How Ed Sheeran Uses Looper Pedals

Ed Sheeran is known for his compelling live performances – even as a solo performer, he can create powerful backdrops of sound that seem impossible without the help of a live band. He is a very prominent looper pedal user.

How do Looper Pedals work?

Looper pedals operate on a simple idea – you record what you’re playing and then, by kicking the pedal, you play the recorded music. It might sound easy, but looper pedals are quite difficult to play well. If you get your timing off, it could turn into an absolute mess!

Once the line of music is played back, you can then overdub it with new passages on top of the original line, allowing you to add to the soundscape. Most loop pedals also allow musicians to change the tempo and direction of the looped music, allowing limitless possibilities when it comes to creating rhythms to perform to.

For solo performers like Ed Sheeran, it helps recreate the effect of having supporting musicians. The most advanced loop pedals available allow musicians to record several lines of music, which helps add to the intricacy of a performance.

What Looper Pedal Does Ed Sheeran Use?

At the start of his career, the main loop pedal used by Sheeran was the Boss RC-20 XL Phrase Looper. This was a foot pedal that allowed for a long recording time of up to 16 minutes. It also allowed the storage of up to 11 loops at a time, with an undo function that made it easy to create perfect loops.

It was also easy to use – it had a built-in auto quantize function, allowing for accurate loop timing. Unfortunately for those looking to try this loop pedal, this model has been discontinued. There is an upgraded version available which is the following:

1. BOSS RC-1 Loop Station

The upgraded Boss Looper
Currently the one that is used most on the market as a go-to looper from Boss.
View Price at AmazonView Price at Guitar Center

After outgrowing the Boss RC-20 XL, Sheeran replaced it with the ‘Chewie Monsta Looper.’ This is a custom-built piece of equipment that was created by his guitar tech that controls a different loop pedal offstage – the Roland FC-300 midi foot controller, which his guitar tech controls in case of any mishaps on-stage.

The Chewie Monsta Looper is custom and therefore there isn’t one on the market.

The Chewie Monsta has 4 tracks that Sheeran can use to record on. While he could use the Roland FC-300 just as effectively along with some DAW software on a laptop, the Chewie Monsta is his preference because he is more comfortable with its custom pedal layout, and it better allows him to see how he is using his loops.

2. Roland FC-300 MIDI Foot Controller

Quality brand product
High-Quality Twin Expression MIDI Foot Controller.
View Price at SweetwaterView Price at Amazon

How does Ed Sheeran use the Looper Pedal?

The famous Ed Sheeran Loop Pedal method is almost always the same. He starts by recording a simple line of music on the loop pedal. Once he replays it, he adds more supporting melodies to it to help add to the sonic effect. He slowly builds up the loops, adding vocal effects.

The final piece of music is a rich combination of complimenting sounds that give the effect of a full band and backup singers – all created by a single musician and guitar.

The purpose of Looper Pedals and Sheeran’s Influence

It is important to note that the use of a loop pedal is not the same as using a backing track. A backing track is a pre-recorded musical accompaniment for a live performance – you can have pre-recorded vocals, a pre-recorded band, or both.

The use of backing tracks is popular during solo performances, or when a performance involves elaborate dance routines. However, it often leaves an audience feeling cheated, especially when not explained through the lens of a complex visual performance.

However, loop pedals allow for the live creation of a supporting audio track. Sheeran creates all his loops on-stage, as he confirmed when he refuted the claims that he used a backing track during his performance at Glastonbury in 2017. Though the effect of the music is amplified with the help of technology, loop pedals are not the same as backing tracks in that all production is done live on stage.

Ed Sheeran’s use of the loop effective is so widespread and effective that the technology is, in the minds of music lovers, intrinsically linked to his live performances. Despite this, however, he recently announced that he plans to stop using the setup.

Check out our guide on how to setup a guitar pedalboard.

Making the statement during the last performance of his Divide tour in August 2019, Sheeran said that fans had probably seen the last time he used a loop pedal during a gig. At the same event, he also announced that his next tour would be at least 2 years in the future – in 2021 – so it remains to be seen how he plans to perform without the use of his go-to accompaniment.

What other gear does Ed Sheeran Use?

Ed Sheeran is a prominent user of custom instruments and musical accessories so it’s no surprise that he uses a custom-made acoustic guitar as well. The Martin LX1 series is a signature guitar he had made with Martin which you can check out in the following section.

3. Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar

Quality Martin Acoustic Guitar
The LX1 Little Martin model that Ed Sheeran uses.
View Price at AmazonView Price at Guitar Center

It’s quite an affordable guitar, to say the least. As far as components and quality, this guitar has it all so it’s no secret why Ed Sheeran would use it so frequently. A good quality guitar that is suitable for almost any style of playing.

As far as other gear is concerned, the Chewie Custom looper is the most common one and other pedals and such accessories can rarely be seen at his feet.

Conclusion

Ed Sheeran is a prominent figure in music today. His combination of acoustic rock and folk styles has propelled him to immense success throughout his career so far.

He is known for being particularly innovative, something which is apparent when you look at the way he uses loop pedals during his live performances.

He is hands down, one of the most influential musicians of our time that continues to impress with his live performances.

Featured image of Ed Sheeran by Markus Hillgärtner, http://www.markushillgaertner.de / CC BY-SA

Brian Clark is a multi-instrumentalist and music producer. He is passionate about practically all areas of music and he particularly enjoys writing about the music industry.

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