Watch the Getting Started Looping online guitar lesson by Robbie Calvo from Creative Looping Handbook

In my experience, having a solid grasp on what you’re going to record is the best way to get awesome results. Here are a few tips to use as a checklist when creating a new loop.

Timing & Execution - Loop pedals without a count-in function will require you to have solid timing and good foot execution when tapping start and stop for your recording. This is why you need a clear conceptual idea of what you're about to record. Guitarists new to looping often express that this is the main reason they got frustrated and lost interest in using a loop pedal.

Here's a checklist to help you get started with minimal risk of frustration, and it'll just take a moment to determine each of these factors:

  1. How many bars in length is my loop idea? - Having a solid grasp on this will help you articulate the start and stop points, and time execution of overdub parts.
  2. What time signature or rhythmic feel is it? - Count your idea out as you play it and decide what subdivisions and accents it has...2/4, 4/4, straight 8ths, 6/8, 12/8 triplet shuffle, etc.
  3. What key or modality am I creating this idea in? - Good to know before creating overdubs and playing melodic lines, etc.
  4. What is the intended use for this recording? - If it's to practice a new scale for example, you may want to keep the idea clean and less complex so that you can hear the chord/scale relationship. Plus, you can always add more harmonic layers later.
  5. How many layers will I be recording? - Knowing how many parts you want will help you decide on the frequency range as well as the tonal quality and effects used for each part. Thinking like an arranger and orchestrator will serve you well here.