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How to tell if you NEED a looper


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Hey guys, I've been away for a while with my move to a new house. Still not optimal (writing this from work) and not internet connection yet from home...but soon.


In the meantime, I bought a 3 loop (plus tuner out, and master bypass) looper used a week ago, and I gotta say....there are a number of folks that definitely ought to get one.


How to tell if you are one of these? I won't go into the obvious ones, that you KNOW you have tone sucking pedals so you need a looper to get them out of the "normal" signal path. That case obviously needs a looper, just as a person with a lot of "fancy tap dancing" setups needs one...because you can in each loop (OR using the master bypass) set up things beforehand so that when you hit that loop (or go from master bypass to whichever loops are selected) you have say delay, chorus, fuzz, and wah on.


Nor do we need think about the purists that use NO pedals, or one or two quality pedals.


BUT... if you are someone who has a nagging feeling that some of your pedals might be tone-sucking, but you aren't sure....you NEED a looper. Doesn't have to be a 3 loop looper, could be a micro-looper with just one even, but you need a looper.


Sorry for the rambling opening, I'm writing fast, gotta get back to work, but just wanted to say, I always wondered which or IF some pedals were tonesucking, and the ONLY way I could really for sure tell, I put them in a loop and turn the pedals off and click between "straight through" (which is actually two cables and two jacks before it hits the amp) and through the loop.


I tested all the pedals on my pedalboard and found to my surprise that my Ernie Ball Jr. volum pedal was making a change to the tone. But it wasn't exactly tone sucking...I think there is some kind of buffer in there, but it seemed actually to be losing a little of the lows! not highs which is more usual in tone-suckage.


And it wasn't a bad sound at all...it was subtly (at first I thought I heard no diff, which is what I expected but after a short time I was hearing it) a little more sparkly, but not as full either.


NOTE: it's REALLY important also when you compare straight through with through a pedal that you don't JUST do it with guitar vol at 10. Drop it also down to 7 or 8 and there may be a much bigger difference than there is at 10.


I also found a beautiful remedy. I put a Zvex Super Hard On (booster) right after the guitar, and then tried it, and suddenly...it was the same (as close as possible anyway, no difference!)



I tried this with some other pedals and also discovered a good trick. I mainly was testing pedals for when they are off. Not just alone either but in different configurations, with one, two or three loops, and in differenct orders. But the trick I found, was with my OD's when they were ON and I was trying for a slight boost up from the clean sound...just slight. Here again, the trick is, first with guitar vol at 10, set the kind of gain you want, try for slight boost also from clean, but THEN...lower guitar vol to about 6 or 7 (of course, the gain won't sound the same but forget that for a moment) and THEN see if there is just a slight boost with pedal on from off. at higher gain with guitar at 10, it may sound unity or slightly boosted, but at higher (and lower) volumes you might find you go to turn on the OD and it is too low or high. It seems like this is easier to detect when the guitar is not supplying full pickup to the pedal. if it is unity for example at low guitar vol, it seems like it is at 10 also.


Hope this was useful for someone. I REALLY wish I had gotten a looper years ago. It takes up some space on my pedalboard, and I am considering trying to play without my volume pedal (though again, the SHO fixes any problems...it is more that I want a simpler setup) which I have done since I started playing around '72 in bands. Scary really :-) But fun-scary.


Check out my original music at



"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice,

but not in practice."

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