BOSS have a range of looping pedals under the RC name. In this range there are the small standard BOSS size RC-2, the twin pedals RC-20 and RC-20XL and the big boy RC-50. Each of these loopers are popular for their abilities to rehearse and jam, and for the use in a live context. There a number of looping pedals on the market now but the Boss range maintain their popularity on the scene.
One feature of the RC-20, RC-20XL and RC-50 (which I’ll refer to as RC-) is the presence of a Phrase Shift or Ctl jack on the rear of the pedal. The Phrase Shift jack allows you to use an auxiliary footswitch to scroll up and down through your saved phrases (numbered 1-11 on the RC-20, -20XL). This provides a lot more flexibility as they only way to do this without the auxiliary footswitch is by bending down and physically turning the PHRASE SELECT knob. Practically, this allows you to scroll through your previously saved tracks, both up and down, via footswitch. This utilises much more of the pedal’s capabilities, rather than continuous overdubbing on the first phrase.
This auxiliary footswitch can also be used in the RC-50 as the Ctl1/2 or Ctl 3/4. the RC-50 allows you the choice of programming what the additional four switches will control. Such parameters include start, stop, one-shot, reverse, tempo… I could go on. So, in effect, with the use of two auxiliary footswitches, the RC-50 goes from a seven switch pedal to an eleven switch monster. Now that’s a lot of pedal!
This is a custom auxiliary switch I made for a friend Anna who wanted more control over her Boss RC-20XL looper. The switch controls the PHRASE SELECT for saved phrases and selects up and down. The status of the PHRASE NUMBER that you have currently selected is determined by the green PLAY LED. It pulses a number of times that corresponds to the PHRASE NUMBER, followed by a succession of fast pulses. This is very useful when queuing up your next track. Also your next track (after making your selection with the footswitch) will play after the phrase is finished its duration. No need to punch in the exact moment – another useful live aid.
Another auxiliary footswitch that can be plugged into RC-20 series is a separate footswitch to control the REVERSE function of the looper. On the RC-20, reversing the loop, pre- or post-recording, requires a push of a small button. By using the small REVERSE auxiliary footswitch, this can be done at any time using your foot and leaving your hands free for playing. This REVERSE footswitch can also be added to the custom footswitch above for a three-button auxiliary switch that controls all functions of the RC- series.
The custom auxiliary switch for the RC-50 and RC-20 series also works for the RC-2 pedal. This provides even more flexibility from the small BOSS footprint. A 1/4″ stereo to 1/4″ stereo patch lead or cable is also required to scroll through the saved phrases.
However if you do wish to keep the size to a minimum, this small STOP/TEMPO footswitch expands on the single pedal design and provides the functionality of the RC-20 line in the footprint of the RC-2. By plugging this pedal into the STOP/TEMPO jack, the custom switch allows you to stop any phrase while playing and control the tempo by tapping a new speed whilst the phrase is stopped. This allows overdubbing, tempo setting and stopping to be so much easier.
Any 1/4″ mono cable or common patch lead will work in plugging the switch and the pedal together. These two small pedals provide a lot of looping and is perfect for home practice or simple looped phrases for a small piece of pedal board real estate.
All of the above footswitches place more control of each pedal at your feet, allowing you to create loops in ways others cannot. After some experimentation you’ll begin to wonder how you looped without.