Pedals & FX, Tutorials & Tips

How to Use the MXR Clone Looper Pedal [Full Tutorial]

Written By :Andrew Siemon

This pedal is great for practicing, ideas, and live performances. I’ll show you everything I know about it, but first, let’s do a quick summary of its primary functions.

To use the MXR Clone Looper, power it with the included 9V DC adapter. Connect two 1/4” instrument cables to and from your guitar. Press the REC/DUB button at the same time as you start playing to record a loop. Press it again at the exact moment you would begin playing the same phrase to repeat it.

An Overview of the MXR Clone Looper Pedal 

Contents - Sidebar TOC ->

MXR-Clone-Looper-How-to-Jam-On-Guitar-By-Yourself
My MXR is still looking good – despite spilling coffee on it not that long ago

The first thing I’ll say about the MXR Clone Looper is that it’s built like an aircraft carrier.

Everything the MXR Clone Looper Can do - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
Everything the MXR Clone Looper can do

I own a few MXR products now and they’re all extremely solid – but imperfect – devices that are built well but without a ton of extra features.

I’ve got the MXR Clone Looper, a 10-Band EQ, as well as an MXR Isobrick M238. And they all share this feature in common with each other – which is a solid steel, sleek-looking, housing for all of the electronics.

The Clone Looper is no different. Compared to the Boss RC-5, it doesn’t have nearly as many features (it’s also cheaper though), but there are also fewer things likely to go wrong with it.

How to Set Up the Clone Looper

1) Connect A 1/4” Cable to the Output And Another 1/4” Cable to the Input 

Amp to Pedal to Guitar Signal Chain - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
How to connect the MXR Clone Looper from your amplifier to the pedal

Plug your 1/4” cable from the amplifier’s input into the output of the pedal. Then, connect another 1/4″ cable from the Pedal’s input to the input of your guitar.

2) Place the Clone Looper at the End of your Signal Chain

A) In Front of the Amp

Signal Chain With Drive/Distortion - Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain - 1
This is a signal chain placement guide that I still follow closely to this day. The same principles apply to the pedals in the FX Loop as well.

B) In the FX Loop

I prefer to put it in the FX Loop (the Send and Return) of the amplifier. This allows you to record a loop that’s drenched in effects, and then play dry over top of it – or vice versa.

FX Loop - My Signal Chain (Reverb)  - 1
How I place pedals in the FX Loop of my amp. The Looper is almost always going to go dead last. However, I’m using a volume attenuator, so the attenuator goes dead last in this case.

I’m going to show you my preferred method of putting the Clone Looper into your signal chain, which involves the amplifier’s Effects Loop (FX Loop).

FX Send + FX Return - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
The reason putting a looper pedal in the amplifier’s FX loop is superior is simple. It allows you to record a loop with or without effects on it.

Additionally, you can jam over the loop whether dry or wet.

This gives you way more control over your sound, and it’s a superior way to use the looper pedal, in my opinion. I’ve noticed that almost no one recommends this, but I think it’s the best way of going about it.

And you could continue putting your delay, reverb, and other modulation effects in the FX loop for total control of your sound, while also being able to use your looper in whatever way you want.

Send/Return - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
To use an effects loop on a guitar amplifier, run a 1/4″ instrument cable from the guitar pedal’s Output into the Return of the amplifier’s Effects Loop, and then do the same thing from the Input of the cable but into the Send of the amplifier’s Effects Loop.

3) How to Power the MXR Clone Looper Pedal 

Connect the 9V DC Adapter to the Top of the Clone Looper 

MXR Clone Looper - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
Plug the power adapter into where it says +9VDC. I talk about powering it in my video here 00:41.

The MXR Looper should come with the 9VDC adapter to power the unit. On the top of the unit, it says “+9VDC”. Plug your cable into the designated port using a wall outlet.

I recommend a surge protector like the Furman PST-8 because they protect electronics from power surges and they also act like really convenient extension cords.

There are plenty you can get online, including basic ones on Amazon.

Voodoo-Labs-Pedal-Power-3-on-my-Pedalboard-
Personally, I’d recommend getting a brand-named power supply like the Voodoo Labs Pedal Power 3 + (on my Product Page.

The reason is I find the cheap ones either get too hot or exhibit some other unforeseen problem.

A-Dunlop-9V-Power-Supply-How-to-Use-the-Boss-RC-5-Loop-Station-
This is a standard 9V adapter from Dunlop. It’s a bit confusing though because it just says “AC adapter,” but what they mean is AC to DC adapter.

An “AC” adapter (one that feels alternating current into your device, instead of direct current, ie, “DC”) won’t work, and you risk frying, melting, or possibly shorting your unit. 

Clone Looper on Isobrick - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
How I use to set up the Isobrick with all of my pedals, including the Clone Looper.

Like I said in my other article on using the Isobrick, as long as the mA power rating of the pedal doesn’t exceed the output on the Isobrick, you’re in the clear.

I emailed the guys from Dunlop and they confirmed this with me.

Response from Jon Fryman Dunlop - How to Use the MXR Isobrick M238
You may have to zoom in on this, but his response is highlighted in red there.

How to Use All the Functions/Features of the MXR Clone Looper

1) How to Record A Basic Loop With the MXR Clone Looper 

Recording LED - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
To begin recording a loop, press the “REC/DUB” footswitch. The light above the switch will turn red to indicate that you are recording. 

I show this in my video here: 01:51

2) How to Playback the Loop

PLAY/STOP - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
When you want to stop the loop and play it back, press the “PLAY/STOP” footswitch. The light above it will begin flashing green. 

To get into Overdub mode, press on the record button again. We’ll talk about this in more detail in a second. I showed this in my video at 02:37.

3) How to Clear A Loop with the MXR Clone Looper 

Recording LED - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
To clear an entire loop quickly with the MXR Clone Looper Pedal, press and hold the “REC/DUB” footswitch. To clear a single layer, simply press and hold the “PLAY/STOP” footswitch. 

Recording and clearing loops is fairly similar to how it’s done on the RC-5 from BOSS, however, I would say it’s just slightly more streamlined and faster than the RC-5.

I also talk about how to silent delete here: 04:01.

4) How to Use The Overdub Feature in the Clone Looper Pedal 

4) How to Use The Overdub Feature in the Clone Looper Pedal .jpg
Press the PLAY/STOP button when you want to stop recording and begin playback. The pedal will continue playing the loop and then include your overdub during the first playback 02:50.

The BOSS RC-5 has a similar feature, however, it uses an LED screen with bars on it to show you how long your loop is. It also counts the beats.

Display Bars Tempo and Beats - How to Use the Boss Loop Station
How the display feature works on the Boss RC-5 Loop Station

I should also mention that the Clone Looper can record as many overdubs as you’d like, which is an important feature that a lot of people will find attractive.

In other words, you can use this to record as many parts as you want (and even different instruments).

5) How to Delete A Dub and the Dub Only

5) How to Delete A Dub and Dub Only
Just hold the PLAY/STOP button as shown here to delete the dub that was over your recording.

You do this, as opposed to holding the REC/DUB button to clear the entire loop 03:23.

6) How to Return A Deleted Dub with the Clone Looper

6) How to Return A Deleted Dub with the Clone Looper
If you’ve recorded a dub with the Clone Looper from MXR and you’ve decided that you want to bring it back after having deleted it, hold down the “PLAY/STOP” button for the second time to have it return.

You can do this repeatedly if you’d like. However, you CAN’T go back into the Looper and find loops that you deleted previously. Only the last one 03:40.

7) How to Use the Reverse Feature on the Clone Looper 

Reverse Feature - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
To use the Reverse feature on the Clone Looper, start by pressing the “PLAY/STOP” button to begin your loop. Then press and hold down the volume knob for approximately two seconds. You will see the yellow “REVERSE” light come on 07:04.

To undo reverse, hold the volume knob for 2 seconds again as shown here 07:34.

8) How to Use the Half-Speed Function on the Clone Looper 

Half-Speed Function - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
To use the half-speed function on the Clone Looper, after you’ve recorded your loop and pressed the PLAY/STOP button, press down the volume knob once to bring your loop to half speed. You will see the blue “SPEED” light come on.

To undo half-speed, press the volume button again 08:07.

9) How to Use the Double Speed Feature on the Clone Looper

9) How to Use the Double Speed Feature on the Clone Looper
To double the speed instead of cutting it in half, press the volume knob twice and you’ll see the blue light flashing a bit faster.

To undo double speed, press the volume knob again twice in a row 08:31.

10) How to Clear the Loop Quietly (Without Playback)

112) How to Adjust the Loop's Volume
It took me a moment to figure out how to work this 04:01.

I was trying to use the Volume knob to clear the loop while the loop was in the middle of playback. This doesn’t work – it’ll put the looper into reverse first.

11) How to Adjust the Loop’s Volume

11) How to Adjust the Loop's Volume
For the sake of being thorough, I included an image for how to turn down the loop’s volume.

Obviously, you turn it to the left to decrease the volume and to the right to increase it 01:45.

12) How to Use the Control & Expression Jack

Control and Expression Jack MXR Clone Looper - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper Pedal [Full Tutorial]
The control and expression jack can be used as extensions for other pieces of gear to enhance the functions of your MXR Looper. 

For example, you can connect a volume pedal to the expression (EXP) jack to control the looper’s volume 05:56.

And you can connect the MXR tap tempo switch to the control (CTR) jack to control the speed externally 06:41.

A) EXP

A) EXP How to Connect the Expression Pedal to the Clone Looper .jpg
The M-Audio EX-P pedal works fine for adjusting the volume, however, it has a limited range. It can’t make the Looper completely silent.

For the reasons mentioned above, I would look for a different pedal to control the Looper externally.

B) CTR

Tap Tempo Switch and Control Jack - How to Use the Clone Looper
I haven’t tried using the Tap switch for the Clone Looper.

If you wanted to control the Clone Looper’s other functions, you’ll probably need to use their proprietary switch. I tried using the M-Audio EX-P but it didn’t work properly.

13) How to Enable True Bypass Mode

How to Enable True Bypass / Buffered Bypass
The Clone Looper has the ability to switch between True Bypass and Buffered Bypass.

This is a nice touch 08:45.

Troubleshooting Questions and Answers

1) Why Isn’t My Clone Looper Pedal Working? 

There are a few things you can do to fix your Clone Looper pedal if it’s not working. Like I’ve said in other articles, I once spilled coffee on my Clone Looper but then I had the foresight to turn it off and let it sit for a few months.

I went out and bought the RC-5 because I thought the MXR looper was done, but as it turns out, it’s completely fine. I was happy about that, and now I’ve got two looper pedals. But I digress. If your pedal is not working, try these fixes.

A) Make Sure the 9VDC Cable is Completely Connected

Sometimes these cables can come unplugged although it’s not particularly common. I find a bigger culprit is just not pressing it into the pedal hard enough the first time you did it.

B) You May Have the Input & Output 1/4” Cables Switched

You may have the input and output 1/4” cables switched. Additionally, ensure that you’re using a proper cable. D’Addario makes great cables for pedals.

C) Make Sure You’re Using the Right Kind of Charger  

Like I said earlier, the Clone Looper uses a 9VDC adapter and it has a current draw of 225mA. This means most chargers will work for it, however, it’s possible some out there don’t have the ability to supply enough mA.

Use one of the adapters I linked to earlier, or just use the one that came in the box if you still have it.

D) Not Enough Power Draw Due to Daisy Chaining

Daisy Chaining Pedals - How to Use A Guitar Tuner Pedal
Some people like to daisy chain cables, which means you power one pedal, and then you put a cable into that pedal that has an OUT DC jack, and you run that one into the other pedal.

If you’re daisy-chaining 8 pedals with a 9V DC adapter that has a 1.0A capacity (1000mA), it’s possible that you’re running too many for that particular adapter. So pay attention to the power drawn (in mA) of all the pedals, and see if that’s the culprit.

If you’re struggling to get your pedal to work, you can also check out this video here to learn more, because they have a good troubleshooting section. 

2) Can You Use A Battery for the MXR Clone Looper? 

9V-Battery-How-to-Use-the-Boss-RC-5-Loop-Station-
This is a traditional 9V battery that is used in almost all guitar pedals. You can’t use one of these in the Clone Looper, however.

According to the Jim Dunlop instruction manual, the MXR Clone Looper pedal cannot be powered by a battery. You can only use a 9V AC to DC power adapter. 

It’s best to use a power adapter anyway because as I’ve explained in other articles on the site including my looper guide, most 9V batteries don’t last very long in the pedal anyway. So you’ll find yourself reaching for the power adapter after 6 hours ~ of playing. 

3) How to Record A Seamless Loop With the MXR Clone Looper? 

Metronome-How-to-Jam-On-Guitar-By-Yourself
Just like a metronome, a looper pedal is good at helping with your timing except it’s way more fun.

To record a seamless loop with the MXR Clone, I recommend using a metronome to produce the most accurate timing with your loop. If you would rather feel it out, that is great too.

To record a seamless loop, you have to press the “REC/DUB” button at the exact same time you start playing your instrument. To stop the recording of the loop, you have to press the “REC/DUB” button at the exact moment you would like the loop to start playing again 02:08.

4) Reach Out to Jim Dunlop Support for Troubleshooting Tips

I recommend reaching out to Jim Dunlop to troubleshoot how the unit can be repaired if it does not turn back on. Sometimes guitar pedals can be fixed by the right pedal guru or by someone who really knows their stuff.

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

Important Things to Note About the Clone Looper 

1) The MXR Clone Looper is Equivalent to the BOSS RC-3

The MXR Clone Looper is a fantastic pedal to start with if you are new to looper pedals. But if you find that you are searching for more features, there are plenty of options for upgrading. I recommend the BOSS RC-5.

It’s a bit more money than the Clone Looper but it has a couple more features that make it more versatile and flexible.

2) The Clone Looper Isn’t As Stable As It Could Be

Despite the fact it’s built like a tank, I find that the MXR pedal isn’t as sturdy as it could be. If you were to put it in a pedalboard, the problem would be solved.

However, if you don’t have a pedalboard, stomping on the controls awkwardly will flip or push the pedal into an uncomfortable position. You’ll have to stop what you’re doing to put it back to where it was, or push it back with your foot while you’re playing.

Andrew Siemon is the principal creator for TravelingGuitarist.com, a website entirely devoted to all things guitar. From repairs, music theory, chords, and improvisation, to recording at home. I've been doing this for 20 years and I've got another 50 in me.

Leave a Comment

Contents - Sidebar TOC ->

TOC