How to Use a Guitar Looper Pedal

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How to Use a Guitar Looper Pedal

looper pedal is a stompbox. You use it to record and playback your playing on the fly. You plug your guitar into the looper pedal and then connect the pedal to your amp. You stomp of your looper pedal’s footswitch to begin recording, play something to be recorded, then stomp on the looper again to stop the recording and start the continuous playback of your playing. The recorded segment is called a loop.

Guitar looper pedals are great tools for any guitarist to have. You can use them to get more out of your practice and your live performances. You can learn a lot about harmony and music composition by using a looper pedal. On top of all of this, looping is just downright fun. 

For example…

  • You can use your looper pedal to record yourself playing the chord changes to a guitar solo, and then practice the guitar solo over your looped chord changes. 
  • You can use your looper pedal to record yourself playing a rhythm guitar part, and then practice playing additional rhythm guitar parts along with the loop. 
  • You can use your looper pedal to record yourself playing a melody, and then practice playing a harmony part along with your looped melody. 
  • You can use your looper pedal to create a full piece of instrumentation that includes rhythm guitar parts, a bass line, lead lines, and harmonies. 

While there are several useful ways to make use of a looper pedal, some guitarists struggle to use the device effectively. The struggling can include not being able to time the beginning and end of the loop correctly, or not knowing what to play. In this brief article, I’ll explain the most important things you need to know to get the best use out of your looper pedal.

Best Looper Pedal

There are many different makes and models of guitar looper pedals. Some are built into other effects pedals. It doesn’t matter which unit you choose. You can select an inexpensive unit with simple controls if you’re getting started with looping for the first time and want to keep it simple. The most straightforward units have one footswitch. By using single and double taps on the footswitch, you control starting, stopping, and overdubbing. Units with two or more footswitches allow you to control the looper functions independently by tapping once on different footswitches. This can make looping easier because you don’t need to do any double-tapping of the footswitches. Double-tapping can be awkward in the middle of playing music. 

How to Start and Stop Your Guitar Looper Pedal Correctly

The most important thing to know about using a looper pedal is how to start and stop your loops on time. You want your loops to repeat seamlessly, so you have a steady and continuous piece of accompaniment to play over. You create a seamless loop by stopping the recording at precisely the same point in the music where you began. 

For example, let’s say you want to record and playback some accompaniment using an A minor chord. You can record yourself playing four quarter-note strums on an Am chord to complete a measure of common time music, like this:

Am
↓ ↓ ↓ ↓
1 2 3 4

Here’s another way to look at it:

|| Am / / / ||

 I recommend you strum the Am chord for a moment to determine your tempo and ensure your timing is steady. While you continue to strum quarter notes on the Am chord, stomp on your looper pedal on beat 1 to begin recording. You should stomp on the looper pedal at precisely the same time you strum down across your guitar strings on beat 1. And you should maintain steady strumming while you record as if you were playing along with a metronome. When you come back around to beat 1 again, stomp on your looper pedal to stop the recording and finish the loop. Again, you should stomp on your looper pedal and strum down across your guitar strings on beat 1 at precisely the same time. Most looper pedals immediately begin playback once you stop the recording. The recorded segment is played back in a continuous “loop.” The loop continues until you stop it, usually with a double-tap on the footswitch or a dedicated stop footswitch if your looper pedal has one. 

While the loop is playing, your hands are free to play something else. Since you recorded yourself strumming an Am chord is this example, you could practice playing A minor pentatonic scale patterns over your loop. 

To learn more about how to make the best use of a guitar looper pedal, watch the following video. 

Comments ( 2 )

  • Alan

    What is the difference between a looper and a delay peddal?

  • A delay pedal adds echo to your sound. A looper pedal actually records and plays back your playing. Watch the video.

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