Creative Use Of Loopers At Home
Loopers have been around since the 1950s when Les Paul hid reel to reel tape decks off stage and controlled them using a box attached to his guitar. This allowed him to record and play back parts, and accompany himself live. He called the box the “Les Paulverizer” and it must have seem like magic to 1950s crowds. Nowadays, most of us have seen live performers use loopers to record a verse while singing and then solo over it. And there are master loopers like Phil Keaggy who use loopers to create sonic masterpieces with multiple guitar parts, or simulate entire bands.
I also own a looper, but I rarely use it live. I mainly use mine for songwriting and solo practicing. Here are some creative and useful ways you can use a looper at home also.
Loopers are a great way to capture and work on musical ideas. Come up with a cool chord progression and a looper pedal lets you immediately capture it without having to launch software or apps or other things that take you away from playing. Just step on the record switch and you will not forget a great idea. Once you have the idea recorded you can try out melodies or solos or other parts.
The more options your looper has the more useful it can be for songwriting. I have a [discontinued] Boss RC-50 Loop Station that allows me to record three separate loops and play them as three separate parts - like verse, chorus, bridge - or play them in sync as three concurrent parts. And I can also overdub as much as I want on each part. It also has an undo function which is great for trying things out.
Loopers a great for practicing solos. Loop the chords (or riffs) you are soloing over and practice soloing as long as you like. The looper will never get bored. It will definitely help you improve as a soloist and come up with new ideas.
Evaluate And Improve Your Playing
Anytime you record yourself it is a revelation. You can hear any mistakes or technical issues you may not be aware of when simply playing. You can hear what you need to work on to get better.
Work Out Different Guitar Parts
If you regularly play with other guitar players you can use a looper to work out different guitar parts without needing a second guitar player there to do it.
Work on Harmony Parts
If you have listened to The Allman Brothers Band or Thin Lizzy you know how cool harmonized guitar parts can be. Loopers allow you work out harmonies or practice syncing harmony parts.
Pedal Tapping/Timing Skill
One side benefit of using a looper regularly is you will develop the ability to hit a pedal switch exactly on beat 1. Hint: if you are recording a chord progression, keep playing as you hit the switch. Eventually you will be able to create seamless loops. Like anything, it simply requires repetition to master. This skill can be useful for any pedal you want to hit right on beat 1 of a measure.
Don't think of loopers as live only tools. They can be great tools for home use also. If you use a looper in another interesting way let me know.