Pedals & FX, Setup & Signal Chain

Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain [SIMPLE]

Written By :Andrew Siemon

The looper pedal has become integral to my practice routine and creative process. I regularly use it to test out ideas and drill exercises. That said, Ideal signal chain placement initially escaped me.

Positioning the looper pedal at the end of their signal chain is simplest for most guitarists. However, placing it in the FX Loop offers added flexibility, allowing you to record loops with or without effects, while also giving you the ability to play over these loops with variable processing.

Where To Put the Looper Pedal in Your Signal Chain?

What You Need to Put A Looper Pedal In Your Effects Loop

A) An Amplifier With An Effects Loop (FX Loop)

FX Loop - Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain [SIMPLE]

So the first thing is that you need an amplifier that actually has an effects loop. I’m using a Hughes and Kettner Switchblade 100w amp which is extremely old at this point. I’ve heard the Tubemeister a better choice these days.

I think it might be around 15-16 years old. I believe it’s one of the first amplifiers that mixed digital with tubes which is more common now. I’m unsure if all amplifiers come with effects loops, but I know mine does so I’m happy.

B) 2 1/4″ Instrument Cables (Guitar Cables Over 10 Feet Long)

2 1/4 Instrument Cable - Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain [SIMPLE]

Of course, you also need some guitar cables. The standard 1/4″ jacks are what you need. I think it’s worth noting though that they must be fairly long.

At least if you want the freedom to put your looper pedal wherever you want. 10 feet should probably be your minimum. I like the Ernie Ball cables like these, including the right-angled ones which are my personal favourite.

C) A Looper Pedal

Looper - Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain [SIMPLE]
The BOSS RC-5 Loop Station and the MXR Clone Looper – I own both

The BOSS RC-5 is a superior loop station to the MXR Clone Looper, but it’s also more money. I can’t tell you exactly how much more it is because of Amazon’s terms and conditions, but it usually costs more.

The best looper I’ve used thus far.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with the MXR Clone Looper, and it’s a great pedal for the money. It’s equivalent to the BOSS RC-3, I would say.

What makes the BOSS RC-5 a better pedal is that it has a drum machine built into it and you can save a ton of loops.

As a matter of fact, you can import and export all kinds of sounds and samples from it which I showed you how to do in my guide on it. I’ve written a guide on the MXR Clone Looper too.

How to Put the Looper Pedal In The FX Loop Of Your Amplifier

1) Locate the Send and Return On Your Amp’s Effects Loop

FX Loop Arrows - Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain [SIMPLE]
FX Send / FX Return

This is what the FX Send and FX Return look like on the back of an amplifier. Although, yours may be different. Like I said a moment ago, I don’t think every amplifier has an FX Return and Send.

Some of them may have different labels as well, ie, Effects Loop instead of FX Loop. It’s also possible it may just have two ports that say Send and Return.

2) Run A Cable From the Output of the Cable Into the Return of the Effects Loop

Send/Return - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
The cable should run from the Input of the pedal into the Send / From the Output of the Pedal into the Amplifier Return

I had to watch Rhett Shull’s video on how to get an effects loop to work, because, to be honest, I rarely used it. In fact, I never used the effects loop. I always used to put the pedals in the front, until I learned just how useful they are.

3) Run A Cable From the Input of the Pedal to the Send on the Effects Loop

Send/Return - How to Use the MXR Clone Looper
The same principle applies to the looper pedal, regardless of what kind you have, ie, Output to Return, Input to Send

4) Press the FX Loop Button On Your Amplifier (If It Has It)

FX Loop Button - Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain [SIMPLE]
It took me a while to figure out because I never knew I had to press this button!

I don’t think that other amplifiers have an On/Off switch for the effects loop, however, I could be totally wrong about this.

In any case, if yours does have it, make sure to switch it on to make sure that you’ll be able to use your pedal. There’s a chance it may be on the back of the amplifier, or maybe on the front. Have a look.

5) Connect The Looper Pedal To Your Power Supply

I put the Looper, my Delay, and my Flanger in the FX Loop on the top-left there.

Another thing that’s nice about doing it my way is that you get to separate your Looper pedal from the rest of the chain, which is perfect for me. As I’ve said many times, the Looper pedal is the device I use the most, by far.

I always need it directly in front of me. This is also why I like to have it connected with super long cables – I’m free to take it anywhere I want. I live in a small apartment, and I make do with what I’ve got.

Looper Pedal on Floor  - Where To Put The Looper Pedal In Your Signal Chain
Long cables which enable me to move my gear around wherever I please, regardless of how awkward the position, is essential to my workflow. I actually use a 4-ft Fender cable which allows me to put my looper on the floor in front of me.

Why Putting The Looper Pedal In The Effects Loop Is the Best

I’ve already explained why you should put the looper pedal in your effects loop, despite many people’s arguments to the contrary. For example, everyone in this Reddit thread – except for just one guy – says they put it at the end of their signal chain.

Additionally, even the owners of BOSS themselves, Roland, say the Looper Pedal should be at the end of the signal chain. But this isn’t the best way to do it.

It’s best to put the looper pedal in the FX loop, because then you have the option to record loops dry, and then jam over them with effects. You can do the same thing the other way around.

In other words, you could record a loop with all of the effects you’ve got, and then turn them off and jam over it with a dry signal.

This is the way and the light, as far as I’m concerned, because who doesn’t want more control over their tone? So let’s take a look at what this means in the sub-heading down below.

Where Most People Put Looper Pedals In Their Signal Chain

Looper Pedal - Where To Put Looper Pedals In Your Signal Chain
This is what it looks like when the looper pedal is at the end of the signal chain (or at least super close to it)

As a general rule, the tuner pedal will be at the very, very start of the signal chain (closest to the guitar) that way it gets the clearest signal for tuning accuracy.

So, usually, the looper pedal goes at the end of the signal chain. According to common internet knowledge, this is the way, but the effects loop offers more versatility.

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Important Things to Note About Looper Pedals in Effects Loops

1) There Could Be Reasons Why People Don’t Use the FX Loop

At the end of the day, I’ve played guitar for a long time, but I’m not an expert in gear, nor am I an expert guitar player. Simply put, there could be a very good explanation for why people don’t put their looper in the signal chain, but I don’t know of it.

For me, it makes total sense to put the looper in the FX Loop, rather than at the end of the signal chain for reasons I’ve already explained above.

Andrew Siemon is the principal creator for, 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.

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