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Going Loopy

Paul White in his studio, 2017.If I were ever asked to participate in the TV programme Room 101, I could find plenty of things to rant about, starting with products that are sold with sticky barcodes and price labels that do their damnedest not to peel off without leaving a sticky residue that could probably survive a nuclear blast. Plastic packaging that you can't break into without tools is another, but I also have a more musically-focused gripe, and one that's symbolic of a larger trend in music tech. So, I would argue that live performance pedals that include a looper as one of their functions be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Around three years ago, I was playing at a festival and at the appropriate point in the song, I hit the switch on my delay pedal and — nothing. No sound at all. Everything was dead. Now this particular pedal, which is wonderful in nearly all respects, has a rotary switch to select the delay type, where the most clockwise position is a setting that the user can customise using software. I'd spent a while crafting my own delay sound, so that's the one I used. Unfortunately, when I hit the switch, I inadvertently knocked the selector knob back one position and yes, that turned out to be the looper position. At that point the pedal proceded to play back the empty contents of the looper buffer, hence the silence, and as I didn't realise that's what had happened, I assumed my pedal had died so I pressed the switch again — which didn't help as I was still in looper mode. Then I cut my losses, unplugged from the pedal and plugged my guitar directly into my amplifier. Fortunately the rest of the band realised there was a problem and covered for me but it was most peeving to say the least.

"When it comes to workflow, less is most definitely more."

My wish then is that anything that isn't a dedicated looper pedal should have some way of disabling the looper function if, like me, you never plan to use it. But disabling unwanted functions doesn't stop there. When selecting tools in Logic Pro X, I often end up getting the magnifying glass tool when I'm trying to pick up the fade tool. The whole display zooms in and Undo doesn't get you back. I never use the magnifying glass tool, I don't see the point of the eraser tool when I can use backspace and I'm sure there are other tools I don't use, so why isn't there a user preference to hide all the stuff you'll never use? When it comes to workflow, less is most definitely more.

Paul White Editor In Chief