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I would like to practice playing solo by looping and mixing on the go, especially with a guitar.

For an example of that, if anyone knows KT Tunstall's performance of Black Horse and a Cherry Tree, in which she managed to loop the percussion and the supporting strums to free herself for the lead.

Any software to allow me to practice that? Windows and Mac suggestions are welcome.
Or should I invest in an expensive hardware looper like the one she used?

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That's a great performance. Shopping recommendations are offtopic, however; see http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping/. –  Matthew Read May 5 '11 at 0:37
@MathewRead: If performance related, this isn't off-topic, IMO - if you read the link you provided yourself I think it's clear that the title is simply worded incorrectly as made eivdent by this in the body: 'Any software to allow me to practice that?'. People will have opinions, no doubt, but ultimately this isn't about recommendations but rather availability of a type of software. –  Grant Thomas May 5 '11 at 10:26
@Matthew Read -- my intention was not shopping recommendation, but rather guidance to looping methodologies; I have no experience in that and in need of a place to start. –  BeemerGuy May 5 '11 at 18:33

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

My current favourite is Ableton Live. Once you learn the ins and outs of Live, it's one of the best for live performances (looping included) as the name would suggest. If you're playing using any kind of MIDI instruments, Live supports all VSTis; if you're playing a real instrument that you can pickup, amplify, mic up or otherwise record, then Live 8, which includes the Looper plugin, can simulate the way a guitar pedal looper works.

If you find yourself going this way, you'll find more traction on the audio Stack Exchange

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In addition to allowing on-the-fly looping, Ableton Live is a full recording and production suite comparable to anything else out there (and I would say superior, having used it for many years). –  Rein Henrichs Jun 9 '11 at 17:40
There's also Cubase... #theDAWwar :D –  AsianSquirrel Apr 30 '14 at 22:26

If you're on a Mac or Linux system, Sooperlooper is free (I believe the cellist Zoe Keating uses it). If you're on Windows, Mobius is another free option. I don't have experience with either of these programs however.

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You might also want to try open source (freewheeling.sourceforge.net). –  Turion Jun 25 '11 at 16:32
This! Live alone is great for performing with loops, but for actual live on-the-fly looping it is not the best tool for the job. Sooperlooper has a much better workflow for live looping. Zoe Keating does use it, along with Ableton Live for any pre-recorded tracks she is playing along to. I use the same combination and it's great; before I was using Live alone and it was good but sometimes frustrating. –  Jonathan Van Matre Jan 15 '14 at 14:56

I know you asked for software, but here are a series of looping pedals that do this as well. They are not as full featured as things like Ableton Live (which is a great option), but they're intuitive to use, and much easier if you don't have a free hand (possibly because you're playing an instrument!). They may be more expensive than some cheap software, but they're much easier to use in a live environment or to stick on a pedal board for accessibility (if I have to drag it out to play it, I often don't). While you can spend $500+ on hardware, Boss and Digitech both have ~$100 options.

Check out:

  • Boss. Lots of options there. The 20 is pretty full featured and the 50 allows you to do complex song structures quite easily.
  • Digitech JamMan. They also have some selection in complexity / price.
  • Boomerang. Widely acclaimed in looper circles, but I've never used one.
  • Electro Harmonix 2880. Allows you to have multiple parts and mix them together. There's an additional pedal for easy on the fly control.
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Having tried several free options for Windows, my favourite one is AmbiLoop.

It maybe looks kind of crude here and there but I find it very useful mostly because of:

  • 8 tracks and easy switching,
  • a lot of hotkeys.
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Mainstage as part of Logic Studio also has a looper. I don't think it is as powerful as Ableton Live but it is another option. HOwever if I was going to use a looper for something like KT TUnstalls song then I would want a dedicated looper or a midi footswitch controller connected to a computer runnin

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