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Playing With a Loop (everyone read this)


FunkyLemz

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Well, since my last post on this thread, I did see someone perform live with loops. (I think I commented on it elsewhere, but I'm too lazy to look it up.) Very entertaining. I think he was from Ohio. Just guitar, trumpet and vocals, I seem to recall. He wasn't exactly polished, but he knew how to use the technology.
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I've been wanting to play with a looping device for some time, especially since I saw a Jaco video recently where he uses a looper and creates some amazing rhythm and lead lines. I'm surprised no one has posted that yet...

"The world will still be turning when you've gone." - Black Sabbath

 

Band site: www.finespunmusic.com

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SteveC...resist the urge to buy new! The previous model Boss RC-20 goes for half the new price or better...check Ebay, there's plenty of folks selling the old ones to go buy the new ones...take advantage of that.

 

I'm working on a tune right now, I've saved a loop of the bass line and drum machine, and I'm playing guitar along with that loop to work out the guitar parts. For this kind of "prototyping" approach, it's just much easier to do than using the multi-track recorder. I'm using this exactly the way I anticipated I would, so needless to say, I'm very pleased with the gadget. I am finding myself wishing it had the USB port like the Digitech Jamman so I could just copy the loop off to a PC easily...but hey, that's just another Ebay search... ;)

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Originally posted by Max Valentino:

Another nasty pit one can fall into is the tendency to "fill up" the sound (I actually was calling my Lexicon JamMan "Phillip" for a while....), where one continually adds to the looped parts with overdubs creating a dense wash of sound...then where do you go?

I have used loop pedals a good deal when playing live in theatre productions (which tend to allow for more improv). It took me a while to figure out how to deal with exactly this problem - that the arrangements end up mostly shaped like a "ramp," starting small and getting more and more complex, but with only a fade or big drop-off as an ending ... My solution (not particularly cost effective) was to get a second loop pedal.

 

Like this:

1. I lay down a rhythm part (one or more parts) on Loop Pedal 1.

2. When appropriate, I record the part that's recorded on Loop Pedal 1 into Loop Pedal 2, then shut off Loop Pedal 1.

3. To "unlayer" the arrangement and revert to a simpler part, I shut off Loop Pedal 2 and kick on Loop Pedal 1.

 

This works particularly well if the looped content is harmonically open (i.e. stacked 5ths or 4ths, instead of stacked 3rds). You can then define the tonality (i.e. major/minor, etc.) with the "live" content that you're playing, and shift it around to keep things interesting.

 

As for gear, I use a Boss RC-20 and a Boomerang. For the most complex stuff, I have a cheap line mixer, with my electric cello (a hot-rodded Zeta), guitar, and bass (SR-5) summed to one line in, that runs first into the RC-20 and then into the Boomerang. This allows a lot of flexibility in sounds.

 

The Boomerang is easier to use live, I find, because of the physical layout of the board and the spacing between buttons. However, the RC-20 allows you to record and save up to 10 loops, which makes for a nice "scratch-pad" for ideas. I've never used these in the studio, so I can't say much about the sound quality - both are quiet enough for live use, although my Boomerang seems to add a bit more hiss after multiple passes of layering.

 

Finally, I really like creating long (i.e. 3-4 minute) loops. This allows the pieces to develop more naturally, and keeps things from getting overly repetitive ("loopy"). Also good exercise for my brain, as it requires me to remember long chord progressions ...

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Hey - That was Ken up there!!!!

 

Steve - I don't care how good a deal it is. If it doesn't clean your baby's bottom, you can't buy it :eek:;)

 

I saw BenLoy's friend Jessie Free many years ago. He beat the ramp/drop-off problem by having LOTS (seemed like 4-5) of loop boxes. Often each one had another pedal attached to it, so loop one was eq'd for bass, etc. He could cut in and out of any "part". I didn't study whether he was cutting in and out with the loop box or a switching unit (too many boxes).

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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I ran out of memory trying to lay down a guitar part...can't believe I've used up 5 mins on one loop! Hmmm...Digitech Jamman...Digitech Jamman...

 

Steve...you should try to get past this used gear aversion...if you buy at a good price used then sell it at a fair price, you get all or most of your money back...occasionally you even get lucky and sell something for more than you bought it! Obviously not true of buying new gear.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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I have had many used items in the past. It just so happens that my current gear was all purchased new. I troll the used market all the time. You never know when you'll find the thing you can't live without. ;)
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It sounds like the "smooth jazz" quartet may be playing again. I'm excited. There may also be some looping possibilities.

 

The smooth jazz genre lends itself to grooves. We do a few tunes that are basically a bass "riff" repeated. Sounds like a good place to loop the bass part and either solo or explore some other possibilities.

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Hmmm...ya know what should exist, but doesn't? A multi-track looper pedal....something like 4-8 tracks, each of which functions just like the single track in these loopers, allowing you to record a loop, overdub to it, save it, etc. Wouldn't even 4 tracks (that all sync up and can be played simultaneously) be the cat's meow? I'm sure it would be expensive, but it would save folks from having to buy multiple loopers to get the functionality they need. Just my musings...

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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LOL...ah yes, but most digital recorders don't support looping! Actually, I should say it this way...my Zoom MRS-1608 supports looping...but it's not seamless looping like these looping pedals, there's a long pause each time it jumps back to the beginning. It also will let you build songs out of loops, but it's a pretty involved process that I really haven't experimented with yet.

 

That certainly is another thought though...better looping capabilities in digital recorders.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Hmmm...ya know what should exist, but doesn't? A multi-track looper pedal....something like 4-8 tracks, each of which functions just like the single track in these loopers, allowing you to record a loop, overdub to it, save it, etc. Wouldn't even 4 tracks (that all sync up and can be played simultaneously) be the cat's meow? I'm sure it would be expensive, but it would save folks from having to buy multiple loopers to get the functionality they need. Just my musings...
I think what you're talking about is the Gibson-Oberheim Echoplex. Also, Steve Lawson's been using something that offers that.

 

You can get a free version of the Echoplex emulated on a computer here .

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I think you could do all of that with the Digitech JamMan. You can record a loop, overdub another loop, and another, etc., and save them all. Since you can export the loops via USB - use a DAW to mix them and then dump that back to the pedal as a single loop. Or am I completely missing the point here?
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'Xactly correct, TW!

 

Just out of curiosity, I wonder if there's anyway to add more memory to the Boss RC-20 (presumably by replacing the current memory)? I would seriously doubt that Boss would design and build proprietary flash storage, right? There's probably some sort of fairly common and standard flash media or chip in there...I haven't torn it open to examine this though. Has anyone ever looking into this?

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Dave,

 

You should seriously try the Mobius software I linked to, if that's what you're interested in. It does multi-track looping with the EDP-style interface. It's very powerful, and if your Zoom has an ASIO or sufficiently fast audio driver, should be very usable. Partner it with a laptop and you've got a really good, relatively cheap looper.

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Hey Thomas...actually I generally detest getting a laptop involved (other than as a destination for a WAV file...maybe occasionally for light mixing)...I really prefer the "turn it on and it works" characteristics of dedicated solutions, like a pedal in this case. But, thanks for the thoughts...it might be a good solution for someone who reads this thread in the future.

 

Here's something I've accumulated onto my new looper...dumped it off to the laptop. This is a new tune in progress. I put down the bass line and drum machine, then looped it for what seems like a week straight to work out a guitar part (I'm certainly not a polished guitarist, as you can probably tell).

 

http://www.ipass.net/davesisk/music/other/SongIdea04.mp3

 

This is slated to be my first "modern funk oriented" original worship song...we'll see how it goes...

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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The Digitech BNX3 bass amp/cab modeler/multiFX/etc. floor processor actually has a very basic 8-track digital recorder and multi-track LOOPER built in. Interesting...I just pulled down the manual and am browsing through it. It has some of the Jamman looper functionality built into it. You can record and loop all 8 tracks, plus you can overdub onto (ie. add to) any existing track that is looped. Wow...all that plus modeling and effects too! The only drawback I see is that storage is limited...max storage is 128Mb with an optional SmartMedia card (which I believe equates to 48 track minutes at CD quality, which is still more time than the old or new Boss loopers).

 

I had looked at the BNX3 once before, but that was before I had an interest in looping. If this guy had an XLR out with ground lift switch, I would have to perhaps consider ditching the Zoom B2.1u and switching to this (my old multiFX processor is a Digitech BP8, so I know the effects are really good and the user-interface is pretty straight-forward). But it doesn't have an XLR out...go figure...and the specs don't look quite as good as the Zoom. Perhaps the next generation BNX will have some improvements. If I ever get to the point that I actually want to consider using loops live, I may very well have to consider this option anyway.

 

MightyThumb...on the Digitech Jamman (just like the Boss RC-20 and RC-20XL), when you overdub you add that to the existing loop (ie. track)...you can pretty much layer to infinity, but it all goes on one "track". So, for instance, if you looped a bass line and a guitar riff, when you export that to PC from the Jamman, the bass and guitar would be in the same WAV file, not seperate. That's what I meant above by "multi-track looping"...you could select which "track" to store each part on, then loop all the tracks in sync.

 

Just as a side note, I noticed the Boss GT-6B has looping capability as well...but it's limited to something like 3 seconds or storage, so it's practically useless capability. I haven't looked for looping capability in the Line6 BassPOD.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Man, I had sent a note to Digitech asking if they intended to release a BNX4 (assuming it would be similar to the GNX4 but specific to bass). Digitech answered that they have no plans for a BNX4 because the GNX4 covers that need. So, I've downloaded the manual and started reading. In addition to models for electric and acoustic guitar, there's quite a few models for bass (including the two I'd most often use, SWR and Ampeg), plus bass cab modeling. This guy has 8-track looping builtin with a max card size of 2Gb (ie 6+ hours of audio content), built-in drum machine (to which you can provide a midi file), ability to load and playback MP3 files, has XLR outputs with ground lift (an important feature to me), even has two auxillary inputs (which I could see using with a keyboard foot-controller and sound module...the input can be routed to and mixed to the XLR outputs on the floorboard...no external mixer required). This thing has just about ever bell and whistle I can imagine. Since I've gained an interest in looping, and have finally bought into the whole modeling thing (at least for church use), AND I'm looking for decent guitar modeler/multiFX unit right now...this sure looks like it would kill all three birds with a single stone. I still have my old Digitech BP8, so I know the effects are super...just not sure if these are voiced well for bass (or if that "voiced specifically for bass" motto is even technically valid or just a marketing pitch). Anyway, I'm going to see if I can find one locally to try with bass...if it's good, I may very well have to reconsider some recent purchases.

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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