How to Use the Boss RC-1 Loop Station [A Detailed Guide]

I’ve used a few looper pedals now, including the BOSS RC-1, the BOSS RC-5, and the MXR Clone Looper so I’m pretty familiar with the most common features and the other cool things they can be used for.

Like most instruction manuals for various kinds of technology, I find the instructions to be unclear or just not explained as well as they could be, although, BOSS does a decent job. Either way, I’ve taken it upon myself to really guide you through all of its features.

To use the BOSS RC-1 Loop Station, attach a 9V battery or a 9V power supply. Connect an instrument cable from your amp to Output A, and then another from Input A to your guitar. Press on the foot switch once to record a loop. Press it again to play it back, or press it once more to overdub.

And this is the brunt of how you get the RC-1 Loop Station to work with your guitar and amplifier. The thing about the RC-1 is it’s the simplest model from BOSS, so it’s perfect for someone who just wants a bare-bones looper that covers all the basics. That said, there are a few other things we should dive into and explore in the next section.

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How to Set Up and Use the BOSS RC-1

Me With BOSS RC-1 - How to Use the Boss RC-1 Loop Station [A REAL Guide]
I’ve got the BOSS RC-1 (on Amazon/zZounds/Thomann) and it’s a nice little pedal due to its simplicity and reliability.

The BOSS RC-1 really only has one feature, which is the ability to record and then overdub loops. It can’t save a ton of loops, you can’t import drum sounds or do anything fancy like that.

You can’t use the reverse function either like you can with the RC-5 (my guide). As I said earlier, it’s a bare-bones pedal that does just what you need and no more.

One thing you can do though is change the order of functions, ie, playback, overdub, record, and you can also change the display so it flashes according to the loop’s length, or not.

It can also be connected to a foot switch with the jack on the top-right-hand side of the pedal. While for some the lack of features is actually a bad thing, for others it’s perfect.

One of the nice things about the lack of fancy features and a super bright display is its battery time.

The RC-1 can last between 3 and 4.5 hours. BOSS says in their instruction manual that, with a current draw of 95 mAh, you can expect to get 3 hours out of it. Other users have reported 4.5.

I haven’t done a full experiment to determine how long it really lasts, but that’s in the works. Without further ado, I’m going to show you how to use the RC-1, including all of its features.

1) How to Set Up The BOSS RC-1

How to Connect the BOSS RC-1 Loop Station
To set up the BOSS RC-1, you need to connect a 1/4” instrument cable from the amplifier to Output A [MONO] on the pedal. Connect another 1/4” instrument cable from Input A to your guitar. Put a battery underneath the foot switch or connect a dedicated power supply.

As I explained in my guide on this, you really only need 3 items to use a looper pedal. You need two instrument cables an amplifier and your instrument. A digital piano or bass guitar will work just fine as well.

For the cables, I like using the Pig Hog Cables (on Amazon) and then the Right-Angled Cables from Ernie Ball (also on Amazon).

Where Should The RC-1 Go In Your Signal Chain?

Signal Chain with the Loop Station - How to Use the Boss Loop Station RC-5
It’s probably most common for people to put the pedal at the end of their signal chain, which means right after their guitar.

This is really in the eye of the beholder because people will tell you different things. But as I’ve said before, believe it’s more common for people to put it either right at the end of their signal chain (after the guitar), or at least somewhere close to the end.

My personal preference is actually to put it in a different place. I actually like putting it behind the amplifier rather than in front. I’ll show you what I mean now.

The Best Way To Connect A Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain – FX Loop

Send/Return - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
To connect a looper pedal to your FX Loop, run one instrument cable from the Input of your looper pedal to the amplifier’s Send, and then another cable from the Output of the pedal to the amplifier’s Return. You can usually find the FX Loop on the back of your amp.

This is my preferred way of setting up my looper pedals. The reason is that I like having the ability to record a loop with my effects on it and then turn off the effects while overdubbing. And it’s as simple as that.

From what I understand, putting your looper pedal in the FX Loop of your guitar amplifier is the way to do this.

Output/Return + Input/Send - How To Connect the BOSS RC-1
As I said a moment ago, you need to connect a cable from Output A to the Return on the back of your amplifier, and then another cable from Input A to the Send.

2) How to Power the BOSS RC-1

The Outputs on the M238 - How to Use the MXR M238 Isobrick
I use the MXR Isobrick M238 (on Amazon/zZounds) to power all my pedals, including the BOSS RC-1. Any port on the Isobrick rated above 95mAh will work. Just ensure you don’t use anything above 9V.

In the image, I said to use the 300 mAh port on the Isobrick, but it probably makes the most sense to use the 100 mAh instead because it’s closest to what the pedal needs. But it doesn’t really matter either way (my guide to the Isobrick, FYI).

How to Replace the Battery in the Boss Loop Station RC-1

How to Connect A New Battery To The RC-1 Loop Station
Replacing the 9V battery in the BOSS RC-1 is as simple as twisting the thumbscrew counterclockwise to open it. Attach the battery inside to the lead attached to the wires.

One of the advantages the RC-1 has over RC-5 is its battery life. If you’re going to use the RC-5 for busking or in a place where you don’t have power (for whatever reason), it’ll only last for about 1 hour and 45 minutes as I showed in my experiment.

The RC-1 lasts about twice as long, so it’s a bit more economical for busking if that’s what you’re looking for. Anyway, now that we’ve dived into the basics of how to get the RC-1 up and running, let’s get into the actual functions.

3) How To Create A Loop with the Boss RC-1

How to Create A Loop With the RC-1
With the instrument cables connected to Output/Input A on the BOSS RC-1 and a power supply connected, press on the foot-switch once to begin recording a loop.

4) How to Play the Recording in the Boss RC-1 [Playback]

How to Playback the Loop With the BOSS RC-1
To begin playback of the loop you’ve recorded with the BOSS RC-1, press the foot switch once more.

5) How to Overdub Over The Loop With the RC-1 [Playback & Record]

How to Overdub with the BOSS RC-1
To overdub (playback/record) with the BOSS RC-1, press the foot-switch one more time while in playback mode to begin overdubbing.

6) How to Pause Recording A Loop With the Boss RC-1

How to Pause A Recording With the BOSS RC-1
To pause recording or playback with the BOSS RC-1, quickly press on the foot switch twice.

7) How to Delete the Loop With the BOSS RC-1

How to Delete a Loop With the BOSS RC-1
To delete a loop with the BOSS RC-1, hold down on the footswitch to delete whatever loop or overdub you’ve just recorded.

8) How to Undo the Overdub Using the Boss RC-1

Redoing A Canceled Sound With the BOSS RC-1
To undo an overdub you’ve just recorded with the BOSS RC-1, press and hold down on the switch during overdubbing (playback/record).

You can undo the overdub by holding down on the pedal longer than 2 seconds during overdubbing or playback/recording. Explained another way, this won’t delete the primary loop, it’ll just eliminate the overdub.

9) How To Bring Back [Redo] A Cancelled Sound

To bring back a canceled sound with the BOSS RC-1, press and hold down the foot-switch during playback, rather than overdubbing (playback/record).

Like many of these features, you’ll probably have to hold it down for at least 2 seconds. This is a handy feature just in case you accidentally got rid of an overdub but didn’t mean to.

But what if you want to change the order in which the BOSS RC-1 operates? In other words, if you want to reorganize the features record > playback > overdub.

The RC-1 actually allows you to do this with the Recording/Stop/Display mode, which I’ll show you how to use now.

10) How to Change the Mode – Recording/Stop/Display

The BOSS RC-1 has 3 modes that you can switch between, and within each of these three modes, there are two options.

You have Recording mode, Stop mode, and Display mode. I’ll tell you what each of these does in detail in a second but first I must tell you something important. I find the modes are best changed in succession, one after the other.

In other words, you have to first get the pedal into the mode-changing mode, for a lack of better terminology, and then you can work your way through the settings (Recording, Stop, then Display Mode) and find out what you like.

BOSS RC-1 Rec/Stop/Display - How to Use the BOSS RC-1
To get the BOSS RC-1 into Recording, Stop, and Display mode, unplug the 1/4″ instrument cable from Output A [MONO], then hold down on the foot switch and plug the instrument cable back in to give it power.

We can then start switching through the modes.

Recording Mode [RED]

Recording mode, in simple terms, adjusts the order in which you use the RC-1’s functions. This switches between overdubbing > playback, and playback > overdubbing.

The default setting is for the pedal to go to recording > playback > then overdubbing. The alternative setting is recording > overdubbing > playback. As of now, I find it’s best to keep it on the default setting, but maybe that’s just me.

Upper Half
Recording Mode Upper Half - How to Use the BOSS RC-1
This Recording Mode configuration makes the pedal work as follows:
Recording > Overdubbing > Playback

In the upper-half mode, where the upper portion of LEDs are red, you press on the pedal once to begin recording, then you press on it again to begin overdubbing, and then one last press on the foot switch puts you into playback.

Lower Half
Rec Mode Lower Half - How to Use the BOSS RC-1
This Recording Mode configuration makes the pedal work as follows:
Recording > Playback > Overdubbing [default]

In lower-half mode, where the lower portion of LEDs are red, the pedal is in its default setting which means that you press on the switch once and you begin recording.

Press on it again and you go into playback instead of overdubbing, and press on it once more to go into overdubbing.

Stop Mode [GREEN]

Stop mode with the RC-1 Loop Station changes how the pedal stops or pauses looping.

The first mode is when you quickly press the switch twice and it immediately stops looping. The second mode means that the playback stops after the loop has run at least once, rather than immediately. After the playback has ended, it’ll be deleted.

In the second mode, during playback, you quickly press the switch twice to erase the phrase. If you hold down on it for 2 seconds during the stop, it’ll cancel the pause/stop (or whatever you want to call it).

Upper Half
Stop Mode Upper Half - How To Use the BOSS RC-1
With this Stop mode configuration, quickly pressing on the foot-switch twice in a row will immediately stop looping or recording.
Lower Half
Stop Mode Lower Half- How To Use The BOSS RC-1
With this Stop mode configuration, the pedal will stop a phrase after it has run through it, or looped once, rather than stopping immediately.

Display Mode [Red and Green]

In display mode, you can change how the LED lights correlate to the length of the loop. In the upper-half mode, the LED lights will blink in accordance with the length of the loop or recording. In the lower half mode, the LED blinks at a steady rate.

Upper Half
Upper Half Display Mode - How to Use the BOSS RC-1
With this configuration, the pedal’s LED lights will correspond to the length of the loop.
Lower Half
Lower Half Display Mode - How to Use the BOSS RC-1
With this configuration, the pedal’s LEDs will not respond to the length of the loop. Instead, it’ll flash at a consistent rate.

And that’s it for the primary features of the BOSS RC-1. It’s a great pedal for a person who just wants a simple looper that gets the job done. We’re not done yet though because I have a few tips for you that are worth sharing.

4 Tips for Using the BOSS RC-1 Loop Station

1) You Can Record A Loop For Up To 12 Minutes

According to the BOSS Instruction manual that I linked to earlier, the RC-1 can make a 12-minute loop. I haven’t actually tested this because I haven’t really found a reason to, but we’ll take them at their word.

2) The Minimum Recording Time Is 0.25 Seconds

Again, from the manual, BOSS says the pedal can record a loop as small as 0.25 seconds. So if you need it to do that, for whatever reason, it can do it.

3) You Can Use A Footswitch With the Stop/Undo Jack

Another thing you can do with the pedal is attach a foot switch to the STOP/UNDO port on the right-hand side of the pedal. This extra port just gives you the ability to control the RC-1 with an external footswitch like the FS-5U (on Amazon).

4) Learn to Count Bars To Use A Looper Pedal

When I first started learning how to use looper pedals, it actually took me a bit to figure out how to properly record and playback a loop at the right time.

It’s worth your time to learn how to count bars properly if you want to record seamless loops without timing errors, pauses, and other hiccups.

For example, if I want to record with the BOSS RC-1, I hit the foot-switch right on Beat 1, and then I hit it again on Beat 4 if I want it to playback a 4-bar loop.

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Important Things to Note About the Boss RC-1

1) The BOSS RC-1 Can Only Hold 1 Loop At A Time

One thing that’s worthy of note about the BOSS RC-1 is that it’s not capable of housing a ton of loops like the RC-5. It’s a one-and-done looper pedal. No drum machines, no 100 loop library, or anything like that.

Gear Mentioned

1) BOSS RC-1 (on Amazon/zZounds/Thomann)

2) BOSS FS-5U Footswitch (on Amazon)

3) Ernie Ball Right-Angled Instrument Cable (on Amazon)

4) Pig Hog Straight Jack Instrument Cable (on Amazon)