Syncing a Looper to a Live Drummer

Lately I have developed a need to use a looper in a live situation with a drummer. Now obviously any simple looper cannot play to the drummer so it’s either the drummer playing to the looper or both playing to some fixed tempo.

What to Sync and Where?

In principle the drummer could play to the looper if two requirements are met. First, he must hear the looper well. This can be achieved fairly easily with proper sound reinforcement.  Second, there must be something to play to, meaning that the sparser the loop the greater the demands that are set to the drummer’s internal time keeping. This is clearly doable but may prove to be a little bit difficult.

On the other hand, having a looper in the game in the first place already implies a fixed tempo. Thus it is really no sacrifice, instead of trying to follow the looper,  to accept an external click with guaranteed information density (steady notes or even a complete percussion section) and easier audibility (percussive notes in place of some fuzz bass). This transfers the sync issue to the looper being able to follow the external tempo.

There are loopers that can be synced to MIDI clock, which sounds like a nice solution – and costs $$$. However, I happen to already own a looper without the sync capability, the Digitech JamMan, which otherwise is pretty nice albeit old and discontinued. So, instead of rushing to a store, I’ll first investigate this avenue. Continue reading “Syncing a Looper to a Live Drummer”