The Top 5 Looper Pedals Reviewed
The guitar is already an incredibly versatile instrument – especially the electric variety – able to produce a wide range of sounds and effects. When paired with a drummer and bassist, the combination is sufficient to create some of the world’s most celebrated bands. It’s a magical combination.
With that said, the instrument has room for improvement. Sometimes guitars don’t allow you to translate the ideas that you have in your head into musical sounds. It’s just not versatile enough on its own.
Enter the looper pedal. The looper pedal, as the name suggests, is a foot-operated device that guitarists use to record and loop sections of their playing. These pedals open up a new layer of complexity to the music you can create with a guitar, using your own riffs as a background as you play. Looper pedals also have the added benefit that you can make quick adjustments to alter the sound of the recorded material they output, such as the pitch and speed. It’s a vital piece of kit that many performers find impossible to live without.
In this review, we’re going to take an in-depth look at five of the best looper pedals on the market. Let’s get started.
Best Looper Pedals
The looper pedal market isn’t always easy for beginners to understand. You have to get acquainted with not only the devices themselves but the jargon that goes with them. It’s tough.
Boss, however, appears to understand this. The company has taken pains to develop what it says is one of the most straightforward and intuitive loop station pedals on the market today. People often see looper pedals as specialist pieces of equipment – something you get after developing your guitar skills for years. But Boss says that it’s made a pedal that’s ideal for those just starting, “adding value” to their instrument purchase.
The ways the RC-1 loop station works is surprisingly simple. You hit the pedal, and it starts recording. You step on it again, and it’ll stop recording and play the loop back. If you hit the pedal again, it’ll begin recording overdubs. Finally, if you want to clear the recording and stop the loop, just hit the pedal twice in succession. The RC-1 comes with more than twelve minutes of recording time, allowing you to construct elaborate circuits or layer one loop atop another.
What about construction? The RC-1 feels like a pedal you could use for the long-term. The metal construction gives you confidence that the product will last. It allows you to concentrate on playing your instrument during a concert, instead of worrying about your equipment.
The RC-1 also comes with a grippy underside. When you push down on the pedal with your foot, it’s an effort to get it to move over a hard surface, like wood. The pedal comes pre-loaded with nine jams that you can use at any time during your performance, opening up options and variety.
Who is the RC-1 for? Mostly, it’s for the person who is just starting with looper pedals and wants to experiment with using them. The great thing about the RC-1 is that it is sturdy and feature-packed enough to mean that you won’t need to replace it with a more sophisticated model at a later date.
- Create your own backing track to play along with--great for learning or practicing
- The sharp-looking loop indicator displays the current loop mode (Rec/Overdub/Play)
- 12 minutes of stereo recording time--the most in its class!
- Recorded phrase is stored in memory even after the RC-1 is turned off
- Stereo inputs and outputs for the highest quality sound
When TC Electronics were designing the Ditto, they appear to have had two objectives in mind: to create a product that was small and inexpensive. The company actively rails against what it calls “tech hoopla” and focuses on the essentials of a looper pedal.
Ironically, the Ditto is one of the most tech-packed products in this review, but all of the onboard sophistication fades into the background as you play. The unit, for instance, features a true bypass, eliminating any high-end loss when the device is off.
Why has TC Electronics made the Ditto so small? The company says that it’s to save on space. The small footprint of the Ditto allows you to set it up anywhere, no matter how crowded your playing area might be. It can be annoying trying to find space for large looper pedals, especially if you plan on using it in the cramped home environment. The Ditto is no larger than your average power adaptor, meaning that you probably don’t have to make any space considerations before buying it.
The Ditto is self-admittedly “minimalist.” TC Electronics uses a single turn dial that lets you set the loop volume and another button to activate the loop as you play. This approach enables TC Electronics to cut down on the component list and to price the Ditto exceptionally competitively. The product, therefore, comes in at a fraction of the price of some others on the market. It’s a great entry-level item for those who are just beginning their guitar careers.
- Ditto Looper provides 5 minutes of looping time
- (1) Power Supply to power up your pedal
- Ditto Looper has an ultra-small footprint, meaning you’ll always be able to fit one! It takes up almost zero space on your pedalboard, saving you precious realestate
Digitech is proud of its history in the looper pedal industry. It invented digital looping nearly three decades ago and spawned an entire industry.
Is the original also the best?
If it’s features you’re after, then probably. The Jamman Solo XT gives you 35 minutes of in-built recording time (in CD quality), an SD card slot for additional storage and jams, and more than 32 hours of looping. The construction is also top-notch – something you immediately notice when you handle the product. The metal casing feels solid, and the rubberized section on the foot pedal part of the device is a nice touch to prevent the product from sliding across the floor as you use it.
Just like many of the other products on this list, Jamman makes it easy to record and overdub. The pedal uses a one-step mechanism to record, another to stop, and then another to overdub. You can overdub as many times as you like, storing all the sounds you make and putting them on a loop to create intricate riffs.
With that said, this isn’t necessarily a beginner-friendly product. While it has an intuitive simplicity about it, Digitech has done a poor job telling you how to take advantage of it. The manual provides sparse instructions, leaving the majority of the features for you to work out yourself. It’s not ideal.
Should you buy the Jamman Solo XT? You should if you’re an experienced guitarist who has used looper pedals before. Digitech’s device gives you all the features you need to create incredible music.
- Store over 35 minutes of stereo, CD-Quality loops in 200 internal memories
- Optional micro SDHC card can store over 16 hours of CD-quality audio in 200 additional memories
- Rugged metal chassis, Power supply included
- Record rhythm loops and solo over them on the fly, completely Hands-Free
- Slow down or speed up any loop without changing pitch, Aux Input lets you import music from CD and MP3 players
Donner market this Deluxe Looper as a “charming twin pedal” allowing you to set loops and effects while playing independently. Like many of the other products in this review, it features a true-bypass and analog dry-through as well as a host of other features to ensure a crisp sound.
The Donner Deluxe Looper is not manufactured in an English-speaking country. Neither has the firm taken the time to hire a decent copywriter to edit its manual. The result is broken and often incomprehensible instructions, forcing you to go online and inspect forum posts on how to use the damn thing. If you’re a beginner, it’s not ideal.
The actual build quality of the device, however, is second-to-none, making up for deficiencies in support and instructions. It feels rock-solid when you press down on it, with the stomp buttons providing a good level of feedback.
The FX button cycles through different effects, including allowing you to play your dubs in reverse. The overdub system is of high quality, allowing you to layer up sounds with no loss of quality.
- Loop FX: Reverse and Speed (Fast and Slow).
- Import/Export loops from PC (44.1 kHz, 24 bit)
- 10 minutes of looping, Unlimited overdubs
- Backing Track - perfect for solo practice and live performance
- Dedicated Stop/Clear footswitch
The Donner Tiny Looper is Donner’s attempt to capture the same market that TC Electronics went after with the Ditto – people who lack space. The device itself is, as the name implies, tiny, with a single stomper button, level dial and USB connector on the side.
The small size of the device has allowed Donner to make substantial cost savings. Although the Tiny Looper is aluminum construction, you never for a minute think that you’re paying for a premium device.
The Donner allows up to ten minutes of looping time and includes many of the looper functionalists that today’s guitarists consider essential. Like the Deluxe Looper, the instructions leave a lot to be desired. But if you look past the problematic manual and take the product for what it is, it’s quite surprising just how many features Donner manages to cram into such a small footprint. There’s almost no perceptible loss of quality between this little device and its larger siblings.
If there was a flaw with the Donner Looper, it’s the fact that the USB port is uncomfortably close to the floor. Donner had to choose this location because of the internal mounting of the PCB. But it can make it challenging to fit specific USB cables, especially if you want the looper to remain flush with the ground.
The Tiny Looper, therefore, is a pedal which aims to appeal to the entry-level market while offering a premium specification. It’s much more useful than many people imagine ahead of time.
- Three models：1/2 Speed Mode: Provide 1/2 speed playback recording,
- NORMAL Mode: Provide normalloop speed.Reverse Mode: Reverse play(Recording function disable).
- 10 minutes of looping,Unlimited overdubsand undo/redo.
- Import/Export loops from PC(44.1 kHz, 24 bit, below Win8).Super mini size,made of aluminum alloy, Convenient and durable.
- LED indicator shows the looper status.True bypass (power adapter is NOT included)
Looper Pedal Comparison Video
This video does a great job of comparing the best-selling looper pedals available: