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Using the Boss RC20 Phrase Recorder

Discussion in 'Ask Steve Lawson & Michael Manring' started by xtian, Jan 13, 2003.

  1. xtian


    Jul 13, 2000
    Budapest, Hungary
    A while ago I dove in and purchased the RC20 Phrase Recorder from Boss with the intention of using it to write multi-part compositions that I could play alone. Basically a simple version of what Steve Lawson and Michael Manring are doing.

    I am experiencing a lot of frustration with this little bugger, though. I can't seem to get my head around the controls, and I need someone to help me shed some light on how to make this thing work for me.

    For example. If, when recording a sample, I screw up somehow, there does not appear to be any simple way to delete the sample and try again. Once you press the STOP pedal to mark the end of the sample, the function of the pedals change. You cannot just press REC and try again, because the REC pedal is now the PLAY pedal!

    I also am not interested in the click track for some recordings. I want to play a selection, and then make it loop, without having to worry about whether it is perfectly quantized or not. Is there a way to record a sample without having to first define the tempo?

    If anyone else up here is using this pedal, I would appreciate any pointers on how you use it. Settings, step by step process you use for recording samples, etc.

    The manual is not incredibly helpful. It could have been written by Microsoft! Just one example: When it is describing how to record your first loop, it does not tell you how to erase it and start over if you screw up! I don't know about you, but I know it is probably going to take me a few tries before I manage to get the hang of the device when it first comes out of the box. Seems to me that telling people how to reset things would be one of the first things to learn! (Along the same lines, when I learned to ride a motorcycle I learned how to use the brakes FIRST, and the shifter SECOND.)

    Anyway, any help that anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    - Christian
    Budapest, Hungary
  2. bump


    Jan 13, 2003
    Auburn, CA
    Hi there,

    When you step on the right pedal to stop the recording, just keep the pedal pressed for 2 seconds. This will erase what you just recorded and two red lights will flash to signal that this has been done. When you have a loop that you are happy with, hit the left pedal one time to both end the loop and start it playing again. Hit the left pedal again to begin overdubbing.

    To record without the metronome and/or without setting a tempo, just turn down the metronome and start recording. If you do this, ie; start recording without tapping in a tempo, this will also disengage the auto loop quantize thingy. I'm finding that this is the only way I do things cuz the metronome "beats" are just too pedestrian. It's easy to get a nice loop going without the quantize. Again, just power the unit up, turn down the metronome volume and pretend that the whole tempo thing doesn't exist.

    A couple of tricks that I'm using:

    I begin my loop with the last bar of the pattern or whatever I'm recording. That way when I hit the left pedal to end the loop and start it over, I have a bar to hit the pedal again so I can overdub from the top of the pattern. Otherwise you have to wait for the pattern to play thru again to begin your overdub. (That'll make sense when you play with this thing fer a while)

    If I record say 8 bars of one pattern followed by 8 bars of another on the same loop, I can effectively repeat the first 8 base a few times before going to the second 8 bars by hitting the right pedal on "4+" of the 8th bar and the left pedal on "1".

    If you are planning on doing multiple overdubs turn the input volume down as numerous passes at nominal volume will add up to distortion level after a few passes.

    Only thing I really miss with this unit is an "undo" button, but for the money I thinks it's great. The sound quality is great.
  3. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK

    those are some great suggestions! it's amazing how the limitations of a particular box can allow you to play things in a certain way - you idea for recording both sections but retriggering the first half are excellent, and the one for recording the last bar first certainly has some really interesting implications for live performance, particularly in terms of how the audience will listen to it. one of the challenges of loop performing is how to keep it from being static, and a lot of that has to do with how the audience perceive it. If you start in a different place in the cycle, the audience perception of the track will shift when you bring the melody in, giving you more new music! :)

    all good - thanks very much!

  4. xtian


    Jul 13, 2000
    Budapest, Hungary
    Hi Rob,
    That is exactly the kind of help I was looking for! Thank you!

    I have printed your message out and will be using it as a cheat sheet tonight when I get the RC20 back out and start working with it again.

    - Christian
    Budapest, Hungary
  5. bump


    Jan 13, 2003
    Auburn, CA
    You're welcome!

    Hey Steve, I will be at your show 1/30/03 along with my two bass playing sons. Any word on a Sacramento area clinic? I checked your site but I couldn't find any info.

    Looking forward to seeing you fellows!