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Pedal looper and equipment for practice

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Nov 12, 2019 - 8:02:07 AM



1194 posts since 4/21/2003

Goal: Lay down my own backing tracks on guitar (maybe overdub other instruments on backup), and loop them (endlessly) so I can play along live on guitar, banjo or mando to improve my backup, improvise breaks, etc. The infinite jam.

Equipment I have: acoustic instruments with no pickups; no mixing board, but an audiophile Harman-Kardon receiver from the Carter administration with ton's of inputs for pre-amplifying and amplifying for speakers. Headphones.

What I think I need (trying to keep $$ under control): simple pedal looper (looking at a Boss RC-1?), small diaphragm cardiod condensor mic with simple phantom power supply for recording the instruments, impedance matching transformer cable before sending mic output into the pedal looper or a preamp for the mic output, mic stand. I'm thinking a dedicated pedal looper will be much easier to control during recordings, looping, overdubbing than a computer, etc, since I can operate it with my foot while still playing.

Possible Problems? Will the impedance matcher be good enough for taking the mic to the pedal looper, or will I need to spend money on a pream (in which case I'd try to find one that also supplies phantom power to the condensor mic)? Acoustic feedback: I figure I'll have to use headphones if I want to overdub to make a 2 instrument or more backing track to avoid feedback from speakers to the condensor mic.

How's this look as a basic setup? Equipment recommendations? Problems I've overlooked?

Thanks - I've never messed much with acoustic amplification and recording before.

Nov 12, 2019 - 9:16:12 AM

19 posts since 7/19/2019

I got one of these|en)

Anything a mic picks up, you can loop.

Phantom power is provided (enough to run my ear trumpet labs mic)

It taught me that I am worse than I thought and Looping takes practice on its own. I still like it

Nov 12, 2019 - 10:01:57 AM
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1194 posts since 4/21/2003

Aha - looper made for mic inputs

Nov 12, 2019 - 11:59:58 AM
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12 posts since 8/20/2019

Originally posted by kjcole

...I'm thinking a dedicated pedal looper will be much easier to control during recordings, looping, overdubbing than a computer, etc, since I can operate it with my foot while still playing.

I'm not saying you should use a computer, but USB foot switches would let you use a laptop in a similar manner. I bought a USB foot switch (3 switches) for use with MainStage. There are other solutions out there, but this is one that I bought.

I went with laptop-based software because I already had the laptop and software and wasn't sure where I was going with it all. I didn't get very far in my experiment though - it was in 2018 and I went into the ER the week I bought this switch. I subsequently had colon surgery and five months of Chemo. I'm just now getting my electronic music gear hooked back up.

Nov 12, 2019 - 1:40:38 PM

309 posts since 3/26/2009

I have been thinking about a looper myself, but for recording my own multi-tracks I use a old PC with Audacity (free) and a usb mic. ("Rock band" mic i got at Goodwill for a buck)

Nov 13, 2019 - 12:09:47 AM



952 posts since 3/22/2017

I remember having serious feedback problems with mike and looper a few years back but I can't remember what the setup was.

You could get a basic unpowered mixer and plug in condensor or dynamic mike and electric guitar /keyboard (1/4" plug) then run that into looper. Good brands are Mackie, Peavey and Yamaha, something like

Nov 13, 2019 - 7:26:01 AM
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Players Union Member



14651 posts since 3/27/2004

Here's the looping setup I use all the time.  Basic tracks are done with instruments with pickups, but you can do a mic-based looper instead.  Since most loopers are stereo you can use the two sides independently.  In the photo you can see I'm using a separate bass amp so I can loop the bass and feed it independently to a bass amp which sounds exponentially better than trying to reproduce the bass through a combo amp, like the stereo Cube Street EX shown in the left of the photo.

A couple of points that will greatly enhance your ability to easily loop:

DO NOT get a single button looper!  Spend just a bit more for a looper with a dedicated stop button.  The looper I'm using in the photo is an Electroharmonix 720 which has a stop switch, 10 memory slots, and 12 minutes of loop time built in.  It is sold with a power supply, which the RC-1 does not include.  If you add the cost of the power supply the RC-1 is basically the same price as the far more useful EHX-720.

If you can keep a beat you can loop.  The easiest way to do it is to count your beats and START and STOP the loop on your ONE count.  If you're doing entire songs or looping a verse / chorus arrangement then this will START your loop after the pick-up counts.

If you're going to do mic-based looping you'll need to use an amp with a headphone output that disables the main speaker.  With mic-based looping you want to use the mic for overdubs but you don't want the previously-played loops to couple back to the looper input through the mic.  When you're done adding loops you can disconnect headphones and use your amp speaker in the room.

The Boss RC-30 has a dedicated mic input, as well as the TC Helicon that was linked above.  The TC Helicon has been expressly designed for mic-based looping.  The lack of loop storage slots is a disadvantage for the TC Helicon looper, requiring you to recreate your work each time you want to create a new piece.  The Boss RC-30 has something like 100 storage slots, so you won't delete your previous work every time you want to switch to a different tune or song.

One last thought.  If you don't mind working a bit more with the technology you may want to consider purchasing a small multi-track recorder like a Zoom R-8.  You can record up to 2 mic inputs simultaneously and you can overdub up to 8 tracks.  If you do a basic pass in mono with an R-8 you can set "loop" points and add 7 additional loops.  The advantage to the R-8 is you can port those basic tracks (all isolated independently) to your computer and mix them using software to create mixes suitable for CD quality release.  Yes, it's more work, but if that's your ultimate goal then it's perhaps wise to bypass using a looper.  The looper is certainly more "instant gratification", though.  My setup is powered with a single power strip, so I can flip one switch, lay down a guitar loop, add a bass, possibly a second and third guitar loop, and jam away to my heart's content.  The whole process takes less than 5 minutes.

Edited by - rudy on 11/13/2019 07:41:04

Nov 13, 2019 - 10:53 AM



1194 posts since 4/21/2003

Thanks for the equipment and procedure advice. That'll reduce the trial and error. Mic and the right looper and I'm ready to roll.

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