Guitarist

SHEERAN LOOPER+ £299

- CONTACT Sheeran Loopers WEB www.sheeranloo­pers.com

There can be few people who’ve done more to raise the profile of live looping than Ed Sheeran. For years the stadium-playing troubadour has been doing live shows with just him, his guitar, microphone­s and a looper, building up layers of backing for his songs entirely on the fly. Who better, then, to have his own brand of looper? Ed had previously relied upon Boss loopers, graduating to a custom-built rig, but he has now co-designed two machines that are perfect for his workflow. The Sheeran Looper X (£1,199) is a large beast that has four tracks and eight footswitch­es with a whole range of functions assigned to them, but we’re looking at the twin-footswitch Sheeran Looper+, a lot less complex and certainly more affordable, although its basic functionin­g follows along the same lines.

The Sheeran Looper+ is an extremely robust pedal with two die-cast aluminium pedal pads as footswitch­es, an intuitive 1.8-inch colour screen and a large navigation wheel for data entry that’s surrounded by an RGB LED loop status ring that lights up red when recording, amber for overdubbin­g and green for playback. There’s stereo or mono input into the looper, so you can plug a single guitar in or perhaps take a feed from any stereo effects or an amp simulator. There’s also provision to plug in a dynamic microphone. Output can be mono or stereo.

In Use

The looper has four different modes that define how you use it. The first and easiest is Single mode where you just use one looping track and build up limitless layers of your performanc­e; the other three modes each utilise two tracks. Multi mode features two tracks with the same loop length, while Sync offers two tracks that can be different lengths but automatica­lly stay in sync with each other. With Sync mode, the second track has to have a length that is a multiple

or division of the first – half as long, twice as long, four times as long and so on. Song mode’s two tracks can have the same or different lengths, but, unlike in the other modes, cannot be played together. The idea is that they can function as independen­t song sections (verse, chorus…), so one track stops playback as the other starts when you switch between them.

Of the two footswitch­es, the left-hand one is for recording and playback and is set up by default with subsequent presses to Record, then Overdub, then Play – which is the way that Ed likes to work. If that’s not your preferred way of doing things, you can dive into the unit’s menu and change it to Record, then Play, then Overdub, and you can even do so on the fly if you assign the navigation wheel to that specific function. That left footswitch is also used to undo/ redo recorded loops, while the right one is used to stop recording or can be pressed and held to clear the current loop operation.

Starting out in Single mode, operation is a doddle once you’ve got used to coordinati­ng your playing and your footswitch action to start and finish your first loop. Many players’ bugbear with looping is timing, and it has to be said it does take practice to get to a certain level of precision where your loops are perfectly timed so that the end point segues seamlessly into the start point as the audio cycles round. Once you get the hang of it, though, and have hit the footswitch that second time to end your loop and enter overdub mode, the loop will just cycle round and let you keep on overdubbin­g until you hit the footswitch again, starting playback so you can play over it live without recording – until you want to overdub again.

The other modes are slightly more complex to operate than Single mode as you have to use quick double-presses on the footswitch­es to switch between tracks. Neverthele­ss, there’s plenty of creativity

waiting to be unleashed in each of them due to the extra possibilit­ies that having two different tracks opens up.

Besides the standard recording and playback functions, there are several treatments for your loops that can be accessed from the menu – fade in or fade out, reverse, half speed, solo and mute. Extra footswitch­es will give you the option of using some of those live, and you can connect a dual-function footswitch to the provided socket. Also, as alluded to earlier, you can assign a function to a push on the navigation wheel, stepping on it like an extra footswitch when needed. You can save loops to the looper’s internal storage, too: there are 128 slots available and up to three hours of storage in total. Stored loops can be easily recalled to be used again.

You can also load other loops, perhaps rhythm tracks, into the unit via the USB connection, importing and exporting wav files between the Looper+ and your computer; the looper will appear as a removable storage device on your desktop. For MIDI users, the unit can be sync’d to incoming MIDI Clock, and its basic functions can also be remotely controlled by incoming MIDI note or program messages sent by external MIDI gear or from your computer.

Verdict

If you want to do a live-looping, Sheeransty­le performanc­e, this unit will facilitate the whole shebang with ease, on stage and beyond. It is, in fact, a dream tool for any busker because it’s completely portable if you choose to use it with batteries.

It’s probably fair to say, though, that the proportion of guitar players who’d wish to do onstage live looping is quite small compared with the number of players who would benefit from owning one – it’s a great practice tool and a practical songwritin­g resource for slotting parts together. You can use it to practise soloing over any chord sequence you choose to play into it. Or you can load it with drum loops or even fully produced backing tracks and use it as your ‘band’ to play live guitar over the top. The choice is yours.

The Looper+ is a practical songwritin­g resource for slotting parts together… and a great practice tool

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 ?? ?? 1. A press on the 360degree navigation wheel brings up the menu screen and you can use it to scroll through the available menu options or adjust parameter values. A second press confirms your selection 2. The Looper+ is powered by four supplied AA batteries, which offer over six hours of playing life, ideal for on-the-go scenarios. Alternativ­ely, you can go for a nine-volt DC adaptor, which is an optional extra
1. A press on the 360degree navigation wheel brings up the menu screen and you can use it to scroll through the available menu options or adjust parameter values. A second press confirms your selection 2. The Looper+ is powered by four supplied AA batteries, which offer over six hours of playing life, ideal for on-the-go scenarios. Alternativ­ely, you can go for a nine-volt DC adaptor, which is an optional extra
 ?? ?? 3. This looper has the same premium die-cast aluminium pedals as those on Ed Sheeran’s stadium stage looper. They are, says the brand, “precision-engineered with optimal dimensions and spring pressure to be consistent­ly easy to operate”
3. This looper has the same premium die-cast aluminium pedals as those on Ed Sheeran’s stadium stage looper. They are, says the brand, “precision-engineered with optimal dimensions and spring pressure to be consistent­ly easy to operate”
 ?? ?? 4. The multi-coloured LCD display shows informatio­n that’s relevant to the looper’s current operation, including record/ overdub/playback status and menu functions
5. On the rear panel the USB socket lets you transfer loops when connected to a computer. You can also use the Looper+ as a 3-in/2-out USB audio interface. An included five-pin adaptor allows you to use the †/‡-inch MIDI input for external MIDI sync and feature control
4. The multi-coloured LCD display shows informatio­n that’s relevant to the looper’s current operation, including record/ overdub/playback status and menu functions 5. On the rear panel the USB socket lets you transfer loops when connected to a computer. You can also use the Looper+ as a 3-in/2-out USB audio interface. An included five-pin adaptor allows you to use the †/‡-inch MIDI input for external MIDI sync and feature control
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 ?? ?? The combo socket on the far left lets you connect a dynamic microphone, either via XLR or a standard jack. There’s no phantom power, though, so you can’t use a condenser microphone
The combo socket on the far left lets you connect a dynamic microphone, either via XLR or a standard jack. There’s no phantom power, though, so you can’t use a condenser microphone

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