My Looping Setup

I had a few messages after OM22 asking about my setup, and encouragement to do a post about it so I’m happy to oblige. Like many of us here, I picked up my first ‘ditto’ single track looper somewhere in the middle of Justin’s Blues guitar lessons. I just wanted to be able to create a quick backing track so I could practice over.

But after a while I started to think, ‘this would be a lot better with a chorus’…and then it snowballed.


First of all let me state I’m not very experienced at this at all. I’m very much in the early stages of learning. I just checked and the first time I tried to use the looper as part of a song was when Justin hosted a Christmas open mic, 15 months ago (and yup, it didn’t work out as intended that time either) .

There are a lot of resources and videos online. However I do have to say that for me at least, while youtube videos may provide guidance on how to use tools, or what specific settings do, or inspiration, I really needed to just experiment to understand how to manipulate it. Modern loopers are so configurable that you can ( and I would say should) set them up for a way that makes sense for you.

I’m a better computer programmer than I am guitarist. That may work in my favour in terms of how I organize information and remember/manipulate settings, pedal mappings, etc.….but I do think anyone could learn it with practice.

And finally with respect to my setup, it is always evolving. I keep thinking of things that would make it easier -and the answer is usually ‘more pedals’… someone please stop me.

My Tech

RC600 Looper BOSS - RC-600 | Loop Station
The main workhorse and my first multi-track looper, so I can’t do much of a comparison with others but my general thoughts are as follows.
It’s a great piece of equipment. However it was pretty buggy on release, and I would say it was at least a year after release before it was even useable due to various bugs - very frusturating. But, since they patched it, it is delivering.
It’s a 6 channel looper, though I find I rarely need more than 3. So there are plenty of other options across the budget spectrum. That being said, you are very limited with single track loopers and would have to get pretty creative, so I would recommend that you have at least 2, preferably 3 if you wanted to explore this topic.

When I first got the RC600, I tried to make use of it’s myriad of effects. I rarely use them for a few reasons. First, I don’t seem able to get great tone out of them. Second, it is difficult to manipulate them on the fly while also managing the looper. Let the Looper do what it does best.

Important to note, modern loopers have settings that can make them pretty forgiving, so you don’t have to be perfect at timing.

Utility Footswitch
This just let’s me assign a couple extra foot switches to anything I want really. I change this depending on the song, and it’s all controlled on the RC600. So for one song, I might have these set to a guitar/vocal effect when pressed, and on another song it might do something like ‘stop track2 and bring in track 1 and 3’. (Just saving me an extra click when playing.)

Guitar Effects
I’m currently using a Helix, but I think this is very individual. Use what you like and get good tone out of, and enjoy using. The only thing I would say is if you also want to be also operating a looper - you will make your life easier if you can change to your desired tones with ‘one click’. If you need to ‘go to bank 2, and click preset 3 then turn on the chorus’ to get the specific tone, you are not making things easier on yourself.

I’m currently using the Helix for guitar and vocal processing. I will likely stick with that for some time for the guitar, although I would be interested in a dedicated vocal processor.

TCHelicon Harmony Singer Pedal TC Helicon | Product | HARMONY SINGER 2
This is a fun little piece of tech. It seems most other harmony effects, will take the input and adjust to a 3rd or 5th, or some combination. Which is ok, but limited. ( What if you need a minor 3rd?). Also some of them require you to set the key ahead of time.

This pedal takes both the mic and guitar as input - and adjusts the vocal harmony depending on the chord coming in from the guitar.
This is great, but with some caveats. Works great over a major chord, every time. If you are playing a minor chord, you have to make very sure your minor 3rd is ringing out, otherwise it may not recognize it as a minor chord - and then it defaults to the major 3rd. Likewise with a power chord…the underlying chord could possibly be minor, but the pedal is going to assume major. This pedal is almost too much fun for it’s own good….I have a tendency to overuse.

AKAI MPK Mini MPK Mini mk3 MIDI Controller | Akai Pro
So this isn’t a piece of gear I’m recommending…this is just what I happen have and all I’m using it for is the drum pads.
They are sending a midi signal to the Boss RC600 and I’m using the built in drum kits of that. My ‘drumming’ is pretty weak so I’d like to swap this at some point for something a bit more configurable, preferable with some options that can make me sound better than I am :). I thought I would be able to use the keyboard to trigger the vocoder effects in the RC600 but was never able to make it work. I could probably take advantage and map the other controls on this thing ( like use it as a mixer) - but I only explored that once and wasn’t successful. Technically it worked - the issue was with the operator :slight_smile:


This is largely subjective, but I thought I’d share my personal approach.

When I construct a song I try to find the key elements of it that people will expect, or recognize and I think of how to get those in the mix. You will almost certainly have to make sacrifices, or make changes to a song because a lot of stuff just isn’t looper friendly. People might not miss some obscure bridge, or intro/outro, but they’ll be expecting the hooks - whatever they may be.

Also a general rule for me is to try to get the song ‘up and running’ quickly. With looping, you can really only bring in one instrument at a time, and if it doesn’t happen quickly it may not hold interest. So I try to find an approach that at least gets a few instruments and maybe some vocals going together early on. Song specific obviously but something I keep in mind. In fact, I probably spend the most time focused and experimenting with the ‘starting’ aspect of a song than any other part.

And the final part for me is ‘always be playing’. In some songs I could quickly put all the parts in the loop and then just stop playing and sing when required. But I try to keep at least one part ‘live’. I just think it makes it more interesting as both a player and viewer/listener.

Live mistakes

Just like you learn to compensate/recover from mistakes on the fly with a guitar, you need to do with the looper as well. They will happen. ( Twice as often if you are me :slight_smile: ). You’ll miss bringing in a track, you’ll record off beat, the list goes on… Just like your instrument, you just need to practice enough that is starts becoming second nature on how to recover/correct whatever happens. When I first started I naively thought I’d just practice enough that I wouldn’t make mistakes….now I realize that the ‘undo’ switch is the most used footswitch.


I continue to struggle with a few thing.

Mixing. I have no idea how to approach this and would welcome suggestions. I find it very difficult to tell while playing how well anything is balanced. Even harder now that I’m using in-ear monitors to bring my vocals up a bit in my personal mix. Even if I could, I’m not sure I’ve got the space to also be mixing on the fly. Also in this setup - everything has to be mixed BEFORE the looper, because once it’s on a loop you can’t adjust individual instruments.
What I currently do is test every guitar setting, ‘drums’, and voice and try to adjust the settings to the same general ‘Loudness’, test with recordings, and then cross my fingers that it is still ok when I perform.

Bass Tone. I realize the ‘octaver bass’ is a poor substitute for the real thing, but I don’t want to juggle guitars. I use to have a Katana in my setup which I have since moved on from. However, I think I had a better bass tone out of that then my current setup. Ongoing experimentation here.

Tone in General. I haven’t owned a lot of gear in my life (until recently), so I have little experience here and often struggle to get something I’m really happy with. Now I have that extra challenge of coming up with multiple tones that compliment instead of compete in the mix.

Drumming is like, really hard. :slight_smile: I’m not sure if using pads is more or less difficult. I have no experience to say. All I know is that if I don’t keep my beats dead simple, I end up redoing them multiple times.

I think that covers it, hope people get something interesting out of this rather lengthy post.
Happy to answer questions or receive any suggestions and feedback. Just as I was posting this I see someone posted a video in this section of a new looper on the market! …must …resist…


Thanks for this Dale, a great overview. I’m amazed you have only been looping for 15 months, you have come so far and you are getting fantastic results that really being something special to your performances. I’m keen to play more with my looper, which like you I got for looping a few chords to improvise with, but unlike you it has stayed there!

It’s a shame there’s no mention of the helicopter effect pedal, I’m having trouble finding that one :slight_smile:

1 Like

:slight_smile: Helicopter sound was a sample I found and pre-loaded onto one of the tracks. I actually wanted the ‘scream’ but I couldn’t find it anywhere!

1 Like

According to my Brother in Law, the helicopter that’s sampled on the record is a Sikorsky - one of those double rotor affairs. He recognised the sound because it’s what he used to get ferried to and from his job on a North Sea oil rig on, back in the day


Awesome write up Dale. Really interesting.

Your looping is so entertaining - especially to a bunch of guitarists, I think. It’s enthralling to watch you and the element of surprise you used with the helicopter at the OM - an awesome show.

I’ve only used a simple looper, built into my Fender amp. It uses the same pedal that changes effects etc so I have to do that foot juggling you mention. A pain. I had no idea the big loopers allow you to program them - it makes more sense now how you can pull off what you can. Must be a lot of planning that goes into it too!

On your troubles… I don’t remember thinking the mix wasn’t right or having any issues with your tone. I’m no pro in either of those areas, though!

1 Like

Have you seen the new Ed Sheeran looper pedals? wow they look good.

Thanks for the information!
I’m very interested but I think it’s too early in my guitar journey to start using such a nice set up.

It will be useful in the future and bad news for my wallet…

1 Like

Thanks for taking the time to offer such a detailed write up of your kit Dale :+1: I must say I was really interested to see your setup and all in all mate I think you did an amazing job, doing all that is hard enough without the added live pressure so congrats.
I will certainly be looking forward to seeing more of your journey.

1 Like

Sure have Rob, just today in fact right here in this forum:

It definitely looks slick and I’m intrigued to know more about it.
The price point has put me off though for now.


Thanks for the post sir. I’m biased but a Beat Buddy (not the mini) is the way to go for drums. Pretty much ready to go out of the box, using Beat Buddy Loader (not the manager) to create playlists, add the separate footswitch and you have got more drum control at your feet than your brain can process!

Just remember to turn the volume switch back down on the Beat Buddy from your 5 watt practice amp when you go back to your 400 watt live amp when you perform! Ask me how I know😲……Rod

1 Like

Thanks Rod,
I will certainly check that out and I’ll try to keep an open mind, but my heart is a bit set on this one:

I figured my feet are getting enough of a work out and should work on my arms for a bit :wink:

Also, I sympathize with the volume ‘surprises’ - I have made many, many, many mistakes in this area.

Thanks Dale. That was fascinating.

I’m with JK … not hearing anything in the tones and overall mix that I’ve wished was different in the moment

All in all, I think it is pretty remarkable. And your perspective is likely more critical and subdued than our own experience.

I was waiting for you tod eliver that scream :rofl:

1 Like

Comprehensive Dale, and a super interesting read, thank you for putting it together. I laughed at the Ditto comment and it comign into play at the first Blues module, guilty as charged :wink: :rofl:

1 Like

Totally get the perspective! I just want to play with a drummer, i don’t want to be one!:wink:. Good luck when you pick that one up……Rod

1 Like

I’m guessing you’re referring to the one scream that rules them all, the one that has been used in loads of movies, series, …? Search for ‘Wilhelm scream’ :blush:

1 Like

I know the ‘Wilhelm scream’ well, my nephews won’t stop doing it!
But nope, that isn’t the one. There is a ‘scream’ right before Another Brick in the Wall Pt 2. I read somewhere that it was Roger Waters doing it over the phone. Not sure if I believe it or not, but it’s quite unique.
In retrospect - throwing in the Wilhelm scream instead would have been hilarious!

Thanks @DavidP @jkahn for your tone comments.
I will say this last OM was by far the happiest I’ve been with tone and levels, definitely more a comment on previous recordings and OM’s. So I might just be learning something.

Actually I should give a shout out to @TheMadman_tobyjenner and others for various posts on the Yulean Loudness Meter…that has become a key tool for me when levelling.


Thank you for the write up Dale. I’ve been watching your recordings posted and OM performances and find them a joy to watch. You make the looping look relatively easy which goes to show how much effort you have put into your practice. Thank you for the write up, I’ll bookmark for later as you’ve inspired me to dust of my RC-500 and get stuck in learning to produce creative loops. As for the scream if its a song you’re planning on keeping in your repertoire I’m happy to try isolating it with my RIPX DAW software and sending you it to use in your future performances.


Same here - your fantastic performance at last OM @Charlie_James let me think to take out my RC-500 and give it a try! It was so inspiring and a challenge likewise :slight_smile:
I was also struggling and playing a little bit with the RC-500 but no real practice. Thanks to your writeup and will be much easier I think.

1 Like

Many thanks for this Dale - I’d been wondering about how to ask you about your setup and you’ve delivered in spades :pray:. Fabulous performance at the OM - great singing and I liked the tone of your guitar and the bass your pedal produced. Mix sounded good to my ears. Interesting to hear your approach to building a song with focusing on the beginning, that worked really well in this performance. Congrats - keep up the footwork :grinning:

1 Like