Last week, we got a chance to preview the TC Electronic Ditto Looper when we made our way to the TC booth at this year’s Winter NAMM Convention. And suffice it to say we were impressed with the demos – albeit a bit confused. Impressed and confused, that sounds about right. For those of you who are unaware of what a looper actually does, the way in which musicians use it pretty much consists playing a phrase on an instrument or singing a verse, then using a pedal to record said phrase or verse, loop it, then layering said phrase or verse with other phrases--all live. If you would like to check out some artists who use this effect in some pretty astounding ways, go to you tube and check out Kimbra’s Settle Down or anything by Reggie Watts (live preferably so you can see the looper effect in direct action). But if there is one single big complaint leveled at even the best loopers – as I touched on earlier – is that they can be downright tricky. And even when you’ve mastered the thing, it only takes one slight slip up to throw-off the loop completely out of time. Add the stress of having to use it during a live performance and you might start to wonder why even bother, right? Well, you’ll be glad to know that even though it does suffer from a few of what loopers are known for, the TC Ditto is by far the most user friendly model I have come across. Think of it as a looper for dummies. But does it deserve a spot on your already crowded pedalboard? Let’s find out.
If you’re anything like me, getting a brand new pedal brings along with it a huge amount of giddiness and anticipation; just thinking about the tonal possibilities each pedal can offer to a chain is enough to make me wonder how I ever managed without it! Well, maybe not entirely but it definitely feels on par with taking a new gadget out for a spin. First things first, those of you with pedalboards that can only accommodate so many pedals will be glad to know that the Ditto Looper is tiny (it measures just 3 5/8” by 1 5/8” to be exact). Seriously – unless you’ve taken up all the real-estate on that board, the Ditto will fit. But for its small size, it’s actually surprisingly heavy. And if you have ever owned a TC pedal, you’ll be glad to know it looks and feels just as tough as the best of them. As far as controls go, the no-nonsense control setup – featuring only a single knob – makes it very easy to use as well. And speaking of the knob, there’s actually a good amount of resistance meaning that you won’t accidentally mess with your settings if you accidentally graze it. You will also be glad to know that the Ditto Looper features a true bypass switch to ensure that it will be pitch quiet when not needed – something that just can’t be said about lower end stompboxes. All in all, very good construction, but how does it measure up in the sound department?
I was always intrigued by infamous (and I’m not just talking music here) producer Phil Spector’s signature recording technique known as the “Wall of Sound” which I imagine means shoving in as many effects, voices, instruments or what have you into an otherwise bare song until it sounds like a huge heaping sonic masterpiece. Similarly, the ditto has a way of creating walls of sound on a massive scale that seem to come from an impossible minute source – such as a single riff. Using just the single foot switch, you can create loops as long as five minutes and overdub endlessly. That five-minute capacity enables you to loop an entire song and layer multiple guitar melodies for verses and choruses. And if you’re one of those pros able to harmonize and formulate countermelodies at will, you can put together an incredibly dense, rich, and complex improvised guitar symphony in about ten minutes—especially if you’re willing to get clever with pickup and tone settings along with the effect pedals out in front of the Ditto. Seriously – there’s TONS of possibilities with this thing! And best of all, the Ditto Looper sacrifices nothing in terms of sonic quality for all this convenience; there’s no noticeable signal loss or tone muddying apart from the clashing or bunched harmonics that can come from a stacked mix – the Ditto is super clean.
Things get slightly trickier if you use the undo/redo function, but only just a tad bit. Holding the footswitch down activates the undo function, and you hold it down a second time to redo your loop. If you’re already working with a lot of loops it can be hard to get the timing right on the redo hold so it’s a good idea to practice with a single loop underneath until you nail the timing. Stopping the loop just takes pressing the footswitch twice quickly. Pressing and holding the switch after that will erase the whole loop. Unfortunately, it’s not impossible to screw up; you can lose track of where you are with respect to footswitch clicks in the heat of a hectic performance and there are no blinking lights that indicate what mode you’re in. But relative to other loopers that blink wildly and feature multiple footswitches, the Ditto’s simplicity is welcomed.
Is It For You?
If you are like I once was – resisting loopers because they were kind of downright intimidating – you should definitely give the Ditto a try simply for the fact that it can vastly stretch your sonic capabilities as well as inspire you to take things where you never thought you would. Seriously – there’s tons of potential inside this little box! As mentioned above, it’s not without a learning curve, but the good news is that it’s more about getting used to a few simple switching techniques and getting down that timing rather than trying to figure out any hidden functions – nothing a little bit of practice can’t handle! If you have ever been curious about loopers but were put off by their intimidating control schemes, no longer is that an excuse – especially for the street price of just $129.99! [Coming Soon]