/ / 17 Best Looper Pedals For Guitar & Vocals 2021 [Also Live Performances]

17 Best Looper Pedals For Guitar & Vocals 2021 [Also Live Performances]

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7 Best Loop Pedals For Vocals, Guitar And Live Performances

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Looper pedals are cool.

They allow you to build backing tracks for yourself to solo over, or even harmonize with yourself without the need for backing vocalists.

Artists like Riley Armstrong, Jacob Moon, Andrew Bird, and many others popularized looping in their live performance, and it has fast become a go-to tool for independent and professional musicians alike.

It may take some time for you to perfect your looping skills, but once you figure it out, it becomes a lot of fun.

So, what loop pedal should you buy? Here are 17 options to consider.

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Best For Guitar

Categorizing loop pedals is a bit of a challenge, since some pedals have more features than others, whether it's guitar effects, voice effects, multi-track looping or otherwise.

And, some loopers are great for a variety of purposes – not just one.

But we've done our best to offer some guidance in this regard, since we know there are a variety of musicians looking for loopers.

Here we will look at the best loop pedals for guitarists.

With guitar oriented pedals, looping might is mostly an added benefit with a load of other features to enjoy, such as amp modeling and effects.

Either way, let's get into it.

Zoom G3X – Guitar Effects And Amplifier Simulator With Expression Pedal

Zoom G3X – Guitar Effects And Amplifier Simulator With Expression Pedal

You might spend upwards of $200 and even $300 to obtain just a loop pedal.

While this is fine, especially if it’s a quality unit with added functionality, if you’re looking to get more for less, I would recommend a multi-effects unit like the Zoom G3X.

In addition to amp modeling, various effects, tuner and a drum machine, the G3X has a great looper built right into it.

Plus, you can even overdub multiple takes.

The Zoom is worth a look for guitar players that want more out of a loop pedal.

In my experience, this is a killer recording unit too.

HeadRush Pedalboard | Guitar Amp & FX Modeling Processor

HeadRush Pedalboard | Guitar Amp & FX Modeling Processor

The simply and aptly named HeadRush Pedalboard comes with loads of features for guitarists.

Far more than just a looper, the Pedalboard comes with a quad-core DSP system with Eleven HD Expanded DSP software for replicating authentic amp, cab, mic and FX models.

It features a 7″ high-resolution display with touch interface, a durable road-ready steel chassis with integrated cable channel organizer, gapless preset switching with reverb/delay tail spill over, USB connectivity for loading your custom impulse response and the ability to record and reamp via USB with up to 24-bit/96KHz quality.

The looper offers up to 20 minutes of record time and hands-free edit mode for quick, on-the-fly editing.

At this price point, however, you probably aren't just buying the looper but the pedal itself, which you would likely use for most of your live performance and recording engagements.

The HeadRush is loved by many of its users, though some have pointed out issues with USB connectivity and lackluster tone.

It can be hard to get the exact sound you want with digital modeling units to begin with, but they are getting better and better.

And, the HeadRush is one of the better options available right now.

Best For Beginners

Beginners probably don't need a lot of the extras others might expect from their loop pedals.

Some pedals are dedicated to looping and looping alone, and that generally makes them more affordable too.

Here we will look at some of the best choices for beginners.

Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper Pedal

Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper Pedal

The Electro-Harmonix 720 offers 12 minutes of recording time, up to 10 different loops, stop and undo-redo, reverse and half-speed effects, stereo in/out, and more.

It’s quite feature-rich for the low price.

Some customers say this is a great pedal for jamming, and not great for live performance due to glitches.

I can’t confirm or deny this, but if you’re a pro, you’re probably going to want a different looper anyway.

This easy-to-use Electro-Harmonix pedal is perfect for beginners.

TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper Effects Pedal

TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper Effects Pedal

If you don’t need anything fancy, you’ll like the TC Electronic Guitar Ditto Looper.

It offers up to five minutes of loop time, unlimited overdubs and undos and true bypass.

And, as you can see, it doesn’t look complex or intimidating at all.

If there’s any downside, it’s that this pedal is made specifically for guitarists.

Not to say you couldn’t use it for other applications, however.

If you’re looking for additional functionality, you can also check out the Ditto X2 and X4, both of which are more powerful, but of course, a little more expensive too.

But I think TC Electronic has done something great here.

LEKATO Electric Guitar Looper

LEKATO Electric Guitar Looper

The LEKATO mini looper is excellent value for the money.

Made of aluminum alloy, this is a durable and straightforward looper for beginners.

It features 24-bit uncompressed high-quality audio, Analog-Dry-Through design, USB connectivity for uploading or downloading WAV loop files and connecting external pedals, single-knob operation and five minutes of clear looping with unlimited overdubbing.

Record, Undo/Redo, Stop and Erase functions can all be accessed with different foot commands.

Some customers don't like its small stature, but the LEKATO is a great solution if you require a compact solution.

ammoon Electric Guitar Effect Pedal Looper

ammoon Electric Guitar Effect Pedal Looper

The ammoon is yet another cost-effective mini pedal looper.

The pedal features a durable aluminum alloy construction, one knob for adjusting output volume, LED light, the ability to record up to 10 minutes with unlimited overdubbing and undo, redo and delete functions.

This pedal does not come with a power adapter, which might be a drag for some.

Basically, you get what you pay for, but of the many options out there, the ammoon is still one of the better ones.

Donner Triple Looper Guitar Effect Pedal

Donner Triple Looper Guitar Effect Pedal

I probably don't need to say too much about the Donner Triple Looper at this point.

It's compact, affordable and straightforward to use, like the other mini pedals on this list.

You can Record, Play, Dub, Stop or Clear with a single footswitch.

It features a true bypass design and allows you to save up to three loops – it will also automatically save recorded files, even if the pedal is turned off.

It comes with unlimited dubbing, up to 30 minutes per track, a display that tells you what loop mode you're in and a DC 9V adapter power supply.

The Donner is a solid choice at this price point.

Nux Loop Core Guitar Effect Pedal

Nux Loop Core Guitar Effect Pedal

Similar in design to Boss' RC line of pedals, the Nux Loop Core offers similar features at a more affordable price point.

The Nux gives you the ability to record and overdub as many layers as you need with up to six hours of recording time and mono or stereo recording.

You can also change the playback tempo of your loops without affecting pitch and import and backup phrases with a PC.

Additionally, it comes with seamless phrase switching and Smart Rhythm section with 40 drum patterns.

There are many happy Nux customers, though some have pointed out that it adds a bit of noise to your signal, while others have also commented it's not the easiest pedal to control

Based on these criticisms, we can't recommend it for live performance, but for jamming and practicing, it's a decent choice.

Boss RC-1 Loop Station

Boss RC-1 Loop Station

Boss has an entire line of RC looper pedals, and they’re each worth a look (we look at a bunch of them in this guide).

The highly-rated RC-1 Loop Station is a good, straightforward looper with loop indicator (it shows you what mode you're in – Rec, Overdub, Play), approximately 4.5 hours of battery life, 12 minutes of stereo recording time, stereo ins and outs and external footswitch options.

The RC-1 also retains recorded phrases while it's turned off.

Customers are also happy with the Boss, though some buyers say it's not great for live performance.

We've kept it in the beginner section because we think it's a great pedal with nice features but it may not be great for everything.

Ideal for jamming and practicing alone.

Best For Songwriting, Jamming & Live Performance

Live performers are generally looking for durable loopers that are easy to set up and work reliably every single time.

A good selection of input and output options is another attractive quality for gigging musicians.

Sound quality might be another important factor.

So, here are some good choices for live performance, but again, these units can also work well in other scenarios.

Pigtronix SPL Infinity Looper

Pigtronix SPL Infinity Looper

The SPL Infinity Looper isn’t generally cheap.

Its best feature?

Sound quality.

The Infinity Looper will give you a clean tone without latency.

The downside?

Aside from the high price tag, it may not be the most durable or flexible unit, and despite its appearance, it doesn’t do much besides stereo looping.

Ultimately, you must be the once to decide if this Pigtornix pedal is right for you.

If you want sound quality, sacrificing all else, then this just might be what you’re looking for.

But you can probably find a comparable pedal for much less, even if it doesn’t sound quite as good.

That makes it hard to justify the high price tag.

Boss RC-30 Phrase Looper Pedal

Boss RC-30 Phrase Looper Pedal

The RC-30 unit offers up to three-hours’ worth of internal memory, multitrack looping with dedicated faders, 99 onboard memory phrases and built-in effects.

It’s understandable that it would be in the price range it is based on the functionality offered.

Its robust input and output options make it a great choice for live performance.

Boss makes looping convenient and easy.

Their pedals are generally dependable, but not necessarily the highest quality or best on the market.

Digitech JamMan Stereo Looper Delay Pedal

Digitech JamMan Stereo Looper Delay Pedal

JamMan is a name that’s become synonymous with looping.

This pedal gives you over 35 minutes of loops in 99 internal memories, reverse playback, the ability to back up your audio to SDHC card and more.

You could certainly think of it as a direct competitor to the Boss RC-30, and customers rank it at about the same, too.

So, is this the right pedal for you?

It mostly depends on what you’re looking for.

Like the RC-30, the pedal itself is a little bigger than standard compact pedals, and if you’re expecting it to do anything other than looping well, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

DigiTech makes other JamMan pedals, including the highly-rated JamMan Solo XT.

It’s not as feature-rich, but certainly more affordable than some of the others on this list.

You might want to explore the different models before you make up your mind about this pedal.

Boss RC-300 Loop Station Guitar Pedal

Boss RC-300 Loop Station Guitar Pedal

Although it is marketed as a “guitar pedal”, a myriad of musicians turn to the RC-300 for their looping needs, whether it's flutists, violinists, beatboxers or otherwise.

You can plug in your guitar, bass, keyboard or any instrument of your choice.

Naturally, the RC-300 is the larger, more feature-rich version of the RC-30.

It comes with three stereo tracks with dedicated footswitches and controls for each, master expression pedal for controlling your effects in real time, up to three hours of internal recording and 99 onboard memories, 16 onboard effects optimized for looping and XLR mic input with phantom power.

If you want to back up your loops, you can use the USB port to save your loop externally and even import or export WAV files.

This is a powerful, feature-rich option for those who love looping and see it as a core part of their performance.

Boss RC-3 Loop Station Pedal

Boss RC-3 Loop Station Pedal

The Boss RC-3 is another practical solution for live performance thanks to its ease of operation.

This is a stereo stompbox looper with up to three hours of stereo recording time, stereo ins and outs, 99 onboard memories for storing your loops, USB 2.0 port for connecting to your PC and importing/exporting WAV audio and rhythm guide with 10 rhythm types.

With the use of the AUX input, you can also record other stereo audio sources.

As you can tell, this is basically an RC-1 with additional features and a higher price tag.

Some customers have had issues with the sound quality and noise, though I can't confirm or deny this.

Overall, the Boss is great for songwriting, jamming and live performance too.

MXR Clone Looper Guitar Effects Pedal (M303)

MXR Clone Looper Guitar Effects Pedal (M303)

The MXR Clone Looper gives you high-quality loops up to six minutes long with unlimited overdubbing.

It also features double-speed, half-speed and revere modes to give your loops some extra spice.

An external MXR tap tempo can be connected through the CTR jack and the EXP jack gives you the option of controlling your output level with a volume pedal.

The simplicity, flexibility and affordability make the Jim Dunlop pedal a worthy entry on this list.

Best For Recording

Many of the pedals and loopers we've looked at can be used for recording.

But it's safe to say the following pedal takes the cake in terms of recording units.

It should be noted, however, that it's also great for live performance because of the way it lights up and how easy it is to use.

It just depends on what you like best.

Let's get into it.

Boss RC-505 Loop Station

Boss RC-505 Loop Station

The Boss RC-505 is a little different from other loopers on this list because it's the only tabletop looper we've featured here.

Boss designed it with beatboxers, vocalists and club performers in mind because it can be operated with your hands.

The RC-505 features five simultaneous stereo phrase tracks with dedicated controls and independent volume faders, a wide range of Input and Track FX for processing loops (including DJ and sampler-style effects), 99 phrase memories each containing five phrase tracks, custom effects/playback settings and 85 onboard rhythm patterns featuring odd-measure beats.

In addition to producers, recording artists and live performers, vocalists will likely appreciate this looper because of its built-in effects.

Great for a myriad of purposes, the RC-505 is favored with a variety of performers.

Best For Vocals

For the intents and purposes of this guide, in this category, we've slotted the pedals that offer the most in terms of vocal effects.

This does not mean that these pedals can't also be used in other ways.

It just means that they offer a great deal of flexibility for your vocals.

Here are our picks in this category.

TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme

TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme

This isn’t just another multi-effects pedal, though it does that well too.

The TC-Helicon VoiceLive 3 Extreme dominates a niche virtually no other company does – the voice effects and looping niche.

Whether you’re a vocalist, keyboardist, guitarist, or otherwise, you can use this pedal to add effects to your instrument or voice, and loop different parts while you’re at it.

The unit is built for live performance, and allows you to effortlessly change between different presets.

The downside?

This TC-Helicon is the most expensive unit among their offerings.

Some customers have found this pedal to be somewhat unreliable.

I know some musicians that swear by TC-Helicon, but you might want to check out some of their other offerings to find the best fit for you.

What Should I Look For When Buying A Looper Pedal?

Your needs will vary depending on whether you’re planning to use the looper for jamming, studio work or live performance.

Here are the major considerations to think about when buying a loop pedal.

Looping Capability

How much audio can the pedal store at once?

Can you record and save audio for later?

If so, how many memory blocks does it have?

Loopers have gotten great in this regard, since the measurement of looping time has changed from seconds to minutes and even hours.

Unlimited overdubbing also tends to come standard now.

But depending on what your needs are, you might want more time rather than less.

Having more than you need isn’t a bad thing since you might find you need it later.

Most musicians interested in looping aren't thinking about the unit's looping capability, so don't forget.

This can be an important factor.

Durability

Some loopers aren’t made with quality, durable materials.

You don’t want your pedals to be constantly breaking or malfunctioning on you, so durability is an important factor.

My recommendation would be to check the reviews, maybe even go to the store to try out a few for yourself, and then decide what looper seems like the right one for you.

If certain pedals appear to be made of cheap plastic components, don't be surprised when they break down.

Dependability

Looper technology for guitar and voice

It’s no big deal if you’re jamming along with your friends in a basement and your looper suddenly stops working.

Disappointing, sure, but you can always figure out what’s wrong with it, replace the battery or AC adapter, get it repaired professionally, or replace it later.

This is a much bigger problem if you’re recording in the studio or performing live.

In the studio, you can always stop the recording session, so it doesn’t need to turn into a major inconvenience.

But live, you might be relying on your loop pedal to function properly, and if it suddenly stops working, it could bring an otherwise great performance to a grinding halt.

So, think carefully about what you’re going to be using the looper for, and buy one that meets your requirements.

Sound Quality

It’s always best to avoid tone-suckers, and many cheap or vintage pedals are exactly that.

This is where multi-effects units have a bit of an advantage, because you don’t need to connect six of them to get every effect you could ever need (i.e. you generally only need one).

The goal should be to find a looper with a pure tone and true bypass, particularly if you're looking to use it in conjunction with other effects.

Price

Just because a certain looper is more expensive doesn’t always make it better.

I believe the above are some of the better choices available, but it would be wise to do your research and stick to your budget.

If you’ve decided that you want to pick up a TC-Helicon unit but don't have the funds available for it yet, save up and don't rush into the purchase.

If you purchase a more affordable pedal now, you can always upgrade later.

You may even discover that you don’t need anything that fancy, because looping can become a gimmick in live performance, and isn’t necessarily something you’ll use in every song.

How Can I Loop My Vocals?

There are several pedals on this list that come with a mic in, including the RC-30, JamMan and VoiceLive 3 Extreme.

If you do some searching, you can probably find other pedals that allow you to loop your voice.

The ideal unit for a mix of instruments and voice (or just voice) is likely the VoiceLive 3 Extreme, since it has both the necessary ins and outs for live and in-studio use.

For better or for worse, it’s also the most expensive.

The G3X is also not bad in this regard, since it has an XLR out.

But all the ins are quarter-inch, so you would have to find a workaround for that.

Also, see the next section.

Can I Use Any Of The Above Pedals To Loop Vocals Or Other Instruments (Other Than Guitar)?

In theory, yes.

In practice, some of the pedals only allow you to connect via a quarter-inch instrument cable.

As I've already noted, the RC-30, JamMan, and VoiceLive 3 Extreme are a few that allow you to connect via an XLR (microphone) cable.

This isn’t a problem for most electronic instruments, including acoustic guitars with pickups.

It is a problem for most microphones.

You can use a converter, or an XLR to quarter-inch cable, though this isn’t necessarily the ideal solution, and it may affect your sound quality.

Also, using a pedal for anything other than what it was intended for may lead to unintended results.

Sometimes fun results, and sometimes ear-piercing results.

You probably won’t run into issues for the most part, but it’s always best to be careful.

Read the instruction manual if you're in doubt.

Looping Is Harder Than I Thought – How Do I Get Better At It?

Like anything else in music, looping competently requires some practice.

There are virtually no risks if something goes wrong while you’re looping in your practice room.

It’s another matter entirely if you’re building a backing beat at one of your gigs.

I’ve seen experienced musicians struggle with looping in a live setting.

They either stopped and corrected it, or poked fun at themselves and tried again.

And, sometimes this can be due to gear malfunctions.

Some pedals are more forgiving than others, and have tweakable knobs and functions that make it easier for you to get a perfect loop every time.

Read the instruction manual or find tutorials online to familiarize yourself with these.

But the main thing to remember is to start recording at the precise moment you begin playing a riff, and then cut it off just as you begin playing the first note at the beginning of the riff.

It’s difficult to describe, but once you’ve messed around with looping for a while, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Once you’ve mastered this, the world is your oyster.

Best Looper Pedal, Final Thoughts

Should your music rely entirely on looping?

The previously mentioned Riley Armstrong, for instance, sometimes plays with a band, and sometimes performs solo.

At his solo shows, he uses looping quite a bit.

But you can tell that he writes real songs, and only uses loops to enhance and thicken up his music, not to create songs.

Meanwhile, I also know other artists that build their songs entirely around loops.

While it is impressive to witness, and there is a novelty to what they’re doing, it feels less like there are real songs behind their music – it’s more robotic.

You might enjoy hearing their songs once or twice, but it gets old fast.

How you use looping is up to you, and I’m not saying either approach is wrong or right.

When it comes right down to it, it’s all about what the audience enjoys, and why wouldn’t you keep doing what your fans like?

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2 Comments

  1. Very helpful review as I’m just on the point of needing a looper for home practice, but had difficulty deciding on the right one for me. I am only going to use it for home practice, not live performance or composition, so I don’t need anything fancy. My particular need is that I would like to record electric guitar and voice simultaneously, and overdub additional tracks. What I don’t understand is why I need a looper with XLR input since all my microphones have got quarter-inch jack plugs which I just plug into guitar amplifiers via a mixer without any need for a pre-amp. So, the question is, will I be OK buying the least expensive looper having two quarter inch jack plug inputs but no dedicated mic input, plugging the guitar into one input and the microphone into the other, assuming they will both play back simultaneously and in sync? Other desirable specs would be at least 5 mins recording time, USB output & input for PC and SD card.

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