It is often desirable to use a loop pedal with your guitar in order to create repetitive patterns of notes. Here are some tips on how to go about setting up the pedal or loop stations and creating the perfect loop for you.
How To Properly Use A Guitar Looper Pedal
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Sometimes it’s nice just to have an extra hand, so when you’re trying out new gear, or noodling around with your guitar, it’s nice to be able to back up and hear what you’re playing again. This is where a loop pedal comes in handy. It allows you to record any song you can dream up and play it repeatedly on demand.
There are two types of loop pedals that work with electric guitars, the ones that assign a delay function to each guitar chord, and the ones that create multiple loops at once. In the latter case, setup is a bit more complicated, and this article will cover two types of loop pedals that work with electric guitars—the single-handed type and the dual-handed type.
A single-handed loop pedal (or single-finger pedal) has only one footswitch and can be used to create just one kind of loop, such as one of chords for a standard electric guitar.
A dual-handed loop pedal (or multi-loop pedal) can create multiple loops at once and usually has more footswitches than a single handed loop pedal.
Setting Up The Pedal And Checking Your Settings
First, plug the guitar into the amp and use a cable or wireless transmitter to connect the guitar to the pedal. Then set the pedal up with at least one footswitch plugged in and on. If you’re using pedals with more than one function, get the first pedal to operate independently of other pedals while you’re setting up the second pedal.
Note that some loop pedals have a built-in tuner while others require a separate tuner if you want to do that sort of thing. Look for those features if they are part of the package.
Using A Looper Pedal For Guitar Practice
To use a looper pedal while practicing, set the loop and let your playing develop a pattern that works for you. Once you feel you have it down, start from the beginning and build up your pattern over time. Repeating the pattern is important to building muscle memory so that the parts are smooth and easy for you in a live performance situation. The more you practice this way, the faster you’ll get at it and your progress will accelerate.
How To Make Music With A Looping Pedal
If you don’t yet have a song that has a repetitive structure, try making up a simple song as a pattern. Just be sure to save the original track out of the loop pedal so that you can play it back later when you put the song together. The basic structure of your song should follow the form of a chord progression, with two or three distinct parts to each chord.
Some great example pedals are the Boss RC30, TC Electronic Ditto Looper, etc.
Some general rules to keep in mind:
- Chords should be 1 to 4 measures each (no more than four measures)
- Practice one section repeatedly, then the next section of chords (repeat a section three times at most).
- One guitar should play just a single chord while the loop pedal repeats the same part over and over. The other guitar will play along with one or two chords and back out when it doesn’t matter: when she sings, for instance.
- Don’t try to play too many parts on the same chord (such as playing a bass part on a full chord). You’ll get better results if you just try to play one guitar part at a time.
- If your song has lyrics, sing over the loop and do a single guitar solo part from time to time. Have the other guitar play a rhythm or harmony part once in awhile and then back out of it.
Can I Use A Looper Pedal With…
Yes, and it’s even easier than with an electric guitar. Most loop pedals work with acoustic guitars—just plug your acoustic directly into the loop pedal and go. If you’re using an instrument that has a pickup, just plug in directly to the pedal or the amp.
Yes, there are some great loop pedals out there specifically for bass guitar.
Yes, many loop pedals have a MIDI input for keyboards. Since keyboards are usually synched to a sequencer, the notes can be played by the keyboardist with no need for an extra footswitch. The pedal itself will then pick up the signal from the keyboard and repeat it without any additional burden on your playing.
Some loopers can be plugged into an electric violin so that you can play it remotely using foot switches on a separate guitar. Most of the units out there for electric violins are triggered by footswitches, so you’ll have to be careful about what sort of loop features you need. Some have a single-finger feature in which you can only switch between notes and rhythms, while others have a variety of effects available and so can create many different types of loops.
Yes, there are some loop pedals designed specifically for piano or keyboard, so you can simply play a repeated pattern over your own playing. The great thing about this is that you can turn the volume down on your own playing and still hear it during the loop. If you don’t want to use a real piano pedal, then consider using an electronic drum pedal such as a Roland KD-8 Kick Pad . They work in a similar way to other pedals.
Whether you’re a solo guitar player or the lead guitarist in a full band, a looper pedal is an essential tool to have in your arsenal. A looping pedal can be used for many purposes, from songwriting to practice to outfit yourself for any type of gig. It’s easy to use and can give your playing a new dimension and depth that you’ve never experienced before.