Monday, November 8, 2010
Can a pedal actually improve your playing?
For those of you who haven't been formally introduced, this little parcel of unbridled sonic joy is the Boss LoopStation.
What does this strange sounding thing do?
Well, it is quite simple; insert this little sucker at the end of your effects chain between your guitar and your amp. To engage it, hit the left foot-switch as you play a riff (in time). When you are finished your riff hit the same foot-switch (again in time) and, just as simple as that, the riff you just played will begin looping over and over. Hit the left foot-switch again and you are now into "overdub" mode. This mode allows you to add more layers to the current loop: Chords, bass line, percussion - wherever your imagination takes you! The right-side foot-switch acts as a stop function, or hold it down for 1-2 seconds to erase the created loop.
If you want to keep your creation, you can easily save it in one of 11 "Phrase Select" locations in the on-board memory for later recall. The 'Loop Station' also comes with on-board, pre-recorded backing tracks. These can be used to practice endless hours of soloing. Or, free up space by simply erasing them.
Can it be used in performance?
You bet! Artists such as Bill Frisell (check this clip - the green box on the floor is his looper. It is made by Line6), Oz Noy (same, Line6 green box) and many others (look how much fun this dude is having!) have used this wonderful device to create new sounds and textures. These things are so cool there are even "looping competitions" where guitarists DJ style create spontaneous music on the fly in the hopes of taking home prizes top spot. Actually not many shows go by these days that I don't hear one of these suckers being used. The best part: the audience is ALWAYS blown away by it. Even if you know how it is done, it still IS very cool.
There are many different manufacturers and different makes and models featuring varying levels of complexity. Pick your favourite; in essence they all do the same task: record a part you play in on the fly, and create an instant seamless loop.
Sounds great... but how can it improve my playing?
Since I purchased this little beauty, very rarely does a practice session go by where I don't use it. You want to find out how an Amin7 arpeggio sounds over a C chord? No problem, hit the left pedal, record a C chord vamp, and arp to your arp's content. Need to work on your rhythm? No problem, hit it and slap and pop the strings making pant-splitting rhythmic loops. Then solo over them! You are a jazz guy? Grab a 'RealBook', lay in the chords, then sight-read the melody or improv on a standard. Why not record the melody, loop it, and practice comping. The sheer speed with which you can record and get to playing, is the real strength of these things.
Any learning player really should have a device like this in their arsenal. I list it right there alongside the great books and lesson DVD's in my collection. To this old-school guy, rarely does a foot-pedal earn the right to be listed alongside these types of learning resources. But in my practice room, these days - this one has!
The best part: it is SUPER fun to to boot. So I guess it's goodbye Clark Kent! Hello .... Looperman? ("enjoy your dinners folks - I'll be here all week!" : )
For more information or to purchase here is a link.
Here is a shootout article in Guitar Player Magazine.