Guitar Pedal Loop Switchers – But which one?Pedals At Dawn
In the true spirit of this blog, I learnt about loop switchers the hard way over the last couple of years. I knew I wanted one, but which one? And why are they so expensive?
My questions to anyone thinking about getting their first loop switcher are:
- What kind of amplifier do you have?
- Do you require programmable presets?
Why is this important? You need to consider how many channels your amp has and if it has an effects loop. Do you want the loop switcher to be able to switch amp channels and/or the pedals in the effects loop? If the answer is yes to both, then be prepared to ante up.
My first loop switcher was a Bright Onion Pedals “Design Your Own” 3 Switch Looper. I had the red LED as the amp channel switch and the 2 blue LEDs as true bypass loops. However, I quickly realized this didn’t negate all pedal tap dancing as I was still dual stomping the amp channel and delay/reverb switches to go from clean delay to dirt as it wasn’t programmable.
I then purchased the Hotone Patch Kommander. Its 2 biggest drawbacks being:
- The amp channel switch only works in Direct mode (and not in Preset mode as it then becomes the bank switch)
- It only has 1 signal path (so you have to choose between running this in front of the amp or in the effects loop)
In reality, the Patch Kommander is perfectly suitable for running in front of my single channel amp and using the Preset mode to switch between my configured presets of: Clean / Clean Delay / Dirt / Dirt Delay with the pedals shown in the above photo.
Side note: I didn’t consider the Hotone Cybery because I simply don’t trust them to keep developing the phone app that is required to program it; I don’t want a new version of iOS or Android to make my loop switcher an expensive paperweight.
So what about my 2 channel amp with effects loop? I bought a Harley Benton FXL8 Pro which has 2 trigger switches for amp channels and 2 signal paths to cope with pedals in front of the amp and in the effects loop, all of which are programmable. See example setup diagrams from One Control below to help visualize what I mean, or check out the FAQs page.
So why am I still not happy? The programming on the Harley Benton is overly complicated to access/edit – I wish it had the little program buttons of the Hotone, plus it doesn’t have soft switches, and once you’ve had soft switches, it’s hard to go back to hard clicky switches.
So I recently purchased the One Control Chamaeleo Tail Loop MKII to replace the Hotone Patch Kommander for my single channel amp. And while it does have 3 key features over the Patch Kommander (6x 9V DC outputs and amp channel switching or 2 signal paths), I’m not actually using those features; it was on sale and I was curious to see the quality difference of an unfamiliar brand. Also, it has soft footswitches and I’m really happy with it for my single channel amp.
Long story short, I still want to replace the Harley Benton to get a better programming interface. My top considerations currently are the Moen GEC9 and the One Control Crocodile Tail Loop simply because I can’t justify the cost of The GigRig G2. But the price difference between the Moen and One Control is not insignigicant either, which is why I got the Chamaeleo, to see if its worth the extra. I’ll report back after I purchase something.
Update: So I stumbled across the little brother of the Moen GEC9 – the Moen GEC8 JR – and decided to buy it, as on paper I thought I could make it work for significantly less money than either of the bigger units I was considering. And for the most part, it does do what I want; it has soft switches, programming is similar but much easier than the Harley Benton, it has 2 signal paths, 2 amp channel triggers and you can limit the number of accessible program banks. I’ll be honest though, the Moen GEC8 JR will probably only be a stop-gap as I still think I need one of the bigger units. For the money, I can’t really complain about my purchase, but there are a couple of things that annoy me about the Moen GEC8 JR:
1) When the unit is powered on, switch D is active by default – so it would make much more sense if they labelled them left to right D/C/B/A as the guitar signal flows right to left.
2) The amp channel trigger open/close states seem to be the wrong way around for my Mesa Mini Rec, so by programming nothing, it turns on Channel 2 (dirt) by default. This means the 2nd stomp to master bypass the programmed patch activates my dirt channel, and there is no way to inverse the open/close states like some switchers have. Luckily you can disable the master bypass feature, which I have done as its useless for my amp.
3) I wish the 2nd signal path had more than 1 loop – the Harley Benton with its 2 signal paths with 4 loops in each would be perfect if they just gave it soft switches and made the programming easier. So the quest continues.