Loop pedals have become increasingly popular over the last few years. More and more guitarists are being drawn to the unique possibilities they open up.
They can be excellent tools for both writing and live performances. They are also not exclusively useful for solo artists and even guitarists in bands can benefit greatly from the power of a loop pedal.
3 Best Looper Pedals for Live Performances
The Ditto X2 is a fantastic sounding loop pedal. TC Electronic has done a great job optimizing the hardware to maximize headroom and 24-bit conversion. TC Electronic has improved quite a bit on an already great pedal.
The Ditto also features true bypass and analog through. My loop pedal usually sits at the end of my pedal signal chain making the need for bypass unnecessary. But it is still nice to have and I am sure some guitarists will find a use for it.
Even though I would probably never need it, I do appreciate that the Ditto has a maximum loop time of five minutes as well as infinite overdubs. This means that you can just keep stacking loops until the end of time. I did notice a bit of muddiness after about four overdubs, so that might be the realistic limit.
One great feature of the Ditto is its import/export function. This is a great tool to have for writing, especially with the five-minute loop time, but I think is useful for live performance as well.
For someone who regularly plays covers, you can easily save and swap out backtracks to quickly switch through while playing. For a solo guitarist like myself, being able to have even a simple rhythm guitar section is a huge bonus.
Having a great-sounding, feature-rich loop pedal is one thing, however. Apart from sound and features, I also always look at a loop pedal's usability, especially if I am going to use the pedal in a live situation. If setting up a loop is too complicated or takes too long, then I am immediately put off of by the loop pedal.
The Ditto is thankfully an easy loop pedal to use. I think this is mostly due to the second switch that has been added to the Ditto X2. The FX button can be set as a loop stop as well. So, no more need for the “double-tap” stop method that can often mess with your timing.
The FX switch is also used to switch between half speed and a very cool reverse effect. I spent maybe a solid 30 minutes just playing around with these effects to create some very trippy sounds.
The Ditto X2 is a fantastic and compact loop pedal that is perfect for live performers and bedroom guitarists alike.
Boss has an excellent track record when it comes to pedals, especially loop pedals. The RC-300 is, in my opinion at least, the best loop pedal that Boss has ever made.
I actually think that calling it a loop pedal is a bit dishonest. Apart from its great loop functions, the RC-300 also features some basic effects and even an expression pedal. I would call it more of a multi-effects pedal rather than a loop pedal, a multi-effects pedal lite.
Of course, the main attraction here is its loop capabilities, and oh boy does it have quite a few. With three dedicated loop tracks, infinite overdubs, and up to three hours of storage, I believe it has definitely earned its Loop Station branding.
Each loop track has a dedicated record/play/dub button and a separate stop. I found it very easy and rather natural to switch between the loop tracks and start using them.
There is also an all start/stop button. On a loop pedal of this caliber, I would very quickly have gotten annoyed if there were no way of starting and stopping all of my loops at the same time. This is a very useful feature to have for live looping.
As for stacking loops, I didn’t notice any real dip in sound quality. I would definitely suggest keeping your loops on the simpler side if you’re planning on layering more than four or five.
The built-in effects also sound great. They aren’t the best around and a dedicated pedal will almost certainly beat the RC-300. But I found them to be more than I expected from a loop pedal’s built-in effects.
The obvious downsides of having such a great, feature-rich loop pedal are its size and price. This is a big, somewhat bulky pedal and one of the most expensive on the market.
If you’re willing to pay the premium and possibly make some room on your pedalboard, then I would absolutely recommend the RC-300. It is a fantastic loop pedal that could easily turn you into a one-man cover band.
Pigtronix might not be a recognizable name to a lot of guitarists, but it isn’t hard to see why they are so highly praised by those who do know their name.
The Infinity 3 is the newest entry in their Infinity range of loop pedals. It is not only their best loop pedal to date, but in my opinion one of the best loop pedals today.
I prefer loop pedals that are easy and intuitive to use. This is something that the Infinity 3 does perfectly while also being packed with features.
It has two dedicated loop tracks each with its own footswitch for play/record/dub. A third switch is used for stopping and erasing loops. This makes for easy on-the-fly editing while playing.
You can then also change certain parameters of each loop track. Things such as the sample rate, whether the tracks are in series or parallel, etc. can all be toggled with the simple press of a button on the pedal.
The setting that I was most impressed by was the ability to apply these settings either individually or to both tracks with the arm/all button. This means that you can have both tracks set up identically or have each set up with different settings.
This doesn’t sound like much, but in practice, this makes quite a big difference. Simply changing the bit rate of one of the tracks can alter the sound quite a bit.
This opens up a whole world of possibilities during live looping. For example, I set up the same loop on both tracks, but with different settings. Track one was my ‘dry’ loop and track two was my ‘wet’. I could then switch between the tracks to add quick effects to the loop when I wanted.
The Infinity 3 is on the more expensive side when it comes to loop pedals. For what you are getting, though, I think it is a no-brainer if you are looking for a high-quality, versatile loop pedal.
Choosing the Right Loop Pedal
Loop pedals can be a bit trickier to choose than something like an overdrive pedal. They can vary wildly in terms of features and size and it can feel like you’re getting less with a smaller pedal.
But that isn’t necessarily the case and I think there are certain things you can consider to help you choose which loop pedal is the right one for you.
Perhaps the biggest thing to consider is what you need or want the pedal to do. The best way is to think of how complex you want your loops to be and go from there.
If you’re only doing simple loops with just two or three overdubs, then a simple one-track pedal should be fine. For large, expansive, multi-track loops, a loop pedal with two or more tracks would be better.
This is also of course important if you plan on switching between loops while playing. A loop pedal with multiple tracks would obviously be the one to go for.
I reckon a minimum of five minutes is what you should be aiming for, regardless of the pedal.
This will ensure that you can at least get through the length of a song while live looping. If you plan on using your loop pedal for writing as well, then certainly go for a pedal with a lot of storage.
This will cut down on having to constantly delete backtracks or riffs. This is especially useful so that you don’t delete something that you later wish you could go back to.
This isn’t as important, but still something to keep in mind. How much space do you have available either on your pedalboard, on stage, or in your bag? Can you fit a loop pedal onto your pedalboard? Then a smaller one might be better.
Can you fit a large loop pedal on stage or do you mind carrying an extra pedal around? Then a larger loop pedal is absolutely an option.
Loop pedals are fantastic devices. Whether you’re creating crazy soundscapes, filling in your band's sound, or simply using it as a writing aid. These are some of the best loop pedals for live performance as well as bedroom guitarists.