There are very few items in the guitar gear catalog that can be as useful and practical as a looper pedal. This is especially true if you’re currently in the stage of practicing on your own. While playing with a live band cannot be substituted for anything, a looper pedal will get you somewhat close to that feeling.
It will force you to work on your timing and help you build a good sense of rhythm. These are usually two things that most people forget about when learning how to play, especially on their own.
How I Chose the Best Looper Pedal
I decided to focus only really on one looper that I think is the best in terms of simplicity and value for money. I will, however, recommend one more looper for people who want more features (aside from just standard looping), but that’s way at the bottom of this article.
My thinking was that most people would want just a simple looper that allows them to play along a rhythm track and practice along. Most other people, who want something more from a loop pedal, probably already know what to look for.
Final note – in case you’re just starting out and you don’t really know how to use a looper pedal, check out this awesome video by JustinGuitar on YouTube – How To Use A Looper Pedal Guitar Lesson Tutorial.
With all that said, in my opinion, the best simple and straightforward looper pedal is – Boss RC-1 Loop Station
Why Boss RC-1 is the Best Simple Looper Pedal
To be fair, the guitar looper market is not as saturated as, for example, distortion pedal market, so it’s much easier to pick and choose the best pedal out there. However, when I first started my research on the best looper pedals, I was surprised to find a decent amount of cheaper loopers, of relatively unknown manufacturers.
One such looper that seemed to pop out from the crowd, so to say, is the Donner Tiny Looper. This little looper seems to be the most popular choice out there, which in all fairness, is probably because it’s cheap.
Also, I noticed that the looper looks similar to the TC Electronics Ditto – one of the most iconic loopers out there.
So, these two seem to be the most popular loopers out there, at least based on the number of reviews on a few different online stores such as Reverb.com and Amazon.
I, however, don’t think they are that amazing. In my opinion, they are both too tiny for comfortable foot operation, and both require software to run – which enables you to connect the looper to your computer. A neat feature, but I’m out here looking for an old-school looper, that is simple and straightforward.
This is where I fell in love with the Boss RC-1 looper. Just a good old stomp pedal that records you playing, and plays it back at you. That’s all I need, and I all I want. All that USB stuff, and playing loops backward (why?) – no thanks.
Boss RC-1 Looper in Detail
The pedal is very easy to use. To record you simply press the switch and the LED light will turn red. When finished, simply tap again and the LED goes to green and the looper will start playing the sequence back to you. At any time if you want to add another layer on top of the previous one, simply press the switch again to start recording.
What I particularly liked on this looper is that it has sort of a display that gives out a clear sign when you’re recording, when you’re playing back in the loop, and how many time it’s left until the loop starts from the beginning. Once you familiarize yourself with these patterns, and memorize them in your mind, using the pedal becomes even more intuitive.
Next to that, Boss RC-1 looper also features stereo inputs and outputs, and an input for another switch pedal if needed. This allows you to have addition pedal on the side just for the stop and undo functions.
To see the price of the Boss RC-1 Loop Station check – Boss RC-1 on Amazon. I really recommend that you buy a bundle version with the power adapter included. Usually, you can find it for the same price as just the tuner itself.
That’s Cool Dan, But I Want Something a Bit More Advanced
That’s alright. I understand that not everyone wants the same thing – just a simple looper that records and plays back.
My personal recommendation for an “advanced” looper would probably be something like a Digitech JMSXT Jamman Solo XT. This looper costs about 30% more than the Boss but has lots of additional features. It has USB connectivity (for transfering your loops over to your PC), a micro SD card slot, storing/speeding down loops without changing pitch, and lots of other cool features.
In all honesty, you get more for your money with the Digitech compared to Boss, but it’s not for everyone. I personally like simplicity, and I simply prefer Boss – the same way I prefer simple amps compared to modern modeling amps. You might prefer Digitech, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s a matter of personal taste and needs.
To see the price of the Digitech Jamman looper check Digitech JMSXT Jamman Solo XT on Amazon. Make sure you buy a bundle that includes a power adapter, as using the looper with a battery is just sub-optimal.