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Simplest looper for multi-part songs on the fly?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Nordic Groover, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. Hi folks,

    Apologies if this is (a) a stupid question and/or (b) has been addressed previously (I couldn't find anything precisely relevant in a quick search).

    Do any relatively basic (e.g. Boss RC-3 or equivalent) loopers allow you to do multi-part (multi-loop) recording and playback on the fly? For example if one wanted to do the following while say, busking:

    - Lay down a 16 bar verse bassline
    - Maybe add a percussive layer to that same 16 bars (simple overdub)
    - Play / solo over the top of that for a verse or two
    - Now switch to a different loop (either laid down immediately after recording the verse bassline, or prepared earlier) to provide the bassline for the chorus/bridge/whatever (i.e. different chord progression to the verse) without any delay
    - Play / solo over that
    - Potentially switch back to the "verse" loop/layers again.


    Perhaps optimistic of me... but wondering if there is a straightforward way this can be done.

  2. There are some loopers that will do what you are wanting but they would cost you at lest 450
  3. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Do you want to record this and keep the whole song?
    Check out Ableton Live. It's designed for this.
    Other DAWs can do this also. They usually have a preview buss separate from the main buss.
  4. TimboZ


    Jan 4, 2009
    South of Buffalo
    digitech jamman
  5. Yea the digi tech jam man can do all that stuff but it is complicated I use one and I like it but I don't love it. It's to complicated to do. Stuff on the fly
  6. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    Care to drop some names? (other than the jam man)
  7. Digitech Jamman Express-100 bucks

    TC Electronic Ditto Looper-130 bucks.

    Each are simple, one button and one knob.
  8. Um, neither the Jamman Express or the TC Ditto can do it, I'm afraid.

    Hoping to avoid involving a laptop or iPad and do it with a single or couple of linked pedal-actuated devices, though if there's an off the shelf solution for programmable real-time looping on a laptop able to be driven by footswitches that would be a more cumbersome but acceptable solution.
  9. callofcthulhu


    Oct 16, 2012
    Ableton Live was built around live looping and every single element of the user interface can be mapped to MIDI.

    But I'm with you in looking for a hardware solution outside of the traditional Digitech JamMan or Boss RC pedals. EHX has the 45000, but it seems just as cumbersome honestly.
  10. Yep, just perusing the Ableton Live website. Driving that with a couple of footswitches would definitely be the most versatile way to go, though at least at the moment, I wouldn't be using even 10% of what the software can do. :)

    Having two simple loopers (Dittos or Jamman Expresses) in series just handling separate loops each would also work, with the only issue being ninja-like footwork to stop one looper's playback and start the second one's simultaneously. Playing seated, I guess I could stomp both switches at once. ;-)
  11. I think you could do this with an older version of the Boomerang. Boomerang+ maybe? They're big, but I think you can find one used for about $250. The volume knob you can control with your foot is a cool feature too. You'll have to dig through the manual to find out exactly how to set everything, but those guys can do a lot. The loop isn't super long though...
  12. DirkP


    Jan 18, 2013
    Hamburg, Germany
    I have both the Jamman Stereo and the EHX-45000 and I find both easy to use.
    The 45000 has at least 4 independent tracks and an additional independent stereo-mix track. The loop up / down function allows complex song arrangments. What the exh can't do is having different tracks of different length within the same loop.
    And you have to buy the foot controler!
    For me it's the easiest to use multitrack recorder I ever had.

  13. jusplayinmybass


    Apr 17, 2003
    Conyers, Ga
    Keith McMillan Instruments, SIT Strings, Accugroove Cabinets
    Mainstage is also an option if you go the laptop route. It can be involved to set up though. I do exactly what you are looking to do with it controlled be a SoftStep.
  14. hazmatt


    Jun 3, 2012
    san diego
    your more expensive digitech (and maybe boss?) options can likely do this - particularly if you want to use some pre-recorded parts, like you can store on digitech's sd card.

    I've thought a lot about options to pull this off with a computer, from writing my own phrase sampler in MAX or Pd, to using ableton, but I keep coming back to standalone pedals for now. They are much sturdier for repeated usage, cheaper to replace than a decent laptop, and all of the usb or serial control footswitches I've encountered are cheap home consumer grade plastics.

    With regards to two small pedals (like a TC flashback/RC-3), instead get a fancier looper that handles multiple individual samples. the ability to propperly synchronize two discrete pedals is beyond a human - however good your timing is, millesecond to 10s of millsecond differences between the length of loops will slowly accumulate if you try to engage both for an extended period of time. Anyone see some older Keller Williams performances?

    To perform what you described live (without ability to que up pre-recorded loops) I prefer a boomerang3. Will cost $400ish new, and I don't see a lot going used. I'll often play a surf rock with a couple parts. on the boomerang you can set up to 4 individual loops and overdub on each of them. the individual loop/channels have volume control and can be played serially, or multiple at once. it is a bit of fast tapping foot magic to pull off everything you want without purchasing the sidecar, but I've been alright without it. where the boomerang really excels is in synchronizing additional loops at the same length, or by multiples of your base loop. you don't have to tether the length of subsequent loops to the master, but slaving them sounds oh so tight. i've heard rumors that one day the creator will get around to making the firmware upgrade which would allow you to synch your loop length with another device, such as a drum machine......
  15. jusplayinmybass


    Apr 17, 2003
    Conyers, Ga
    Keith McMillan Instruments, SIT Strings, Accugroove Cabinets
    This is a video showing a little of the syncing capability of Mainstage. Ableton Live can do the same thing I believe. I understand not really wanting to use a laptop. But I'm just showing options. WARNING-This music is not very interesting. LOL

  16. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Digitech Jamman
  17. Nope. Jamman alone cannot do it.
  18. I'll chime in with the folks saying "No, a Digitech JamMan can not do what OP is looking for." I have a JamMan, and it's a good looper, but it can't do this.

    As far as I know your best options are a Boomerang iii (one of my friends has one and loves it) or a good live DAW + footswitches. If you go with the latter, find an experienced performer who already has that setup and ask him/her for advice.
  19. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    While busking, eh? All I can say is people walking by will look at all that techie gear and immediately know you're no "starvin' needy musician."

    The things we do to avoid playing live music with other live musicians......
  20. Pudge Fish

    Pudge Fish Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2013