True bypass loopers can be indispensable tools to any guitarist's rig. Not to be confused with the "other" loopers, which will be called phrase samplers, for the sake of this article. These loopers are much more than just a separate on/off switch. Here is a list of our top five reasons why true bypass loopers are so great to have.
Reason #1 - Simultaneous multiple pedal changes
Sometimes a part in a song calls for multiple effects at once. For the next part in a song, you might be using a radically different group of effects . To give an example of a two parts of a hypothetical song:
Part A - Compressor > Fuzz> Harmonizer > Phaser
Part B - Tremelo> Spring Reverb
With 2 loops of a True Bypass Looper, you can put all the pedals needed for part one in the first loop, and all the pedals for part two in the second loop. Without the true bypass looper, you'd need to press 6 pedals when the song parts change. Its a huge distraction to press all those pedals very quickly and maintain a solid performance. When multiple pedals are in a loop, you are able to have the sounds you want ready to go and may even be able to avoid looking down at your pedalboard entirely throughout your gig.
Reason # 2 - Quick Troubleshooting
Sometimes wires are pulled loose, or one of the 20 wall warts you have plugged in to a single outlet finally gives up. Maybe your friend plugged in an 18V adapter into your favourite distortion pedal and forgot to mention its now toast right before you have to play a show. Whatever the case may be, true bypass loopers are a quick and easy way to tell which pedal or pedals are causing an issue. You might not have time to fix the damage while you're on stage, but at least you can bypass the issues and hopefully get by through your set with what is still working on your board. An audience is far more aware of a guitarist panicking on stage because there's no sound coming the amp, than using a few different effects choices than usual.
Reason #3 Buffered bypass issues
Many pedals come with buffered bypass for numerous reasons. Delays and reverbs would not trail when you turn them off if not for buffered bypass. You might have a significant volume difference between the effect(s) and bypassed signal if there are no buffers in your chain at all.
However, with many buffers in a signal chain, a compounded tonal change to your guitar signal may result. Some buffers found in older pedals are known to be a "tone-suck" that completely alter your guitar tone, generally for the worse. Instead of keeping those offending buffers in your chain when the effect's off, a true bypass loop can remove the circuit from your chain completely and your original guitar tone is preserved.
Reason #4 Problematic Footswitches
A lot of vintage pedals were not designed for a crowded pedalboard. Footswitches like those found on a typical Tubescreamer can be a little awkward to accurately press and even downright resistant. Older EHX pedals like the Russian Big Muffs have been known to have footswitches that break down. The truth is all footswitches have a certain lifespan of presses, but it is usually a very long time before that occurs. Why risk having to replace that original footswitch?
Reason # 5 Make any effects unit into a guitar pedal and route anything anywhere.
Do you have a favourite rackmount unit that you have no way of turning on or off? You can use the ins and outs of nearly any audio processing device with a true bypass looper and suddenly its now a guitar pedal. You could even put your tablet or cell phone in a true bypass loop. Using the returns and sends of a loop can introduce some interesting capabilities of your rig. If you plug in a keyboard or mic into the return jack of a loop, you can use your guitar pedals for double duty, without having to switch any cables mid-set. Maybe you want to use a different amp or front of house PAs at the press of a foot. Plug in to the send jack to easily route your guitar somewhere else. The possibilities for enhancing your sound are endless.