Besides guitar tuners, loopers have to be one of the most useful pedals on a guitarist's pedalboard. In this guide, we will walk you through our top picks for the best looper pedals out there right now, and why they deserve a spot in your rig. So what is a looper pedal? Well, very basically, it's a pedal that allows you to record a guitar part and play it back on a continuous loop, giving you the ability to jam along or even overdub more guitar parts on top.
Looper pedals are perfect for solo musicians wanting to add an extra dimension to their performances. A fine example is the acoustic guitar-wielding megastar, Ed Sheeran. Impressively Sheeran managed to headline Glastonbury in 2017 with little more than a Little Martin and a loop station at his feet.
Choosing the best looper pedal for you can be a daunting task, as there are many options out there. Some are better suited to acoustic and electric guitar players new to the world of looping, whereas others are designed more with the professional in mind.
Best looper pedals: Our top picks
For most people when they think looper, they think Boss. That's why the RC-1 is our top pick for the best looper pedal on the market, right now. Not only is the single footswitch design incredibly intuitive, but it’s also extremely affordable. The Boss RC-1 can also be expanded with external footswitches as your loops get more adventurous, making it perfect for beginners to intermediates.
For people looking for a little more out of their loop station, then look no further than the Boss RC-10R. This band-in-a-box solution provides two tracks for switchable song parts, as well as plenty of real-time adjustable drum grooves. The RC10R also features the ability to store up to 99 loops, so there is plenty of space to get creative.
Best looper pedals: product guide
Boss’s most user-friendly offering in its industry-standard Loop Station line boasts a big ol’ 'clock face' dial to help you keep track of how far along your current loop it is, with just a single level control to worry about.
A solitary footswitch handles your play/stop, undo/redo functions, but as you get more experienced, you can add external footswitches for additional functionality.
Stereo inputs and outputs and a whopping 12 minutes of recording time round out the feature set, while your last loop is stored in the pedal even after you turn it off.
The no-nonsense X4 serves up two stereo loops, each with their own footswitch, as well as a dedicated ‘stop’ switch, and an FX switch.
You can use the latter to make a loop stop at the end of its cycle, stop immediately, or even via a fade or cool tape reel-esque slowdown, as well as reverse, or half-/double-speed a loop.
As you’d expect from TC Electronic, the sound quality is impossible to fault, while techier loopheads also get MIDI sync and loop transfer functionality, as well as the ability to configure how overdubs and serial loops record.
Read our TC Electronic Ditto X4 Looper review
An update of sorts to Boss’s venerable RC-30, and a worthy contender to our top pick for the best looper pedals, the feature-packed Boss RC-10R offers the ability to loop and generate rhythms via a built-in drum machine.
Looper-wise, you get six hours of stereo recording time, plus two-track operation and storage for 99 loops, which can be exported to PC/Mac via USB.
280 styles make up the rhythm side of the pedal, with the ability to program two unique song sections, as well as intros/endings and rhythm fills. For solo performers, this could be the band-in-a-box you’ve been waiting for.
Read the full Boss RC-10R Rhythm Loopstation review
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If you find yourself longing for a looper but don't want to give up valuable pedalboard real estate, then the TC Electronic Ditto+ may just be the looper for you.
This super-compact mini pedal features a bright LED screen for real-time feedback, a whopping 60-minutes of loop time, and 24-bit audio quality. The Ditto+ also features the groundbreaking 'Extended Loop Mode', which allows the user to overdub longer phrases on top of shorter loops. Basically, you could overdub a 2-bar melody on top of your initial 1-bar loop, and the Ditto+ will cleverly extend the original loop, so it aligns with the new overdub.
The Ditto+ expands on the original Ditto and catapults it into the modern age. With a small footprint, clever new features and a substantial amount of recording time, this pedal is definitely worth checking out.
Read our full TC Electronic Ditto+ review
2015 saw the successful introduction of the Boss flagship 500 series pedals. With this series being an almighty hit, it was only a matter of time until the iconic RC-30 got the 500 treatment, and thus the RC-500 was born.
This newly designed looper takes everything you loved about the RC-30 and brings it into the modern day. Now sporting an extra footswitch for selecting a track, there is no need to learn how to tap-dance to operate this pedal.
The Boss stereo looper engine boasts a whopping 13 hours of recording time with 32-bit audio quality. With both instrument and microphone inputs, stereo outputs and MIDI in/out, there's no shortage of connectivity on the RC-500. If that wasn't enough, it also features studio-quality effects and in-built rhythms, with 16 different drum kits and 57 preset rhythms. What more do you need?
The 720 delivers – you guessed it – 720 seconds (aka 12 minutes) of looping, via two footswitches: the left handles looping, overdubbing and undo/redo, while the right starts/stops loops, and deals out nifty reverse or half-speed effects.
You can record 10 independent loops, which can be switched between using an external three-button foot controller. It's the best looper pedal for you if you also want to use it as a standalone undo/redo function.
The ease of use makes this EHX effort a winner, as do its silent footswitches and loop fadeout (trails) mode.
The key USP of this triple-footswitched offering is Sync Multi, which allows you to set the length of loop two to be one, two, three, four or six times the length of loop one - for keen loopmasters, this is an absolute boon for more complicated arrangements.
Loops can also be set to run in parallel or series, where one starts when the other stops, which is ideal for verse/chorus song structures.
You can store your loops in nine preset slots, while there are also USB connection and MIDI synchronisation options. This is a loop veteran’s stompbox, and all the better for it.
The RC-300 remains Boss’s flagship Loop Station, and with good reason: its three synchronized tracks with dedicated rec/play/dub and stop footswitches make it the choice of professional loop artists the world over.
There are plenty of other stage-ready features, too: auto-recording (where the pedal automatically starts recording when you start playing), count-in and an expression pedal, which you can assign to a whole host of parameters.
You can even quantize your loops, add effects (including transpose, flanger, phaser, modulator and vocal effects), while there are a wealth of rhythm patterns, too.
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Dismiss the ludicrously tiny Wally Plus at your peril: it may be less than half the size of some other compact loopers, but it is positively feature-rammed.
Besides its no-nonsense loop functionality, it can load and save sounds via USB, as well as dynamically change the speed of loops, slowing them down or speeding them up via the onboard tempo knob - music to the ears of more experimental players.
There’s also a loop volume control, while the big top knob switches between 11 different savage phrase banks. A must-have for crowded pedalboards.
If you must have the most fully featured looper on the market, look no further than this behemoth from HeadRush.
The Looperboard boasts a 7” touch display and quad-core processor, which allows you to customise your looping workflow across the four stereo tracks in any of five track modes (Fixed, Serial, Sync, Serial/Sync and Free).
12 footswitches control the action, with options for time-stretching via tap tempo, reverse, fade, multiply, and the ability to divide length and speed for the whole loop.
There’s also eight hours of internal recording time, plus additional storage via SD and USB-A drive inputs, as well as 300 drum and percussion loops. Phewph.
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Looping on your own is one thing, but keeping your loops in time with a band adds another level of difficulty, which is where TC Electronic steps in with the Ditto Jam X2, which cleverly keeps up with your rhythm section.
The Ditto Jam X2’s built-in or clip-on microphones ‘listen’ to the rhythmic elements of a band and adjust the loop accordingly, without compromising sound quality.
There’s also a practice mode, which allows you to record a loop slowly then speed it up, as well as individual loop and stop footswitches, and rec/dub/play and rec/play/dub functionality.
Read our TC Electronic Ditto Jam X2 review
Best looper pedals: buying advice
All the loopers we've included in our round-up of the best looper pedals have several key features in common. Most importantly, each pedal on this list boats unlimited overdubs. This means that you can stack as many tracks as you wish on top of each other - the sky is the limit!
Looping can be tricky to get used to at first, so you’ll be glad to hear that each pedal also features an undo/redo option, allowing you to cancel the most recent overdub or bring it back. Each looper also has a play/stop control, which does exactly what you'd expect.
One of the most important factors to think about when choosing the best looper pedal for you is how many tracks you need. A single-track looper is a perfect sketchpad for songwriters working out lead parts or even harmonies. They can also be used to excellent effect when you want to embellish the odd section or use it on a song or two in your live set.
If you see yourself as the next KT Tunstall or Ed Sheeran, then a multi-track looper is what you need. These loopers can come with two, three or even four tracks, allowing you to set up different song sections (verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) that can be easily switched between at the tap of a button.
It’s also worth thinking about how many footswitches you have at your feet. The more designated switches, the easier the looper can be to use in a live situation. With that being said, many single or double-footswitch loopers can be expanded through external footswitches.
Next, you need to think about much onboard storage you require. If you’re planning to playback backing tracks you have assembled in your DAW, then you need to make sure the looper you choose has enough space to store them. Many of the best looper pedals offer USB connectivity and expandable storage (usually via SD card) to accommodate WAV files from other devices. These can also be synced up to MIDI devices to keep them in time with a click track.
Lastly, you'll need to consider whether you want to run your looper straight into a PA, or into a guitar amp. If you opt for the former, you'll want a looper with dual outputs to provide a more expansive sound.
With all of this being said, the best piece of advice we could give would be to take it easy at first. Getting your timing right is harder than it sounds, and it's easy to get disheartened when you can't seem to nail the perfect loop. It's easier to start with a simple pedal and work your way up. You never know, after some practice you might find yourself headlining Glastonbury one day!