Pedals

tc electronics Ditto Looper

1

This little thing has turned into my favorite device (except for my El Cap). I've had it for a couple of years and really enjoy it, plus it is a very helpful practice aid. It gives you up to 5 minutes for a loop which is very helpful (if you even need that much time). This is my first looping unit...what does the board have to say about other looping pedals on the market? For practicality and affordability this little guy is as handy as a shirt with a pocket. Thanks and I'll hang up and listen.

2

I have really enjoyed having the one I got from HootOwl. It is great for practice or just jamming along with when you're home alone. If I ever do an acoustic show, it would be great for use in that type of thing, as well.

3

I've had one for a couple of years. Like both of you, I use it mostly to practice. Maybe the best practice tool ever. I can record a progression and practice a solo or phrase for an hour if I want to with no rewinding or restarting. I like that I can add bass or a second guitar part to work over too. A "no regret" pedal.

4

I use mine to practice all the time. Great fun. I opted for the two button one so it has a dedicated one for “STOP”.

In my (two man) band, my guitar player uses an EH 720 to great effect.

5

I had a Ditto for a while and then switched the the Trio+. It creates drum and bass lines on the fly to practice with. It’s not worthy of a show or anything, but it’s fun at home. Playing to a beat helps a lot.

Lately I’ve been using the looper built in to the Keeley Eccos. Nothing mind blowing about the looper function but the echo does a flanger thing that sounds really nice and it’s one more open spot on the board.

6

Looping is integral to guitar life as I know it. For practice, to audition multiple pedals with exACTly the same program, to walk around the room and see how the guitar sounds, for quickly capturing ideas that come up when jamming, to augment live performance. I haven't used a looper to carry pre-recorded whole songs, as some do, but most above-entry-level models make that possible as well.

My favorite looper for ease of use was the Boss RC-20XL, long discontinued. It had 14 minutes of recording, 11 memory locations to save loops, and - the important part - two pedals to make starting (1st pedal) and stopping (2nd pedal) easy.

What was wrong with it? It wasn't stereo.

Most current loopers above entry level fold in functions I don't need or want, so I ignore them. And, above entry level, what separates loopers is how they manage starting, stopping, overdubbing, erasing, and combining/switching multiple loops simultaneously. Every brand, and even models within brands, take a different approach to these functions, and each might fit someone's workflow perfectly - and another's, not at all.

One long-time standard favorite looper for live performers is the Boomerang, because it's easy and intuitive to manage onstage - but I think it's mono-only, and has little recording time, with little facility for saving loops. It's also huuuuge.

The Big Macdaddy of sophisticated loopers is the Boss RC-300 (descended from the RC-50, which I had): stereo, with separate control over 3 separate/synchronized stereo tracks, 4 hours of recording, etc. There are other contenders for the crown of Big Loop, including an Electro-Harmonix 6-tracker, and other Boss pedals - all of which start to blur the line between a looper pedal and a recording/mixing environment.

So between the Ditto (1-stomp/1-knob simple) and the feature-laden looping/recording workstations, there has to be a happy place for anyone's looping needs and comfort. But no one looper has ever gotten everything perfect, just the way I'd like it. And they all "fail" in different ways.

Still, we deal with the world as it is (unless we can build our own), so I find the best compromises. For what I do, I have to have stereo. I also like a fairly generous amount of memory, and it's great to be able to store loops in memory locations - because it becomes a scratchpad for ideas I don't want to lose, and occasionally (not often) I use pre-recorded loops in performance. Then I like to easily switch between record, overdub, play, and stop (and be able to easily erase a loop or an overdubbed layer on the fly). And, if they're capable of quantizing (that is, forcing my recorded playing into a pre-set measure length, or to a timing chain of 8ths/16ths/etc), I HAVE to be able to turn those functions off - because I rarely like it. (Though sometimes I do.)

All the loopers I'll mention from here on out pass all the above tests well enough.

Then - and here's where it gets complicated - I like to be able to manage separate simultaneous loops, but in different ways. Sometimes I want to use them free-form: that is, they don't quantize what I've played, and I can stop/start/overdub/clear/control volume of each of the loops without affecting the other. And sometimes I DO want them to start/stop in sync, and maybe be quantized or fixed in length. Two separate stereo loops is enough, and probably all I can manage on the fly. Then the devices get grades on how easily these options can be configured.

For my main looper, I own and have been evaluating the Electro Harmonix 22500 against the Pigtronix Infinity. Both are triple-button boxes a little wider than the Boss double format, and both get all the above done, plus more (reverse and half-speed modes on demand, for example) - but the EHX is damnably convoluted to configure, with a cryptic readout that requires knowing a numberic-and-symbol code for each function's current configuration. The Pigtronix is much easier to use, but doesn't have quite the flexibility in configuration of the EHX. What I find with both of them is that, because of their relative complexity, I loop less than I do with my grab-n-go utility loopers.

Which are the Boss RC-3 and the Digitech JamMan Solo XT. Both are single-wide, single-stomp devices, both are stereo, both provide more than ample recording time, with plenty of memory slots, with provision for saving loops from the device to a computer. (The Digitech even has a memory card slot). Both have integrated drums/rhythms (which I rarely use, but OK). They control similarly (stomp to record, stomp again to go into overdub, stomp twice to full-stop, hold down to erase), and I think that functionality can be changed on each.

The unique thing about the Digitech is that it can be linked via the "JamLink" mini-TRS cable to another JamMan Solo XT to sync the clocks. This is cool because my son-the-drummer can loop stuff from his electronic rig (which is integrated with his acoustic kit) and control the tempo of my looper. The unique thing about the Boss is that I've been using Boss loopers for 15 years or so, and they're familiar and comfortable.

I highly recommend either of these (Boss RC-3, JamMan SoloXT) as an ideal step-up looper, or for someone who knows they want more than the über-simple models do. RC-3 lists at 189.00, and can be had from 115.00 (Reverb used) or 130.00 or so new (also Reverb don't ask me how). The SoloXT is around the same range, but often cheaper used.

Neither of these is a multi-track looper: that is, you can overdub infinitely onto a single loop, but you can't run another at the same time. Their only other deficiency is the one-pedal operation, which can take some coordination. (But both include inputs for an external switch, which can be cheap and small.) The compensation for that limitation is that they're single-wide pedals, compact for a pedalboard.

If I was buying a single looper today, knowing what I've learned over the years, that strikes the best compromise between power and ease of use, it would probably be the current Boss RC-30. Two simultaneous stereo loops with easy sliders to mix their volumes, plenty of time, plenty of storage, and two pedals for easier control. (It also has built-in drums and two useless built-in effects for me to ignore.)

What's wrong with it? Besides being grievously ugly (come on Boss, hire a designer), as I understand it those two "separate" loops MUST always be in sync, starting and stopping together. Most of the time that's OK. Sometimes, for ambient experimental purposes, I want to start and stop separate loops at different times.


I haven't mentioned sound quality in any of this. With the first few looper generations, this was an issue. It's been years since I had to think about it. All the pedals I've mentioned are functionally "CD-quality", and very low (to no) noise. Some of the cheapest mini half-wide loopers (the generic Chinese brands) may be noisier, I don't know. But they probably all sound fine too.

7

I had the Ditto for a while and it worked fine for practice. But for live use, I missed separate stop button, so I got myself EHX22500. EHX has probably all the features I could ever want and more. But as Proteus wrote, the user interface is quite cryptic if you want use all features. So mostly I use it in very simple manner as I don’t remember how to use the more advanced features without re-reading the user manual. I have created some drum rhythm loops in computer and copied them to the memory card of EHX. This is nice feature, but also not very simple. Rhythm loops are separated from the recorded guitar loops and can be synced with each other and you can change the tempo of the rhythm as well. It would be though nice to have separate output for the rhythm track for PA mixer.

I have heard good things about the Digitech JamMan, especially the stereo model that also has separate stop button.

8

For what I do the TC Ditto mini is just fine. Anything more would just explode my head. I have been known to use it with bass on one amp, leave that loop going and play along on guitar on a different amp. Really handy for songwriting.


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