If you want to be an excellent guitarist, practicing with a looper pedal is essential. There is also an unrivalled pleasure in layering chord progressions, bass lines, notes and rhythms to build a multi-layered, full performance with only your guitar and a looper pedal. If you are new to looping, this article explains how to use a loop pedal to improve your soloing. In fact, a loop pedal improves all of your guitar skills and is a good first step towards playing in a band because it makes you start to think about timing.
Looper pedals, for any uninitiated, allow you to record a loop, which is then repeated for you to jam over. Over time, you can build up your own backing track by adding to the existing loop (known as “overdubbing”). Most of the time, this will just leave you rocking out in your bedroom, kicking over anything that stands in your way and soloing to your heart’s content. Looping also gives you the option of gigging alone, however, and it’s always impressive to watch a single musician construct an entire band piece by piece.
So where did the idea of looping come from? Repeating phrases are present in almost all forms of music, and loopers really just accentuate that natural repetition. Loop-based music was originally popularized by Robert Fripp, the musician who benefitted from a stream of experiments involving tape loops. Brain Eno essentially took Terry Riley’s ‘Time Lag Accumulator’ and let Fripp play with it. In the end, Fripp ended up on his ‘Frippertronics’ tour, bringing delay and looping effects a step further into the mainstream.
To create your own Frippertronics experience, do a bit of research to find the right looper pedal for your needs. As a starting point, here are some of the best looper pedals, but there are a lot of good choices available today, and every guitarist is going to have different needs and preferences. Most loopers’ basic functions are the same, however. One pedal is usually reserved for recording, playing, and overdubbing. On the first tap, it records you playing, the 2nd tap stops the recording and starts the looping, and a third tap allows you to overdub. You then build up your backing track, and stop whenever you’ve got enough going on to have a good time playing over the top of it. Most loopers also allow you to undo your last recording, switch between different loops, reverse loops, play along to a drum track and change the tempo of your recordings.
Unless you have a couple friends willing to lay down a backing track for you all day, there is no better way to improve your soloing than using a looper pedal. You can create a backing track for yourself, then solo for hours, practicing over several different tracks and improving your skills. By the time you link up with your friends for a band practice, they’ll be blown away!
Check out Robert Bray creating the ultimate bedroom jam.