Have you been practicing alone in your room wishing that there was another guitarist around to jam along to?
Looper pedals are the best way to record your instrument on the fly and instantly having it play back.
However, these pedals come with a wide array of functions (like recording time, effects, number of loops, etc.) and prices.
In this article I’m going to help you pick out the best looper pedal for your needs.
Snapshot: Top 7 Looper Pedals in 2021
- Boss RC-1 Loop Station – Best for Beginners
- LEKATO Loop Station – Best Under $100
- TC Electronic Ditto Looper X2
- NuX Loop Core Deluxe – Best Budget Option
- Digitech TrioPlus Band Creator and Looper
- Boss RC-500 Loop Station – Best Tabletop Looper
- Boomerang III Phrase Looper – Best for Live Performances
Picking Out the Perfect Looper For Your Needs
When it comes to picking out the best looper pedal, it’s important to consider how you plan on using it and your level of comprehension on how loopers work.
My first looper pedal was the Boomerang III Phrase Looper. While this is an amazing unit (it’s on this list after all) it was WAY too complex for me at the time, as I could barely play my instrument let alone figure out what all the buttons on this pedal did.
I had gotten a looper that was built for professional stage/studio use when all I wanted was something that would record one or two of my parts so that I could practice solos at home – a TC Electronic Ditto would have done me much better.
In compiling this list I made sure to include selections that would be fitting for the musician who is just beginning, all the way up to options for professionals looking to be their own one-person band on stage. Like all pedals, loopers come in a wide array of price points and I made sure to include the best options for every budget.
Whatever your needs, budget, or experience level, there is a Looper pedal on this list for you.
The 7 Best Looper Pedals in 2021
1. Boss RC-1 Loop Station – Best Looper Pedal for Beginners
- Straightforward and easy to operateNewly designed loop indicator displays the current loop mode (Rec/Overdub/Play)Runs on a single 9-volt alkaline battery (approximately 4.5 hours of battery life)Can...
Loopers are a great tool for beginning musicians to practice at home with. It helps them learn about soloing, songwriting, and playing in time. A simple and easy to use single looper like the Boss RC-1 is the ideal choose for beginners.
- Easy to Use
- Lights show recording position
- Built like a tank
- Stereo In/Out
- Battery powered option
- Cannot save more than one recording – no banks
Boss makes a lot of different loopers, but this is by far the simplest. The RC-1 is housed in a standard, metal, Boss pedal enclosure that is sure to last a lifetime. It has stereo in/out, so it can be used in conjunction with multiple amps and can be played in stereo through two speakers.
It has 12 minutes of recording time, which isn’t the most you’ll see on this list, but it is more than enough for most musicians considering you can only record one loop at a time.
Since the RC-1 doesn’t save loops or have any banks, it may be too simple for the professional musician. However, one feature that separates the RC-1 from other single knob looper pedals is it’s indicator light, which shows you where you are in the playback loop. This is especially helpful for beginners that lose track of where they are in their recording.
The RC-1 is a single button controlled looper, meaning that you use just one foot pedal to record, overdub, and play/stop your recording. The indicator light wheel changes color depending on which stage you are in – Red for recording, Green and Red for Overdubs, and Green for Playback.
The demo video from Boss explains how to change the order from “record, overdub, playback” to “record, playback, overdub” if you need it to.
Beyond that, the controls out of the box include a Volume control for your loop. For independent control of Stop/Undo, you can plug in an optional Boss FS7.
- Effect Type: Stereo Looper
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: 9V AC Adaptor or 9V Battery
- Dimensions: 5.08 x 2.32 x 2.87
- Features: Stereo In/Out, Expandable w/ FS7, Loop Indicator
Final Thoughts on the Boss RC-1 Loop Station
It doesn’t get much simpler when it comes to loopers than the RC-1. It has all the things you want and none of the things you don’t need. The indicator light wheel is what really separates this from the other single pedal loopers that I would otherwise recommend for beginners, and the price is fair for the build quality. If you’re new to loopers, start here, and then graduate and move onto bigger units when you’re ready.
2. LEKATO Loop Station – Best Looper Pedal Under $100
After you buy your first electric guitar and an amplifier, the next thing you’ll need is a great tuner pedal.
Why not get a tuner that also functions as a looper so that you can have more fun practicing?
The LEKATO does just that.
- Includes Tuner
- Mini pedal design
- USB connectivity for easy export
- Metal enclosure
- Budget Friendly
- Easy to Use
- Tuner can’t be activated with foot
The LEKATO Loop Station is a miniature, single foot switch looper pedal with a built in chromatic tuner that’s priced for musicians on a budget. It takes the standard single switch looper design and elevates it, allowing for up to nine savable banks that can then be exported out to your computer via micro-USB.
This pedal has up to 40 minutes of recordable space on it, with any loop having a max of ten minutes at 48K/24bit sampling. If you happen to record a lengthy loop like this, you don’t have to worry about losing your spot in the playback afterwards thanks to the indicator light that goes around the perimeter of the pedal.
It also has unlimited overdubs, so you can make your track as thick as you want.
The controls on the LEKATO are quite simple. There is a single footswitch for recording, overdubbing, and playback. The indicator lights show you which mode the pedal is in by the color of the lights (Blue means play, Red means record). You can control the volume of your loop with the Volume knob in the center of the pedal.
In order to activate the tuner, you need to hold down the two arrow buttons simultaneously. The one improvement I would make on this pedal is to make the tuner work with a footswitch, as this current design makes the onboard tuner impractical for live purposes.
When the arrows are pressed individually, you move between your nine different banks.
- Effect Type: Looper/Tuner
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: 9V DC
- Dimensions: 4.33 x 2.64 x 2.6
- Features: 9 Loop Banks, 48K/24Bit, USB Connectivity, Tuner
Final Thoughts on the LEKATO Looper Station
Getting an advanced, but simple to use looper along with a built in tuner for well under $100 is pretty incredible. This would be a great looper for home practice/writing, since you can save your loops and upload them to your computer. While the tuner is basic, it gets the job done and the features for the looper make this worth picking up alone.
3. TC Electronic Ditto Looper X2
If single switch loopers don’t give you the control that you need on stage, then it’s time to start looking at more advanced looper pedals. The X2 takes the same great design of the original Ditto Looper and adds an extra pedal for greater effect and control.
- High quality audio recording
- Secondary FX Switch/Stop Function
- Unlimited Overdubs
- Stereo In/Out
- Dip Switches expand usability
- Easy to Use
- Only 5 minutes recording time
The folks at TC Electronic know how to make a great looper pedal and have expanded upon their already successful Ditto Looper and Ditto Looper Mini to give us the X2. The feature to focus on with this pedal is the dedicated Start/Stop footswitch.
This gives you the ability to start and stop your loops on the fly without having to hold a switch down or double tap or whatever other cumbersome thing you have to do with single switch loopers.
The Ditto X2 has five minutes of recording time (one of the few weaknesses of the pedal compared to its competitors) with unlimited overdubs. It has optional True or Buffered bypass and 24 bit sampling rate.
One of the coolest features of the X2 is that it comes with backing tracks (created in partnership with Jam Track Central), which can be loaded onto the pedal. You can also use this function to load your own tracks onto the pedal, or vice versa.
The X2 balances a feature heavy design with ease of use. Anyone who has used a looper pedal before will easily figure this pedal out without having to crack open a manual. It has a Volume knob, as well as a Loop button. This Loop button can be used to stop the loop by double tapping, however, the X2 has a secondary switch labeled FX that can do this with a single tap.
If this isn’t a feature you need, the FX toggle can also be set to Reverse or Half Speed instead.
In addition, there are dipswitches inside the pedal’s battery compartment (which can hold two 9V batteries for extend battery life) that let you choose between “Loop, Overdub, Play” or “Loop, Play, Overdub” modes.
- Effect Type: Looper
- Signal: Analog Dry Thru
- Power Requirements: 9V DC (100mA), 1 or 2 x 9V Batteries
- Dimensions: 6 x 7 x 3”
- Features: True or Buffered Bypass, Backing Track, Stereo In/Out, Secondary FX Switch
Final Thoughts on the TC Electronic Ditto Looper X2
Once upon a time, the TC Electronic Ditto Looper/Mini were the best loopers of their kind, but now there are newer pedals coming out with longer recording times and additional features. In my opinion, the TC Electronic Ditto series becomes relevant starting at the X2, which adds the perfect set of features for musicians looking for added functionality in their looper pedal.
4. NuX Loop Core Deluxe – Best Budget Looper Pedal
- With upgraded hardware, record loop phrases up to 8 hours with unlimited layers in 24-bit high-resolution audio quality into 99 saved memories.
One of the reasons loopers are so fun is that you can play along to your own performance, but what if you wanted to add a drummer into the mix? With the NuX Loop Core Deluxe you can integrate drum loops into your recordings for added inspiration and full band effect.
- Incredible amount of recording time
- Great audio quality
- Highly controllable/customizable with added footswitch
- Save presets
- Perfect songwriting/solo musician tool
- More features makes pedal more complex
The Loop Core Deluxe from NuX is a combination audio and drum looper under one hood. It has up to an incredible eight hours of recording time with unlimited overdubs and a whopping 99 presets that can be saved and exported via USB.
There are 40 different drum rhythms to choose from (30 of which are in 4/4, the other 10 are in ¾) and it has a cabinet simulator for going DI to a mixer. These rhythms range in styles from blues, to Jazz, to Hard Rock and more.
The original Loop Core is also a great pedal and costs a bit less, but the recording time and functionality are improved further with the Deluxe. It has stereo In/Out and can be paired with the NuX NMP-2 Dual foot switch for added flexibility.
The NuX Loop Core Deluxe is the first pedal on this list that I would consider having enough features and controls to be a complex pedal. This is a pedal for those that like to explore and dive head first into a pedal.
The footswitch works for recording and overdubbing with a single tap, and a double press stops the pedal. However, you can also use the NMP-2 to do this for you with a single stomp. There is a dual knob that lets you choose which Rhythm or Loop Number you want to play, as well as buttons for selecting phrases.
Both your Rhythm and Loop have their own separate volume controls and the pedal can automatically process your temp, or you can set it yourself using the tap tempo button.
Finally, there are different Stop Modes, including Finish which works as a hard stop, and Fade Out that lets your track fade to silence over the course of ten seconds.
- Effect Type: Looper/Drum Rhythm
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: 9V DC
- Dimensions: 6.34 x 6.02 x 3.27
- Features: True/Buffered Bypass, Drum Rhythms, 3 Stop Modes, 8 Hours recording Time, Stereo In/Out
Final Thoughts on the NuX Loop Core Deluxe
As is often the case with NuX, the Loop Core Deluxe packs an impressive feature list for an incredible price point, which is why I chose it as the best budget option. It has enough features to make it usable in live performances, but since most of these features have to be hit with your fingers, guitarists in particular would need to have a lot of things pre-meditated before they contemplate taking this onto the stage.
I would personally use it for songwriting sessions or practicing improvising, as having a drum loop is much more fun than practicing to a metronome.
5. Digitech Trio Plus Band Creator and Looper
- The TRIO+ is a simple-to-use guitar pedal that listens to the way you play and automatically generates bass and drum parts that match your song. Just plug your guitar into the TRIO+, press the Band...
While the NuX Loop Core Deluxe gives you drums in addition to looping, what if that’s not enough? What if you want a pedal to create a full band backing track for you based on your loop? Not even all DAW’s can do this kind of thing, but the Digitech Trio Plus Band Creator and Looper has you covered.
The Digitech Trio Plus is a Looper, as well as a drum and bass generator. It listens to what you play through the Loop and the generates drum and pass tracks based on what you play.
In my research on this pedal, it’s often recommended that you play simple chords and rhythms for the best results, as the pedal uses this to map out tempos/keys for the bass and drums to play in.
The Trio Plus has a dozen genres for you to select from including Rock, Folk, Country and more. What’s even more fun is that the pedal has built in guitar effects for each of these genres.
You can use this pedal with headphones for home practice, or live using the FX Send, Amp Out/Mixer jacks.
At first glance, the Trio Plus may be intimidating, but once you get the hang of the pedal the controls make sense. The Looper itself functions like a typical single footswitch Looper and is accompanied with a Loop Volume control. There are also individual volume controls for the Bass and Drums.
The Band sounds are created by picking a Genre using the Genre wheel, each of which have twelve different styles to choose from that include both 4/4 and ¾ time signatures. Each of these can then have up to 5 different parts, which are accessed with the buttons at the top of the pedal.
You can add effects to your guitars using the Guitar FX button. These effects are basic, but fun for use in home practice settings when you don’t have your pedalboard around.
The coolest control on this pedal, in my opinion, is the Tempo control. With this, you can adjust the tempo of your loop and the pedal will keep your guitar’s original tone. This is pretty incredible, as with most recordings, changing the tempo changes the guitar’s pitch.
- Effect Type: Looper/Drum & Bass Generator
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: PS0913DC Power Supply
- Dimensions: 5.4 x 2.5 x 4.25”
- Features: Band Creator, 4/4 and ¾ time signatures, Listens to your Playing, Included Power Supply, Tempo Control
Final Thoughts on the Digitech TrioPlus band Creator and Looper
If you’re looking for a looper that is different from the rest, then the TrioPlus might just be the looper for you. The effects and sound quality are not good enough for live situations, but the pedal sets you up for this anyway if you want it. This is a great way to get inspired if you don’t have a full band around you to work with.
6. Boss RC-505 Loop Station – Best Tabletop Looper
- Tabletop Loop Station that can be operated with the hands, perfect for beatboxers, vocalists, and club performers
Though this article is specifically about looper pedals, I decided to include the RC-505 even though it’s a tabletop looper since it can be controlled with external footswitches. If you’re an instrumentalist or DJ looking for a gig-worthy looper, the RC-505 might be your best bet.
As I mentioned with the RC-1 above, Boss makes a lot of different looper pedals, all of which are fantastic. The RC-505 has been out for a few years now but is still relevant in 2021 or at least until Boss puts out their next line of large loop stations.
The RC-505 has an impressive five stereo loop tracks and can record audio straight to your computer via USB, making this a decent option for an interface. The unit is designed to be operated using your hands, making it a great option for vocalists or DJ’s. If you’re a guitarist or other instrumentalist that has their hands tied up, you can operate the RC-500 using an external switcher such as the Nektar Pacer.
The RC-505 has 99 phrase memory banks that each have 5 tracks within them, as well as 85 rhythm patterns on board that range from even to odd time signatures. The built in effects can be used by guitarists and DJ’s alike and you can connect an external microphone for recording vocals into the looper.
The controls on the RC-500 are likely going to be overwhelming for beginners, but professionals will be happy with all the functionality and control that the unit has to offer. Each of the five loopers has independent volume faders and start/stop buttons.
The new firmware has made it possible for instrumentalists to program/dedicate external footswitches, which previously were not available or usable for those whose hands are busy playing an instrument. The RC-500 has controls for Tap Temp, FX, and much more than I can cover here.
What goes beyond the hardware buttons is covered withing the RC-500’s menu screen. Unfortunately, the menu operations date this pedal, with moving between sub-categories being impossible or sluggish. The new Boss RC-500, for example, lets you navigate in a much more user friendly way, but it doesn’t have all the features of the 505.
- Effect Type: Tabletop Loop Station
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: Boss PSAS Adaptor
- Dimensions: 16.54 x 8.27 x 2.68”
- Features: 99 Phrase Memories, MIDI, Microphone In, Headphone Jack, USB connectivity
Final Thoughts on the Boss RC-505 Loop Station
If you’re a DJ or multi-instrumentalist, you may find that a tabletop looper with external pedal functionality to be the best way to perform live. The RC-505 has proved over the years to be a looper of choice for musicians of this cut with its rich feature list and satisfying user experience.
7. Boomerang III Phrase Looper – Best for Live Performances
- Easy and Intuitive To Use: The BOOMERANG III loop station is fun right out of the box. Any guitar player beginner or pro will love stacking some loops with our simple to use pedal style. Controls...
Regardless of if you’re an ambient guitarist or a solo musician, if you’re planning on using a looper as a central part of your performance, you need the best of the best. After ten years the Boomerang III Phrase Looper is still considered by many to be the best option for looping live.
When you first look at the Boomerang, you can probably tell that it’s been around for a decade. That being said, the features on this pedal make it pro-level and a pedal worth using for years to come.
The Boomerang is a 3 Loop pedal (with an optional 4th using the Bonus switches) that has up to 35 minutes of recording time. The chassis is made of steel and measures in at 9 x 6 x 2”, making it small enough to work with most professional sized pedalboards. It has stereo In/Out and can be connected/controlled via MIDI.
In addition to having multiple/simultaneous playing modes, the Boomerang III has excellent effects like Reverse and Octave to give your loops a unique flare.
As I mentioned at the top of this article, I actually owned a Boomerang III, but the controls confused me as a beginner, and I ended up selling it. Not to intimidate beginners, but I would caution those looking at this pedal to watch the newest demos of it and read the manual thoroughly before use.
Once explained how the controls work, they become much more intuitive, and I now regret having ever sold mine.
Having three or four different loopers in one pedal is great, but the Play Modes and Bonus Controls are what truly set this looper apart from the rest. Understanding how the Play Modes function works is key to making this pedal work to its fullest, so I highly recommend watching this demo so you can understand it fully.
This allows you to synchronize or desynchronize your loops. Then, you can use the bonus switches to make the pedal extra musical with effects, fade outs, Undo functions, and more.
- Effect Type: Looper
- Signal: Digital
- Power Requirements: 9V AC/DC (500mA)
- Dimensions: 9″ x 6″ x 2″
- Features: Stereo In/Out, Play Styles, Bonus Features, MIDI
Final Thoughts on the Boomerang III Phrase Looper
It’s a testament to the Boomerang’s design concept and build quality that it remains a viable option for professional musicians ten years after its initial release. These days, there are more and more larger scale phrase samplers than ever before, but they have all taken notes from this pedal. If you plan on using loops live, you need a pedal of this caliber at the very least.
Looper Pedals as Tools and Instruments
When I first started doing my research for this article, I thought of Loopers as effects pedals. While some of them do have effects built in, I realized more and more that this wasn’t true.
At their simplest, loopers are tools. They are tools for practice and for songwriting. They let you hear yourself, sometimes for the first time if you are just starting out, and they reveal to you where you can improve. Perhaps it is with your tone, or your sense of rhythm, or your ability to improvise.
At their most advanced, loopers are instruments. Modern day musicians that have found a home on YouTube and other social media have found their niche in the growing popularity of looper performances. This makes the looper as much of an instrument as the musician’s voice or guitar.
Just like when it comes to picking out a guitar or other instrument, you need to consider a few things when picking out the best looper pedal: budget, experience, intent of use, etc. Once you think about these things and pick out the right looper, all the lies ahead is fun.
Looper pedals can inspire and help make you a better player, but most of all they are fun to play with.
I hope that this article was helpful for you. Whichever looper pedal you choose to roll with, any of the pedals on this list are sure to be fun to play through.
Now, if I keep writing, I’ll just start repeating myself… and that’s the looper’s job!
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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.