I decided in the last couple of days to buy some new gear for looping. The main idea with this gear is to sync everything to everything: loopers to each other, loopers to drum machines, drum machines to sequencers–you name it, I want it synced up.

So I bought the following:

  • a Syncman from Custom Live Electronics. This is the thing that will keep my MIDI devices and my JamMan devices in sync.
  • a JamMan Solo XT. I truly wish Digitech offered JamSync in the JamMan Stereo form factor, but they don’t, so this is the next best thing.
    JamMan Solo XTs linked via JamSync
    JamMan Solo XTs linked via JamSync
  • a JamMan Express XT. This is what I’ll sync to the JamMan Solo XT. The JamMan Solo XT can store loops for later playback; the JamMan Express can’t. So the Express is always going to be the thing in the chain that records loops on-the-spot.
    Digitech JamMan Express XT: it doesn't do much, but it does it very well
    Digitech JamMan Express XT: it doesn’t do much, but it does it very well

  • I got the Solo and Express XTs for a total of $115 by buying used at guitarcenter.com. Full retail on these devices is $250 total. So it was a good deal.
    I may add a Beatbuddy to this setup to give me some beats, or I may not. I have plenty of alternatives to laying down $300 for a drum machine (albeit a very nice-sounding drum machine):

  • I have a Yamaha RY30 drum machine–old, but plenty potent.
  • I can pre-record drum tracks and start my live looping from there in performance.
  • I can beatbox.
  • I can bring in a collaborator or two, and let the JamSync take care of pulling it all together.

    So many options! In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the delivery of all this stuff, and I’m still having fun with my JamMan Stereo looper. Last night I jammed out for about 10 minutes on a groove that started in one place and ended in quite another. I recorded it all, and below you can listen to some of the high points from that session.

    My equipment for this jam included a Lee Oskar natural minor harmonica, an Audix Fireball V microphone, a Peavey KB2 keyboard amp, and an ABY box that creates two independent signal chains: one with a Digitech iStomp running Swingshift, which is input to a Digitech Rp500; and one with a Vox Stomplab IG running a number of sounds designed by yours truly. I can run either chain or both as I choose.

    Here’s where it started:

    Here’s where it ended:

    Here’s a nice “horn” duet from the same jam:

    And here’s the horns in full cry:

    Did I mention that the only instrument on this recording is a single diatonic harmonica–natural minor, as I recall–played through a Digitech RP500 and a Vox Stomplab IG, both devices accessible separately or together? Man do I love my FX setup now. It’s time to bring my looping setup up to the level of my sound production kit. I’m looking forward to hearing what I can do when my loops get more independent.