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Wednesday

Boss RC 50 setting?

One of the most difficult parts of using loopers has always been learning to start and stop loops exactly on beat one. Loop Quantize is Boss’s attempt to make this process more forgiving. Loop Quantize time-stretches the length of a loop backwards or forward if you don’t hit the pedal exactly on the beat. Of course, this also slightly changes the pitch of the loop. If you are close to the beat it won’t be noticeable, but in my opinion, it is better to practice your tapping and avoid the quantizing altogether.

In single play mode, phrases change as soon as you select them. But there is a very cool option that lets you switch phrases only when the current loop ends. So while phrase one is playing you can select phrase two, at any time, and it won’t switch until phrase one is done playing. This allows you to concentrate on your current playing without worrying about changing phrases exactly at the end of the loop. You can also set loops to end automatically at the end of a phrase, or to fade out — both useful tools.

Another nice option is Auto Record. When auto record is turned on, a phrase will start recording as soon as you begin playing. You can set the sensitivity of auto record to keep finger noise from setting it off. Auto record makes sure your loops always start exactly at beat one and never cut off part of the beginning.

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The ability to switch between three phrases through pedal kicks is one of the most powerful capabilities of the Boss RC50. The most important part of ensuring continuity in switching between the phrases is to ensure the loop default is over-ridden from immediate change to change at loop end.

Another important part of ensuring continuity is to ensure recording is set to mono as this will increase your loop recording minutes from about twenty-four to forty-nine. Since you will almost certainly be directing a single mono output to a P.A. from the RC50, there's almost no point in stereo.
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The Boss RC-50 is the flagship of the Boss looping pedal line, incorporating three looping devices into one unit. Designed with the serious looper in mind, the RC-50 features a large number of options for recording and controlling loops.


Play Modes

There are two basic operation (Play) modes when using the RC-50, single play mode and multi play mode. Single play mode allows you to use the three phrases (looping devices) sequentially (switching from one to another.) Single play mode is good for recording separate song sections such as verse, chorus, and bridge, then switching between them to arrange a song. Multi play mode allows you to use all three phrases simultaneously, allowing you to switch parts in and out as the others play. Each mode has a large number of options for recording and playback that I will cover as I describe each mode in more detail.

Single Play Mode

In single play mode, only one of the three phases can be active at any time. Selecting a different phrase stops the phrase currently playing and starts the one selected. Each of the three phrases has an output level knob so you can mix them however you like relative to the other phrases and to your direct signal. If you are using a stereo output, you can pan the signal anywhere in the stereo field. You can also choose whether the phrase will loop, play one time only (one shot), or play in reverse. Your next decision is whether to use the Guide.

The Guide

The Guide is a metronome of sorts, except it uses rhythm patterns instead of a click. There are dozens of rhythm sounds in a number of styles. You get the most patterns when playing in 4/4 time, but you can select just about any time signature common in popular music (some only a prog player could love: 13/8 anyone?) The rhythm patterns sound good and are great for practice, but they are probably too simple for more than occassional live use. I did find them fun to jam along with and often just what was needed to spark a new loop idea. You don’t have to use the Guide. You can set its volume to zero and it turns off.

Tempo And Tempo Sync

Tempo is up next. You can set the tempo of a patch by tapping the Tempo pedal or using the LCD and parameter knob. If you don’t set a tempo, the RC-50 will calculate the tempo of a loop at the completion of the loop. This brings us to one of the many options on the RC-50: Tempo Sync. With tempo sync turned on all three phrases will play back at the patch tempo regardless of the tempo they were recorded at. This can be helpful if the tempo difference is small, but downright ugly if the tempo difference is large. I found it fine to leave tempo sync on when using the guide, but better to turn it off when not using the guide.

Recording A Loop

To record a loop, you first select a phrase. If it is the first time the phrase has been selected, it will be in record enabled mode, indicated by a flashing red light. You then tap the REC/PLAY/OVERDUB pedal to start recording. In single play mode you have three options to end the loop. Tap the REC/PLAY/OVERDUB button again and the loop will play back. Tap the STOP pedal and the loop will end and playback will not begin. Tap another phrase pedal, and if the new phase is empty, it will begin recording a new phrase. If the phrase already has recorded material it will begin playback. Once the initial recording is done on a phrase, the REC/PLAY/OVERDUB toggles between play and overdub modes.

Multi Play Mode

Now let’s look at Multi play mode. In multi play mode any or all of the three phrases can play back at the same time. This allows you create three parts (each with as many overdubs as you like) and turn them on and off when desired. It also enables another option called Loop Sync. Loop Sync is only available in Multi Play mode. With Loop sync turned on the loops you create always play back beginning at the same point they were recorded, relative to the longest loop. For example, if you start a second loop two measure into the first loop, it will always loop starting at measure two, leaving the first two measures silent. If loop sync is turned off, loops repeat as soon as they end. So in the example above, the second loop would just keep looping and eventually loop through the first two measures of the first loop when it comes around again. It sounds a little confusing at first, but once you start using it, you will see that each option has its uses.

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