When it comes to the “wow” factor, few elements of a live concert are as impressive as an expertly used looper pedal. A single musician can create a whole symphony of sound simply by layering loop upon loop as they perform live.
In consequence, anyone looking to take their live performance to the next level should consider adding a looper pedal to their pedalboard. In this article we take a look at 10 of the best looper pedals for guitars and determine which one is perfect for you.
But First, How Do Looper Pedals Work?
In case you’re new to looper pedals, let’s take a minute to explain how they work. In simple terms, a looper pedal records the sound from your guitar or other instrument and then plays it back in short segments, or “loops.” This gives you the ability to accompany yourself and build songs from scratch as you layer loop on top of loop.
Many musicians use a looper pedal to create a one-man-band show. By using creative performance techniques and other guitar pedals you can emulate the sounds of different instruments and build a song from the ground up.
To start off we will look at several of the standard-featured looper pedals available for guitar. But keep in mind there are other options too! In a minute we will look at a few minimalist pedals, perfect for those that want something small and uncomplicated, as well as large loop stations with all the features you could possibly need.
1 DigiTech JMSXT JamMan Stereo Sampler
The first looper pedal on this list comes from one of the pioneers of live looping, DigiTech. It features 200 memory slots onboard for you to save your loops to and you can manage those loops from your computer with JamManager XT, a free software download. You can record for up to 35 minutes using the built-in memory, but if you insert an SD card into the expansion slot you can record for up to 16 hours. Lastly, it features 10 pre-loaded drum loops recorded by Pat Mastelotto of the bands King Crimson and Mr. Mister.
2 BOSS RC-3 Loop Station Pedal
This looper pedal comes from another classic manufacturer, BOSS. It features 99 memory slots with an impressive 3 hours of recording time using the built-in memory. It comes with 10 rhythm patterns for you to play along to and it can also be connected to your computer via USB to manage your loops.
3 NUX Loop Core Guitar Effect Pedal
This looper pedal stands out for two impressive reasons. The first is that the built-in memory can record up to 6 hours of sound, double or more than that of any of the other competing pedals. The second is that it features 40 rhythm patterns for you to play along to unlike the standard offering of only 10.
4 Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper Pedal
This looper pedal is notable because it features a dedicated stomp pedal to “stop” unlike many of the other pedals reviewed. Rather than having to use only one stomp pedal for all functions, the addition of another stomp pedal to “stop” gives you greater control in your live performance.
5 DigiTech Stereo Looper Delay Pedal
This pedal is the higher end version of the earlier-reviewed JMSXT by DigiTech. It features several additional stomp pedals (Loop Up, Loop Down, Stop/Clear, etc) which allow you much greater control in your live performance. It also features an XLR input for a microphone so you’re not limited to only looping your guitar.
Slim And Streamlined
These two pedals are stripped-down versions of the standard looper pedals reviewed earlier. Why would I want a pedal like this, you ask? Well these pedals are perfect for someone that wants something simple and uncomplicated when they are trying out looping for the first time. After all, they only come with one button and one knob!
These looper pedals are also sought after because of their compact size: their slim design takes up a fraction of the size a typical looper pedal takes up on a pedalboard.
6 DigiTech JMEXTV JamMan Express XT
This looper pedal is the compact offering from pedal manufacturer DigiTech. Instead of the complexity of their other pedals it comes with just two parameters: one for recording (or stopping/erasing) your loops and one for adjusting the volume of your loops. It doesn’t get more simple than that!
7 TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper Effects Pedal
This pedal is also a great streamlined option. It has just one button to record (or stop/erase) your loops and one knob to adjust the volume of your loops. Consequently, learning how to use this pedal is a breeze!
These loopers are more complex in that they offer you the ability to record and manipulate two separate channels of loops. A good example of the usefulness of this feature is when you want to record separate loops for your verse and chorus. A two-channel looper gives you the ability to do this, unlike the simpler one-channel looper.
8 VOX VLL1 Guitar Looper Multi Effect Pedal
This pedal from Vox comes with many standout features. The first is the inclusion of 12 different effects to choose from, ranging from distortion, to chorus, to an old-school radio emulator. This is one of only two pedals on this list that offer built-in effects! Additionally, it offers a microphone input so you can loop your voice (or really any other instrument you want to!).
9 Pigtronix SPL Infinity Looper
This looper claims to be the “world’s most musical looping pedal” and it’s easy to see why. With so many well-thought out features it really stands out from the crowd! One such feature is the “SYNC MULTI” mode which allows you to record loops of different lengths between channels 1 and 2. This looper also offers MIDI connectivity so you can sync it with your favorite music production softwareor sequencer.
Full Loop Station
These are the most complex loopers available and offer more features than any of the other varieties. Read on to see what you can do with a full loop station!
10 BOSS RC-300 Loop Station
This is the full loop station made by BOSS, one of the most complex and comprehensive loopers available on the market. With three separate loop channels and a built-in expression pedal, this looper is by far the most elaborate of any on this list. It offers 16 built-in effects, making it in an all-in-one performance tool. It also includes a microphone input so you can loop other instruments besides just guitar.
If you are looking for the ultimate looping tool, then this station is the one for you!
Best Looper Pedal Buying Guide
As you can see, there are many different types of looper pedals available to buy and it may not be apparent what would best serve your needs. Don’t worry though! Let’s figure that out right now in a few simple steps.
If you are brand-new to looping or want something that is simple and uncomplicated to use, you may want to consider one of the loopers listed in the “SLIM AND STREAMLINED” section. These loopers are paired down to the bare necessities and only require a little bit of learning to start using. Keep in mind though that they aren’t really any cheaper than the other, more advanced loopers included on this list. Therefore, you aren’t really saving any money by buying a looper pedal with less features.
If you are looking for something well-rounded that will cover most of the normal functions of a looper pedal, one of the loopers listed in “CLASSIC” are your best bet. These loopers represent the best value for your money, offering you a solid set of standard features without breaking the bank.
If you are a looping expert and/or need advanced features, you should look at one of the pedals in the “FULL LOOP STATION” section or the “TWO-CHANNEL LOOPERS” section. These pedals represent the most advanced and cutting-edge features available for looping and will open up a dizzying array of possibilities as you revolutionize your live performance.
Lastly, if you are a vocalist or non-guitarist wanting to loop, please look at one of the loop pedals with microphone inputs. These are the Digitech Stereo Looper Delay Pedal, the VOX VLL1 Guitar Looper Multi Effect Pedal, and the BOSS RC-300 Loop Station.
When it comes to value for your money, it seems that the NUX Loop Core Guitar Effect Pedal is the best looper pedal for guitar. With an incredible 6 hours of built-in recording time and 40 different rhythm patterns to accompany your live performance, this pedal offers far more than similar products. These features combined with a competitive price make this looper pedal an offer that is hard to beat.