Do You Need A Loop Pedal
If you are a guitar player who has been playing for at least a few months, and can play some chords or riffs with more-or-less correct rhythm, then you should definitely consider buying a loop pedal (or looper pedal as they are sometimes known). Apart from being a lot of fun to play around with, they are a really great to improve your timing, as I will explain below.
In order to use a loop pedal, you will need to have a guitar with a pickup (in other words, an electric guitar or an electro-acoustic guitar) AND an amplifier.
Then you need a loop pedal J
You need 2 guitar leads, one to plug your guitar into the loop pedal and one to plug the loop pedal into your amplifier. You need either a power supply or a battery for the loop pedal (most take a 9v battery).
Different Kinds of Loop Pedals
The most basic kind of loop pedal will have one button which you will press to start the recording, and press again to start playback of the loop you just recorded.
Two good examples for under €100 are the Boss RC-3 and the TC-Helicon Ditto Looper. Both of these pedals allow you to overdub more recordings on top of the existing one. This means if you loop a four bar chord part, you can then add on a bassline to the loop, and then add on a lead part, and you will hear all three parts looping around together. Fun!
The next step up would be pedals which allow you to add more than one set of loops, like the Boss RC-30 or the Ditto Looper x 2 or Looper x 4. More than one set of loops allows you to do things like fade different parts in and out (you can’t do this with only one loop). These pedals cost around €200-€300.
You can also get bigger pedal boards known as “Loop Stations” which also allow you to add drum parts and other sounds, like the Boss RC-300, which costs closer to €500. I would not recommend getting a Loop Station unless you are already a late-intermediate player who is technologically savvy!
However, even a beginner can have fun with, and get a lot of benefit from, playing with a basic loop pedal.
What, and Who, Is It Good For?
The loop pedal is good for any guitarist who wants to improve their timing – which really should be every guitarist!
Once you have your loop pedal set up, you can use it to:
1) Loop yourself playing chords and practice improvising over them
2) Have fun layering up your own improvisations into epic polyphonic compositions!
3) Test your timing with strumming patterns or fingerstyle rhythms
4) Test how tight you can get a bassline or riff to lock in with a rhythm part (“lock in” is musician speak for when the rhythm is extremely accurate).
5) Use it for an effect when you are soloing (for example, many loop pedals have an option to play the loop back in reverse which sounds very cool in a guitar solo).
What Are The Benefits Of Practicing With A Loop Pedal?
When you record a loop and start hearing it play back, you immediately hear your playing in an objective way that is very hard to hear while you are actually playing. You will immediately notice many flaws, especially in the timing, of what you played. It might not be much fun at first to notice the mistakes in your timing! It is very common to have a feeling like “Oh no! I thought I was better than THAT!” But it is very beneficial for your playing, because it allows you to work on correcting these flaws which leads to much improved timing.
In a short time, you will start noticing an improvement in the timing, and soon you will be able to record several layers without any timing mistakes. When you can do this, your playing will sound so much better, even without using the loop pedal!
At Ultimate School of Music, we teach guitarists to reach the next level with their guitar playing. Contact us for guitar lessons in Dublin