Line Out Music & Nightlife


News & Arts

« Name Dropping | Tonight in Music: Simian Mobil... »

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Loops & Loopers: Dan.Dan

posted by on April 24 at 10:38 AM

loops.jpgA loop is a sample or section of music that repeats seamlessly when played end to end. Loops can made and edited through the use of delay effects, looping based software, pedals, tapes, and record players. Looping is used, featured, and heard so much these days that it has practically become its own genre. Creating and playing with loops live is a beast. You have to be able to play, hear, execute the parameters, start, and stop the loop in time with what you’re playing.

Seattle cellist Gretchen Yanover (Built to Spill, KD Lang, KJ Sawka, Northwest Sinfonietta) uses a Line 6 Loop Sampler. She steps on the looper for a starting point, plucks a melody or staccato feel on her cello, and steps on the looper again for the stopping point of the loop phrase. Once that loop is going, she modulates down a third or a fifth, plucks the same melody in harmony, and loops that. Then she bows the original phrase legato, loops that, then bows the third or fifth that was modulated to, and loops that as well. There are four cello’s going at this point. Then she plays freely over the quadra-loop for twenty seconds and loops that for a fifth loop. Finally, she puts the bow down and plucks freeform notes and rhythms. It’s aquatic, layered, scenic, and incredibly beautiful. She can go ten loops deep and make her own symphony right before your eyes. Seeing her construct the loops live is like watching Edward Scissor hands trim the hedges. You’re like, “How is she doing that?” But she’s doing it right in front of you, so you see exactly how she’s doing it.


There is one Dan Paulus who is looking for a looper. I asked him which one he was thinking of going with:
Paulus: Seems the Red Boss unit and the green Line 6 are the loopers of choice.

What will you be looping?
I’ll mainly be running guitar in, but also synths, toys, drum machine, vox, whatever. Expanding the parameters.

Yes. Parameters. And toys. Expand them.
I saw Katharine Hepburn’s Voice at the Blue Moon and their bassist/drummer was using an Akai Headrush. Talked to him a bit about it after. Looked pretty solid and easy. Maybe not as many bells and whistles as some of the others. Researched it online. Some reviewers loved it, some hated it.

Another Dan, Dan Rapport (Blue Scholars, Red Eye Flight) is a loop master. I asked him to talk loopers:
Rapport: Loopers are cool! I’ve been doing a lot of stuff down at the Triple Door just with and acoustic and a looper. They definitely take some practice to use (getting the loop to work in time) and I think it’s a lot easier to get a short loop that works over a longer loop. Long loops have more of a chance to get out of synch. I use the Line 6 Delay, which only has 12 seconds or so of loop time but it works well enough for me. I did notice when I saw Battles (who’s entire sound is based on looping) that they all used the Echoplex Digital Pro which apparently is the best and it’s midi synchable so there’s no way to get off on your timing.

No way to get off? Get off, Dan, get off on your bad self.

RSS icon Comments


I get off as often as possible.

Then I loop it.

Posted by Paulus | April 24, 2008 10:48 AM

1. solo or acoustic rock musicians who use looping units are boring as fuck.
2. they're the same people who cry about electronic music not being real music.

Fuck you to all the "creative" types out there experimenting with looping your stupid fucking guitars. Admit you were wrong about electronic music or go to hell.

Posted by rockers suck | April 24, 2008 11:04 AM

Hey Rocker, what's the name of your failed project?

You seem bitter.

Posted by Jeff | April 24, 2008 11:06 AM

I loop guitars but use something a bit more dated. Won't tout it's greatness here.
I personally should have a problem with peopkle doing this too but when done right it sounds infectious.

Posted by Biggie J | April 24, 2008 11:11 AM

I remember seeing Eluvium do this at Neumos opening for Jesu and Boris. Fantastic stuff.

The music equipment/studio tips posts in this blog are certainly some of the most interesting and useful items I've gone back to reference.

Posted by Grrr | April 24, 2008 11:17 AM

I use the Boss RC-20 XL. I chose it for its size, recording time and the fact that I could do both forwards and backwards looping. I can also save loops if need be. I also have the Boss DD-20 GigaDelay which I use to flip between delay and looping. I usually play the RC-20 XL with my synths and the GigaDelay with guitar, but I'm always playing with my set up.

A great website for looping tools is, they have user reviews on almost all the loopers available. I checked them out before I chose my loopers.

Posted by drheavy | April 24, 2008 11:21 AM

I forgot I also use the korg kp2 for looping with my synth set up some times. It can only do 2 loops and play 1 at a time, with no layering though. So I usually use it with the Boss Looper.

Posted by drheavy | April 24, 2008 11:29 AM

@2 - You're an idiot who has no idea what he's talking about. Stop embarrassing yourself.

I've been using the Line 6 for a while, and really like it (and if you start at half speed, your loop time is up to 24 seconds, and you can do reverse as well). I also have the 1-pedal version of the Boss Loop Station. I wanted to set that up for separate vocal looping, but I haven't had the time to really work on it yet.

Probably the coolest live looping performance I've ever seen was Andrew Bird. So good.

Posted by Levislade | April 24, 2008 11:42 AM

i've actually seen one solo guitarist and loop pedal that was excellent (and was, of course, from japan). absolutely the exception to the rule, most are completely boring and spiral into musical wankery within minutes.

if you want some next level boring: clarinet through a delay pedal and casio sk-1 synthesizer. it was one of the worst 45 mintues of my life.

Posted by cosby | April 24, 2008 11:47 AM

I can understand some people's indignation to musicians with loopers and certainly some of what is done with them is boring, repetitive, uninteresting, and completely worthless musically. But I think the point needs to be made that these particular people who do this "music" probably aren't all that interesting w/o their loopers as well. Blame the source doods...not the equipment.

Posted by Dan | April 24, 2008 11:56 AM

i use a boomerang to loop aux perc and vox. unlmtd capabilities, built in reverse, sensitive pedals. boss and line 6 are great too but customer service is much better w/ boomerang since its basically 1 guy in TX who makes them. support the little guy!
loopers are rad. good post.

Posted by jon e. rock | April 24, 2008 12:03 PM

Not to toot the moons over my own hammie... but the Boss RC-20(regular) was used to do Frolic, with bass gtr:

I recently fried the circuit using a 1/4 - XLR adaptor in the Mic input. Not a recommended experiment when the warranty has expired.

Come to think of it, we have a busted Boomerang too. I wouldn't buy used...

Posted by JonPanther | April 24, 2008 12:11 PM

The Line 6 delay is crap. They are cool for awhile, but don't step on it. All of the ones my friends and I own are broken and collecting dust, or are in a dump not biodegrading. The Akai Headrush is the way to go. Anyone remember Ian Williams rocking two at a time in the Don Cab days? The Boomerang is the shit as well.

Posted by grippo | April 24, 2008 4:06 PM

Thanks all for your input. I'll keep it all in mind when I hit the music store this weekend and try out a few of the rigs.

Posted by Paulus | April 24, 2008 7:55 PM

Perusing a review of the Boss DD-20 at Looper's Delight (thanks doc) I came across this bit of info:

"It is not a good choice for those seeking insert and dropout edits..."

This is what I'm mainly looking for. Something that can loop a phrase, I can play over, add a little more to, play over some more, maybe pull out the last step, etc. Is there a box that's best suited for this type of thing?

I've heard that massive Boss rig (with five or six pedals) can do all that. Is that the unit I need to step up to?

Posted by Paulus | April 24, 2008 8:03 PM

The Electrix Repeater would probably suit you well. It has four separate tracks that you can record onto in real time. Once you lay down your tracks you can bring them in and out w/ dedicated level controls and I think you can also overdub on each track. It is midi syncable and has a super long loop length (something like over an hour w/ the memory card).

Unfortunately they're expensive and out of production, so you'd have to track one down used.

Posted by Ace Hunter | April 24, 2008 9:23 PM

Cosby - "if you want some next level boring: clarinet through a delay pedal and casio sk-1 synthesizer. it was one of the worst 45 mintues of my life."

I gotta hear that. I love Cosby comments. Most of the time, they are better than the post.

Another question: Maybe another post - how do y'all deal with the degradation of loop volume. I just played, and looped, and am sick of not being able to hear my loop. I have a big ass JBL in my ear, so it's not a monitor issue.

Why does the volume of the loop degrade? Why can't it just stay the same beautiful loop at the same beautiful volume that it was played?

Posted by trent moorman | April 25, 2008 3:41 AM

Holy shit, it's 3:41.

Posted by trent moorman | April 25, 2008 3:42 AM

I don't have any problems with insert and dropout edits with either of the Boss pedals. I also haven't had any problem with loop volume. No one has mentioned the Digitech JamMan as an option. I went with the Boss because it can do backwards looping, but the JamMan has more looping time and can use flash cards to save loops and transfer to computer.

Posted by drheavy | April 25, 2008 8:01 AM

Hmmmm... my options are expanding.

Posted by Paulus | April 25, 2008 11:52 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).