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Just bought my first looper, although I've been playing guitar for 27 years. I'm interested in trying my hand at ambient-style music. The main issue I'm encountering is looping an ambient chord progression where each chord lingers under the next and NOT get a pause between the end of the progression and the beginning of it repeating. What's the trick to making a loop seamless and not SOUND like a loop?
To the OP. What you're talking about is a looper with the ability to go from record straight to overdub - like a DL-4. With such a looper, the reminants of the last chord or note you played will be recorded and you can achieve a more seamless loop.
Loopers like the Akai Headrush (as ****************ing awesome as it is) can't go from record to overdub but go straight to play, in which case the reminants or feedback of the last note/chord get cut off and you get that gap.
Loopers that can do record>overdub, off the top of my head, are:
DL-4, Timefactor's looper, RC-3 has the option to set the record/overdub/play order. I imagine the RC-30 does as well.
Some loopers, and some firmware versions of some loopers, are more seamless sounding than others. (looking at you, Boss RC-3) But there's always going to be a limitation to having the last chord hang over the first.
Advice: -Use the quantize function if your looper has one. That makes the end point smoother. -Overdub the last chord on the 2nd pass to get it to hang over if you need to. -Loop more than one repeat of the progression. ie if its a four bar progression, and you loop 12 bars of it, you'll have the last chord hanging over the first 2/3 of the time.
For ambient stuff you need to use long delay lines for looping, IMHO. Just about every pedal looper out there is for song-based, sampler-style looping which I don't think works well for bringing the ambient a la Robert Fripp's soundscapes, etc.
For delay line looping, you just need a delay pedal with long delay times and trails on bypass. You set up a delay the length you want with the feedback cranked for infinite repeats, and you simply turn the delay on when you want to add to the loop, and bypass it to play over top. Because you're working with delay lines, there are no glitches like in sample-based looping. When you're done with a loop you can turn the feedback down.
I like using a DD-20 for this because I can precisely dial in my delay times in sync with the BPM on a drum machine for loops that never go out of sync. Also, because the DD-20 has two separate delay engines, you can have two opposing loops going at once. I have my DD-20 running with stereo outs with the wet output going through a volume pedal so I can bring loops in and out.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I have the Digitech JML2, which all my research has indicated is a good looper. I'm also reading suggestions of recording a loop of silence and then dubbing over that. Still looking into how that works.
Maybe I'm missing the point, but can't you play through once, then start recording. Then the last sound will fit over the first and it'll be more seamless. Might not be best for live performance but fine at home.
Otherwise I'd try imbuedblues idea. I might give that a go myself this weekend.
Guitarsinspace wrote: recording a loop of silence and then dubbing over that. Still looking into how that works.
That's basically the same as my suggestion to overdub the last chord so it hangs over.
After you set the length of the loop, either by ending the first pass at recording and/or going into overdub mode, you can seamlessly record over the point at which the loop repeats on every subsequent pass. The problem is only the first time, at the moment the looper switches from initial recording to either playback or overdub.
Guitarsinspace wrote: Just bought my first looper, although I've been playing guitar for 27 years. I'm interested in trying my hand at ambient-style music. The main issue I'm encountering is looping an ambient chord progression where each chord lingers under the next and NOT get a pause between the end of the progression and the beginning of it repeating. What's the trick to making a loop seamless and not SOUND like a loop?
What doesn't come through in your description is how you are creating the loop. If you are playing the first chord when you start then the beginning of the loop doesn't have that continous ambient drone. Try playing the last chord of the progression first, and then starting the looper when you hit the first chord of the progression. This should ensure no dead space at the loop point.
If you get a dead space after this then you've got a crappy looper.
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I don't get a dead space when doing this, but a noticeable "cut" where the loop restarts. I don't think the Digitech JML2 is a "crappy" looper, but would welcome opinions. I'm seeing plenty of ambient videos on YouTube where guys seem to be making nice, smooth loops without noticeable "hiccups" at the end of the loops. I'd just like to know what the trick is.
It's understandable that an ambient tone will have a noticable loop point. If the tone isn't constant and unchanging or predictable in it's movement then what's the chance that the loop point will be undetectable? You acomplish the task by creating an ambient sound that if cyclic you can determine exactly when the cycle is at the same point at the start as at the finsh.
Just keep trying and recognize that if the sound moves you have to know where it's at to recognize the loop point. If the sound moves and isn't cyclic then you are going to need to have an overdub that hides the ambient loop point.
Here's a sample looped with my G3's looper of my Super Ego. It's has ambient tones but the loop point is at the downbeat of striking that tone. If you want a constant drone then just overlay something over it that has a note on the loop point to cover up the drone discontinuity.
Here's a simple question with probably a not-so-simple answer. Obviously playing ambient drone chords that trail off into the next succeeding chord makes it a challenge to avoid the audible "cut" when the loop starts over. I know one method is to first record a loop of silence, and then play over that. However, should the duration of that silent loop be shorter, longer, or the same length as the chord progression? I'm just new to this concept and am trying to wrap my head around how it works and how to execute it properly.