Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ditto…..and about my love of loopers

I’ve been a long time fan of phrase loopers. Not only are they a great practice tool, they can add an entirely new dimension to a jam session with friends or a live band setting. Most importantly, they are fun. My first looper was an original Boomerang. This was a monster-size device that was designed to be completely controlled with the feet. I still consider it to be a great looper. After the Boomerang, I’ve tried different versions of Digitech Jammans and Boss RC loopers. While fun and capable, I never quite bonded with either the Digitech and Boss loopers even though they were clearly technically superior to the Boomerang. Finally, I purchased a Boomerang 3. I was in heaven. The Boomerang 3 is clearly the easiest and most powerful looper on the market; however, it is limited by not having the ability to store loops, play prerecorded samples or drum patters. As I’ve never found the need to store loops, I’ve never considered this to be a negative.

Recently, TC Electronic released their entry into the looper market, the Ditto. This one knob, one button, tiny pedal is the smallest, simplest looper on the market. Because of its small size, it can be easily fit on any pedal board. Best of all, the Ditto is completely transparent sounding. Even though I had the Boomerang 3, I felt compelled to try the Ditto. After living with it for three weeks, I highly recommend the Ditto for any guitarist that wants to dabble in looping. With only a single foot switch and a volume knob, any player should be able to come up to speed in no time. My intention was to attach the Ditto to my Pedaltrain Mini as an always available looper.

After the three weeks, I’ve decided to return the Ditto. There’s nothing wrong with the Ditto, it’s just that the Boomerang 3 has features that I considered essential. With the Ditto, you can create a single loop and you can overdub on top of that loop almost infinitely (or until the loop is just a sonic smear). With the Boomerang’s three independent loops, you can easily add, delete, and layer loops. The Boomerang has the unique ability to record a single measure rhythm and then automatically multiply/expand the single measure as you add layers. Also. the Boomerang has an adjustable decay so that your earlier loops fade away are you add new layers of loops. Other than the fact that both the Ditto and Boomerang both allow you to create loops, they are hardly comparable. The Ditto is analogous to a one shot Derringer and the Boomerang is like a revolver.

While any looper is a fun and useful tool, unless you’re willing to shell out the coin for a Boomerang 3, the Ditto is probably a great best bet and value for most players.


Cool Axe Alert – Epiphone Limited Edition Swingster Royale

On the way home from a little guitar jam visit at a work friend’s place I stopped at Guitar Center.  I didn’t have long before closing so I looked for something I hadn’t played before.  Low and behold the “Epiphone Limited Edition Swingster Royale”.  A very cool axe with a too long name.  The finish was in a dark gray/black sparkle and silver sparkle bindings.  It’s a mixture of elegant and tacky all in one!  Regardless, the finish was perfectly applied – no ripples, orange peel, or buff throughs anywhere.  The inner edges of the “F” holes even got the silver sparkle details.  I’ll have to admit it – Epiphone is getting better at finishes. The guitar was fitted with a Bigsby and roller bridge and had the cylindrical handle for another touch of class. The pickups were Epiphone’s take on something between a Dearmond and Filtertron ….growly like a Dearmond with a little Filtertron twang.  Each pickup had push/pull series/parallel switch.  I really couldn’t tell which I liked better…both were cool but different.  They were a touch dark but worked well enough – nothing that a little amp EQ didn’t compensate for.  As usual, Guitar Center put the guitar out without bothering to stretch the strings. At first, I thought there might be tuning issues but once I started to work the strings in, everything settled down and the Bigsby stayed true with no tuner slippage either.  Frets were typical of a guitar in this price range – very playable but hardly bling PRS.  The neck felt comfortable with enough shoulder to fill the hand well.  Probably the best way to describe this guitar is Epiphone’s take on a Gretsch Electromatic 5120…with my nod going to the Epi for the slick paint job and added touches like the roller bridge, handle, and pickup switching.

Through the Marshall DSL15’s clean channel with a gobs of reverb, this guitar sounded very retro Gretchey-twangy-Setzery (lots of “eys” eh?).  I wanted to plug it into a reverb-equiped Fender but time ran out.  In the mid $700, this is a great stage guitar for anyone that wants to Rock This Town.  It begs for dirt and reverb.  A blast to play.

http://www.amazon.com/Epiphone-Limited-Edition-Swingster-Electric/dp/B007L56OIE

Here’s a couple of shots including a close up of the sparkle finish and binding.

Royale-2 Royale-1

 

 

Pedal Tape

Here’s an interesting product…a dual sided tape to secure effect pedals to the pedal board. Velcro is the usual method but unfortunately can pull stickers and paint off the back of a pedal. This tape sticks and then releases with a twist. The tape is part of a Kickstarter project for Blackbird’s new Stealth pedalboard design.

Link to the Blackbird Kickstarter project:
Link to the project

Tape video
Pedal board tape

Conceptually, this is a good idea. I believe the assumption is that you’d use this with a flat board rather than a slotted Pedaltrain design. It might work with a Pedaltrain design if there is enough contact area. Probably the biggest advantage is that this tape would work great with the typical do-it-yourself pedalboard made from a sheet of plywood.