Guitar looping is one of the hottest things in popular music. Ed Sheeran, Jason Mraz, and many others add live loops to their solo performances and audiences love it. This course will introduce you to live guitar looping and help you develop the skills to be proficient at this exciting music technique.
In Guitar Looper Basic Training, you will learn:
Besides all the instructional lectures, you'll see many examples of loops being created for songs - complete with multiple camera angles so you can see the loop pedal up close and in action.
This lecture introduces you to your instructor, Abraham LaVoi, and the vast possibilities available when adding a loop pedal to your live performances.
This lecture gives an overview of Guitar Looper Basic Training and provides details on everything you will learn.
What Is Guitar Looping?
Guitar looping is using a device - a loop pedal - to record a short musical phrase that is then repeated until it is paused or stopped.
A looper can be used to:
Here is your homework before moving on to the next session:
Search YouTube for
Observe how these artists use a loop pedal to enhance their solo performance.
Buying A Loop Pedal
There are essentially two types of loop pedals: dedicated loop pedals, and multifunction pedals that include a looper.
Dedicated Loop Pedals
Dedicated loop pedals perform one function only - looping. These type are easier to use for a beginner and generally provide longer record times. Here are some dedicated loop pedals:
Multifunction pedals, as the name implies, perform multiple functions. Some functions may include: guitar effects, volume controls, vocal processing, vocal harmonies, and in many cases, loopers. Here are some multifunction pedals that include a looper:
Loop Pedal Basics
Most loop pedals perform many functions with one single pedal (or footswitch). These functions include:
Before the next session, get to know your loop pedal and how it triggers each function.
Setting Up Your Loop Pedal
Now it is time to set up your loop pedal in your signal chain. Here are some things to remember.
In a recent live performance, my loop pedal died in the middle of my set. Not only was I not able to create any more loops, but it stopped sending my guitar signal through to my amp and my guitar went dead. I had to completely remove the pedal from my signal chain and plug my guitar directly into the amp. Make sure your loop pedal has a fresh battery or you are plugged in to power.
Plug an instrument cable into your guitar, and plug the other end into the input jack of your loop pedal.
You will need a guitar amp or a sound system to hear your loops. Plug an instrument cable into the output jack of your loop pedal, and plug the other end into the input of an amplifier or sound system. Many loop pedals have a power switch inside the output jack; so when you plug a cable into the output jack, the pedal turns on. Always remember to unplug the cable from the output jack when you are done playing or the battery could run down.
Most loop pedal manufacturers discourage plugging headphones into the output of the loop pedal.
The Importance of Counting when Looping
As we talked about in the lecture, “What Is Guitar Looping,” a loop pedal records a musical phrase and repeats it over and over again until you stop it.
It is absolutely critical that you know the time signature and tempo of the song before you create your first loop.
You should also map out the beat you want the loop to sound like
The loop pedal starts recording immediately when you step on the pedal - this should be the “one” count.
The loop pedal stops recording and immediately begins playing back the loop as soon as you step on the pedal the second time - this should also be on the “one” count.
So, if your song is in 4/4 time, and you plan to record a two-measure loop, this is how you will count and where you will tap the pedal:
1 Tap 1 (record)
1 Tap 2 (stop recording, play, and overdub)
It helps to know the beats per minute (BPM) of the song before you begin to record a loop. There are several tools that can help you when you practice, and even in live performances.
Your First Loop
Congratulations! You are ready to record your first loop! Here are the steps to follow:
Pick a song you know well and loop the chords following the steps outlined above.
Looping For Practice
A loop pedal is a great practice tool! You can use your loop pedal to record a chord sequence in a particular key and then practice scales, solos, and lead lines over the chord progression.
Loop a chord sequence like you did in the previous session and then practice a scale over the loop.
Looping Chords for Soloing
One very practical way to use a looper in live performance is to loop a chord sequence to a song, and then play a solo or lead line over the loop. One performer I encountered did this on almost all the songs he played. He first played the chord sequence to the verse of his song and looped those chords. Then, while the loop played, he performed a solo. This was the introduction to his song. He then stopped the loop and strummed the chords live while he sang the verses and choruses. Then, before the last chorus, he activated the loop once again, and soloed over it for a musical break. He then again stopped the loop and strummed the chords live while he finished out the song. This technique added some additional dynamics to his performance.
Find a song you know and loop the chord sequence to either the verse or the chorus. Then, play a solo over the looped chords.
Looping Lead Lines
Many songs can be enhanced with a simple, looped lead line that plays underneath live chord strumming and singing. This only works, however, if the same chords repeat over and over again throughout the entire song. Songs like "With or Without You" by U2 use the same four chords throughout the entire song. So, you can loop a bass line, or a simple lead line, or both, that will sound pleasing under your singing and strumming.
Find a song in your setlist that uses the same chords repeatedly throughout the song. Loop a solo or bass line, and play the chords to the song over it.
Looping Percussive Beats
Acoustic guitars with electronic pickups make great percussion instruments. There are many different ways to hit the top, many different ways to hit the side, and even techniques that involve muting the strings and using a pick to get a "snare" type sound. The type of pickup you have in your guitar will determine the best way to play percussion on your guitar, so experiment and find the best sounds for yourself.
When you loop a percussive beat to start a song, it is critical that you know the tempo of the song. Otherwise, you could easily create a beat that if either too fast or too slow for the song (believe me, I've done this more times that I'd like to admit when I first started looping). This is where a metronome app on your phone or watch comes in very handy.
Loop a percussive beat and play a song over it.
Abraham LaVoi began piano lessons at age 7. Since then, he has become an accomplished musician through seven years of piano lessons, three years of guitar lessons, two years of touring with his college chorale, and over five years of playing keyboard or guitar every Sunday while leading worship in his church. Now a solo acoustic performer and guitar instructor, Abraham has the unique combination of musical skill and teaching aptitude to help you achieve the next level in your musical journey.