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

I’ve been harping on looper pedals for a while now, so anyone who reads a lot of content on the site will feel like this is old news, but I digress. If you’ve just picked up the MXR Clone Looper you may be struggling to figure out how it works exactly.

This pedal is great for practice, sculpting ideas, or even for live performances. It’s a solid piece of gear to add to your musical tool belt, and 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 again. 

The Clone Looper is a very easy-to-use Looper pedal that doesn’t have a ton of bells and whistles, but it does have all of the most important things you’ll need. It was my first looper pedal before I got the BOSS RC-5. Let’s take a deeper look into how to get the most out of it (and what not to do to it, as well).

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Table of Contents

Guide to Using the MXR Clone Looper Pedal 

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. 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 (on Amazon), a 10-Band EQ (also on Amazon), as well as an MXR Isobrick M238 (same place). And they all share this feature in common with each other – which is a steel 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. Here are some of the Clone Looper features. I’ll show you how to do everything in the next section.

  • Regular Looping Capability
  • Half-Speed
  • Double-Speed
  • Reverse Looping
  • Overdubbing (Unlimited)
  • Expression Pedal Functionality
  • Dial for Loop Playback Volume

How to Power the MXR Clone Looper Pedal 

1) 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

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 this one on Amazon because they protect electronics from power surges and they also act like really convenient extension cords.

If you do not have the cable because you bought the unit from a friend or a used music distribution website, make sure you buy the 9VDC adapter with it.

There are plenty you can get online, including this one (zZounds/Amazon). I’d recommend getting a brand-named power supply personally because 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 feets alternating current into your device, instead of direct current, ie, “DC”) won’t work, and you risk frying, melting, or possibly shorting your unit. 

These days, I use the MXR Isobrick that I mentioned earlier with the 9V 250mA or 300mA output. The Clone Looper has a current draw of 225mA, according to the Dunlop manual which you can find here.

Clone Looper on Isobrick - How to Use the MXR 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.

2) 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 into the output of the pedal. Then, connect another 1/4″ cable from the IN port to your guitar.

In terms of where I would put it in the signal chain, it’s a common practice for people to put it right before the tuner, which is usually at the very end of the signal chain (if the amplifier is the start of the signal chain).  

However, 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.

How to Record A Basic Loop With the MXR Clone Looper Pedal 

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. 

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

PLAY/STOP - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper

Another thing you can actually do is just press on the record button again, although, that will get you into DUB mode which we’ll talk about in a second.

How to Clear A Loop with the MXR Clone Looper Pedal 

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.

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 LED - How to Use the MXR 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.

How to Use The Overdub Feature in the Clone Looper Pedal 

Let’s say you want to stack a harmony or melody on top of your loop, simply press the “REC/DUB” footswitch again and play your desired part. The light will begin flashing red.

The “PLAY/STOP” footswitch will give you a green 4 count to indicate when the loop is reaching its starting point again, so you can always know where you are in the loop.

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).

How to Use the Reverse Feature on the Clone Looper Pedal 

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. 

Reverse Feature - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
The reverse function on the MXR Clone Looper

How to Use the Half-Speed Function on the Clone Looper Pedal 

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.

Half-Speed Function - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper

How to Use The Double Speed Feature on the Clone Looper Pedal

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.

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.

1) 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.

2) You May Have the Input and 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.

3) 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 there are some out there that 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.

4) 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. 

How to Use the Control and Expression Jack (And What Are They For)? 

Control and Expression Jack MXR Clone Looper - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper Pedal [Full Tutorial]

Something I learned from this YouTube video here, is that 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. You can connect the MXR tap tempo switch to the control (CTR) jack to control the speed externally. 

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. 

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.

Another thing you can do is actually use the looper, itself, like a metronome. Press the REC/DUB button and start tapping on the body of the guitar or the strings. Press PLAY and then now you have your own BPM. The following thing is the most important though.

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.

This allows you to play along with the loop you just recorded. To see this demoed really well, check out this YouTube video that I mentioned earlier. I’ll be uploading my own video showing how to do this as well.

What’s the Difference Between the Boss RC-1 and MXR Clone Looper? 

1) Clone Looper is Silver & Bigger – The BOSS RC-1 Is Red & Smaller

RC-1 versus Clone Looper - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper

The first difference is the size and the color. The MXR Clone comes in classic silver and the Boss RC-1 comes in a fiery red. 

The MXR clone is just a tad bigger and will take up more space either on your desk or on your pedalboard. If you are trying to save space, the Boss RC-1 might be a good fit for you. 

2) The BOSS RC-1 is Slightly Cheaper Than the MXR Clone Looper

Not only will you save space, but you will save some cash as well. The Boss RC-1 (check the price on Amazon) is slightly cheaper than the MXR Clone Looper (same place).

Although, you have to ask yourself whether that sacrifice in features is worth the money. Let’s talk about that now.

3) The Clone Looper Has More Features Than the BOSS RC-1

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

When it comes to how the pedal functions, the Boss RC-1 gives you fewer controls. You don’t get the beloved reverse feature, and you can’t store a ton of different loops on it and recall them later in the same way.

It doesn’t have half-speed, double speed, or any of the other cool features that the Clone Looper does. Although, BOSS says that you can use the overdub feature which is an essential capability as far I’m concerned.

4) The Clone Looper Doesn’t Have the Option to Use A Battery

9V Energizer Battery - How to Use the Boss RC-5 Loop Station
All Loop Stations have the ability to use the battery option as far as I know

A few other differences to consider are how the units are powered, the recording time, and the inputs and outputs. The Boss RC-1 is powered by an AC-DC adapter or 9V battery while the MXR Clone Looper is powered by only a 9VDC power adapter.

The battery life of the Boss can give you flexibility with around 3 hours of recording time according to the Boss website

5) The BOSS RC-1 Has More Recording Time

Surprisingly, the MXR Clone Looper can give you only six minutes of recording time compared to the BOSS RC-1 which has double that (assuming you do not slow down or speed up the looper).

In other words, if you use the double-time feature on the MXR Clone Looper, you only have 3 minutes, but if you use the half-time feature, you get 12 minutes. In regular mode, it’s 6 minutes. In my opinion, though, 6 minutes is more than enough.

6) BOSS RC-1 Has Stereo Input/Output Capabilities

STEREO on BOSS RC-1 - How to Use the MXR CLone Looper
The stereo inputs/outputs on the BOSS RC-1

When it comes to the inputs and outputs, the MXR Clone Looper only allows for mono sources to be recorded while the Boss RC-1 can record stereo instruments. 

What Happens If I Spill On the MXR Clone Looper? 

MXR Going Into Rice - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
You can use the old device in a bag of rice trick

1) Turn It Off and Unplug the Power Source Immediately

First, unplug your unit to prevent an electrical fire or hazard in your home. Unfortunately, liquids and electronics never mix well together.

2) Leave It Sit For A Couple Of Days (Maybe Even 2 Weeks)

Do not plug the unit back into the power adapter for a couple of days. It usually takes at least a couple of days for the unit to dry but I would wait longer. I waited for three months (but it was by accident – I just thought it was broken).

3) Put It In a Bag of Rice

Covering Holes on Clone Looper - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper

If you don’t want to wait 3 months (or even two weeks) as I did, you could always use the same trick that people recommend for iPhones and other smartphones. This trick is to drop it into a bag of rice. Just make sure you cover up the holes as you can see above.

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.

There may be hope for you depending on how much you spilled onto your unit. In my other article on the Isobrick, I shared that I was able to spare my Clone Looper just by letting it sit for several months.

I actually spilled an entire cup of coffee on it sometime in 2021. I unplugged it, let it sit for about 48 hours, and then tried it again but it didn’t work. But rather than throw it in the garbage, I put it back in its box and didn’t touch it again for three months.

Then, one day I thought to myself that I would try again so that’s precisely what I did. And it worked out just fine. I posted a short video about it on my TikTok account.

Where Should The Clone Looper Go In The Signal Chain? 

Clone Looper in the Signal Chain - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
Put the looper as the second last pedal in your signal chain (if the amp is the start of the signal chain)

Generally speaking, most guitarists put the looper pedal second last in their signal chain. You can connect a looper wherever you wish in your signal path depending on the result you want. However, a common rule of thumb is for it to be second last before the tuner.

The way that a signal chain usually works for a pedalboard starts with a volume -> utility (ex. a summing pedal) -> dynamics (ex. compression) -> effects (ex. reverb) then to your MXR Clone looper (or a tuner on the end).

The idea of the looper is that you want to capture all dynamics, effects, and alterations of the signal before you loop it. However, there is one major problem with this.  

The problem is that you won’t be able to record wet loops (with effects), turn the effects off, and then keep the loop wet. I’ll show you my way now which is the better way to do it, in my opinion.

How to Put the Looper Pedal In The Amplifier’s Effects Loop

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 with or without effects.

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.

An Important Thing 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.

Gear Mentioned

1) MXR Clone Looper (on Amazon)

2) MXR 10-Band EQ (also on Amazon)

3) MXR Isobrick M238 (on Amazon)

4) BOSS 9V DC Adaptor (on zZounds)

5) Joyo 9V DC Adaptor (on Amazon)

6) BOSS RC-1 (on Amazon)