Tips for Using a Looper Pedal

Delving into the technicalities of using a looper pedal can seem like an overwhelming task for many guitarists. It’s not like any other pedal. It’s much more involved. You can’t just turn it on and forget about it.

The trick with a looper pedal is making it seem like you aren’t using one at all. The only way to pull this off is to have set strategies in place. Learn to think like an entire band and allow the loop station to complement your performance instead of controlling it.

If you don’t already have a looper pedal, make sure that you are buying one that will do everything you need it to do in a way that you can understand and feel comfortable with. Don’t just go in blind when you’re buying your first pedal; do your research. A great place to start is here on Feel free to post comments and/or ask questions on any of our looper pedal reviews.


Looper pedals can be powerful tools that can add a lot to the performance. However, many guitarists (especially after buying a looper pedal for the first time) can end up being more interested in showing off their looper pedal than they are in making good music. Take time to compose your music in light of the looper pedal. Listen to successful musicians that are using loops and learn how they build. Pay attention to the way that the looper affects your dynamics and volume levels so that they come across evenly and smooth. Perhaps the best thing a new loop user can do is wait. Don’t perform with your pedal until you’re certain that you have all of the musical aspects planned out. Then, when you start to feel comfortable, record it and show it to your friends. If they can tell that you are using a looping station, you may want to rethink your technique.


Don’t let looping distract from the performance. First of all, make sure you know how you perform in the first place. What is your body manner like? How well are you engaging with the audience? Remember, unless you are the best in the world, most people are coming to see you play because they want to see a show. If they only wanted good music, they can stay at home and listen to Spotify. Many people using a looper pedal are uncomfortable stepping away from the pedal and seem to always be looking at it. Try videotaping yourself performing. This way you can see what you look like naturally and you could make sure that you are just as natural when you’re using the looper.

Prepare for the Worst

The truth is, things just about always go wrong. The worst thing you can do is assume that your show will go perfectly and be unprepared if it doesn’t. Practice serves two purposes. The first is to try to eliminate any mistakes that are in your control. The second is to learn how to adapt and cover mistakes that may have been out of your control. The more things you have in your lineup, the more things that can go wrong. A looping pedal does a lot but it also has a lot of room for unexpected problems. First of all, if you are working with other musicians, make sure that they know exactly what you are planning to do with or without your loop pedal. If something unexpected happens (like a sudden change in volume from the pedal) they may be able to cover you. If you make a mistake in practice, don’t just stop. Learn how to recover. It’s almost like practicing mistakes.

Buying a Looper Pedal

Two exciting new looper pedals released at the end of 2014 were the Boss RC-1 Loop Station, and the Electro-Harmonix Nano Looper 360. These loopers, along with the TC Electronic Ditto, represent a return to simplicity in the looper market, and are great choices if you just want to get going right out of the box. If you plan to use your loop pedal live, you might want to consider something with multiple footswitches like the Ditto X2 so that you have to do less double-tapping to do to control the pedal. If you want every feature under the sun, including built-in effects and drum patterns, independently controlled loops, and MIDI synch capabilities, offerings like the Boss RC-300 Loop Station will interest you. There are loads options, however, so browse a few reviews on this site and get familiar with the available features and some of the potential drawbacks before you buy.

One thought on “Tips for Using a Looper Pedal

  1. I’ve recently been given my first looper (RC3) and being an extreme novice with a guitar (midlife start @ +50years, taking lessons for the past 2 years), i’m curious as to how best plan my “layers”. Start with basic percussion (eg bongos or drum beat), add a thick bass line, some slide etc ?? Or should i have an end result in mind and then break it down, starting from scratch ?? Your thoughts ??

    Rob (Sydney, Aust)

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