Fruit Loops – Boss RC-3

 

 

I’ve wanted a Loop pedal for a while. But it hasn’t been something that will alter my sound as such, more to use as an aid when learning a new song or practicing. Therefore even though I knew I wanted one it went towards the bottom of the list after the drive and modulation pedals.

I did a bit of research before purchasing and there are a few options out there from most of the well known manufacturers, Boss, EHX, TC Electronics to name a few, and less well know cheaper alternatives. I went for the Boss RC-3 for a few reasons.

One reason is that it is a well known brand, I wasn’t looking for anything boutique. I want a solid dependable pedal that will just work. Also because of the nature of the pedal it’s not something that boutique builder will generally tackle. I had used one that a friend had a few years ago, and remember it being easy to use. Price wasn’t much of a factor as all the big brands were priced within the same ball park, between £90-£120 new, and £70-£90 used (at the time of writing).

It has good write ups, and has a few features that some of the other loopers don’t have such as drum beats, and easy to navigate screen and the ability to not record until you have started playing. I found one on a Facebook selling group for a price I thought reasonable (£90 inc postage) in very good condition. I did consider the Boss RC-20, but felt that the additional track and footswitch are more than I require. It would also take up precious space on my board.

I’ve had the pedal for a few weeks now and have learnt that my timing was awful, and still probably is. But having a looper is helping. It also helps when learning new chord progressions, as I can record them and play over them. There is also the fun aspect of creating ambient soundscapes, and just layering sound upon sound using strange effects. I’m not under the illusion that I’m going to write a masterpiece any time soon. I simply enjoy the creative aspect of layering sound. Its another outlet that I haven’t explored before having this pedal.

The RC-3 is simple to use once you are used to it. There is a mighty instruction manual that I will admit I did not read cover to cover, I read enough to get by and that seems to be plenty for now. I’ve not hooked It up to a computer and put any backing tracks on to it, but I may in the future. There are 99 banks, of which I have used 10, and of those 10 there are probably only 2 or 3 that I would keep and use. There is plenty of storage on the RC-3, and connecting to a computer means that I can download and manage patches on a separate device. Put simply the only limits are that you can have 99 patches at a time on the pedal, and whatever storage limits you have on the computer you are downloading them to. I don’t think many people would ever be limited by 99 patches, I am certainly not.

There aren’t many bad points to the RC-3, and the good points far outweigh them. The only gripe I would have is that the drum tracks are not fantastic. They’re ok, but not amazing. The tempo of the drum beat and track can be set using the tap tempo switch but this is a bit odd as it’s a soft rubber switch, I don’t always know that I’ve pressed it correctly. This is such a small grievance as I don’t want to say the pedal it is perfect, but the downsides are so small. I’m not sure whether an additional foot switch can be used for the tap tempo, if so, and if this was a big problem for me I might look at using an additional footswitch rather than the button on the pedal.

The positives are pretty much everything else about the RC-3. The screen is bright and legible. Although it may look confusing it is simple enough to use after a bit of time. As with all Boss pedals it is built like a tank. It can take batteries if necessary. It has stereo inputs and outputs. It runs of a standard 9V centre negative adaptor. It doesn’t pull a crazy amount of current (70Ma). And it doesn’t look bad on a board.

If you’ve never used a looper before I would happily recommend them. I think that if nothing else It gives me a backing track for me to play along with. Some people might say “why not play a backing track on a CD, or YouTube”. Which is a good point, I can download that onto the RC-3 and play along, pause and change things using a footswitch. It makes it so much more versatile for that very reason, without even considering the options it opens up to me to record ideas and create music.

I like the pedals that I’ve purchased for the sounds that they produce or the way they alter the sounds I make through my guitar. I can’t like the RC-3 for the same reasons as it doesn’t alter music that I create but I do enjoy the options it gives me when being creative. I like having it on my board and would gladly recommend it or buy another if this one was lost or stolen.

In Summary:

Pros –

  • Well built
  •  Lots of storage
  • Stereo inputs/outputs
  • Not too expensive especially when buying second hand
  • Works perfectly and will help with timing
  • Doesn’t record until you play

Cons –

  • Controls can be a bit fiddly and take some getting used to
  • As with all modern boss pedals in this format the plastic thumb screws and rubber grommet can break. It is a shame they don’t use metal anymore
  • Tap tempo switch is rubber, I’m not a fan of it. Its a shame you cant hold down that button to engage tap tempo and use the footswitch to set it. (it might do this, I really need to study the instructions)

 

 

 

 

 

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