This is going to be a lengthy post, you’ve been warned lol I wrote this last friday (exactly a week after i received the BB) but didn’t get to post it so here it is.
So while I’ve been playing in top 40 cover bands over the years, about 3 years ago i started being asked to do acoustic shows with singers who needed fill-ins. I’ve been using a Fractal AX8 for electric guitar so i started using it but i wanted to have a smaller rig so i picked up a Boss AD-10 because it has a looper and started getting into looping more than before.
As I started getting good at looping the singers i was working with started noticing how much “fuller” the sound was with the extra percussion i would do on guitar and looped thru the songs, so i figured it was time to find a unit with more looping features. I’m one of those guys that prefers getting a really good piece of gear that i can dive in deep (i’m a programmer by the way) and squeeze the juice out of it so i ended up with a VoiceLive 3 Extreme having tons of effects, great looping and even vocal effects.
The VLX was great except for the fact that i had 3 of them die on me within a few weeks (i think the SD was getting corrupted or at least that’s that i was told on the forums because i was adding tons of pre-recorded percussion tracks). Long Story short after the 3rd VLX went bad I ended up going with a recommendation to get the RC-300 so I went with it.
I got used to the RC-300 right away and fell in love with it. I would set up Preset 1 as my live looping preset and then every other preset was specific to certain songs where i wanted a backing loop. I would make my loops on logic using the built in instruments and they would usually be a VERSE, CHORUS & BRIDGE/LEAD and I would setup the RC-300 to have the tracks in SERIES (Single Track) and to start each loop at the end of the curren’t loop.
These settings allowed me to QUEUE each track, for example i could start a song by playing the verse loop then when i was ready to go to the chorus i would hit the CHORUS track and the track would be QUEUED to start playing as soon as the verse track was done.
As an example think of Sweet Child O’Mine, the VERSE track would have the D, C, G, D progression so the intro would have that track loop once, then into the actual verse, it would loop twice, once the second part of the verse started i would hit the Track 2 button to QUEUE the chorus, as soon as the verse is over The chorus would start right away etc.
This allowed me to not have to worry about timing my button press or paying attention to the RC-300, i just knew that when the second half of the verse started i could trigger the chorus at any point, when the second half of the chorus started i could queue the verse at any point.
A verse and chorus track could have different lengths and it didn’t matter, to me it was like giving a bandmate a look signaling that after this verse we go into the chorus and we would finish the progression before going to the chorus not just switch to the chorus half way thru.
I know it sounds a bit confusing (it’s actually harder to explain than i thought lol) but it did the job, and i didn’t want all my songs to be pre-recorded i wanted to loop some live myself and some i didn’t need the looper for so it was the almost-perfect unit.
I loved the RC-300 so much i even went ahead and made desktop app to allow me to edit presets and things like controllers with ease rather than on that dinosauric display (if you want to check it out it’s on my website https://www.roxxxtar.com/rc300 this is a web version so there’s no need to download the actual app)
However… as great as it was, it’s size was my “I gotta replace it with something else eventually” thought, this thing is WAY over-sized, i never used the expression pedal and the effects are crap so they should have gotten rid of all that and re-release it and condense it to half it’s size with more MIDI control and even a BOSS made extension pedal like the Boomerang for added control.
So back to Square 1… I started looking into using my iPad for looping and track playback and after buying EVERY looper on the app store i came across Quantiloop, the closest app to the RC-300 plus an extra track. It has presets which is very important to me, so i set up everything from my RC-300 on it and setup my custom made MIDI foot-controller to work with it.
Everything was great with Quantiloop except it doesn’t provide any MIDI feedback, as in i can’t sync external software or my MIDI controller with it (with the RC-300 i could have it send a CC when a track starts playing turning LEDs on/off on my MIDI controller) which meant now i had to have the Quantiloop app visible while im looping which means looking down to find the footswitch and then looking up to know what’s actually going on. That killed it as my main loop playback alternative.
During this time as i was exploring Quantiloop I saw “BeatBuddy” options, I was already aware of BeatBuddy but I thought of it as an “ehh” gadget that had no potential for me, however seeing that quantiloop had support for it made me think “uhhh if 3rd party apps have support for it it must be popular so i may be missing out on something” so BB went on my research list.
In the mean time i continued looking for loopers (apps and hardware) even looking at ableton and mainstage to use a mac mini live, suddenly i came across the Aeros looper just being announced the week before, right away i thought “oh another looper that likely doesn’t have presets and it’s more specific to live looping” but after reading more about it I was like “WOW it’s the answer to my prayers!!” it looks like it has all the features of the RC-300 on steroids and a quarter of it’s size with a touch screen??? what???
However it was barely just announced without a manual yet, i can’t depend on it and wait around, i know it will end up in my rig but likely not for a while.
While looking for info on the Aeros I endedup looking at the SS forum and figure might as well check out these BeatBuddy (since it was on my research list anyways) and see what the fuzz is all about, I Started going thru all the info i could soak up (I even bought War Dogs! yeah i’m that thorough lol) and i realized “wow this thing actually has a ton of potential” you are not restricted to using their stock MIDI files or the stock Drum sets, I could actually make my own drumset with bass and use the same midi loops i already have made on logic for the RC-300.
I spent about 2 weeks reading the manual, midi manual, forum posts, watching videos on youtube and with each day it became closer to a must-have for me, i downloaded the BBM and started making my own kits and loops and testing how it would behave. I emailed support with my questions and posted questions on the forum and 2 weeks later i called my sweetwater rep and ordered it!
Two days later i got it and i synced the kits i had made and my tracks and there it was i had my full show ready to go.
I came across some issues but nothign that posting on the forum couldn’t fix, for example QUEUEing the next part, after some trial and error i figured out that i could actually do this by changing the Time Signature of the track so the entire loop fits in one measure, for example Run Around by Blues traveler, the chord progression (G, C, Am, D) if used a 4/4 time signature that entire progression would take 2 measures before the end of the loop so if i trigger a transition before the second measure it would take me to the next part in the middle of the progression and since i have a bass line there it would screw me up completely, so by setting the time signature to 8/4 now the entire loop fits in 1 measure, which means i can trigger a transition to the next part at any point during that progression and at the end of the loop i would go to the next one, this is specially useful on songs with longer progressions like hotel california where i can set the time signature to 32/2 and then entire chorus would fit in 1 measure so at any point during the chorus i can trigger the transition to go to the verse and BB will wait until the end of the measure to switch to the verse letting me complete the chorus without worrying about timing the transition! this also works great with fills and transition files allowing me to have a crash at the start of the next part only after the transition!
I even setup my midi controller to send NOTES so i could play Bass notes with my feet!
All and all I’m really excited to get this thing out with me! tho i also must mention before i got the BB i also replaced the AD-10 with a Helix stomp and i’m using Quantiloop now for my basic looping so i can have a guitar percussion on one track and a chord progession on another.
I also have my requests like:
Always sending a MIDI CC upon changing parts including when it first starts playing
Send available number of song parts for the song upon loading it as a MIDI CC
Send MIDI CC with the current song upon song load (or a program change)
MIDI CC to “Reset” the song to it’s last saved state or a reload song CC that way if you changed the tempo or drumset and you don’t like it you don’t have to switch to another song and then back to it to reset it. This would also resend any MIDI messages that are sent on song load
Sending the time signature whenever it changes not just at song load in case you have midi loops with different signatures in one song (optional)
Song Part names or even predefined labels like “Verse”, “Verse2”, “Chorus”,“Bridge”, etc in the case storing strings with each song part is an issue with predefined labels a byte could be the ID of the label and you just choose the label ID to be displayed at which point that label ID could also be optinally transmitted over MIDI as a CC upon part change. Pre-defined labels would also make sense when displaying that label snice SS can pre-define the font size of the label to fit the screen and even include the same x/x with the current and total song parts.
Display the Song Number as part of the title on the Play screen and on the BBM list
A “help” like icon like they have on settings as part of each song on the song list of BB where if you select it it would show you the value of the BANK and MIDI PROGRAM that your external controller needs to send to go to that specific song.
Fix the issue with SD Card Syncing on macOS High Sierra
Hopefully this story will help newbies get an idea of what BB is capable of even if it’s not it’s intended use or documented just search the forum!
My New Rig:
RC-300 vs BeatBuddy