Loop pedals are one of the most exciting types of pedals out there. Many great artists have begun using them with their vocals and guitars to create walls of sound that were before only possible with a full band.
Being a great looper takes tons of time and practice, though when you realize their potential and get in the groove, you can open up a world of possibilities. The thing is, looping is still in a mystic stage, and most people don’t know what makes one pedal better than the next.
In this guide, we’re going to show you some of the best looper pedals on the market, as well as show you what you should look for when on the hunt.
- 1 The Top 10 Looper Pedals
- 2 What Makes a Great Looper Pedal?
- 3 Stay In the Loop
The Top 10 Looper Pedals
Our #1 Pick – Best of the Best
It’s hard to even put the Boss RC-300 on the same list as other looper pedals, as all the others seem pale in comparison when you put them side by side with this beast.
When you consider the fact that this pedal has an insane amount of built-in features and a massive, high-tech interface, you understand that this is a professional pedal built for serious loopers.
The Boss RC-300 is basically the size of a pedalboard and comes with three separate channels, each with two footswitches for recording, playback, and stopping. Each channel also has a fader for mixing your loops on the fly.
You can record up to three hours of music on the RC-300 and use the USB connectivity to export your files when done.
As for effects, you get 16 different ways to experiment with your sound, as well as an expression pedal located on the right-hand side. This is also the one pedal that supports MIDI sync, which we'll talk more about later in the article.
Bottom Line: Boss has packed everything into this monster of a looper pedal. Though it might be too expensive for some, the high-quality processing, colossal memory storage, and large number of features, make it perfect for the professional musician in need of the best.
If the Boss RC-300 seems a little too far-fetched to you, we recommend checking out the younger brother, the Boss RC-30.
This small looper comes with two pedals and allows you to multitrack just like the 300 model. You can sync up the tracks with ease and use the volume faders and buttons to mix and manipulate your loops on the fly. There are also a vast number of built-in effects for you to mess around with.
Just like the RC-300, you can record up to 3 hours of music on here, which is an incredibly liberal amount of memory considering the small size. With 99 memory phrases built-in, you can easily recall your loops too.
The two stereo tracks give you the option to record multiple instruments at once, as well as stereo instruments like keys. You can even record condenser microphones thanks to the XLR inputs with phantom power!
When you’re all done recording, export your music to your computer using a standard USB cable for furthering chopping and editing.
Bottom Line: The Boss RC-30 is an excellent alternative for those who can’t afford the Boss RC-300, or for those who love the Boss RC-300, but not the massive size.
You may recognize the Vox name, as it’s plastered on some of the best amps in the world. Most people have never peeked at their line of pedals. We’re here to introduce the VLL1, a simple, yet high-quality looping pedal, that you’ve probably never seen before.
The VLL1 comes with two footswitches, each with their own loop bank. You can mess with the dials to adjust the levels of your loops, as well as play with 12 different built-in effects from reverb, to chorus, to distortion, and beyond.
Each of the banks has a 90-second memory with an infinite amount of overdubbing capabilities. If you mess up, you can use the undo and redo functions to get you back on track.
Though it is a single-input looper, you do have the ability to choose between mic and line, meaning you can record other instruments besides guitar.
One of the best features onboard this looper is the quantize function, which makes it much easier to time your loops out correctly.
Bottom Line: The Vox VLL1 gives you a surprising amount of features onboard considering the low price. It’s an excellent looper for live situations and perfect for those looking to experiment with their sound without burning a hole in their pocket.
Nux is another company that you don’t hear about often when it comes to guitar pedals. The funny thing is, they make one of the best looper pedals around. You’d be surprised how well the Loop Core stands up against the more popular looper pedals in its range.
The Nux Looper is perfectly portable and will fit snug on your pedalboard. You get stereo input and output jacks, an aux input for looping recorded music, and a USB output for exporting your recorded music to your computer.
There are eight hours of memory packed into this little pedal, as well as 99 memory slots where you can recall different phrases from, which is plenty enough to record multiple songs. Heck, you could even lay down your whole album on here.
While not as exact as BPM setting, the tap tempo provides solid quantization that will work for keeping time in live situations. There are also a few backing tracks onboard if you want to jam along to something when your bandmates aren’t around.
Bottom Line: The Nux Loop Core Deluxe helps to bridge the gap between high-end loop pedals and budget loop pedals with its high-quality sound, massive memory storage, and easy-to-use interface.
Digitech was the first company to enter the world of live looping and their pedals are still going strong today. There are a whopping 200 memory bands onboard this little pedal and over 35 minutes of built-in memory.
If you decide to insert an SD card into the pedal’s slot, you can record up to 16 hours, making it pretty versatile considering the size.
Digitech uniquely provides their JamManager XT software so that you can export and arrange your loops on your computer with ease.
Want to jam at your pad but the band is busy? Throw on one of the 10 drum loops onboard and start ripping! You can even use the aux input to connect your phone or MP3 player to throw your music through the pedal.
Though it doesn’t have built-in BPM settings, it does have a Tap Tempo feature that stretches and manipulates your loops without fidelity detriment.
Bottom Line: Digitech has packed a lot of punch into this compact and durable looper pedal. With stereo-ins and outs, as well as 16 hours of recording time with the SD card, you can take this thing from the garage to the stage with ease.
The Line 6 JM4 packs quite a few cool features in its chassis considering the price-point. It’s a professional looping pedal that is perfect for recording, performing, or jamming at home.
With a recording time of about 24 minutes, you can lay down full-on arrangements and take them with you on the road. Beyond the looping capabilities, this pedal has some wild effects built in.
Line 6 did something pretty cool by adding in 150 song presets, as well as 250 artists presets, for you to work with. You can even save your own with the included 36 empty tone banks.
When you dig deep in the manipulation features of the JM4, you quickly realize that you can take your sound to an entirely different level. Play with it for one minute, and you might not even be able to remember what your loop sounded like when you started.
Bottom Line: Looping is one thing, but being able to let your creativity expand and flow is another. The built-in effects and presets on the JM4 make it a one-of-a-kind looper pedal that delivers both value and inspiration for artists who want to push their boundaries a bit further.
Though the Electro-Harmonix 720 may not look like much on the outside, it packs some pretty impressive features and functionality under the face.
One of the unique things about this pedal is that Electro-Harmonix has created silent footswitches without the dreaded click and pop.
There are 10 banks available for loop storage, each of which can be manipulated to play in reverse or half-speed if you choose. You can access these functions with the other footswitch, making it easy to mess with your sounds on the fly.
The pedal stores up to 12 minutes of audio on each of the loops and helps your music to fade out naturally thanks to the built-in trail-circuitry. Essentially, you won’t get a sudden, non-musical stop when you turn the pedal off.
They’ve managed to pack in 24-bit stereo recording at 44.1 kHz too, making it perfect for those who are serious about high-fidelity audio.
Bottom Line: With top-of-the-line Electro-Harmonix quality and a surprising amount of features built-in, the 720 is an excellent mid-range pedal for loopers who are just getting started.
The Boss RC-3 is one of the most notable looper pedals on the market. It shares a lot of the same features as both the RC-30 and RC-300, though is far less expensive, much more portable, and way easier to use.
If you don’t need all of the added effects, processing, or memory, and want something simple, the RC-3 is perfect.
You get one loop track built-in, as well as one input. You can still stack up loops, though you won’t be able to recall or manipulate them individually.
The synchronization and auto-start features on the RC-3 make it a stand-out among its competitors. The auto-start makes it so that the pedal won’t start recording until you start playing, helping you to worry less about nailing that foot stomp to perfect your timing.
There are a few backing tracks available to play with too, and you can also plug in your phone or MP3 player to jam over your favorite tunes thanks to the aux input.
Bottom Line: Simplicity, durability, and quality, are a few words that come to mind when thinking of the Boss RC-3. It’s a classic guitar looper pedal that has been used by countless musicians over the years and will provide you with everything you need on a budget.
The Ditto Looper is the perfect pedal for guitarists who want something simple and inexpensive. You get five minutes of looping memory built-in, though you can stack, undo, and redo, as many times as you’d like.
The best part about this pedal is that it is super compact, making it easy to take with you on the road. The controls are simple too. You have one footswitch to record, start, and stop your loops, as well as a volume knob to control the overall volume of your loop arrangement.
It is true bypass, meaning audio purists won’t have to worry about the pedal affecting their tone, as it keeps everything sounding just as high-quality as when it went in.
Bottom Line: The Ditto Looper provides you with a durable, high-quality pedal that is incredibly easy to use and won’t burn a hole in your pocket. If portability and budget-friendly is critical, this pedal should be right up your alley.
If you ever find yourself sifting around the world of budget pedals, you’ll likely see the Ammoon brand name. This is the budget looper of all “budget loopers”, and considering the design and quality, it’s not half bad.
The tiny Ammoon Looper comes complete with one footswitch and a volume knob, similar to the Ditto Looper. It’s easy to use and perfect for those who are practicing at home or want a pedal to go busk with out on the streets.
You can record up to 10 minutes of loops on this bad boy, which is pretty solid for a pedal in its price range.
You can overdub as many times as you want within that 10 minutes, as well as delete loops or undo any accidents by pressing the footswitch. Simply keep your eye on the LED light to see if you are in delete or record mode so that you don’t accidentally destroy your masterpiece.
Bottom Line: The Ammoon Looper is not a professional sounding looper by any means, though if you’re looking for something simple and easy to practice or perform at small events with, it’ll do you just fine!
What Makes a Great Looper Pedal?
The memory should be at the top of your priority list when considering which pedal to buy. Memory can differ vastly from one pedal to the next.
Some pedals can store around 30 seconds of data while others come packed with SD cards (or something similar) that can give you hours of recording time.
You just have to consider what your usage will be. For practice, you can probably get away with little memory. For performance, you’ll likely have longer and larger numbers of loops, meaning you can’t skimp on storage.
Also, more memory can yield a higher quality sound, since high fidelity audio files are larger in nature.
# Of Pedals
Having more pedals, or switches, can make a huge difference if you’re performing live, as these switches are used to control the looper’s functions.
For the at-home hobbyist, a single pedal or switch might do you just fine. But for the seasoned pro who plans on regularly gigging, it might be annoying to have to reach down and adjust dials or knobs every time you want to change your single loop.
In this case, we'd recommend a pedal with multiple switches so that you can shift between various loops on stage and layer parts to your heart’s desire.
If you decide to go with a budget looper, it’s likely that you’ll only be able to mess around with one loop at a time.
This isn't a big issue for hobbyists, but if you plan to perform and create arrangements on the spot, you’ll want to be able to hear and adjust your loops simultaneously.
At the end of the day for arranging songs live, you should definitely go with multi-loop functionality.
Some loopers come complete with different modes that can alter your sounds in some out-of-this-world ways. A few modes that you should expect to see on standard loopers include reverse and half-speed modes.
Reverse looping allows you to record a sample of yourself playing and throw it into reverse. If you want to bring that psychedelic Beatles sound to the live arena, having this function onboard is incredible.
Half-speed mode allows you to slow down your sampled loop to create drippy and sludgy sounds. For the experimental guitarist or vocalist, having these functions is a must.
To be the best looper you can be, you need to work on your timing. It’s a running joke for bassists and drummers that guitarists and vocalists can’t keep time, and for many cases, they’re right. We tend to shred away over the foundation that’s been built for us instead of worrying about “the pocket.”
Luckily, guitar loop pedal manufacturers understand this too and have created synchronization features to help you stay in time without fuss. Some lower end pedals come with tap-tempo features that allow you to sync up your sample by tapping a button.
Higher-end guitar looper pedals come with BPM dials that give you the opportunity to set the tempo correctly. These pedals will typically have quantize functions onboard to manipulate your loop so that it fits within the given tempo.
Furthermore, some of the top end pedals have auto-start features that won’t start recording until you start playing. If you don’t like the idea of trying to smash the pedal the second you begin playing and pray for dear life, we recommend looking for this feature too.
If you’re playing alongside a band, a beneficial feature to have is MIDI sync. Your keyboardist or programmer can set up a MIDI clock so that you can synchronize your loops to it.
Whether you play with a band where perfect timing is crucial, or you just want to sync up with your own MIDI devices, having this feature is a must.
Most guitar pedals have mono ins and outs while effects pedals that are stereo-based, such as high-end chorus pedals, will come with stereo outs.
If you’re using your looper pedal to practice at home, a mono pedal is just fine.
However, if you’re looking to take your performance live, you might want to get some stereo outputs to create a fuller sound.
As a cherry on top, getting stereo inputs allows you to record multiple instruments at one time. If you’re a vocalist and guitarist performing live, you can use this function to stack both guitar parts and harmonies!
Stay In the Loop
Having a solid looper pedal in your arsenal is an excellent way to experiment with your sound a little more, practice your guitar or vocal chops, and arrange full-on songs.
They are, however, pretty diverse in quality and price range, so make sure to look across the spectrum to find the best one with the features you need.
If you want the best of the best, there is no doubt that you should go with the Boss RC-300.
But if you think you need to do a little more research, make sure to keep an eye out for different features such as effects, I/O, memory, and synchronization. If you do, you’ll be on your way to becoming a loop master soon enough!