The Best Loop Pedal Roundup 2017
Looking to craft complex soundscapes, or have an impressive one-man-band setup? Then check out our 2017-ready list of the best loop pedals.
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More than a mere effect, loopers behave like backup musicians who obey your every whim. They can record and replay song ideas and riffs for you, making them viable practice and songwriting tools. They can also be assigned to play specific parts at specific times as you perform, much like a backup band would, but without the usual complications. This resulted in the popularity of one-man-band "live looping" artists that have invaded YouTube and stages world over.
Because of its practicality and functionality, market demand and production grew, resulting in design, shape, and size variations. This is where we come in with our updated list of the best looper pedals, so you can choose one that fits your needs, playing style and budget. We've also added useful tips on what to look for, so you don't blindly buy the ones with features that you won't use, or without the features you need.
Things to consider when buying a Looper Pedal
Loop Tracks or ChannelsMost smaller loop pedals have single channel functionality, which gives you just one track to play around with. This is usually more than enough for those who want to loop simple phrases. These are ideal for guitarists who are already playing with a a band, and have little room left in their pedalboard. While you can overdub everything on a single loop track, having multiple tracks allow for more efficient control. Allowing you to record rhythm, lead and other parts separately, and have individual control over each tracks. This is imperativel for one-man-band live performances where you do multiple parts and build your music via different tracks.
Loop TimeLoop time dictates the amount of time that you can record on, and this is dictated by the amount of memory available. Generally speaking, the longer the loop time available, the better, unless you are the type that gets distracted into fiddling instead of being productive. Some pedals have more than enough loop time to record parts for an entire albums, but some have considerably lower memory. This is definitely a specification to watch out for.
Input/Output OptionsGuitarists will usually be needing one or two (for stereo rigs) input. These pedals are easy to setup and offer basic looping functionality, ideal for practice and for playing with musical ideas. But if you're planning on multiple instruments and vocals, then you'll want one with more input options. If you're planning on using the pedal for live performance, you'll need to check if the output options matches your current gear and setup.
Control OptionsEssential controls include record, play, overdub and stop - all of which should be accessible via footswitches for handsfree control. Other controls that are nifty include undo, redo and bypass. Single pedal units will obviously have less switches and buttons, which makes them easy to setup and use. Multi-track loopers allow for more loops and in depth control - which include adding effects, auto quantize, syncing, time adjustments and many more. All of which may sound extreme or impractical, but you'll change your mind when you try complex one-man-band arrangements.
Reliability and Form FactorYou obviously want a looper pedal that can handle regular use, especially the footswitches which will get excitedly stepped on a good number of times, unlike other set and forget pedals. This is where reputation and recommendations come in, and it is where big brands like Boss take the limelight. The size and shape of the pedal is usually secondary, but if pedalboard space is scarce, then you'll want the smallest you can find. If you're looking for multi-track functionality then you have to make room for bigger multi-effect type units.
Whatever your preference may be, you'll find a suitable one in this top 10 list. If you're looking for loopers and effects that are designed to work primarily with vocals then check out Gearank's Vocal Effects Pedal / Processor Guide.
|The Boss RC-300 is the big daddy of all loop pedals, featuring best in class technology and connectivity options. This is the pedal of choice for many singer songwriters who utilize looping in their live performances.||See our detailed review below|
|The JML2 JamMan Stereo is the guitarist's looper, focusing mainly on providing top notch audio quality while providing enough depth and layering features to keep you inspired for hours.||See our detailed review below|
|This powerful dual stereo pedal works great both for practice and for performance, featuring Electro-Harmonix' brand of reliability and sonic quality with built-in drum loops and in-depth customization.||See our detailed review below|
|This is a feature-packed dual stereo pedal which allows for a wide variety of looping possibilities from basic overdubbing to Stutter, Vari-Speed, Reverse Playback and many more.||See our full review below|
|The pedal that started the compact looper craze, the single footswitch Ditto looper provides straightforward recording, playback and overdub functions with minimal gimmicks and distractions.||See the full review below|
|Singer songwriters will appreciate the balanced mic input and the basic rhythm patterns that are included in the RC-30. Solo performers who prefer a smaller pedal would do well to try out this popular looper from Boss.||See our extended review below|
|Here's another compact yet affordable looper with a wealth of features, including 90 Seconds of total loop recording, and 12 effects for guitars and vocals. Ideal for singing guitarists who want to test the waters.||Extended review below|
|This compact version of JamMan features straightforward looping with true stereo input/output connectivity and up to 10 Minutes of internal recording, a great choice for electric guitarists who want a reliable and lightweight looper.||See the description below|
|The Ditto Looper X2 is the big brother of the popular compact Ditto, providing the same straightforward approach with added loop effects that include half speed and reverse.||See our full review below|
Boomerang III Phrase Sampler
|The Boomerang III Phrase Sampler is a popular pedal that has a more intuitive approach, giving you the option to choose between four looping styles instead of providing bells and whistles that will rarely be used in actual practice or performance.||See our full review below|
Boss RC-300 Loop Station
Boss continues to be the boss in the upper echelons of the guitar pedal market, and their dominion have expanded to loopers. Boss Loop Stations are used by many artists and musicians, including popular loopers like Jarle Bernhoft, Zoe Keating, Ed Sheeran and many more! The RC-300 is the flagship model of this line, and as such it features the best technology and functionality that the company can provide, all packed in a stand-alone multi-effect style form factor.
The RC-300 features three synchronized stereo tracks with dedicated volume knobs and transport-control footswitches for each track, each one being independently controllable with three hours worth of recording time! The RC-300 also comes with an XLR input for creating vocal harmonies that complete your guitar loops, and I personally use this feature a lot. The Boss RC-300 also has 16 onboard guitar and vocal effects which you can control in real-time via the expression pedal. Finally you can easily export your performance via USB to your computer.
The main concern that I have with it is its bulky size, but it is a necessary trade off to get a full featured loop station. Its big frame affords you 8 switches for smooth realtime control over your music. After having been gigging with the RC300, I cam across other concerns that include the need for an external footswitch to switch between patches, and the need for a mute pedal for the mic/guitar, if I want to record only one of them while performing. Still the RC-300 is definitely the pedal to beat in terms of features, build and value. Retail Price: $549
DigiTech JML2 JamMan Stereo
Having up to 8 seconds of loop time was innovative back in 2005, when the original JamMan looper pedal was released. DigiTech has since improved on the JamMan, coming up with a number of JamMan releases that showcases their developing technology and the improved features they produce. JML2 JamMan Stereo provides the same focus on quality but with improved looping depth and layering features. Now you can store up to 35 minutes of CD quality loops in 99 internal memory banks, and if that's not enough, you can further expand via the SD memory card expansions - giving you up to 16 hours worth of recording!
Digitech stayed away from additional features and instead focused on providing essentials like stereo looping, a nifty mic input, and traditional jam-centric features that include a built-in metronome with a variety of time signature and rhythm sounds. There's also a rhythm output aux input in case you want to use a drum machine, and the overall design makes it easy to load of jam tracks into the unit. What sets the Jamman Stereo apart is its good balance of portability and features, great for singer songwriters who doesn't need a lot of complex controls. Retail Price: $249.95
EHX 22500 Dual Stereo Looper
Electro-Harmonix is known for quality stompboxes that cover almost every type of effect. And they've got their claws sunk deeply in the looper market as well, with the EHX 22500, a digital looper pedal with dual stereo channels. Much like other EHX pedals, build quality is top notch, but unlike many of their other pedals which tend to be streamlined, this looper can do quite a lot more than just loop, with its extra features that include tempo and pitch adjustments, reverse playback, built-in drum loops and more.
With the 22500, you can adjust the tempo of your recorded loops without changing the pitch, allowing for dynamic build up that's not possible with conventional options. There's also reverse playback and octave functions, which allow for interesting soundscapes. Quantizing, XLR mic input and SD card expansion are other features that make this a true workhorse that works both in practice or live performance situations. More importantly, the price tag is not that far off from other brands which offer less features. While the learning curve to use all these extras requires a bit more time, serious multi-instrumentalists and one-man-band musicians will find this pedal appealing. Retail Price: $276.40
Pigtronix Infinity Looper
The Pigtronix Infinity is a feature packed dual stereo channel looper pedal that's specially meant for guitarists. Built by a company that crafts premium pedals for artists such as Phil Keaggy, Vernon Reid, Adrian Belew, John Scofield and more, this pedal has an unmistakably boutique look and sound. With virtually zero latency, it lets you precisely record, playback, overdub, undo and redo to your hearts content, and do so with striking quality.
"Sync Multi" is one of its many notable features, it lets you set the length of Loop 2 to be 1, 2, 3, 4 or 6 times the length of Loop 1. This will let you to speed up or slow down certain lines while still staying relevant to the other loop, ideal for emphasizing certain parts of your music. Pigtronix' flair for the analog is also present in this pedal where digital technology is dominant, they equipped the Infinity with discreet analog limiter stages that allow for analog pass-through to the studio quality 24bit/48kHz recording engine. While it would've been nicer if it was a bit cheaper, the quality and versatility that it offers is more than worth the price tag. Retail Price: $449
TC Electronic Ditto Looper
Instead of battling it out with the many complex loopers in the market, TC Electronic went the opposite route with the Ditto's super simple one footswitch design and compact stompbox form factor. It is credited for starting the compact looper craze, and other manufacturers eventually joined in. Guthrie Govan and Paul Gilbert are just a few of the many professional guitarists that have put this pedal to good use, and they sure helped advance its popularity further.
Instead of complicating matters with more controls and features, this pedal focuses on providing the best possible audio quality and recording capacity. So it won't let you tweak deep settings, but for a single footswitch pedal, it lets you trigger recording, overdrub, play and stop, and it even allows for undo and redo via different ways of stepping on the switch. As for memory, this small footprint stompbox gives you up to 5 minutes of recording, more than enough for a complete song, be it for practice or performance. True bypass circuitry and analog-dry-through circuitry ensures good transparency, making this an ideal discrete addition to any pedalboard or rig. My only concern for this pedal is that it requires a bit more time to get used to the single footswitch interface, but it is still a great choice if your are looking for a compact looper. Retail Price: $99.99
Boss RC-30 Loop Station
If you are looking for something lighter and smaller than the RC-300, then its portable sibling, the Boss RC-30, may very well be the one you need. It features the same sonic quality as the bigger flagship model, only this one is packed in a smaller twin pedal form factor. As expected some of the features are stripped down, but it still has more than enough for one-man-band musicians and singer songwriters to make great music with. Ed Sheeran is one of the many professional artists that have performed with the RC-30, and there are many others, including popular YouTube live looping artists.
The RC-30 has two synchronized stereo tracks with built-in loop effects and true stereo outputs, and each track have dedicated controls and faders that make them totally independent and easier to mix. For its size, this pedal gives you up to three hours of stereo recording time, which is a whole lot more compared to others. It also allows you to store these loops in one of its 99 onboard memory presets. Extra effects were not totally ruled out, leaving this pedal with nifty pitch shifting for accessing lower register notes on your guitar, sweep filter for changing texture, step phaser, tempo delay and a cool Lo-Fi effect that can add analog character to your signal. Because of its smaller form factor, the controls are not as spread out and intuitive as we'd like it to be, but they will become second nature with a bit of practice. Retail Price: $249
Here's a video of Ed Sheeran "live looping" with the RC-30:
Vox Lil' Looper
Compact does not alway mean stripped down, at least not with the feature packed Vox Lil' Looper. This compact two footswitch footswitch pedal has most of the features found on bigger loopers while retaining a temptingly affordable price tag. Having two independent loops was impressive enough for a pedal this size, but it did not stop with just that, Vox was able to stuff it with essential features like record, playback, overdub and even quantize. This makes the Lil' Looper viable for performances, without the bulk and the extra cost.
Vox did not stop at just providing essential features, they went the extra mile and added an entire suite of guitar and vocals effects, which includes overdrive, octave bass (for creating bass line loops), stutter, chorus, delay and many more. If all of that is not enough, this small pedal comes with a mic input for creating vocal loops that can combine with your guitar. Some are concerned that the pedal may not be as reliable and sturdy as others, but with proper handling the Vox Lil' Looper will give you the most value for your money. If you are just starting to experiment with looping and budget is limited, this is a good one to start with. Retail Price: $159.99
DigiTech JamMan Express XT
The JamMan Express XT is DigiTech's entry into the compact looper market, and it is the smallest JamMan Looper in their lineup. If follows after the "less is more" philosophy that's prevalent with compact pedals, which is a departure from DigiTech's often feature rich designs. Interestingly, this pedal was worth pulling their punches for, because it got the attention of many guitarists.
Still, DigiTech outdid the competition when it comes to recording time, because this one can record up to 10 minutes worth of loops, which is quite a lot considering its size. Connectivity options are also expanded, with true stereo input and output jacks making it work for stereo rigs and other instruments like keyboards. Three nifty LED indicators give you visual confirmation of whether you are recording, overdubbing or in play mode. Finally a silent clear feature lets you delete loops without nasty pops and noises. Highly recommended for those who are running low of pedalboard space and want a stereo capable looper. Retail Price: $99.95
TC Electronic Ditto Looper X2
The Ditto Looper X2 is the big brother of the original TC Electronic Ditto, carrying over the same quality and build, but with more advanced options, features and even effects. The most notable addition that this pedal brings is a dedicated stop button that doubles as FX switch, a feature that makes controlling your loops simple and allows for interesting ways to control your loop.
This pedal has up to to 5 minutes of recording time, and features high quality 24-bit audio, which is a step up from good old 16-bit CD quality audio. And like the original, it offers unlimited overdubbing. New to the X2 are reverse and half-speed effects for creating experimental soundscapes, and there's an internal DIP switch that lets you toggle the switch functionality from loop/play/overdub to loop/overdub/play. Finally, it lets you download and upload loops from your computer with its built-in USB connectivity. Retail Price: $179.99
Boomerang III Phrase Sampler
Instead of focusing on adding features, the Boomerang III Phrase Sampler takes a different approach offering four distinct play styles. The most familiar is the Serial Play Style which lets you create one loop after the other which is how most other loop pedals behave. This is the setting which you will be using most of the time, and is the most intuitive to work with. The other three models are for advanced users who want more control over where, when and how loops are triggered and stopped.
The Serial Master Play Style lets you add rhythmic background to your loops, which not many prefer but still useful from time to time. Sync Play Style lets you play all your loops simultaneously and in sync, allowing you to instantly create walls of sound. The fourth mode is called Free Play Style, which lets you play all your loops simultaneously but not in sync, letting you build more ambient style music. Other features include fade, stutter and DJ-scratch effects which allows for electronic style music right on your guitar, or mic. The price point for this pedal is a bit steep and I'm not a fan of its form factor, but it is still a worthy investment, especially when considering Boomerang III's flexibility, which inspires fun and creativity. Retail Price: $479.
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