. Looperlative has a new mini looper I'd love to try:

    IME, if you plan to make a looper an important part of your playing, try to pick one that's fairly large and well spaced. This makes is a lot easier to use on stage. As much as I love my Boomerang, I'd like it even more if it was a bit wider.

  9. WolfmansBrother

    WolfmansBrother Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2009
    I use a Boomerang III for my solo acoustic gigs, but I leave it at home when I jam with my band.


    Your band mates have to be able to HEAR the loop clearly. The Rang III is stereo and I've considered running into 2 amps (one dedicated to looping) so my bassist and drummer can hear it, but, to be honest, looping seems to stifle the creativity of OUR music unless I use it for ambiance a la Trey Anastasio, so I choose not to use one with the band.

    When I'm by myself and I have complete control over the song, a looper is invaluable. I use it all the time...and the Rang III kills for live looping!


    Unless your drummer can hear your loop loud and clear and he/she is the tightest drummer on the planet, the loop will become out-of-sync with the band very quickly.

    The reason 99% of those looping demos on youtube are "some dude in his bedroom" is because using a looper live is very difficult and it's a lot easier to use a looper while playing solo. The question shouldn't be "which looper to choose?," but rather, "how to use a looper live?"
  10. aquadog

    aquadog Member

    Nov 26, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Agreed. If what you need is simple, easy to use, basic live looping, the Headrush 2 is perfect. The delays are nice as well, and it's under $200.
  11. niclake13

    niclake13 Member

    Nov 10, 2010
    Des Moines, IA
    Playing with a click track can also help.
  12. Justin Gadell

    Justin Gadell Member

    Nov 23, 2010
    i agree with about everyone as for live use man...its use. howie day does a great job by himself. minus the bear does a decent amount and pulls it off with a band. i think depending on how many things your looping the drummer has a hard time following or so my drummer says

    thats not your "endless volume swells" as yet i guess i fall in to that category. i have p[layed with a rc 50 which is a nice my main complaint was actually its size but had decent features for live. my dl-4 is trusty and very simple to use but i wanted the features of being able to fade the tracks or create different timed loops not be stuck to the length of one. i ended on the boomerang 3 and havent looked back.
  13. Bobby D

    Bobby D Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Key West

    that's the HARD PART -- you gotta make sure your drummer can HEAR THE LOOP.

    i am quite happy with the simple Line 6 DL-4 pedal, it will give you 28 seconds of loop time, and i gigged with one of those for a DECADE doing loops.

    obviously, the new jam man, boss RC series, boomerang, echoplex digital pro rack, and several other units have tons of features.

    i do an acoustic guitar/acoustic drums duo - and i have a nice high powered monitor for my drummer, so he can hear the loop and stay in time with it.
  14. sahhas

    sahhas Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    Imaginary land....
    i've been listening to a lot of bill frisell in the last few days.
    his disfarmer disc has some great little loop nuggets done w/ a band.
    i'm not sure exactly what he uses as of now, he seems to switch a lot, but in the past its been: eh 16ddl, a digitech pds8000, and he uses a line 6 dl4.

    he seems to be able to make/create/manipulate his loops and they seem seemless w/in a band context.

    nels cline also does a lot of looping, he uses a eh 16ddl also, generally as his main looper, he may have some other stuff as well, but he's been pretty vocal on his use of that....

    and as mr. torn has said above, he probably has more experience in these matters than i, listen to his TORN-KING gig that he posted yesterday (of the whole gig, in a couple of parts) and there is a 25 min vid clip of the gig too (not the whole gig). .....
  15. Stick&LeafTrap

    Stick&LeafTrap Member

    Oct 10, 2009
    I've had a pretty easy time with the Stereo Memory Man with Hazarai. Easy to set up a loop with one footswitch. 30 seconds of record time. Infinite layering. And the ability to manipulate the loop in some incredible ways once it's recorded. Manipulating the loop in between layers has opened up a huge world of creativity for me as well. I'm sure these features are not especially unique - just mentioning that it has a good feature set and is still simple to use.
  16. LPMojoGL

    LPMojoGL Music Room Superstar Supporting Member

    Oct 26, 2008
    DFW, TX
    If it's a simple looper you need with infinite layering in one loop and the ability to get back to the initial loop by erasing all the layering, with seperate volume control of the loop, Akai Headrush fits the bill. Also a cool delay pedal with tap tempo when you're not using it as a looper.
  17. cookieshoes

    cookieshoes Member

    Jan 4, 2011
    +1 for the Hazarai. Best to split the pedal stereo so that the delay/loop is split to a separate amp. That way you can make sure that the loops are audible and don't get lost.
  18. gpro34

    gpro34 Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    Vox has a new looper that looks incredible!

    $250 online
    Each loop can be stacked with an infinite number of tracks using innovative Sound on Sound recording, with no loss of fidelity. This two-loop design opens up complex and highly original performance techniques, such as switching between phrases of different lengths, or containing different chord patterns. Recording loops is smooth and easy; the Dynamic Looper offers a variety of tools to help you along. Auto Recording Start waits for your first note; the metronome can provide a rhythmic guide; and the Loop Quantize function uses the tempo to create perfect-length phrases that loop on the beat. Overdub with undo and redo/...
    Add to Shopp
  19. gpro34

    gpro34 Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    Isn't the 2880 by EHX supposed to be even better? This is their improved looper. Anyone try it?
  20. gpro34

    gpro34 Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    [​IMG] Here's another one to check out.
    When DigiTech developed the PDS 8000 looper pedal over twenty years ago, it looped eight seconds of audio. When they reinvented loopers in 2005 with the original JamMan, over 6 hours worth of material could be stored on a removable media card.

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