Best Loop Pedal? (TCE Ditto Boss RC Standoff)
Alright guys!!! I am super excited to be putting together this review for the best loop pedals on the market! Loopers have a special place on my pedal board and not just physically. Reason being is that I occasionally play solo as well as in a band. Loopers give me the ability to expand my sound as a solo artist and increase the potential of what I can play.
The loop pedal is as simple or complex as you want it to be depending on how you use it. When looking for the right effect, I would suggest understanding what you are going to use it for and how complex you want your loops to be. As well, it is good to note what other effects you are using. Are you looping really fuzzy effects or cleaner more ambient effects like a chorus pedal?
In this review we will take a look two of the big hitters when it comes to manufacturers and their looping brands, we are talking about the TC Electronic Ditto Loop Pedal series & the Boss RC series. We will do our best to explain the features, but with some of these behemoths it might be tough to capture everything they can do within a medium like this!
The Standoff: TC Electronics Ditto Series & Boss RC Loop Machines
The way we will format this article is in the way of a Mexican standoff, well not really Mexican but definitely a standoff. The pedals that are in play are below, and we have paired them together with their equal, or not so equal, counterparts.
Each unit is rated based off of the relative price point and overall quality, basically our perception of the value you are getting.
The below review is basically grouped by complexity from the simplest to the most complex version. It should be noted, that an increase in complexity also comes with an increase in price; so keep that in mind when you are drooling over the complex pedals… but if you have some cash, they would be the ones to take a serious look at as the looping capability is truly endless.
First Up In The Guitar Looping Face-Off:Ditto VS RC-1
This group is the simple to use group, don’t have too many controls and will loop the hell out of whatever you want to repeat. They both have storage and are true-bypass so your signal isn’t effected when the pedal is turned off. However, if you are looking for something that will allow you to get really experimental with your looping, then feel free to skip this section as these pedals are better for adding a bit of colour to your playing.
This little guy is a great option for those who want a simple to use and easy effect (see full specs). It has 5 minutes of storage time in it and basic controls for dialling in the level/volume of the loop. It also has a click button to start and stop the loop and to control the loop options explained below.
The controls are pretty intuitive but can be a bit touchy since you are controlling everything with on single button. One-click to start recording a loop and the next click stops the recording and begins the playback. Any click after that will add in a layer on top of the original loop. Double clicking will stop the loop all together. A simple single click again will start it back up again. To erase the loop you just need to double click and hold.
A really cool feature of this pedal for its small size is the undo/redo function. If you record a loop over the last layer and don’t like it, you can hold down the button while it is playing and it will undo it. If you want the part back in you can hold it down again and it will add it back in which can definitely come in handy if you are learning how to use this effect.
One other thing to note is the Ditto looper pedal is great at keeping your tone intact. It was specifically made for guitar players and tone was a huge consideration for these guys when they made the pedal. Sometimes these kinds of pedals will take your tone and alter it a bit, which isn’t really the most desirable aspect of a pedal when it comes to looping.
The Boss RC-1 is a simple but effective effect that is built like an absolute tank (see full specs). Like the Ditto, the RC-1 has a volume/level control knob and is activated by the stomp pad button.
Where it surpasses the Ditto though is in its visual indicator. It pretty much counts you into your loop and helps ensure proper timing. The RC-1 also has more storage than the Ditto. You will be able to store up to 12 minutes of one track so you can really create some long songs!
The controls basically the same as the Ditto. Simple one button control that is very intuitive after plugging it in and experimenting for a bit. It also has a great sound quality and was designed specifically for guitarists and bassists. However, I would have to say the Ditto is a bit better in terms of tone.
Check out the RC-1 in action in the below video:
Next Up In The Stand Off To Find The Top Loop Pedal:Ditto X2 Vs RC-3
This next group gets a bit more complex and if you opt in for one of these guys you will be able to experiment a bit more than with the above two. This is because they have more features, options and effects to let you loop your mind away.
The Ditto X2 is an interesting pedal to say the least. It is not your typical “more complex” effect that stores more tracks, or has better memory and display settings. Instead the X2 includes an extra click button and an effects switch that can help create some really interesting sounds (see full specs).
Just like the regular Ditto, the X2 has 5 minutes of looping memory, unlimited overdubs, the undo/redo function, and true bypass for keeping tones in mint condition. But it is definitely not the same pedal.
The X2 builds on the original Ditto by offering the effects switch mentioned above, a USB port for uploading and downloading backing tracks, stereo input/output, a battery pack that holds 2 batteries (pretty cool idea for extra battery power) and also a hidden extra switch by the batteries that allows you to switch between two different loop control modes.
Most of the extra features are pretty straightforward additions that we don’t really need to go over. However, the effectsswitch feature should definitely be explained, as they are pretty cool.
The effects switch, which is controlled by the additional button, can switch between a stop function, reverse loop and ½ speed loop. The stop feature is absolutely great because it provides a simple and precise way of stopping your loop, without having to double click. The reverse loop is like a reverse function on a delay pedal, however, this time it will reverse a whole loop not just what you play. The ½ speed function is a little weird in my opinion. When you engage the ½ speed effect and record it will record/play at ½ speed and drop down an octave, however, as soon as you disengage the effect button it will speed everything back up and what you recorded will be up an octave. It is kind of cool but would take some getting used to.
Take a listen below and learn more about the X2 here:
The RC-3 is a very different to the X2 in the sense that instead of including different kinds of effects within the pedal like the X2 did, the RC-3 improved upon the memory and controllability of the RC-1.
The RC-3 has a different output knob than the RC-1 (see full specs here). The outer ring of the knob controls the volume and the inner ring of the knob controls the rhythm track volume. Which leads us to another added feature: the rhythm track. The rhythm track will add a beat to the background of your loop. This feature can be really cool to practice to, but they do sound a bit hokey in my opinion for using it live.
Another great upgrade to this pedal is the ability to store multiple loops as well. The RC-3 allows you to store 99 different loops for later use and is easy to control with the write/delete button and the arrow buttons. With the added memory comes some other added tech such as quantization so if you mess up your timing a little bit the quantization will make it right so you don’t have to re-record the loop section.
All and all I really like the additions and upgrades on the RC-3. It still is really simple to use and has the ability to be a band in the box by allowing you to store multiple loops. I personally would pick the RC-3 as the best loop pedal in the middle grouping.
And THE Final Stand-Off !!!!!!
Ditto X4 vs RC-300 Loopers
The changes on the X4 can be put pretty simply. It is basically two regular Dittos, mixed in with the effects button and effects of the X2 plus extra effects and they have added an additional stop button that enables you to have a stop button and play effects (see full specs here).
The two separate loopers can either be synced with the original loop or be in “serial” mode to be able to control separate timings. This means the two loopers can be mutually exclusive or stacked on top of each other.
There is also a decay knob that can control how an overdub fades over time. With this knob you can either have the new overdubs be stacked one on top of the others infinitely or you can have them decay and
It also has a midi control input as well so you can control the sound, as well as sync with any other effects. Like all of the Ditto pedals the tone of your guitar stays intact and every loop sounds amazing with the X4 Looper.
The RC-300 is a behemoth and not just in its physical size. It has a huge amount of creative potential and is probably the best loop pedal on the planet in my opinion due to the fact it is hugely popular with some of the some of the top artists out there. Its functionality and ease of use is consistent with all other boss pedals but it has endless capability (see full specs here).
This pedal is almost more of a station than it is a “pedal”. It has a ton of variables that can be messed around with to ultimately rock anyone who uses it. But beware, as this thing can be kind of confusing when you are first getting used to how it plays. The first time I tried this loop pedal I had to turn it off due to a major headache from concentrating so hard! Well… thats an exaggeration but you get what I am trying to say.
The RC-300 offers 3 hours of recording space within the pedal’s memory so you can record a ton of songs and store them within the pedal. There is also 99 phrase memory settings so you can store entire set lists in the pedal for any live applications.
The RC-300 also takes a page out of the Ditto’s book by including 16 on board effects to modulate the input sound. There is also an expression pedal so you can accent your effects the way you want them to sound and add a bit more flare into your playing.
The biggest reason I like this pedal the most is the fact that it has 3 different tracks with individual record/play buttons and individual stop buttons for all three of the tracks. However, there is still a switch to control all of the tracks at once.
Honestly though, the best way to understand this pedal is to watch it in action in the video below. It can be used in so many different ways it is unreal.
dHope you enjoyed what I put together about the best loop pedals on the market! Please take a look at my headphones post (read the guide here) when you have a minute and share your experiences with my readers in the comments. Thank you!