Jamming w a looper

shnootre

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So I’ve kinda got my dream setup going right now. In the room w my drums, I have a guitar and bass, each going into their own amps via a pedalboard that ends in a boss RC-30 looping pedal. I’ve been laying down a bassline, adding a guitar part, and then joining on the drums. It’s mad fun and great work for groove practicing.

I am developing the ambition to take it to the next level and actually play whole songs. The problem is the functionality of the pedal is not ideal. The RC-30 allows for a dual external pedal, but the pedal functions are not programmable and are not super useful. You can’t, for instance, have the external pedal duplicate the basic functions of the built-in pedals (specifically stop and start!) What I most want is to essentially have a remote pedal by the drums that enables me to stop, start, change track, and change memory location (nevermind the feasibility of controlling a foot pedal while...playing drums).

Anyway, I am wondering if anyone else does something similar w a looper. There are tons of posts from guitarists out there, but I can’t find any drummers looping out. Please chime in if you have experience or tips for me (like maybe there’s a better looper for me?)
 

Beefsurgeon

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I've done this with iOS apps (Loopy HD is a good one) and a foot midi controller (Keith McMillen softstep). There is a ton of freedom and flexibility with this route. Once you have the basic hardware setup, apps are far cheaper than looping pedals, so your approach can evolve without having to spend big $ on each upgrade. There are also some very cool iOS audio and midi routing tools to help tie things together between multiple apps, etc.

Using the left foot to control the loops while playing drums is...a challenge that I have yet to master. It's super fun, but not something that comes naturally to me.
 
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shnootre

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I will have to look into that path - I am also interested in learning Ableton live and how that might be worked in.

in the meantime, I discovered that the lower-ranked RC-3 looper actually has better functionality than the rc-30 for my purposes. The big difference is that, since the rc-3 has no built-in loop effects, the external pedal can do some more basic, essential things - like stop and change memory location with one quick step. With the rc-30, you have to hold down the external pedal for two seconds in order to change location (say to switch to another section of a song). Now that is tricky to do when it means taking your foot off the hihat! But w the rc-3, you can move the mem location up with one quick step, and it will complete the current loop before moving up to the next phrase - so your timing doesn’t have to be precise. If I can get enough at the whole biz maybe I’ll post a vid some time!
 

shnootre

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Ok, while waiting for the RC-3 to arrive I’ve become addicted to loopyHD - so far just working w the internal mic of my iPhone (surprisingly good sound - especially when you start panning different tracks)!
 

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I've been using a very simple Ditto looper between the mixer with a few keyboards and electronic drums. However this setup is simpler than yours is probably. I'm using it primarily as a fast way to lay down a few tracks, all the while recording it on an Zoom H5. I've heard great things about Ableton, there are several touring acts that utilize Ableton, looping and using midi controllers and the computer to get more than one persons on stage jamming on loops.
 

cdrummer

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I done this with iOS apps (Loopy HD is a good one) and a foot midi controller (Keith McMillen softstep). There is a ton of freedom and flexibility with this route. Once you have the basic hardware setup, apps are far cheaper than looping pedals, so your approach can evolve without having to spend big $ on each upgrade. There are also some very cool iOS audio and midi routing tools to help tie things together between multiple apps, etc.

Using the left foot to control the loops while playing drums is...a challenge that I have yet to master. It's super fun, but not something that comes naturally to me.
Very curious to know more about this - are you using an audio interface for the iphone/ipad or just the audio jack? Also, how are you connecting the softstep in this setup?
 

Beefsurgeon

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Very curious to know more about this - are you using an audio interface for the iphone/ipad or just the audio jack? Also, how are you connecting the softstep in this setup?
I'm using a Focusrite iTrack Dock with an iPad. The Softstep is connected via USB Midi. It works really well, but it looks like the iTrack Dock has been discontinued. Not sure what the best alternatives are.
 

cdrummer

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I'm using a Focusrite iTrack Dock with an iPad. The Softstep is connected via USB Midi. It works really well, but it looks like the iTrack Dock has been discontinued. Not sure what the best alternatives are.
Thank you for this!
 

shnootre

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Chiming back in here w/ an update and a little demo. So yeah, I ditched the RC-30 and went for the combo of RC-3 and FS-6, which is the Boss footswitch that works w/ the all of the RC loopers. Unfortunately, until you get all the way up to the RC-300, you can't custom program exactly WHAT the foot pedal does. On the RC-30 it mostly controls the useless on-board effects - so I returned the RC-30.

W the RC-3, it's actually more useful. The left button advances to the next memory location when pressed, and to the previous location when held for 2 seconds. The holding for two seconds thing is totally impractical in a live context, so I'm arranging my jams so I only move forward. For the song I'm posting here, each repetition of a verse or other section is using a new memory location, so I just have to click once to move up. (there's a little interlude thing that's different each time, but the basic loop is the same, just w/ different stuff layered on top).

What I'm most proud of here is my little pedalboard, which only has the RC-3 and the FS-6. But... it has cables coming from my pedalboard, and going out to both my bass amp and guitar amp - I can basically move it anywhere in the room. So... over to the guitar and bass area to lay down those loops, over to my desk for keyboard stuff, and then right by the drums for the jamming.

This is me playing live in the room - but into ProTools, so the drums are obviously a bit processed - but the guitar and bass sound mostly the way they do in the room...just a touch of eq.

I'm still getting the hang of the switching - so I lose the beat a bit at one point - but I think this gives the basic idea. The way it works is, when you step on the A pedal, the RC-3 advances to the next memory location at the end of the current loop (unless you press it too close to the end, and then it cycles through another time).

At some point I want to upgrade to an Ableton setup, but I can probably keep this fun for a long time (I currently have about 6 or 7 tunes in the box that are like this. The RC-3 holds up to 3 hours of material, and has 99 memory locations. Essentially you can have a whole show loaded...

 

Beefsurgeon

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Sounds good! I'm right there with you in terms of coordination on the foot switch. I can play the hihat pedal competently, and even do a bit of tricky double kick stuff. But somehow stepping on a button in time is difficult...
 

shnootre

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Sounds good! I'm right there with you in terms of coordination on the foot switch. I can play the hihat pedal competently, and even do a bit of tricky double kick stuff. But somehow stepping on a button in time is difficult...
yeah - at least w this setup, you have some flexibility about when you step. When you push the button it goes to the end of the phrase. But it’s still a bit of choreography, and it means taking your left foot off the hat, which can sometimes be a problem if the section is hat-intensive. Not really sure what a better solution would be - maybe a pad you could hit a stick...?
 

Beefsurgeon

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yeah - at least w this setup, you have some flexibility about when you step. When you push the button it goes to the end of the phrase. But it’s still a bit of choreography, and it means taking your left foot off the hat, which can sometimes be a problem if the section is hat-intensive. Not really sure what a better solution would be - maybe a pad you could hit a stick...?
I've had some success using my heel to hit a footswitch. This allowed me to keep the ball of my foot on the hihat pedal and just sort of swing my heel to the left to hit the button. It was definitely less disruptive to my flow on the kit, but my Softstep controller has 8 buttons and I couldn't reach them all. It might work well with the FS-6 though.
 

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