Over the last few years, loop pedals have become increasingly popular in the music scene. Even the big names in the industry use them in their live setups, mainly because they offer a fresh dimension to practice and live performance. The Boss RC-3 Loop Station Pedal is perhaps one of the most commonly used due to its impressive range of features, ease of use and durability as well. Being a single track loop pedal, a sole guitar input serves as the main sound source.
This guitar pedal replaces its older RC-2 Loop Station iteration as the company’s flagship compact looper. The new and improved offering comes with potent features but is still compactly packed, making it ideal for performers with a crowded pedal board. Some notable improvements include the addition of a USB 2.0 connection and a hugely increased storage capacity capable of storing up to 3 hours record time. Others include a rhythm guide, 10 unique rhythm varieties, a choice of time signatures and numerical tempo settings.
You can adjust rhythm volume using the inner control mechanism of the dual concentric knob, with the outer part being meant for controlling loop playback level. Time signature and rhythm type are saved together with the recorded phrases. There’s also an auxiliary input to record stereo audio sources. If you want to load any wav files onto the onboard memory, you can do so via the provided USB connection. Using these two input functions, you can load any tracks you want to loop and learn or even use as part of your performance.
As you use the RC-3, you can control overdubbing and playback using the provided footswitch. If necessary, another two extra footswitches could be added for extended foot control functionality. Most users will find this feature useful for stopping, memory shift and phase clearing.
The RC-3 comes packed with 10 drum tracks. While this sounds restrictive for musicians who want to use a wider array of drum beats, it’s possible to load pre-recorded jam tracks with the user’s own drum beats. As such, the 10 preset drum tracks wouldn’t really constrict the application of this pedal. Having said that, the pedal would be more ideal for musicians who don’t mind playing along with jam tracks.
Using the RC-3 Pedal
To start recording, you typically press the footswitch once, with a second press starting overdubbing. Pressing 3 times start playback, after which you would need to press it twice to halt. Alternatively, you could also set it up so that the sequence of presses becomes record/playback/overdub. For automatic recording, you could use the provided feature which is activated when one starts playing the guitar. Although this generally works fine to produce pristine sound quality, most users are aware that timing is vital in getting a rhythmically precise looped phrase.
The rhythm guide could obviously help here. You could either play along with the rhythm (recording starts as soon as the footswitch is pressed) or hit the footswitch from silent to use one measure of the rhythm as count-in before recording starts. If you find the rhythm distracting, you could turn the volume right down and instead look out for the visual clue in the form of a flashing light.
The Boss RC-3 Loop Station Pedal has plenty of different uses, from laying down a set of chords to practice over to composing and arranging new tricks by incorporating new sections in overdubs. It has even been used successfully in live performance. There’s also the ability to slow phrases down without altering pitch. As such, you could even use it as a phrase trainer to learn difficult parts, which could be loaded from a computer.
Though its predecessor was quite popular, the RC-3 has really upped the ante by offering plenty of looping power for its compact package. It has a balanced set of practical features with a wide range of applications. You will surely find it to be a great value for money that will easily slot into almost any pedal board.