Have you ever wished that you had an extra set of hands? As guitar players, we’re limited by our bodies. While our imaginations may be able to cook up lush and layered tonal landscapes, accomplishing them with the measly ten digits we’ve been given is another story.

That’s where the loop pedal comes in. As one of the most useful and exciting guitar effects on the market, a loop pedal allows you to fully explore all of the tonal possibilities in your mind by allowing you to record and overdub loops.

In the past, there were but a few loop pedals on the market, and all of them offered limited functionality. Most of them didn’t provide the greatest sound quality, either. Today, guitar players are blessed with an influx of truly amazing loop pedals that allow guitarists to add extra voices and textures to their music with a simple tap of the foot.

But, with so many good options on the market, it’s now much harder to find the best loop pedal for your needs. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at everything you need to know about loop pedals and learn more about the best looper pedals available now. That way, you’ll be able to decide on the perfect loop pedal for your music.

What is the Best Looper Pedal?

What exactly is a looper pedal, and what does it do?

A loop pedal is a guitar effect that allows you to record a passage and then play it back on an infinite loop. Many loop pedals allow you to then record overdubs and incorporate them into the loop as well.

Depending on the pedal, the maximum recording time of the looper, the number of overdubs you can add, and the number of loops you can save to the pedal’s onboard memory will vary. Most of the best looper pedals on the market allow you to record over five minutes of music on the looper, and some even provide infinite overdubs.

Loop pedals are exceptionally useful for virtually any application, too. When you’re working on your chops at home, they make it easy for you to add a backing track to your playing so you can sus out solos, or lead parts.

Loop pedals are also great for songwriting purposes, providing you with all the time you need to hash out different parts or work on lyrics.

For live performance, a loop pedal allows you to simulate additional band members, which is perhaps the coolest feature of a loop pedal. We figure it’s hard enough dealing with the bandmates you already have, why would you want more of them?! A loop pedal is the best bandmate ever when you think about it. They don’t talk back, they don’t expect you to help them with your gear, and you don’t have to split your guarantee with them!

What makes a great looper pedal?

With such an influx of quality loop pedals on the market, finding the best one for your needs isn’t as easy as it used to be. In just a moment, we’ll cover some of the best loop pedals on the market. Many readers will find one of those pedals to be perfect for their needs. Whether you go with one of those or choose one we haven’t covered, you’ll want to evaluate any loop pedal you’re interested in based on these criteria.

  1. High sample rate
  2. Multiple footswitches
  3. Loop overlay
  4. Onboard memory

High sample rate

The sample rate of a pedal is one of the most critical considerations to make when you’re shopping for a loop pedal. A pedal’s sample rate is a measurement of how quickly samples are taken, and the sample rate is measured in kiloHertz (kHz).

With audio and video, a sample rate of 48kHz is the industry standard, and 44.1kHz is considered to be CD quality.

You may encounter loop pedals that sample at higher frequencies, like 96kHz. While this is a cool feature for manufacturers to boast about, you reach a point where your ears and the ears of your audience can’t process the higher sampling rate. Some people may argue that higher sample rates are inherently better, but there isn’t much proof of that being the case.

As long as your looper provides a CD quality sample rate of 44.1kHz, you’re in business.

More affordable loopers that feature lower sample rates won’t provide the high-quality playback that we’ve now come to expect from loop pedals. If you plan to use your loop pedal live, you’ll want to make sure it offers a 44.1kHz sample rate.

Multiple footswitches

This consideration is especially important if you’re going to be using your loop pedal as part of your live performances.

Loop pedals are a fantastic effect, but they do have their limitations. Most notably, they can’t just memorize a set list like a human can. So, when you need different loops for different songs or passages, unless you have multiple footswitches at your disposal to engage specific loops, you can’t access the loop you need in real time.

Many of the best loop pedals on the market provide two, three, or more footswitches that allow you to access your saved loops in real time. This makes it considerably easier to access the loop you need at the exact time you need it, without interfering with your live show in any way.

Loop overlay

Another key feature that’s especially important for live performers and one man bands is the ability to overdub your loops.

For example, let’s say you want to loop a passage in a song with a bass line, chords, and a lead part. If you can’t overdub your loops, you’ll never be able to accomplish this. But, with a pedal that allows you to overdub loops, you’ll be able to add additional voices to your loop to make a fully fleshed out song.

The best looper pedals provide you with tons of overdubbing ability. Some loopers even allow you to add an infinite number of overdubs to your loops, so your imagination is the only limit to the music you’re able to create.

Onboard memory

Another critical consideration is whether or not the loop pedal offers onboard memory for you to save your loops.

Without onboard storage, you’ll need to record any loop passage you need in real time before you can use it. Then, when it’s time to record your next loop, you lose the previous loop forever. Or, at least until you re-record it.

Loopers that offer onboard memory allow you to save and recall your loops as needed, which helps to save time, and also allows you to get right into the song you’re playing. Without onboard memory, you’ll have to start from scratch each time you need to access that loop.

While it can be cool to build loops from scratch on stage, and it gives your audience a glimpse into the inner workings of the looper, do you want to have to do that for every song you play? There will probably be times when you’d like to jump right into the song without having to record and overdub each aspect of the loop.

Looper Pedal Reviews – Our Top 5 Recommendations

TC Electronic Ditto X4

Best Overall

What Makes It Special?

Like two independent Ditto loopers in one pedal, with tons of added bells and whistles, the Ditto X4 offers two independent loopers that can be used together, or individually depending on your needs. There are also seven useful effects, and an innovative decay knob, which provides exceptionally precise control over your compositions.

  • Two independent loopers in one pedal
  • Seven different loop effects
  • True bypass wiring and analog signal-thru
  • MIDI connectivity

The Ditto X4 has quickly become one of the most popular loopers on the market thanks to a slew of innovative features you can’t find anywhere else. This small but mighty looper offers controls for the volume of each loop, and footswitches that allow you to control when you start or stop each loop. There’s also a master stop footswitch that kills both loops.

The X4 provides seven effects altogether including reverse, half-time, double-time, hold, play once, and tape loop. A fourth footswitch allows you to turn the effect on or off with the most precision of any looping station. There’s also onboard storage for your loops and an impressive looping time of five minutes.

The standout feature of the X4 is it’s serial or parallel option. You can either use the loops one at a time and stop one whenever you start the next, which is useful if you’re looping multiple parts in a song, like a verse and a chorus. Or, you can use the looper in sync mode, which allows you to stack two separate loops on top of each other.

An innovative decay control allows you to remove old layers within the loop as you record new ones, which is a feature you won’t find in other pedals, and helps to ensure that you can continue to add new layers without tons of added clutter.

What Customers Like

  • Like having two looper pedals in one
  • Decay control
  • Independent start and stop footswitches

What Customers Dislike

  • Not enough onboard storage
  • Footswitches are pretty close together

Donner Deluxe Looper

Best For the Price

What Makes It Special?

Powerful and full-featured without the high price tag, the Donner Deluxe provides up to ten minutes of loop time and unlimited overdubs, stereo input, and true bypass construction with analog-dry-through and a high-quality 44.1kHz sample rate. Most impressively, it’s less than half the price of most of the high-end loopers on the market.

  • Ten minutes of loop time
  • Unlimited overdubs
  • 44.1kHz sample rate
  • True stereo operation with independent level controls

The Deluxe Looper from Donner provides guitarists with the high-end features they want from a looper at a price that can’t be beaten. This pedal offers an impressive ten minutes of looping time, which is more than you’re likely ever to need. You won’t have to worry about running out of space, as there are unlimited overdubs with this pedal.

This pedal also offers stereo inputs and outputs with independent level controls for each side, change, forward, and reverse effects, and a knob that allows you to adjust the tempo of the loop. We would prefer a tap tempo function in place of this knob, but it can be used as a cool effect.

On the downside, this looper only lets you store one loop at a time, which can be a bit limiting for live performances, and there’s no option to undo an overdub or quantize the loop. That said, it’s still in a league of its own when it comes to price, so it seems foolish to split hairs.

What Customers Like

  • Affordable
  • Independent level controls
  • Tons of loop time

What Customers Dislike

  • Not enough storage
  • Doesn’t have an undo function

Boss RC-30 Phrase Looper

What Makes It Special?

A powerful looper that’s built for live performance, the RC-30 provides an unprecedented 99 storage bays, up to three hours of stereo recording, and two synchronized loop tracks for creating lush soundscapes. Additional features like built-in effects, independent level and output controls, and tap tempo make the RC-30 one of the most powerful loopers on the market.

  • 99 storage bays
  • Onboard effects
  • Stereo inputs with independent level controls
  • Tap tempo

For over ten years, the RC-30 has been the most popular looping pedal on the market. Spend any amount of time playing one, and it’s easy to see why they’re so popular. Very few loopers offer quite as many practical effects and features, and those that do are usually several hundred dollars more expensive than this model.

The RC-30 provides two independent loop tracks that can be synchronized, stereo inputs with level controls for each, five useful effects, and an unprecedented 99 storage bays for you to recall loops on the fly, making this looper arguably the best option for live performers.

Other intuitive features like tap tempo, an undo function, and a count-in mode where you get a bar of rhythm to set your tempo before the recording starts make the RC-30 a wise choice for anyone who needs their looper to also be their bandmate.

What Customers Like

  • Two independent tracks
  • Useful effects
  • Tap tempo

What Customers Dislike

  • Power supply not included (this thing eats batteries)
  • Instructions are in Japanese

Boss RC-1 Loop Station

Best for Beginners & Students

What Makes It Special?

The most user-friendly Loop Station available, the RC-1 is easy to use, provides stereo inputs, 12 minutes of recording time, and unlimited overdubs with a convenient undo function for removing any mistakes in your last recording.

  • Stereo inputs
  • Level control
  • 12 minutes of loop time
  • Battery or AC power

Perfectly suited to players who are new to looping, the RC-1 provides the quality and reliability we’ve come to expect from Boss in a compact and economical stompbox. With up to 12 minutes of recording time, you’ll be able to capture virtually anything with this powerful looper.

You can add an external footswitch to the RC-1, which is a handy feature to have since starting and stopping loops is a slight chore with this pedal. Outside of that small caveat, there’s not much to pick on with this looper. If you’re looking for a simple and reliable option and aren’t intrigued by the additional features of other loopers, the RC-1 is probably perfect for you.

What Customers Like

  • Economical and easy to use
  • Plenty of looping time
  • Easy to read status indicator

What Customers Dislike

  • Can only store one loop at a time
  • Requires two presses to stop loops

Donner Tiny Looper

Best on a Budget

What Makes It Special?

Proof that good things come in small packages, the Tiny Looper offers ten minutes of recording time, unlimited overdubs, an undo/redo function, true bypass wiring, and ½ speed and reverse effects. Add to that the fact that this diminutive powerhouse costs under $50 and you have a winning pedal for players looking to dip their feet into the looper pond.

  • Ten minutes of recording time and unlimited overdubs
  • Undo/redo function

In almost all cases, a good looper will set you back at least $100, but Donner is trying to change all that with their incredibly functional loopers that are available for much less than their competitors. The Tiny Looper is packed into a nano-sized housing, but don’t let its size fool you, it packs many of the high-end features you’ll see in full-sized loopers from other companies.

This looper offers ten minutes of recording time, allows you to make unlimited overdubs, and the ability to undo or redo your last overdub in case you make a mistake. This pedal also offers true bypass wiring so that it won’t add any unwanted color to your tone. There are also ½ speed and reverse effects, and a level knob to control the output volume of the looper.

What Customers Like

  • Undo/redo function
  • Easy to use

What Customers Dislike

  • Only stores one loop at a time
  • A bit noisy

6 More Really Good Looper Pedals

Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper

A heavyweight loop pedal that offers the storage space that today’s modern guitarists demand, the 720 from Electro-Harmonix provides up to 12 minutes of recording time, unlimited overdubbing with undo and redo capability, onboard effects, and storage to save up to ten loops.

While most loopers offer additional effects as somewhat of an afterthought, the 720 provides a few that are quite useful, especially if you take advantage of the looper’s expression pedal output. Stereo inputs and outputs allow you to take full advantage of the tonal capabilities of this powerful looper.

Most notably, the 720 comes in considerably cheaper than many of the loopers in its weight class, which makes it a great option for players who need the advanced features provided by the high-end loopers but can’t justify spending $300 or more on a loop pedal.

Boss RC-300 Loop Station

The RC-300 Loop Station from Boss is simply looping nirvana. No pedal on the market provides as many features or as much versatility as this powerhouse.

The RC-300 provides three independent looping tracks with independent start and stop footswitches for all three. There’s also an expression pedal that you can assign a variety of parameters to, allowing you to exact complete control over your loops.

There are also sixteen onboard effects with a dedicated on/off footswitch including flanger, phaser, modulator, transpose, and many more. Tons of onboard storage let you store up to 99 loops, and record up to three hours of audio. An auxiliary input allows you to jam along with your favorite songs, and there are even built-in drum and bass loops for you to play along to as well.

DigiTech JMSXT Jam Man SoloXT

A compact and powerful looper with plenty of onboard storage, the Jam Man SoloXT is an ideal choice for players looking for a compact looper that’s affordable and still manages to offer plenty of onboard storage.

This pedal offers an impressive storage capacity of up to 35 minutes of CD-quality, stereo audio, which can be stored in one of two hundred different user bays. Best of all, the pedal accepts micro-SD cards, so there’s virtually no limit to the number of loops you can save with this device.

Other intuitive features like stereo inputs and outputs and expression pedal compatibility allow you to squeeze the most functionality from this affordable and powerful loop pedal.

NUX Loop Core

An affordable looper that offers some additional functionality that’s impossible to find in pedals in the same price range, the NUX Loop Core is a wide choice for players on a budget who still need a pro-quality looper.

The Loop Core provides an unprecedented six hours of recording time and storage space for 99 loops. Other intuitive features like built-in drum loops, a tap tempo button, and an expression pedal out add even more versatility to this feature-rich looper.

Easy to read LEDs indicate the mode the looper is in, and stereo inputs and outputs let you record in true CD-quality stereo. Most loopers with features like this command $200 or more, but the Loop Core is available for about half that much.

DigiTech Trio+ Band Creator

One of the most unique and technologically advanced loopers on the market, the Trio+ Band Creator lives up to its name, allowing solo players to sound like a complete band.

The Trio+ effect engine analyzes the part you’re playing and generates bass and drum parts to match based on one of the twelve different genres and twelve different rhythm styles, available in a variety of time signatures. Independent volumes allow you to control the bass and drums that the pedal creates.

As for the looper, you can record up to five parts in a single loop, and independent footswitches allow you to control your loop separately from the backing track. Other intuitive features like stereo inputs and outputs and expression pedal out make the Trio+ one of the most interesting and advanced loopers on the market.

If you’re looking for just a looper, you may find the additional features to be a bit unnecessary, especially since their inclusion limits how functional the looper is. But, for the one man bands of the world, the Trio+ may be the best thing since sliced bread.

Boss RC-3 Loop Station

Nestled perfectly between the bare bones RC-1 and the more full-featured and expensive RC-30, the RC-3 is a perfect middle ground for players who need a bit more in the features department than the RC-1 can provide without dropping $300 on a Loop Station.

The RC-3 provides up to three hours of stereo recording, unlimited overdubs, and space to save 99 loops. There’s also an auto function which starts recording the second you start playing, eliminating the need to perfectly time your loop. There’s also built-in drum loops, and concentric level control allows you to control the backing track independently from your loop.

5 FAQ’s About Looper Pedals

How to use a looper pedal?

With most guitar pedals, using the pedal is as simple as stepping on the footswitch. Some pedals, like wahs or loop pedals, require a bit more user involvement. In a sense, a loop pedal is something that you play, more than another pedal you stomp on.

A loop pedal is only going to work as well as you work it, so it’s imperative that you play your parts cleanly, and start and stop your loop perfectly on time. Precisely beginning and ending your loops, as well as starting them right on time is like having a second instrument to play. But, with a little practice, it’s something you’ll be able to master.

Even the loopers that provide tons of additional bells and whistles still offer relatively straightforward operation, and using the loop function is as easy as pressing the footswitch to begin recording your loop, and releasing it, or pressing it again to stop recording.

Depending on the way your pedal works and the settings you select, the loop may begin playing automatically when you stop recording, or you may need to actuate the pedal again to start or stop playback.

Most of the high-end loopers on the market provide loads of additional functionality, and some even offer additional effects you can add to your loops. Most loopers also allow you to affect the tempo of loops and play them in reverse as well.

Since each looper provides unique features, giving your owner’s manual, a quick read is the best way to learn how to best use your new looper pedal.

Where do you place a looper pedal (in the chain)?

If you’ve ever run into issues with your pedal chain, such as unwanted noise, or poor response or tone from your effects, there’s a strong chance your pedal chain was out of whack.

While there are no hard and fast rules to how you set up your pedal chain, there are some guidelines that can help you eliminate potential issues.

When setting up a pedal chain, it’s a good idea to first start with your tuner, and then move onto dynamic effects like a volume pedal, graphic EQ or compressor. From there, filters such as a wah, and effects which completely change the sound of your guitar, like an acoustic simulator or octave pedal can come next.

Next, you’ll want to place any gain effects you have, like distortion, overdrive, or fuzz. Then, you’ll place any modulation effects such as flanger, chorus, or phaser. Lastly, place time-based effects such as reverb and delay last. If you use a noise gate or noise suppressor, you’ll want to place that before your time-based effects, as those effects will kill the sound of your delay or reverb if they’re placed after.

You may have noticed that we’ve yet to mention where your looper pedal should go. Loopers are unique in the sense that they aren’t actually guitar effects, they’re recording devices. As such, you’ll want to place your looper at the very end of the signal chain. That way, you’ll have access to your full range of pedals when you record a loop.

If you were to place your looper elsewhere in your signal chain, the effects that come after it would affect the part you’re looping as a whole, instead of affecting the individual notes you play.

What are the top looper pedal brands?

Boss is arguably the most well known and reputable guitar effect manufacturers in the world. A subsidiary of Roland, Boss, has been making top-quality guitar effects for decades. In addition to offering some of the best quality effects, they also manufacture a full line of looping pedals.

Their Loop Station line of loopers includes many different pedals, all with different features, that cater to virtually every type of guitar player. Boss is also one of the few companies that makes ultra high-end pedals that offer tons of additional loop functionality.

TC Electronic is another popular guitar pedal manufacturer that’s well known for its innovative products and true bypass wiring. Founded over forty years ago by Danish brothers John and Kim Rishøj, TC Electronic is part of a larger parent company that makes everything from guitar and vocal effects to speakers and studio monitors.

Their Ditto line of loop effects is quite popular, and just like Boss, they provide loopers across a variety of price points with different features to fit the needs of every guitar player.

DigiTech is another notable manufacturer of looper pedals. Founded in 1984, DigiTech carved out a name for themselves with their Whammy line of pitch shifters in the late ‘80s. The company was also a pioneering force between multi-effects pedals and modeling units which today make up such a large part of the products on the market.

The company manufactures several loopers, including the innovative Trio+ pedal, which has been a veritable godsend for one man bands. The Trio+ generates bass and drum parts to your playing and allows you to loop multiple sections and custom sequence them as you need, making for one of the most unique loopers available.

How much does a good looper pedal typically cost?

When it comes to loop pedals, you’ll find options well under $100, as well as loopers that cost upwards of $500. The features you need and the application you’ll be using your looper for will help determine whether or not you need to drop big money on a loop pedal, or if you can opt for a more affordable option.

There are tons of quality looper pedals in the $80-200 range, and they all provide tons of functionality and features. For most guitarists, a pedal in this range is usually perfectly fine. But, if you need a slew of additional features, like multiple footswitches and tons of onboard storage for your loops, you may want to opt for a higher end pedal.

Where can I learn more about looper pedals?

Guitar World has been one of the most trusted resources for guitarists for decades, and their blog is just as good as their famous print magazine. Guitar World always has plenty of interviews with top players, gear reviews, tips and advice from the pros. The article above is a great resource for players looking to learn more about loopers.

Sweetwater is another great resource for all things guitar. While Sweetwater exists primarily as a retail store, they do an amazing job of providing useful tips and tricks for guitarists. Plus, their product pages always have detailed demo videos of the product, which really comes in handy when you need to hear how something sounds but can’t get to the store to try it yourself.

Reverb is another retailer that specializes in selling used gear, which is perfect for players on a budget. They also provide some great articles as well as tips and tricks on their blog, like the article above.

Conclusion

Adding a loop pedal to your rig is an incredibly easy way to add a whole new sonic dimension to your playing. Whether you’re practicing, writing, or performing live, a looper is a great tool to have at your disposal.

Do you own a loop pedal? Which is your favorite? Sound off in the comments and give our readers your thoughts!

When shopping for a loop pedal, guitarists will also often consider:

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