View Full Version : Looking for advice: Minimal setup for loop pedal and/or multitrack recording.

01-22-2013, 11:08 AM
I'm a big tech geek. I'm constantly surrounded by technology, write code for a living, and do lots of complicated stuff all the time. One of the things I love about the ukulele is that it's so simple. No picks. No strap. Only four strings. Nothing to plug in. Beautiful. It's my escape from complexity.

With that in mind, I have gotten to the point where I want to play both the chords and melody for a song, or maybe play some chords and loop the playback while I play something fingerstyle.

I'd prefer not to have to buy an electric ukulele. Mostly because I have several nice ukes and don't need another. Also because I can then use the new equipment for different ukes to enjoy the differences in sound. However, without an electric, I assume I'd have to get a mixer in addition to the amp and pedal.

I have condenser mics already. I can plug one into my computer and record each part in Audicity and mix them together. What's the minimum amount of hardware required to do something "live"? Specific model numbers are welcome. I only need enough to play in my computer room -- no live performances or anything like that. At most I'll record some video and put it on YouTube.

The emphasis here is on simplicity for the sake of simplicity; not so much to save money, although that's a huge plus.

I've done some Google searching and read reviews on different pedals. However, I don't understand enough of the terminology (no music background) to understand what the differences between the models are, and don't want to buy the wrong thing. I'd like something close to the setup in use in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baR9Le3ze9o


01-22-2013, 12:45 PM
I am fascinated with loop pedal possibilities too. Unfortunately I don't know much about the tech. I'll be watching this thread closely.

That said, have you seen this one?


01-22-2013, 01:39 PM
Looping pedals are great! What you need to look for if you're using a mic instead plugging in an electric uke, is one that also has a mic input and not just an instrument input, otherwise the impedance will be wrong and the volume will be very low. Then plug in your headphones / computer cable into the headphone output if it has one or into the main output with adaptor. If you're using speakers via an amp, just make sure they don't face the mic otherwise you might get feedback when recording. The rest depends on the model you have, but it's mostly just press the pedal to start recording, then press it again to end it, which starts the looping and overdub (=record more layers on top of the loop).

Boss and Line 6 have the best looping pedals IMO. They can be bought at a good price on ebay. I have an old Boss RC-20XL and I love it. The DL4 by Line 6 is another classic, which also has a few neat effects. The Boss one is best activated with your foot (big surface, tiny click sound), the DL4 has smaller buttons well-suited for hand pressure but a bit less sturdy when hit by a foot repeatedly.

See Jamie Woon in video below. Just a mic and a DL4!


01-22-2013, 01:43 PM
Here's another voice+DL4 video, with Andreya Triana


01-22-2013, 01:51 PM
... and a tutorial for how to use a RC-20xl pedal


01-22-2013, 01:53 PM
And another one (last one I promise!)


01-22-2013, 05:35 PM
Thanks for all the stuff!

So, I checked out those videos and looked around, and it looks like the Line 6 doesn't accept mic inputs and the Boss RC-20XL is discontinued.

However, there is a Boss RC-30 which looks like it's just the next generation after the RC-20XL, and it has an XLR input including phantom power, which is probably exactly what I'd want. It looks like I could get that, a cheap amp, and an XLR mic (my current mics are USB), and be all set.

There's even a deal on Amazon where you get the pedal set plus a mic and other extras for about $20 more than just the unit.

I'm going to do a little more research on what functionality the different devices include, so in the meantime if anyone has any more input please add to the thread.


01-22-2013, 06:14 PM
The RC-30 is the replacement for the RC-20XL that's correct. However, you can easily find the 20XL on ebay for much cheaper, and from what you describe you wouldn't need the extra features that the 30 has. Depends what you want to do.

I'm quite sure the DL4 takes microphones. I don't own one myself but have seen several people use it that way. I could be wrong though.

Good luck! :)

01-23-2013, 11:50 AM
So far I've only found a couple that have both an XLR input and phantom power. Those are must-haves for me. Unfortunately the RC-20XL does not. The RC-30 does, and also has USB, which is awesome. I also found the Boss VE-20, which is a loop device designed for vocals, but it might be ideal for acoustic ukuleles and is significantly cheaper than the RC-30.

Someone once advised me that a condenser mic should be used to record a guitar, not a dynamic. That makes sense to me and some Google research on recording acoustic instruments bears that out.

To completely contradict everything I just said, it looks like, in the YouTube video I linked to, it must be a Boss RC-3 pedal, which only has 1/4" inputs. If I assume the pedal is just for practicing/playing at home and not any real "recording," then maybe it's good enough. And it's cheaper than almost everything else. I e-mailed the video's creator to ask about the pedal model and whether she uses a condenser. Maybe I'll hear back.

01-23-2013, 11:57 AM
Boomerang Loopers are some of the best.

The Digitech JamMan's are great loopers, the Boss LoopStation is really good. The DL4 is pretty far down the list these days. Originally it was the only option for a lower priced looper, but since then so many have come into the market.

To get the best sound out of them I'd suggest installing a pickup in your uke. But with a good microphone you can get good sounds out of them also :)

01-24-2013, 04:19 AM
That Boomerang III does look amazing. I watched a nine-minute demo on YouTube and it would be perfect for me, functionality-wise. But it still assumes I'm a guitar player with 1/4" output, which I'm not, and it costs more than any one of my ukes. I'd still prefer something that I can plug a condenser mic into.

However, my geek side has gotten interested, so I'm thinking about making something with a computer. I have a Raspberry Pi (Google it) and found a project on github where someone put some looping software together for it. Then, I found the Infinity USB Pedal used for transcriptions. I believe I can buy this USB pedal for about $55, hook it up to my $35 Raspberry Pi, and cobble together the software for free. Then I can connect my USB condenser mic (already owned) and a USB speaker (already owned) and I'd be all set for under $100.

Has anyone done anything using a computer instead of dedicated hardware? If I get anything functional put together I'll post video/pics/instructions on this forum. The biggest unknown now is exactly how I can re-purpose the pedal, because it's just meant to be used with specific software.

01-24-2013, 05:44 AM
I'm looking at the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 (also offered in DSP with effects) as the best recording solution. I want to get an Apple Macbook Pro quad as the computer. The best thing about the Pro 24 is that it processes on its own without straining the computer and it has phantom power and plenty of extras. Check it out on Youtube.

01-24-2013, 06:53 AM
For really simple, check out Akai Head Rush. For a mic input, just get a powered DI box. KT Tunstall is a big user of this.

For Mac you could run Mainstage 2 and have a TON of effects and looping. You would need a MIDI controller like Apogee$$$ for behringer to control it.

01-24-2013, 08:07 AM
If you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, you can use an app called Loopy2. It has a lot of great features. You can use a pedal with it to start/stop a loop, you can touch the screen to stop/start, or you can use a timed intro. Here (http://loopyapp.com/featured-artists/_s-MQQg7OvA) is a link to a video on the the app website. You can use the built-in mic or you can use any of the iDevice compatible mics (Apogee, etc.). Best of all, it's only $2.99-$7.99 depending on the device you use it on.

01-24-2013, 08:50 AM
If you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch, you can use an app called Loopy2. It has a lot of great features. You can use a pedal with it to start/stop a loop, you can touch the screen to stop/start, or you can use a timed intro. Here (http://loopyapp.com/featured-artists/_s-MQQg7OvA) is a link to a video on the the app website. You can use the built-in mic or you can use any of the iDevice compatible mics (Apogee, etc.). Best of all, it's only $2.99-$7.99 depending on the device you use it on.

THAT is incredibly interesting. Off to check it out...

Just bought the iPhone app, off to play!

01-24-2013, 12:24 PM
Pure speculation here but I'm going to try it out. Based on the photo below, this should take the output from your endpin jack and run it into your iDevice feeding the Looper App noted above. The headphone output should be able to feed headphones or an amp (need a stereo to 1/4 inch mono adapter?) to create a live performance looper for about $10!

See any problem with this hookup? Definitely gonna try it. Oh, and that Looper App? Awesome!


02-06-2013, 06:38 AM
I ended up getting the Boss RC-30, because it has XLR input with phantom power, and a Behringer B-1 condenser mic. I bought a cheap First Act "PA" from Target that I returned because I didn't like it. Now I have a $19.99 HoneyTone (recommended in another thread) which is perfect because it's tiny and I can just plug regular headphones into it via the 1/8" jack. It's burgandy to match the Boss pedal. This setup is good enough for me to practice with.

Also, I have a Sojing "silent" uke I got on Ebay for $101. I can put the HoneyTone on my belt and connect the Sojing via a 1/4" patch cable. It's hilarious but it works and it's fun. I was walking around the house playing it like that last night.