More and more guitarists use a low volume setup while playing their guitar at home. In this case drum computer and loopers are perfect devices for songwriting or practicing.
Here I would like to introduce some different loopers of several manufacturers.
Boss offers a huge selection of loopers. There are devices for every budget and every demand, from the small RC-1 with one loop only to the RC-505.
I choose the LS-2 (unfortunately you can only find used ones) because of its cost effectiveness.
The LS-2 has got 11 slots and 33 really good drum patterns which are pretty inspiring (in a 4/4 as well as in a 3/4 beat). The follow-up model only provides 10 drum patterns and because of this, is – in my opinion- only suitable as a metronome.
The handling of the RC-2 is quite intuitive and it can be expanded by an external foot-switch to control the stop- and erase-function.
Unfortunately the rudimentarily equipped looper only has got mono in- and output jacks, no midi and no effects. But I think it is ideal to capture song-ideas or just for practicing.
Digitech JamMan Stereo
The JamMan Stereo provides, as the name indicates, stereo in- and output jacks. Furthermore you can double the number of the 99 internal slots by adding a SD-card. By this the JamMan Stereo provides up to 16 hours of memory. Like the Boss RC-2 the internal rhythms are only likely to be used as a metronome and accordingly less inspiring.
But especially singer/songwriter can benefit from the JamMan Stereo because of its additional XLR- input for a microphone and enough memory for numerous backing tracks.
The JamMan Stereo also enables you to replay the loop backwards.
The more compact version (JamMan Solo XT) dispenses with the built-in foot-switch but in exchange it has got a sync jack by which the looper can be synchronized with other Digitech devices. By this you can for example integrate the new Digitech SDrum perfectly into your setup.
The Ditto X4 is the flagship of the looper-series of TC Electronics. It is able to replay two loops serial or parallel. Via the USB port you can easily transmit the saved ideas easily to your personal computer.
Besides the Ditto X4 provides midi in- and output jacks by whom you can synchronize any drum computer or even software sample like Ableton Live.
Because of its control elements the Ditto X4 seems – at first sight – some kind of simple but you can integrate it into any midi setup and that makes it far versatile.
The in-built effects (reverse, half speed, double speed, stutter and stop) offer creative possibilities to defamiliarize single overdubs.
By the way: you can combine several effects. For example double the speed of a loop replayed backwards. By this you can create new kinds of sound which are especially interesting for soundscaping and shoegazing. And at least you can synchronize several loopers by midi if two tracks are not enough.
For simple loops you can also use a digital delay. Some of them already contain a looper like the DL4 of Line6 which can be found on several pedalboards of famous guitarists. Minus the Bear and the Mars Volta only use the loop-function of this delay. But because of the short loop-time (a few seconds) the DL4 rather is appropriate for stutter effects.
The delays of Boss, TC Electronic and Empress enable you to record a loop (with uncountable overdubs) in different durations.
Before you choose your own looper its important to think about the purpose you will use the looper for: If you want a memory for your ideas or to record backing tracks for your jam session the JamMan Stereo will be perfect for you. The Boss LS-2 is pretty appropriate for practicing with really good drum tracks and if you look for inspiration and an independent sound tool the Ditto X4 will be the best choice.