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The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget

The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget
November 7, 2023
Looking to give your live show some extra oomph? You just might want to consider adding a loop pedal to your music toolkit. Join us as we check out the best loop pedals on offer to artists on a budget.

This guest blog comes from professional touring musician Matt Garnett. Matt has toured the UK and Europe with the likes of Nieve Ella and Inhaler, playing a range of instruments throughout his career and using numerous loop pedals along the way.

Introductions done. Let's get stuck into loop pedals.

What is a loop pedal?

Starting things off with the basics. A solid addition to your guitar pedal collection, loop pedals are recording tools used to capture your music and instantly play those recordings back to you. If you've ever been at a show and seen a solo artist creating seemingly multiple sounds, chances are they'll have been using a loop pedal.

Loop pedals basically create layers of different sounds that - you guessed it - loop. They live on the floor out the way and are normally pretty small, allowing you to easily add them to your existing pedalboard.

The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget- Guitar player using pedalboard

Solo artists often use looper pedals to mimic other instruments as well as their own parts, including drums, bass lines, and multiple guitar tracks, helping them create unique new arrangements while songwriting alone - or enhancing the existing mix of a full band setup. 

Both a practical and creative tool, a good loop pedal will help you practice more efficiently, improve your songwriting, and fill your live performances, even when you’re on your own. 

There are a wide variety of loop pedals on the market, the most expensive of which can reach eye-watering prices. Luckily, you won’t have to break the bank to find a top-quality pedal which can take your music to new heights. 

If you're on a budget, or looking to try your hand at looping for the very first time, there are plenty of top-quality contenders at way more affordable prices.

The best loop pedals in 2024 

This brings us to the good stuff - the best and most affordable loop pedals you should be looking at to step up your sound.

Boss RC-1

- Price: $115

The industry-standard loop pedal: the Boss RC-1 Loop Station is one of the most popular models on the market, and for good reason. It's affordable, easy to use, and sounds top-notch.

The RC-1 has a simple interface with one large (and satisfying-to-press) foot switch: one click for recording and playback, and two clicks for stopping and clearing loops. Whilst there is a lack of a dedicated stop button, the large and vibrant display which indicates both loop length and playback gives you peace of mind, just at a glance, that you’re shredding even in the darkest of stages. 

The RC-1 can record loops up to 12 minutes in length, which is plenty for most guitarists, and while its Analog-Digital-Analog (A/D/A) conversion rate of 16-bit places it behind some rivals, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice much quality difference for everyday use. A solid bet at around $115.

The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget - Boss RC-1

Electro-Harmonix Nano Looper 360

- Price: $125

The Electro-Harmonix Nano Looper 360 is another great option for musicians on a budget. It's one of the smallest loop pedals on the market, but it still packs a punch. As suggested by its name, the 360 is capable of recording up to 360 seconds per loop, and can save 11 loops for later use. The ability to save and recall comes into its own during live performances, where you can drop in pre-recorded licks to fill the room. Moreover, the 24bit A/D/A conversion rate offers a quality improvement compared to the Boss RC-1.

One minor annoyance is the pedal’s side-mounted jacks, so despite its compact footprint, the 360 will inevitably fill more of your board than you’d expect. Much like the Boss RC-1, the 360 lacks a dedicated stop control, and with a less vibrant display, this may cause problems during live performances. If this dissuades you, then it might be worth considering an upgrade to the 360’s big brother – the Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper.

The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget - Electro-Harmonix Nano Looper 360

Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper

- Price: $181

With a loop-recording time of the Electro-Harmonix 720 seconds (12 minutes), this pedal outperforms the Boss RC-1, whilst also providing greater functionality. The inclusion of both half-time and reverse-playback modes allows for greater creative expression whilst jamming or writing, whilst the dedicated stop function adds greater reassurance to live performances. Despite its greater size and side-mount jacks, the 720 offers great versatility and includes the features of top-end loop stations at a lower price.

Our only sticking point is the price – it’s more costly than other options, putting it on the edge of the budget range, but with uncompressed 24-bit A/D/A conversion and the ability to connect a separate 3-button foot controller, its features and functionality firmly place the 720 at the forefront of live loopers.

The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget - Electro-Harmonix 720 Stereo Looper

TC Electronic Ditto Looper

- Price: $99

The most affordable looper on our list, the TC Electronic Ditto Looper has packed 5 minutes of loop time into this minimalist pedal, which features uncompressed 24bit A/D/A resolution for un-compromised audio quality. Its mini-pedal format means the Ditto Looper will fit into the smallest of gaps on your board. It features unlimited overdubs, with a one-button user interface. While this may look sleek, the lack of display means that there may be confusion if using the Ditto in a live environment, since all of the pedal’s operations are activated by pressing and holding the switch in a variety of different manners. 

Regardless, the Ditto Looper makes for a perfect option if you’re looking to use your pedal to write, jam, or practice – an excellent choice, where quality is not sacrificed at a lower price point. Arguably the ultimate budget-buy. And no, we aren't just saying that because of the name.

The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget - TC Electronic Ditto Looper

If you fancy a slight upgrade on this, then it may be worth also considering the TC Electronic Ditto + Looper. The new iteration of the original Ditto Looper, the ‘+’ offers enhanced functionality in a similar style to the Electro Harmonix 720, but with a better display and packed into a smaller & sleeker pedal. However, it is over twice the price of the original Ditto model, so it might be worth considering whether the 60 (sixty!) minute loop time and 99-loop storage facility are what you need. Both offer uncompressed 24-bit audio output, and the unlimited overdub feature – so your decision comes down to both budget and your technical requirements.

- Price: $159

The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget - TC Electronic Ditto + Looper

Ultimately, whichever loop pedal you opt for should be down to your personal and technical requirements. While the Electro Harmonix 720 and TC Electronic Ditto + pedals both offer an enhanced user experience and greater creative opportunities, they are at the top end of the ‘budget’ price range. 

If you’re after a bulletproof pedal for all the basic functions of a looper, the TC Electronic Ditto will be the best budget shout, while both the Boss TC-1 and Electro Harmonix 360 perfectly strike the balance between affordability, functionality and build quality. Whichever looper you opt for, get ready to explore a new field of creativity and artistry in your practice routine, songwriting, and live performances!

Regardless of how you use it, a quality loop pedal is always going to be a valuable addition to your toolkit. 

To keep up to date with Matt and his band, make sure to follow him on Instagram.

The Best Loop Pedals for Musicians on a Budget

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