Writing songs on your own can be hard when you can’t hear how the different chords, riffs, and melodies would sound together. It’s even harder to remember it all on your own. Recording ideas and playing them back can take a lot of time and requires certain software or even machinery. And what about playing live? If you have a taste for intricate harmonies and complex patterns, the limitations of your two hands are probably keeping you from performing the songs you want to play more often than not.
A good loop pedal solves all these problems, letting you jam with yourself or give amazing live performances with layer upon layer of beautiful guitar playing. Hit record, play your thing, and have it repeat while you play another phrase over it. It’s so simple, yet so powerful. And when you do it again and again, you can create masterpieces with ease.
Whether you’re looking for a simple musical sketchpad or an elaborate powerhouse with nearly limitless abilities, this list will help you find what you seek.
What to Look For in a LooperPedal
Before diving into the list of specific pedals, you should have an understanding of the different features that make a good looping pedal. Let’s look at what sets the best looping pedals apart from the rest and how different musicians need different features.
Looping Time and Memory
Every loop pedal has a maximum loop length, and this varies a lot. If you don’t want your music to sound too repetitive, you may need a longer maximum time. Some looping pedals let you stack a vast or infinite number of loops, while others have a cap on the sum total time of the loops. Think of how much looping you need before deciding.
Many looping pedals let you save loops in different slots for easier management and in order to reuse loops at a later time. Certain ones let you transfer your saved loops to your computer or smart device as well. Memory features are very convenient, and if you intend to use your looper for more than jamming on your own, it’s worth investing in a looping pedal with a good memory feature.
Switches and Controls
Different pedals have different approaches to the control concept and layout. It’s very important to get one that makes sense to you and makes it easy to use in a live setting.
Cheap, compact loop pedals tend to have a single footswitch for all looping operations. This can be very limiting and make it hard to do things in time. Some designs have separate start and stop switches, and certain ones even have switches for separate loops. Many looping pedals give you footswitches for toggling effects or browsing stored loops in real time with ease, while most offer no such thing. As a rule of thumb, more switches are better.
Some of the simpler designs let you plug external footswitches and expression pedals in to gain more control.
Basic looper units only have one loop line and may only allow you to play loops one at a time. The best looper pedals can handle multiple loops, playing them at the same time or separately by using more than one looper. Some even have multiple inputs and outputs, which enables the looping of multiple instruments with one pedal.
If you want to create entire songs with looping as a central concept, you need a multiloop pedal.
Many loopers can play the loops back in altered ways, for example in reverse or at half speed. While this may seem like a gimmick to many traditional guitarists, it can be an essential creative tool for a lot of musicians. These effects have become commonplace, but simpler tend to omit this feature. If you like the idea, make sure to get one with this feature.
Good looping hinges on good timing. If you’re new to looping or to guitar playing in general, this can be very difficult. Many loop pedals have special features that make this part easier. The most common is tap tempo, which lets you set the tempo by tapping a button to the beat. This still leaves a lot of room for human error at first, but it’s still a good synchronization tool.
More advanced pedals often feature a BPM setting that lets you set an exact tempo (in beats per minute) that the looper will use. If it has a quantize function, it will adjust your loops to be in perfect sync. Time stretching lets you stretch the recording to fit the loop length and speed. Auto-start is a nifty feature that starts recording the moment the processor picks up a guitar signal. This way, you don’t have to hit the record button the same millisecond you start playing. This makes timing a lot easier.
Some of the more high-tech looping pedals use MIDI sync. This lets you send signals from your computer or a digital instrument to start, stop, set the tempo, and more.
The Best Looping Pedals in 2018
- Boss RC-300 Loop Station
- Digitech JamMan Stereo Looper
- TC Electronic Ditto X2
- Electro-Harmonix 720
- Donner Tiny Looper Guitar Effect Looper
- Pigtronix SPL Infinity Looper
- Ammoon AP-09 Nano Loop
- VOX VLL1 Guitar Looper
- Boss RC-3 Loop Station
- Zoom G1on Guitar Effects Pedal
- Line 6 DL4
- Nux Loop Core Pedal
Now that you know the relevant terminology and the qualities that make a good looping pedal, it’s time to look at and compare the best looping pedals on the market. Keep in mind that there is no end-all-be-all product out there, and which one is the very best depends on your specific needs and preferences. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
Boss RC-300 Loop Station
Perhaps the most famous loop pedal, this is a big, complex looper for the advanced user. It’s ideal for those who want to sing and play with multiple instruments, and for bands that seek looping capabilities.
When it comes to the build, it’s just what you expect from Boss. Sturdy with an intuitive layout that makes it easy to use all the important functions just the way you want to. There’s also a plethora of finer controls that will take a while to get used to, but it will be very rewarding for the advanced musician. The loop station provides you with three stereo tracks which you can synchronize. You get the options of XLR and 1/4” connection, and there’s a level fader for each individual track. The important looping controls are easy to operate, with separate pedals for start and stop. All these factors make the RC-300 Loop Station easy to use in concert or on the street.
You also get a collection of 16 onboard effects and an expression pedal to make the sound come to life. With so much creative freedom, you’re likely to spend many hours experimenting with loops. Thankfully, the internal memory can hold up to three hours of recorded loops, and it’s easy to your recordings to your computer. When you’ve spent enough time to get familiar with all the controls, there’s not much you can’t do with this thing.Pros:
- Three separate channels with plenty of control
- Great build
- Hours of recording time
- Built-in effects and expression pedal
Overall, this is a perfect looping pedal for musicians looking to create intricate loops with many layers and textures. If all you want is a basic looper that just lets you record and overdub, this isn’t the best looping pedal for you, since you’ll spend a lot of money and space on features you won’t use.
Digitech JamMan Stereo Looper
Once upon a time, in the mysterious ‘90s, there was a device known as the Lexicon JamMan. This elaborate sampler was one of the early live looping tools from which the concept of the loop pedal evolved. Guitar pedal giants DigiTech named their series of looping pedals after this old legend.
The build is more solid than many other DigiTech pedals, which has the added benefit of helping to keep the pedal stay in place during vigorous use on stage. Four sturdy footswitches take up most of the surface. One starts recording or playing loops, another works as a stop button that can also be used to adjust the tempo. The remaining two switches are for browsing through saved loops, on cycles upward through the stored banks, the other cycles downward.
Speaking of the memory banks, the pedal features 99 of them, each one able to store a loop, for a total of up to 35 minutes of recorded loops. As if that wasn’t enough, the pedal takes an SD card which grants another 99 banks. This is a signature feature of the JamMan which makes it easy to transfer, upload, and even download loops to your JamMan.
It comes with pre-recorded backing tracks, a feature that makes this looping pedal ideal for practicing your solos. The back rows of controls may look complicated at first glance, but the lights and labels make it easy to understand what everything does. Points of interest are the reverse button, which plays loops in reverse; the auto rec button which automates the recording so you can capture your entire loop without having to use the footswitch; and the knobs for loop level and rhythm level.
You’ll also find a jack for an FS3X footswitch on the side. Plugging one in extends your controls for loop tempo and reverse playback, and gives you instant undo/redo functions.Pros
- 99 easy-to-use memory banks
- SD card for more storage and easy transfer
- 35 hours of CD-quality recording
- Easy controls
- No bypass
- Doesn’t quantize well
Thanks to the logical memory bank system and controls, this is one of the best looping pedals for those who like to take their time and save and reuse riffs later.
TC Electronic Ditto X2
The original Ditto looper is a simple, compact looper that allows for simple looping and little else. X2 adds a few special features but still keeps it simple and straightforward. You’ll have it figured out within a few minutes of plugging it in for the first time.
The “Loop” footswitch is responsible for recording, stopping, overdubbing, undoing, and redoing actions. The “FX” footswitch changes the loop mode to reverse or half-speed, or stops the loop. The “Loop level” knob adjusts the volume of the loop. The right switch assigns the “FX” footswitch, while the left switch is for storing sounds and adjusting the backing track level.
Other than that, there’s not much on the surface of this sturdy metal stompbox. There are stereo input and output jacks in the back, and that’s it. It’s one of the best looping pedals if you like simplicity. Don’t let the minimalist approach fool you into thinking it doesn’t have powerful looping capabilities. You can record up to five minutes of music and layer loops on top of each other.
When you set the FX switch to half speed or reverse, you can alternate between them by double tapping the footswitch. The half speed mode can also work in double speed, if you activate it before looping and deactivating it during playback. Ditto X2 also features a USB port that lets you upload and download loops. This is especially useful if you like long sessions of playing loop over loop over loop, and you don’t want to lose that beautiful result when the session is over.
The Ditto Stereo Looper is a simpler option which you may prefer if a smaller, cheaper pedal without special looping modes and USB connectivity is more in line with what you’re seeking.Pros
- Simple, user-friendly interface
- Brilliant, durable build
- True bypass
- Less control of loops
- No sync or tap tempo
If you’re looking for a powerful but simple looping pedal that handles the basics with a few extra features, this is a great candidate for you.
This simple-looking looper from EHX hides a lot of powerful looping functionality under its basic-looking surface. The build is similar to that of the Ditto X2 in both size, robustness, and design. The main difference is the pop-less design of the footswitches. When it comes to looping, though, the 720 goes a step or two further.
First of all, you get 10 banks for storing your loops. Each loop can play forwards or backwards at normal speed or half speed. Switching these playback effects on and off is as simple as clicking the footswitch. If you want more control, you can plug in a 3-button foot controller and use it to scroll through the memory banks as well as undo and redo actions on any of the 10 independent channels with ease.
You can record up to 12 minutes of audio onto 10 independent loops and play them back in a number of ways. Thanks to its trails circuitry, loops will fade out in a natural manner when you turn them off. The 24-bit stereo sound quality is superb, recording at 44.1 kHz without compression for an awesome sound. It’s among the very best looping pedals for audiophiles. The downside is that there is no USB or SD card slot, so it’s not easy to do anything with this recorded material. This pedal has a very simple control interface with only two knobs and two foot switches. The lights let you know exactly what’s going on with your sound. Overall, it offers amazing ease of use considering its small size and vast capabilities.Pros:
- Simple, user-friendly design
- 10 channels and up to 12 minutes of audio
- Very sturdy build
- Limited control over loops
- No sync or tap tempo
Put briefly, the pedal is of typical EHX quality. Amazing sound quality and overall design. If you want as many features as possible crammed into as small of a stompbox as possible, this one is for you.
Donner Tiny Looper Guitar Effect Pedal
The first budget option on the list does, in fact, offer many of the functions found in the aforementioned pedals. It is, in many ways, an affordable Ditto Looper clone.
You get 10 minutes of looping time with unlimited overdubs, and you can undo and redo your actions. You get the typical reverse and half speed playback modes as well. Mono input and output limits its prowess a bit, although looping pedals tend to be among the first in any given signal chain. It’s true bypass so your signal goes through unaltered when you turn the effect off. However, the cheap circuitry can color your signal a little.
Operating the looper with one footswitch may seem a bit tricky at first, but the multi-function switch makes it a bit easier, and the LED indicator lets you know the state of the looper. Clicking and holding the switch down until the light flashes green deletes the last recorded loop. Double clicking stops playback. Holding it down after double clicking will delete all recorded loops.
Aluminum casing of this tiny looping pedal is stronger than you’d expect for this price range. It seems durable. The sound quality is also good, at 44.1 kHz, 24 bit. It’s also easy to transfer audio between the pedal and your computer.Pros:
- Very affordable
- Small and convenient build
- Import/Export loops
- Very basic functionality
- Extremely limited controls
For a budget pedal, it does a really good job. If you’re on a tight budget or you don’t need anything fancy, this looping pedal is what you seek.
Pigtronix SPL Infinity Looper
Here’s a loop pedal that feels more like a creative instrument than a simple, robotic jam buddy. It’s got many features and offers a lot of control over its performance. Multiple recording modes, MIDI functionality, and a choice of serial or parallel loop playback make it a very versatile unit. You get 50 presets and up to 100 loops.
The build seems sturdy yet not very heavy for its size. You get stereo input and output and an auxiliary monitor output that relays only the loops. There are separate foot switches for Loop 1 and Loop 2, and one that stops playback. You have a volume controller for each loop and a master volume knob. The preset knob lets you browse, save, and load your favorites.
With the two separate loops, the Infinity Looper acts more like two loop pedals that have been synchronized together. That’s quite impressive. It can synchronize loops in a myriad of ways, and adjust the length of a loop to multiples of its original length. Its MIDI sync function lets you sync it to the tempo of various sources such as drum machines or music production computer software. It can also take start/stop signals from these sources for perfect sync.
You also get the ability to change the speed and pitch of your loops. Any music interval within a 3 octave range is available, letting you create all sorts of cool atmospheres for your guitar playing. The familiar reverse playback mode is also there.
The serial looping mode opens up new creative possibilities. By feeding one loop into the next, you can create very complex patterns and textures. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the split inputs and outputs and separate loop channels make it easy to keep things apart if that’s what you prefer. This also makes it viable for live looping use by a band, using separate channels for two different instruments.
Plugging an expression pedal into the Infinity Looper lets you control various parameters depending on the expression mapping, a common example is adjusting the volume of each loop. An external multi-button foot switch will also let you navigate the features with more ease. It has a true bypass analog circuit that ensures your signal can pass through without any artifacts. All loops record at 48 kHz without any latency or clicking, maintaining perfect sound quality.Pros
- Extremely versatile
- Cutting edge creative looping
- Separate signals
- A lot of control over the sound
If live looping is a key element of your music, this is the best looping pedal for you. Nothing offers the same amount of creative freedom and control.
Ammoon AP-09 Nano Loop
Ammoon isn’t a big name in the world of guitar pedals, but there is one big advantage to this looping pedal. The price. The build isn’t bad for the category. The casing is a fairly hard aluminum alloy that seems durable enough. It’s a really tiny pedal with one footswitch for turning the effect on and off and a level knob for overall volume. The small size is very convenient for buskers and traveling musicians.
AP-09 can record and loop up to 10 minutes of audio, which is a nice surprise for such a cheap and tiny stompbox. That’s more than some more expensive options. You get more or less unlimited overdubbing, and it’s easy to delete loops or undo mistakes with the footswitch. A small LED light above the level knob lets you know which mode you’re currently in, to prevent accidental overwriting or deletion of loops.
The sound quality is about what you’d expect in this price range. It doesn’t cut it for recording, but it sounds good enough for playing at home or at a small event. The lack of stereo I/O may limit your sound options, but since loop pedals tend to go before effects in the signal chain, it’s not a big problem. While it’s not the most versatile or extravagant looping pedal on the list, it is the cheapest. And what you get for the price is quite impressive.Pros:
- Amazingly cheap
- Really tiny
- Easy to use
- No options or control
- No sync or tap tempo
If you‘re not too picky and you like the idea of a looping pedal that’s cheap, portable, and easy to use, this is the one for you.
VOX VLL1 Guitar Looper
While high-quality amps are their strong suit, Vox have a few nice guitar pedals on the market. Their VLL1 looper pedal may just be one of their best inventions, and one of the best looping pedals you can get.
The design is simple and intuitive. There are two footswitches, one for each looping bank. The “Loop Level” dial sets the volume of the loop. The knob on the left activates one of 12 effects such as chorus, reverb, and distortion. Some of the effects sound good, some don’t, which is to be expected from a simple multi-effect processor. Choosing effects and their level with the same knob takes some getting used to. While effects are a nice bonus, let’s not get distracted from the looping.
Each bank can record loops up to 90 seconds long, and you get infinite overdubbing options with the ability to undo and redo. The two separate banks make it easier to keep track of things. It seems like Vox designed this looping pedal with live performance in mind. It’s a powerful looper that’s easy to use. Perhaps the best multitrack looping pedal in its price range.
While there is only one input line, you have two options. One for typical guitar chords and one for unbalanced microphone cords. You can switch between the two with a small switch on the backside of the box. The main feature that sets it aside from the typical looper is the quantize function. This lets you decide on a length and tempo to which the loops will synchronize. That way you can bypass the hurdle of learning to time your loops perfectly.
Although the audio quality isn’t perfect, it’s still very good and should suffice for most guitarists. One thing to note is that it doesn’t come with a power supply, so you need to buy a separate one.Pros:
- Multitrack looping with separate pedals
- Quantize function
- Multi-effect unit included
- Easy to use
- Only one input
This is a great choice for beginners who want an all-in-one solution with a looping pedal that performs well without costing a fortune.
Boss RC-3 Loop Station
This classic might just be the most famous and popular of all loop pedals. The RC-300 mentioned above is an upgraded version with more features, but the RC-3 still remains a popular choice for those who don’t need all the bells and whistles.
Unlike its bigger counterpart, this pedal only offers one loop track. This means there’s one input and one footswitch. You still get multiple loops and overdubs. While it is a smaller, simpler pedal than many of the powerhouses on the list, it still has a lot of features.
First of all, it can quantize your loops for better synchronization. In addition, there’s an auto-start function which starts recording when the device picks up a signal. This makes timing even easier, for beginners in particular, since you don’t need to step on the switch within a millisecond of the first note to avoid looping out of sync. You can focus more on playing when you don’t have to worry so much about perfect timing.
If that’s not enough to make timing easier, you can also use one of the many backing tracks the pedal can play. If the ones built into the device don’t tickle your fancy, there’s a 3.5 mm jack so you can plug your computer or smart device into the pedal and play whatever you want. This can be very fun to experiment with, looping various songs and audio tracks.
The pedal is easy to understand, with lights that let you know what’s going on. There’s one knob for the overall volume and two buttons for selecting up and down. Its typical Boss design makes it both sturdy and portable, taking up little space on your pedalboard considering how much you get out of it.Pros:
- Great build quality
- Easy to use
- Quantize and auto-start for better sync
- Backing tracks included
- No reverse or half time looping
This tried and true classic is the best looping pedal for those who want a happy middle ground between the big powerhouses and the smaller, simpler loop pedals.
Zoom G1on Guitar Effects Pedal
Some readers may be surprised to find a Zoom multi-effect pedal on this list. However, this one has a surprisingly good loop pedal built into it. It’s capable of recording 30 seconds of audio, which is impressive considering its affordable price and how much else it comes with. The way you handle loops with it is clever as well. You get two foot pedals, one for playing loops and one for stopping them. They can also do other things depending on the context, but it’s all easy to learn. What’s cool about this looper is you can set the exact length and tempo before recording your loop. You can overdub any loops you make as many times as you want, as long as you stay within the 30 second window. The only important feature missing is the ability to undo looping actions. There are 100 memory locations for you to store your favorites.
While it’s not the strongest of builds, it seems sturdy enough for all relevant intents and purposes. Although it is made out of plastic and should be treated with basic care.
In addition to the looping features, you get 14 amp emulations and 75 effects. You can use up to five effects at one time, and together with the modeled amplifier sounds you can achieve a lot. Using delay and other spatial effects together with looping is ideal for ambient music. Stepping on both pedals brings up the built-in tuner, which is very convenient when you just want to play and not have to deal with cords and pedals whenever you need to tune your guitar. It even supports alternate tunings.
You also get 68 backing tracks that can make your practice or jamming both more fun and better for your timing. The two major downsides are that you can’t really bypass the unit, and you can’t play loops in reverse or at half speed.Pros
- Convenient looping controls
- Many effects to choose from
- Backing tracks included
- Budget build
- No reverse or half time looping
If you want a pedal that does as much as possible, rather than excel at a few specific things, you’ll enjoy this one a lot.
Line 6 DL4
This one is a real classic. It’s been around since 1991 and established itself as one of the most famous pedals capable of looping audio. It’s a delay modeler first and foremost, and the looping is a secondary function. This combination of looping and delay allows for many interesting, complex textures that fit perfectly in ambient or experimental music. In lower doses it can fit any style or genre, providing nice echoing loops. In addition to the classic half speed and reverse playback features, the DL4 can also replay loops just once. This is very practical, since you’ll have one less thing to think of when you want to repeat something once while playing other melodies. Instead of having to stop the loop, you just activate the “play once” function.
The build is sturdy and beautiful, with a design that resembles ‘60s cars. The layout of the control is very clever and makes it easy to use. There are four footswitches. One for recording and overdubbing, one for playing and stopping loops, one for the “play once“ function, and one for reverse or half time playback. A knob on the left lets you choose between different delay types, which sound great. To the right you’ll find the typical delay controls, plus two knobs called “tweak” and “tweez” which introduce vibrating and flanging modulations to the sound. Tap tempo lets you synchronize the echoes to your music by tapping the beat.
As with certain other advanced loop pedals, you can create double speed loops by activating the half time function before recording and turning it off before playback. You also get three preset slots that you can customize to your heart’s content with the generous creative controls this looping pedal gives you. Line6 DL4 uses a true bypass circuit that leaves your signal untouched. It has stereo input and output jacks, although the looper sums the signal to mono before processing. Since the delay is rich in stereo effects, using the stereo output is the best option. It can run on batteries or a power supply. The latter is the better option, but you have to buy it separately. This pedal also takes an expression pedal which you can use to control parameters in real time for even cooler effects.
There’s a reason why this unit has stood the test of time, it’s one of the best looping pedals ever built.Pros:
- Clever controls and layout for easy use
- Beautiful delay modeler
- One-shot looping option
- Great build
- Expensive and a bit clunky
- No quantization or sync
The DL4 is one of the most powerful loop pedals out there, although it’s a bit simpler than modern multi-track loopers. If you want something with personality and a familiar sound (you’ve heard this pedal on many records without a doubt) that does its thing really well, look no further.
Nux Loop Core Pedal
Nux is one of those companies that make various electronic gadgets, so it’s a bit surprising to see a loop pedal made by them. What’s more surprising is that it’s not a bad looper at all. It even rivals some of the big brand options in its price range.
Design-wise, it looks like a mix between an RC-3 Loop Station and a Ditto Looper, and this gives a basic idea of how it works. The sturdy metal casing and minimal controls make it portable and easy to use without much care, although the small, round footswitch can be frustrating to new users. If you haven’t had enough time to get used to it, you could potentially miss it on a dark stage. Other than that, it’s a great design. Around the edges you find the stereo input and output jacks, an aux in socket, and a USB port for easy transfer.
You can record and overdub as much as you want, the maximum recording time is six hours and you get 99 memory slots for saving your phrases. The USB port makes it easy to transfer things to your computer and back, so you can build a vast library of loops to play with and arrange into masterpieces. Or why not compose a song on your computer using loops you’ve recorded.
There’s no latency, so keeping things in sync is easy. There’s no BPM setting or quantize function, but the tap tempo feature should suffice for most musicians. You can also change the tempo while loops are playing, and they’ll stretch to the new tempo without changing pitch. This is a great feature for guitarists who like to play at different tempos throughout a song or jam.
You get a decent selection of backing tracks to play along with. While the sound quality of these drum loops isn’t the best, they’re a great tool for practicing on your own. The overall sound quality of the pedal is good.
The compact design limits control abilities, but you can expand these controls by plugging an external multi-button footswitch into your Loop core. You may also want to get an AC adaptor so you don’t have to get new batteries all the time. For its size and price range, this is an excellent loop pedal. The only real flaw is the footswitch, which can make it hard for new users to tap the tempo or double tap to stop the loop at the right time. However, this is a small hurdle to overcome.Pros:
- Great value for the price
- Six hours of recording time
- Latency free time-stretching
- Backing tracks included
- No BPM or quantization
If you’re looking for a happy hybrid between the compact budget loop pedals and the more proper brand name ones, this is the way to go.
Final Thoughts on the Best Looping Pedals in 2018
Looping your guitar phrases is an amazing creative tool and a great way to improve your practice sessions and small group jams. No two looping pedals do it the same way, so finding the right one for your intended style and budget is of utmost importance. Now that you’ve read this list, the decision should be easy.
If you’re still not sure which loop pedal is the best for you, give some more thought to these specific questions. How long do you need your loops to be? Do you need synchronizing tools? Is one input enough or do you need more? Do you want to store your loops on your computer? Are additional effects something you need? Write down your answers and read through this list again, eliminating the listings that don’t fit your needs and preferences, and marking the ones that do. Stay in the loop for more great articles on guitars and guitar accessories.