Loop pedals are electronic musical instruments that allow a musician to loop back musical material for playing back at another time. Looping is achieved through a physical loop pedal, sometimes also known as a hi-hat or a slide, a diaphragm or some other constricting device that is used to control the loop and nothing more. Looping can be used with recorded music or with live audio. Live looping is simply the playback and recording of an entire piece of music from beginning to end in live real-time, using either foot-pedal instruments, called loopers, or other electronic devices, such as samplers or digital compressors. The loop sounds as it sounds live and it is often performed by a band or an individual artist in concert.
A typical blues shuffle uses three different things: the first is a loop pedal that lets you play a single note on each of the three strings, the second is a sustaining pedal that causes the first note to play continuously, and finally there is a trigger/selvera button that will cause the first note to stop when the sustaining pedal is pressed, and then start again when the trigger/selvera button is released. This technique uses the same theory that most musicians learn in their early lessons called the parallel guitar scale. In this theory the pattern or rhythm is created using a series of notes that are played in time with one another. A similar theory is used in jazz where a guitarist improvises and changes up the pattern of chords, playing one chord at a time for a varying rhythm and effect.
One of the main differences between the two is that the blues are generally played with a thumb and a few fingers while the funk or hip hop based styles rely more heavily on the use of the loop pedal. Blues Guitarists use a thumb and a few fingers to create the repetitive 'clicks' that are characteristic of the blues. A funk guitarist makes heavy use of the loop pedal to lead into the next note, usually an F note or a B minor. The progression of the funk based song is often dependent on how many different pedals are used.
While backing tracks can be used for practicing and perfecting solos and riffs, they are not the best way to learn solos and play freestyle. Using a backing track is like working out on paper, you cannot change the pitch of the note as you would with a live band. There is no way to hear the music as you would live, so you must rely on what the player is doing in terms of pitch. This can cause problems when a musician tries to execute a solo on a limited number of pedals, for example if they are using only the kick drum and the snare, they have little variation in their sounds from place to place on the guitar.
When trying to execute a solo over a live band they can rely on their abilities to improvise and change up their sound on the spot, but in a live setting, the sound of the solo can not be changed so easily. The same is true for a loop pedal solo. A loop pedal solo must rely on the soloist's ability to change up their sound on the spot and provide variety in the rhythm and pitch of the solo.
One of the benefits of using a loop pedal to record solo material is that the player can set the looping length to match the amount of space available for their solo. This is very useful when recording a short piece or when trying to get the piece to sound live without relying on overdubs. Another benefit of using a loop pedal to record solo material is that there is less pressure to use the effect settings while recording, since the loop pedal is playing the backing track. This can also allow a more fluid recording process, because there are less parameters for the engineer to work with during the process of the recording. In some cases, it can even be more beneficial to leave the effect settings alone in order to achieve the seamless effect.
Many professional musicians use overdubs as part of their practice in order to create a sense of variation in the song. When using loop pedals as overdubs, the tone can vary randomly between the chords in the riff or rhythm. However, in order to get a consistent tone, you must have a backing track that does not contain repeated chords or rhythmic patterns. In addition, using a regular four-on-the-floor pattern for the purpose of overdubs can produce a sense of depth in the music, which can be useful when working with a smaller repertoire of songs.
Using the footswitch to activate the Loop Pedal, one can then play the rhythmic backing tracks as well as the guitar solo. The footswitch works in conjunction with the arpeggiator, which gives the band instant access to many different sounds like alternate picking, Sweep picking, legato, and slap back and forth. The arpeggiator has similar characteristics to that of the whammy bar, except that it produces percussive sounds. A great example of this is when the footswitch is used to play a chord pattern that repeats infinitely. This sound is similar to that of an oboe or bassoon. Playing the loop pedal in this manner can be useful for creating variety and emphasis in a song or rhythm.