Chad Johnson‘s name on a book pretty much assures you of quality. His transcriptions are exact and his performance suggestions are mini master classes. His latest book for Hal Leonard — Looper Pedal Songbook — is a new concept in guitar books where you play multiple parts, forming your own band with just your guitar and looper pedal.
I’ve long been a fan of looper pedals as both a player and a teacher. They are great for practice, for writing songs, or just experimenting. Chad Johnson has put together arrangements of 50 songs that have you recording the backing tracks with your pedal. These tracks are all for guitar, but several have you mimicking the sound of bass, drums, and even percussion. For maximum effect you will need other pedals or a multi-pedal to drop the guitar an octave for bass lines, or a delay, chorus, distortion, etc. to get the exact sound of the original song, but with 50 songs to choose from there are lots that don’t require more than the guitar and looper pedal. Some specify acoustic guitar but of course you can substitute a clean electric if you don’t have an acoustic.
The songs themselves cover a wide range in both time (50’s to 2010’s) and genre, from Muddy Waters, America, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Green Day, Lou Reed, Pearl Jam, Counting Crows, Red Hot Chili Peppers, CCR, Santana, Aretha Franklin, Sam Smith, and many more. The arrangements are all fairly easy, so you can concentrate on getting the loops right quickly and then just play and sing along with them. The instructions at the beginning explain all of the techniques needed, like starting and ending a loop, adding an overdub, using other pedals, and playing along with the final product. If you are familiar with your own pedal’s abilities then you may come up with more ideas on your own.
This is a great idea that is realized perfectly in the book. Not only will you learn some new songs, you will get a new appreciation for an excellent pedal that may be gathering dust on your shelf. You will also get some insight into how an arrangement is made, which can help you create parts for your own songs.
The book is written for the most basic looper pedal so that it should work with any on the market. I personally use the Boss Loop Station which is a very popular choice. If you have one and can’t quite make it work, or if you don’t have a looper pedal and are interested in how they work, here is a video by Marty of Marty Music on how to use the Boss Loop Station RC-3.
I recommend this book for its songs and arrangements, and also for helping to make practice time fun again for lots of players.