I've Owned 10 Loopers

Typically when we see a good deal on a loop station pop up on Reverb, it gets snagged before anyone gets chance to see it. We invited Philly-based musician and illustrator, Daniel Harris to write a quick buying guide on the loopers he's explored.

There was a time when looping meant using a reel-to-reel with a simple loop of tape. Layering, level control, and clarity were limited, but that was really your only option. Today, you've got options out the yang and you can definitely find a looper that not only suits your playing style, but will become an extension of you and your instrument. With a good looper in your chain, there's no limit to the ways you can augment your creative abilities.

To help you along the way, here are the loopers I've used:

Basic Loopers

TC Electronic Ditto Looper

Looking for something small, immediate, and clear? The TC Ditto Looper features a one-stomp switch that covers record, play, dub, and stop. While lacking all the performance features of some of bigger guns, the ditto is great for a first-time loop-head.

Boss RC-3

If you need something normal-sized with stereo i/o, the popular Boss RC-3 can save plenty of loops and transfer to your computer via USB to save what you've built. I recommend attaching to a Boss FS-5 to switch between phrases. With one stomp switch covering record, play, dub, and stop, the RC-3 is a very popular choice for beginner loopers.

Delay + Looper

Line 6 DL4

Not only is the DL4 a great sounding delay with lots of funky options, it includes a looper that you can easily throw into reverse or half-speed. Stereo i/o is a plus and while it's not the most durable pedal in my experience, this green machine just sounds siiick all the time.

TC Electronic Flashback X4

The Flashback X4 from TC is similar to the DL4 but more durable and digital. It too is an extensive delay pedal that also has a dedicated looper. This is a great choice if you're not looking to go super deep with looping, but efficiency and clarity are important. Stereo and midi i/o, USB and pedalboard real-estate-friendliness are all major plusses.

Loopers for Loopers

Boomerang III

Like the original Boomerang, but with more loop phrases, relevant looping effects, and all in a smaller pedalboard-friendly package. The sweet foot-volume of the original isn't there, but can be achieved with an attachment. With upgradable software and stereo i/o, the Boomerang III is the best in the line yet. 

Electro Harmonix 45000

The 45000 is more studio-style looper. You can lay down a bunch of different phrases and control each with faders like a mixer, change speed and pitch, and it still somehow sounds quite analog'ish. If taking it on the road, there's a separate foot controller where you can select the presets saved on an SD card. Also check out this silly demo video from Reggie Watts.

Boss RC-300

The massive RC-300 has a little bit of everything. Not only is it an extensive dedicate loop-station, it also packs a ton of other effects into a single, pedalboard-sized unit. I gotta be honest, if you're just looking to break into looping, this is not the best choice: there are just too many added features you can get from other pedals. If you are, however, looking for a single piece with endless effects and functions to explore, this is a good choice.

Old School Loopers

Boss RC-50

Though sadly discontinued, the RC-50 is one of my all-time favorites. It covers basically anything and everything relevant to looping and stereo, with multiple separate loops with lots of layers and retain of control of each loop-phrase. It gives a bunch of ins and outs including XLR and even has onboard phantom power. If you can find one -- used or brand-new -- do it.

Analog Reel-to-Reel

Yes, this isn't really a model, but just a general category of vintage gear. I follow a simple equation with any actual tape-based looping: Tape + home studio/practice space + the Beatles complete recording sessions book + a box of no.2 pencils = the only friends you'll need.

Boomerang Original

This is a great station if you want clean and clear loops without any latency whatsoever. And it has super foot-friendly controls, including a handy volume roller. This is a handmade in the US modern classic. Who cares if it takes up almost half my PedalTrain PT-2?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel Harris is Philadelphia-based musician and illustrator. He writes and performs solo ambient and experimental music as Daniel Harris, and with his loop-filled, experimental slop-pop duo, 3dCosby. facebook.com/danielhahaharris | facebook.com/3dCosby

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