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Basic Loopers: Boss RC-3 or DigiTech JamMan Solo XT?

Discussion in 'The Stomp Box' started by FenderGuy53, Jan 6, 2013.

  1. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    Guys, I'm looking for a basic, easy-to-use, inexpensive (under $200, new) looper (with drum machine), to use at home.

    It's purpose will be to help me develop original rhythm tracks and to help me develop some original, basic lead/solo patterns. In other words, it will be primarily used as a learning tool, to help me develop my on-the-fly playing skills.

    The Boss RC-3 and DigiTech JamMan Solo XT sell for the same price, so which one offers the best value for my needs?

    Thanks for your input.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013

  2. fly135

    fly135 Tele-Holic

    597
    Dec 19, 2007
    Orlando
    The drum machine part is the kink in the works. If you can live with 40 secs of storage the Zoom G3 has a synchronized rhythm machine. (60 sec with the G5)

    If you need storage then you need to make your own drum tracks. Then something like the Jamman will work fine. An old GNX4 will allow storage, synced rhythm generator, midi drum machine, and multiple tracks.
     

  3. Henfield Tele

    Henfield Tele Tele-Meister

    352
    Oct 30, 2012
    West Sussex Uk
    Boss rc3 fits your requirement perfectly, I have one and its an amazing package.
    3 hrs recording, and drum loops built in.
     

  4. the embezzler

    the embezzler Tele-Holic

    Boss RC-20XL fits the bill. But I tried to use one and it was one of those times where I had to actually read the manual to figure out how to get it going. If your'e someone like me, who's used to the super user friendly, intuitive interface of the Boomerang +, then that's a drag.
     

  5. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    As one more guitarist on the same quest as you, may I offer a way-out-in-left-field suggestion? Instead of a looper pedal, consider a basic Yamaha electronic keyboard.

    The cheapest of these keyboards are actually much cheaper than either of those looper pedals you're looking at, and even the cheap ones have a lot of features that a looper pedal doesn't have. If you spend the cost of a looper pedal, you get even more useful features.

    These keyboards include drum tracks (of much higher quality than the drum machines I've encountered). They include auto-accompaniment, meaning that along with the drums you get bass, chords, and other parts of the arrangement if you want. They have one-key chords, meaning if you want to play a C-major chord backing track all you have to do is turn on the auto-accompaniment and briefly press down one finger on the C chord; the keyboard will take over and churn out chords, bass, drums, and maybe also chord stabs, pads, etc, around that C-major chord. When you want an F-major, plunk a finger down on an F key and there you go.

    There's more: there is usually a simple sequencer built into these, meaning you can use the auto-accompaniment features and record your "performance" onto the keyboard, then play it back. So you can "play" six minutes of C, F, G7 complete with drums, bass, etc, record it, and play it back when you want to jam over it with your guitar. This is not quite the same as a looper - but it can be much more expressive, because when you first record it you can vary your touch to add dynamics, etc, to your backing track.

    There's still more: IMHO a keyboard is the best musical instrument with which to learn many aspects of music theory. Don't know which three musical notes make up an F-major chord? One glance at a keyboard will tell you, while it takes much longer to figure out on a guitar fretboard. Want to find out which melody notes sound good on top of a C-maj chord? Turn on the auto-accompaniment and get that keyboard churning out a C chord, then play each of the 12 notes on the keyboard with your right hand and listen to how it sounds on top of that C chord. Wanna see what a minor pentatonic blues scale sounds like over a seventh chord? Get the keyboard churning out an A7 chord and play your F# minor blues pentatonic over it and find out.

    Depending on what other areas your musical curiosity takes you, there's still more. If you decide your new bluesey pop/rock composition would really sound great with a cello part in the bridge, you can switch your keyboard to its cello voice and play that part yourself. You'll find it's much easier to learn to play a simple melody part on a keyboard than it was when you were first learning to do the same thing on your guitar. Wanna get better at reading music? Many of those Yamaha keyboards display the musical staff in their LCD displays, and put a dot in the appropriate place every time you hold down a key - so you can start associating a note on the treble clef, say, with its corresponding note name on the keyboard. Wanna come up with a better melody for that song in your head? Try playing it on the keyboard - you may find it much easier to find new notes to take that boring and predictable melody to more interesting places.

    I have the older Digitech Jam-man Solo, and also had a Yamaha PSR-E403 keyboard. Guess which one I ended up using much more often as a learning tool? :)

    A while ago I gave my PSR-E403 to my elderly aunt-by-marriage (who has always wanted to learn to play an instrument, and who is now terminally ill). Though I'm not a keyboard player, after a few months I found myself really missing the many things that keyboard was helping me with, so I went out and bought a replacement - a Yamaha PSR-E433, which costs about fifty bucks more than one of the looper pedals you were considering, but gives you so many things a looper does not. The PSR-E433 has a new feature very useful for learning to play guitar over: you can now selectively turn off different parts of the auto accompaniment. So you can have just drums, or drums and bass, or drums and bass and chords, or drums and bass and chords and (organ) pads, and so on.

    This turned into a long post, sorry about that. But I'm now totally sold on the benefits of us guitarists owning at least a basic budget keyboard as a learning tool, even if it's not used for anything more.

    By the way, when I'm not using the keyboard, I tend to use the short 40-second looper in my Zoom G3 rather than drag out the Jam Man. The G3 has a (crude) drum machine, and the maximum loop length is short, but it's easy to use, the looper is sync'd to the drum machine so it's easy to make a loop that starts and ends cleanly, and of course you have all those other effects and sounds to mess with in the same pedal.

    -Gnobuddy
     

  6. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    Is the RC-3 intuitive and easy to use (without having to read the manual first)?


    I'm EXACTLY like you, with regard to wanting an intuitive, user friendly format. Would the RC-3 work for me?
     

  7. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    I appreciate your reply, Gnobuddy. It was very considerate of you to provide such a detailed explanation of the benefits of a keyboard. I may consider buying one if my foray into songwriting ever develops into something more than a whim. For now, though, I'd like a solution that fits in my gig bag and has a VERY short learning curve.

    Thanks, again.
     

  8. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

    my advice.. fwiw... forget the built in drum tracks.. find another way to put beats in there.. get a dl4 or a headrush 2
     

  9. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    Got it. You're absolutely right, you'll never get a 61-key keyboard into your gig bag! :D

    On the looper pedal, make sure the one you get has the ability to internally cut off the loop in sync with the built-in drum machine, even if you stomp on the footswitch a tiny bit too early or too late. It will save you a lot of unusable loops because without this feature you can easily get a very annoying "glitch" every time the loop restarts.

    The older Digitech Jam-man Solo does this have this ability to sync loops to its internal drum machine, but I was told its contemporary Boss equivalent did not have this feature. Dunno about the current Boss and Digitech models, but do make sure this feature exists before you buy.

    As far as short learning curve goes, my impression is that the Boss models were harder to learn to use than the Digitech. Again, this is based on the previous generation models, and may have changed since.

    But the easiest looper pedal I've ever used is the one on the Zoom G3 multiFX pedal. Only 40 seconds long, and only one loop, but if that is all you need, it's easy to use and packed with fun guitar effects as a bonus.

    -Gnobuddy
     

  10. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    The trouble is, if the beats come from an external source, you have to stomp on the footswitch to start and end the loop at *exactly* the right time, otherwise you'll get a nasty glitch every time the loop re-starts.

    The built-in drum tracks on the Jam-man Solo is pretty awful. The one in the Zoom G3 is a little better and offers a small selection of patterns, but it's still pretty awful. But at least you get usable loops just about every time, because the looper quantises the loop to match the internal drum track.

    I'm not familiar with the DL-4 or Headrush, do either of those have a way to sync the loop to an external drum machine (perhaps via MIDI)?

    -Gnobuddy
     

  11. Lance

    Lance Friend of Leo's

    Mar 17, 2003
    Charlottesville, VA
    I've had the RC3 and Jamman solo. Sold both. I now have a boomerang and it's staggering how much better it is for basic looping. No it doesn't offer drum tracks but for looping, it's far better.

    That said, another decent option is a TC electronic flashback. Used, they're cheap and you also get a delays too. FWIW TC is releasing a simple looper only version of the pedal at NAMM this year.
     

  12. Good thought provoking post, thanks for the effort to type it.
     

  13. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    This is an excellent point, Gnobuddy, and a feature that could easily make a simple job tedious, if not present.

    The DigiTech JamMan Solo XT is the newest version in the JamMan Solo series (I don't think that the JamMan Solo is still available in the retail world). The BOSS RC-3 is the newest in its line. In any case, I'll check to be sure that the "sync feature" is included. Thanks.


    A short learning curve is very important to me, especially now, as I approach my retirement years! ;)
     

  14. popthree

    popthree Poster Extraordinaire

    The dl4 and akai both have foot switches with very short travel which makes it easy to create loops that sound right. I use a boomerang which has the best foot switches of all. The boss are terrible.
     

  15. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    Original post edited to include inexpensive (under $200, new)! :eek:
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013

  16. FenderGuy53

    FenderGuy53 Friend of Leo's

    May 14, 2008
    WNC Isothermal Zone
    After checking out the manuals for the BOSS RC-3 and the DigiTech JamMan Solo XT, I am now leaning toward DigiTech because it appears that the BOSS does not have this feature, which I consider to be an important one.

    Also, since home practice is the primary purpose, I really don't need stereo recording, nor do I need the fancy drum kit; so, if I could find an older NOS JamMan Solo, I could even save a few more $$$ over the Solo XT version.

    Other notable differences are:

    The RC-3 has two software downloads: a firmware download and a restore download. Sounds like the Microsoft method! Yikes!

    The RC-3 doesn't include a power supply.

    THE RC-3 has much more limited storage capacity.

    Am I on the right track, or am I missing something? :confused:
     

  17. Maxwell Street

    Maxwell Street Friend of Leo's

    Feb 18, 2009
    chicago usa
    I went through the same process, Jam Man also takes an SDHC card up to 32GB which gives you up to 16 hours of storage...I believe Sweetwater still has them, Sam Ash and GC locations were blowing them out at $100.00...
     

  18. tap4154

    tap4154 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Southern California
    +1

    For just play-along home practice as the OP wants, don't even use the drum tracks. I turned the rhythm volume on my JamMan Solo down, and never use it. IMHO you don't need a drum track for at-home practice and jamming. I record my own various loops, and have transferred numerous internet backing tracks to it which already have rhythm sections, and it's great to play along to. The tap tempo works great as well, to play the same song at different speeds. You can save new tempos as well, then change them again if you wish.

    IMO the optional 3-button footswitch really makes it a LOT easier as well. Record a rhythm, chorus, and bridge loop for one song and you can cue them up as you play along. Really very easy.
     

  19. tap4154

    tap4154 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

    Apr 14, 2009
    Southern California

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