Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

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Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by BooshBass » Tue May 26, 2015 12:07 am

Hello all:

I have always enjoyed looping. I started out with just a bass and a BOSS GT-6B maybe 15 years ago, and throughout the years have tried many different looping options including the cream of the crop hardware loopers such as the BOSS RC-300 and Boomerang III, both of which are incredible pedals if ease of use and portability with great features is what you're after. But no matter how many features I had, I wanted more looping capabilities, and the ability to easily record all of my loops separately. Now, with Ableton, I finally developed what I believe to be the ultimate looping and recording rig for me.

After months of watching YouTube videos and reading message boards, learning bits and pieces about how to do what I wanted to do and putting them all together, I finally figured it out. Throughout the process, I was frustrated that I could not find a posting or video that just laid it all out for me from instrument to recording to speakers, with zero latency monitoring, so you can jam out as you usually would, but also be live looping and recording at the same time. A lot of live looping information online relates to electronic music, and not looping multiple regular instruments all at once. So, here it is, what I believe to be a comprehensive guide on live looping multiple regular instruments while simultaneous recording each loop separately and monitoring with zero latency. My current looping and recording setup is for two guitars, two basses, MIDI drum loops created on the fly, and a MIDI piano, synth, etc. But, if you figure out how to set your rig up this way, you will always be able to upgrade to better gear, more tracks, more instruments, etc. Enjoy!

Music Gear:
-Effects pedals (optional)
-Two A/B Switches
-Roughly 25 instrument cables of different lengths (from patch size to long)
-2 Guitar Amps
-2 Bass Amps

Recording Gear:
-12-track Mixing Board
-4-channel Audio Interface

-MIDI Foot Controller
-MIDI Keyboard

-Ableton Live
-Bomes MIDI Translater Classic Edition
-MIDI Yoke (for PC, but there is an equivalent for MAC)

Music Gear Setup - Inputs
Plug your bass and your guitar into your effects pedals chains. To save money, I use a BOSS DD-7 delay and plug my bass effects chain into the A input and my guitar effects chain into the B input at the end of each chain, and set it for regular stereo. That way I have delay for both bass and guitar without having to buy two delays, or use up space on my board. Plug the end of each of your effects pedals chains into the input of each of the A/B Switches. I built a dual A/B Switch that is housed in one box to save pedal board space. This enables using one guitar and one bass, but switching between two amps for both.

Recording Gear Setup - Inputs
From each of the 4 outputs of your 2 A/B switches, run a cable to the inputs for tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4 of your mixing board. I have one A/B to switch my guitar between tracks 1 and 3 on the mixing board, and another A/B to switch my bass between tracks 2 and 4 on the mixing board, so I will be able to switch between two bass amps and two guitar amps, but staggered.

For a mixing board, I use a Yamaha MG124C because (1) it is relatively inexpensive ($150 used,) (2) it doesn't have a bunch of stuff I don't need like effects, (3) its stereo but also the option of switching to 2 separate AUX ouputs, and (4) very importantly, it has 4 insert output jacks, which leads to the next step. Plug a cable into the insert output jacks for tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4, BUT ONLY HALFWAY. If you plug the cables into the insert output jacks all the way it will not work as it cuts the signal off.

From the insert outputs of tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4, run the cables to inputs 1, 2, 3, and 4 of your audio interface, respectively to keeps things simple. I use an AKAI EIE Pro because (1) it is simple to use, (2) it has extra USB plugs in case your computer does not have enough, which mine doesn't, and (3) also very importantly, it has a MIDI In and MIDI Out, which will be explained later. But first, now that you have your guitar and bass plugged into your mixing board, which then comes out of the mixing board's insert output jacks and goes into the audio interface, plug the USB output from your audio interface into your computer, and install the necessary drivers. Note, some USB devices only let you use the USB port which was used to install the device. So you will always have to use the same USB port. You may want to take this into account when installing your audio interface, depending on the audio interface.

Ableton Audio Recording Setup
Now that you have all of your audio inputs setup, and your audio interface plugged in with the drivers installed, open Ableton. I use Ableton Intro because it is MUCH less expensive and has all the capabilities you need for audio looping. A lot of the extra features on Ableton Standard and Suite are really only useful for manipulating electronic music, but are unnecessary for audio looping. I suggest buying Intro first, then deciding whether you need the extra capabilities. There is a checklist on Ableton's website showing you the difference between the three versions.

Once Ableton is open, make sure that your audio interface input is setup. Go to Options, Preferences, Audio, and select your driver type. Mine is an ASIO driver, but yours could be something else. Then select your audio interface for the Audio Input Device and Audio Output Device. If your audio interface is not showing up, try closing Ableton and opening it again, it often works for me. Last, click Input Config, and Output Config, and select all of the buttons (1/2 Mono, 3/4 Mono, 1/2 Stereo, and 3/4 Stereo) for both. I did not touch the rest.

Now, go to the Session View in Ableton, delete everything that's there, and start fresh. Create 4 new audio tracks. For my 4 tracks, I have "Guitar 1," "Bass 1," "Guitar 2," and "Bass 2." However, you could plug a keyboard in, or a microphone, or whatever you please.

For each track, set "Audio From" to Ext In. You can choose config to get to the Audio Preferences and choose your audio interface from here, described above, if you need. Underneath Ext In., choose, 1, 2, 3, and 4 for your 4 tracks, routing the In from each of the 4 separate Ins on your audio interface to each separate track. Now you have your guitar going in to Ableton track 1 and 3, and your bass going into Ableton track 2 and 4, switchable with the A/B switches.

For all 4 audio tracks, set Monitor to Off.

For each track, set "Audio To" to 1, 2, 3, and 4, to correspond with your "Audio Froms." This will send the audio coming from Ableton back to your audio interface's output tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Music Gear Setup - Outputs
Now, run a cable from each of the 4 Outputs from your audio interface to tracks 5, 6, 7, and 8 on your mixing board.

As a side note, many mixing boards are called "12-track Mixer," but really only have 8 separate tracks. I wanted to switch between two guitar ins and two bass ins, and also play back from Ableton two separate guitar loops and two separate bass loops, all on 4 separate amps, so I use a mixer with 8 separate tracks, including 4 insert outputs. But you could easily do this with just a guitar and a bass, and a mixer with 4 separate tracks.

Now that you have your bass and guitar going into the mixing board, into the audio interface, into Ableton, out of Ableton, and back into the audio interface, out of the audio interface, and back into the mixing board, with two switchable tracks for each, run a cable from each of the stereo outputs on the mixer, one to your primary guitar amp and the other to your primary bass amp (which will also be used for drum output, explained below.) Then, run a cable from the AUX 1 output on the mixing board to your secondary guitar amp, which I use for rhythm loops, and the AUX 2 output on the mixing board to your secondary bass amp, which I use for accompanying bass (both of which will also be used for keyboard output, explained below.) For my secondary amps, I just use two practice amps I had from when I first started playing - the two extra amps really expands the ability to make a bigger sound by yourself or with two people, even if they are crappy. Again, you could easily do this without the A/B Switches, without the two extra amps, and with a 4 track mixer, just running a guitar and a bass rig.

So now, we have our guitar and bass rig going into the mixing board, with a guitar and bass track going out of the stereo outputs to the primary amps, and a guitar and bass track going out of the two separate AUX outputs to secondary amps. Thus, we can play, the signal goes through the mixer and out the stereo outputs, so we can monitor what we're currently playing, while switching between two amps with two instruments. We also have the guitar and bass inputs going into the audio interface from the insert output jacks on track 1-4 the mixing board, into Ableton, out of Ableton, back into the audio interface, out of the audio interface tracks 1-4 into tracks 5-8 on the mixing board, and out of the mixer to the primary and secondary amps in the same way as the direct inputs - from the stereo and AUX outputs. This way, not only can we monitor what we're currently playing, switchable between two amps, with levels being adjusted on tracks 1-4 of the mixing board, and we can also hear the loops play back from Ableton, on their respective amps, with the levels being adjusted on tracks 5-8, all with zero latency.

Regarding the AUXs on the Yamaha MG124C, they give you the ability to route two of your tracks' inputs to two separate outputs which are separate from the stereo outputs, giving you 4 separately adjustable outputs and the ability to really expand your sound and have a good mix, both recording wise and live playback wise. This would also be very useful for hooking up other components instead of two switchable guitars and basses, such as a microphone for vocals and a keyboard. I'm sure this can be achieved in a more professional way with a bigger and nicer mixing board, but my mixing board was bought used for $150 and still has the ability to have 4 separate tracks that can all be adjusted on the mixer independently. As this point, we could technically do our loops, we would just have to use to mouse to manipulate Ableton, which is obviously not fun and very restricting. This leads us to the next section, using MIDI to make Ableton act as a mega-looper.

MIDI Foot Control Setup
The MIDI setup was by far the most frustrating and confusing part of setting everything up. I am not a MIDI expert by any means, but figured it out enough to make this setup. There are two things that need to be set up: the MIDI Keyboard and MIDI Foot Controller. I use an AKAI MPK Mini MIDI Keyboard and a Rolls MP128 MIDI Buddy Pedal. The AKAI MPK Mini is nice because it's cheap, has 2 banks of 8 pads that I use for making beats, it has 8 knobs that I use for controlling the volume of all the individual loops, and a keyboard that I use for piano, synth, etc, in Ableton. The Rolls Midi Buddy is nice because it is very compact and has 13 patches of ten buttons each, giving you more than enough buttons to control things in Ableton. I have also used a Behringer FCB1010 Midi Foot Controller, which was very nice and usable, and had the extra very nice ability to actually program each button on the hardware pedal to send your choice of midi messages (PC, CC, or note, explained below) - something you can't do with the Rolls. It also has two pedals which could be used to control volume, but I never used because I find knobs to be turned by hand for volume to be better. However, the FCB is HUGE, and took up way to much space in my very limited space.

Now, a little background on MIDI. There are three types of MIDI messages I know of: control change (CC), program change (PC), and notes. CCs and notes I believe do the same thing, just send a basic message to do something in Ableton. PCs do something more complicated, I believe like changing an entire setup all at once. I only use CCs and notes, as Ableton only accepts CCs and notes, not PCs, which caused me to run into a problem: the MIDI Buddy only sends PCs which are incompatible with Ableton, and you can't reprogram it like the FCB. However, this is not a problem because of two programs: MIDI Yoke and Midi Translator Classic Edition.

MIDI Yoke is a program which allows you to route MIDI messages coming into the computer through other programs, such as Midi Translator Classic Edition, and then into Ableton. Google MIDI OX, go to their page, and download MIDI Yoke. When it's done downloading, restart your computer. MIDI Yoke works like a driver, so you will not see a program actually installed on your computer that you can open, but if it was installed properly, it is there.

Now, download Bome's MIDI Translator Classic Edition (MT for short). Make sure you download the Classic Edition, as it is free. The Pro Edition will only work for 20 minutes at a time, and the program must be open at all times for MIDI to work in Ableton. MT is a program which converts a MIDI message from one thing to another. In my case, I convert the PCs from the MIDI Buddy to CCs and "keystrokes" to be sent to Ableton, as they work in Ableton and PCs don't. Technically, you could just bypass MT if you have a pedal that sends CCs and/or notes, but beware, some buttons in Ableton need to be operated by keystrokes, and not CCs and notes, so in my opinion, MIDI Yoke and MIDI Translator are necessities. Also, I noticed that the MIDI messages coming from MT into Ableton were much more consist than when they were coming straight from the FCB1010.

Next, plug in your MIDI Foot Controller to the audio interface or otherwise, just so it's connected to your computer - you might have to restart your computer for your computer to recognize the MIDI Foot Controller. Open MT, and for the input select your MIDI foot controller. For the output, select MIDI Yoke 1. Now, your MIDI Foot Controller will send messages to MT, will convert them to what you want, will then send them to MIDI Yoke 1, from which Ableton will receive the input of MIDI messages.

Now that we have the MIDI Foot Controller sending messages to MT, in MT, create a bunch of new blank spaces to add MIDI controls - one for everything you're going to want to do in Ableton. Then, go through all of the pedals on all of the different banks on your MIDI foot controller that you are going to use, and assign them to the input on each of the blank spaces for MIDI controls. You can do this by creating the new blank space to put a MIDI control, right clicking on it, click edit, click the input tab, click the check box for MIDI Capture, click the blank text box, press the button on your MIDI Foot Controller you want to assign to that message, and save the assignment. Now, when you hit that button on your MIDI Foot Controller, MT will send the output you assign to this control to Ableton (when set up in Ableton to receive input from MIDI Yoke 1, explained below.)

Now, set up the output. You just assigned a button press on your MIDI Foot Controller as the input for a control message you created in MT. Now, in the Edit menu for that same message, click the Output tab. Now you need to assign to that control message a code to be Output to Ableton from MT. Because I had the problem of the MIDI Buddy only sending PCs, I assigned every button from every bank on the MIDI Buddy to its own message in MT, and then assigned to the output of every one of those message a code which stands for a CC, to be sent to Ableton instead to PC coming out of my MIDI Buddy. This is very tricky, as I could not figure out what the codes for CCs were. Luckily, I still had my FCB as I had not sold it yet, so, long frustrating story short, I figured out the codes for CCs by using the FCB. Here are 20 CC codes, after looking at these you will see a pattern and can probably figure out more:

B0 0A 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 09, 127
B0 0B 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 10, 127
B0 0C 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 11, 127
B0 0D 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 13, 127
B0 0E 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 14, 127
B0 0F 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 15, 127
B0 10 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 16, 127
B0 11 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 17, 127
B0 12 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 18, 127
B0 13 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 19, 127
B0 14 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 20, 127
B0 15 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 21, 127
B0 16 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 22, 127
B0 17 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 23, 127
B0 18 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 24, 127
BO 19 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 25, 127
B0 1A 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 26, 127
B0 1B 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 27, 127
B0 1C 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 28, 127
B0 1E 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 29, 127
BO 1F 7F = CC1 CONTROLLER 30, 127

Those are some CC messages from Channel 1. I have never used another Channel, I always just set my MIDI inputs to "All Channels" (explained below) and use different CC messages. Nonetheless, these messages will get you started on assigning CC outputs in MT to be sent to Ableton. Note, you should start no lower than CC1 Controller 9 (CC 9 for short), as you are going to use CC1 through CC8 for something else, explained below.

Another option for outputs is a "keystroke." Using keystrokes enables you to assign to a button on your MIDI Foot Controller something like "Control-Z" or "Delete," and that button will work like you typed to command message on your computer. You will have to use keystrokes for a few functions in Ableton for a reason unknown to me, but I believe it has something to do with the "127" on MIDI CC message. It doesn't matter for now, keystrokes work fine for the limited number of functions in Ableton you need to use them for.

Create a message as explained above, including the inputs from your foot controller and outputs to MIDI Yoke 1/Ableton, one for every function in Ableton you're going to want to control with your foot controller. I have about 100, which are shown later on.

MIDI Keyboard Setup
I also like to create beats on the fly with a MIDI keyboard, and overdub some MIDI piano in my loops at times. For this, I use an AKAI MPK Mini. To set up the AKAI MPK Mini, plug it in to your computer. Remember, the driver might get installed only to one USB input on your computer, so use the one you're going to want to use forever the first time you plug in. Just having the keyboard plugged in to the computer is good for now, we will program it for Ableton later.

Control Ableton with MIDI
Now that you have MT set up to receive messages from your foot controller, convert them, and send them to MIDI Yoke 1, as well as your MIDI keyboard plugged in, go into Options, Preferences, MIDI Sync in Ableton. In the above portion, make sure it recognizes your MIDI Keyboard as the Control Surface, Input, and Output. In the bottom portion, click all three "Ons" so that they are yellow for "Input" MIDI Yoke 1" and "Input: AKAI MPK Mini." Have all outputs set to Off. This way, Ableton will receive messages from your MIDI Foot Controller via MIDI Translator (as MIDI Translator has the input from your foot controller going out of MIDI Yoke 1, into the MIDI Yoke 1 input on Ableton), and your MIDI keyboard, but will not have any MIDI Output, which (1) we don't need for the foot controller, and (2) we will convert to audio output in Ableton.

Now you can assign button pushes on your foot controller and keyboard to do things in Ableton, as explained below.

AKAI MPK Mini for Drums, Piano, and Volume Control
First, create 2 MIDI tracks to go with your 4 Audio tracks. Name them Drums and Keys. Also create 2 more audio tracks and name them Drums Record and Keys Record.

Go to Instruments, and drop a Drum Rack into the MIDI Drums track. If your MPK Mini input is connected properly, you will see a sort of little spectrum type thing of little squares on the left side, and every time you hit a pad on your MPK Mini one of the squares lights up yellow. You can select a square portion of the squares, which selects 16 of the squares. Select the top most square portion of squares, and look at the notes assigned to each square. These are the notes we are going to assign to the 16 pads (8 in 2 banks) on the MPK Mini.

The notes as follows:

C8 C#8 D8 D#8
E8 F8 F#8 G8
G#7 A7 A#7 B7
E7 F7 F#7 G7

Now, download the AKAI MINI MPK Preset Editor from AKAI's website. After you download, make sure all programs are closed before you open it. You may even want to restart your computer, as I have found the Preset Editor to be finnicky. Once you have the Preset Editor open, it should ask you which device you want to use, select the keyboard. Then, you will see 16 spaces which represent the pads, 8 spaces which represent the knobs, and another space of stuff I do not know about and do not change anything.

For the pads, you will see a place to assign notes to the pads. Assign to each pad the above 16 notes by clicking on the note that is there, and typing in the above notes. Do not change the CC or PC.

For the knobs, assign to the CC a 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . 8. This will make your knobs send CC1 through CC8 to Ableton. For this reason, you should set the very first button on your MIDI Foot Controller to CC9 or above that, and go from there, as mentioned above. Also, set the Low to 0 and the High to 127 for each knob. This will set the range of the knob.

Now, save your preset so you can bring it up again in the future. After saving your present, press the Upload button on the Editor, and you should get a green message that said "Upload Successful." This is where I have encountered a problem if I open the Preset Editor while any other program is open - I will press upload but will not get the green upload successful prompt. So make sure you only open it with the keyboard already plugged in, and no other programs open, and even possibly restart your computer before opening.

Now you have the above 16 notes assigned to the 16 pads on the MPK Mini (8 in Bank 1 and 8 in Bank 2), and CC1 through CC8 assigned to the knobs.

Open Ableton back up, go to your MIDI Drum track (with the Drum Rack placed in it), and hit the pads. They should light the little yellow squares on the left up only in the top 16 square in correspondence with how you assigned notes to the pads in the Preset Editor. Now, go to instruments again, find the portion that gives you kick, snare, ride, crash, hihat, etc., and drop the drum gear of your choice in the 16 squares that you have assigned to the pads on the MPK Mini. Pressing the pads should engage the square in which you drop each individual drum

Next, in your MIDI Drum track, set "MIDI From" to be All Ins, and All Channels below. Set "Audio To" to Ext. Out, and 1/2 below. This will route your MIDI Drums output to come out of your primary guitar and primary bass amps. Now, when you hit one of those pads, whatever drum or percussion you put in there will sound out of your primary guitar and primary bass amps.

Also, in the Drums Record audio track you created, set the input to be from your MIDI Drums track, and the output as none (or just turn it down all the way). This way, you will be able to take an audio recording of your drum loops, instead of just having the MIDI Piano Roll.

In the MIDI Keys track, drop a grand piano, or whatever other instrument you want to put in there. Set the "MIDI From" to All Ins, and All Channels below. Set the "Audio To" to Ext. Out, and 3/4 below. Now, when you play the keys on your MPK Mini, it should come out of your secondary guitar and secondary bass amps. One problem I had was the keys on the keyboard were set to notes that overlapped my drums. I just restarted Ableton and it adjusted automatically to not have any overlap.

Also, in the Keys Record audio track you created, set the input to be from your MIDI Keys track, and the output as none (or just turn it down all the way). This way, you will be able to take an audio recording of your keys playing or loops, instead of just having the MIDI Piano Roll.

Now, move on to actually being able to create loops with your foot controller using your bass, guitar, MIDI drums, and MIDI keys.

Foot Controller as Looper
Now that we have every button on our foot controller which will be used to control something in Ableton assigned with a CC output (or a keystroke for a few, as shown below), as well as audio being played on the MIDI drums and keys tracks, and another audio track to record MIDI drums and keys audio, we can just assign the buttons to do things in Ableton.

To do so, just click the MIDI key at the top right of Ableton. The screen will go blue. Now, just click on the function in Ableton you want to trigger with the foot controller, and press the button on the foot controller. The message being sent from that button press on the foot controller will be assigned to the selected function in Ableton, and will trigger that function when you press that button. (For keystroke commands you have set up, as I show that I have below, you click the KEY key, and the screen will go red. Then, select the function you want to set with a keystroke, and press the key on your computer's keyboard you want to assign to it, which will make the keystroke commend being sent from MIDI Translator output for that button press trigger that Ableton function.)

(Also, on the midi keyboard, I have knobs 1 through 8 to control the volume of all of my tracks. Just engage MIDI (screen blue), click on the track's volume slider, and move the knob. It should assign the CC assigned to that knob to the volume slider.)

The buttons/patches on my MIDI Buddy foot controller are as follows:

Bank 00
Tap Tempo
Metronome (using an "M" keystroke)
Record MIDI Drums Clip 1
Undo [using a "Control-Z" keystroke)
Delete (using a "Delete" keystroke)
Stop MIDI Drums Clip 1
Arrangement Record (using an "R" keystroke)
Arrangement Stack (using a "Q" keystroke)
Arrangement Stop (using an "S" keystroke)
Arrangement Play (using a "P" keystroke)

Bank 01
Record Guitar 1 Clip 1
Record Bass 1 Clip 1
Record Guitar 2 Clip 1
Record Bass 2 Clip 1
Undo (using a "Control-Z" keystroke)
Delete (using a "Delete" keystroke)

Bank 02
Record Guitar 1 Clip 2
Record Bass 1 Clip 2
Record Guitar 2 Clip 2
Record Bass 2 Clip 2
Undo (using a "Control-Z" keystroke)
Delete (using a "Delete" keystroke)

Bank 03
Record Guitar 1 Clip 3
Record Bass 1 Clip 3
Record Guitar 2 Clip 3
Record Bass 2 Clip 3
Undo (using a "Control-Z" keystroke)
Delete (using a "Delete" keystroke)

Bank 04
Record Guitar 1 Clip 4
Record Bass 1 Clip 4
Record Guitar 2 Clip 4
Record Bass 2 Clip 4
Undo (using a "Control-Z" keystroke)
Delete (using a "Delete" keystroke)

Bank 05
Record Keys Clip 1
Record Keys Clip 2
Record Keys Clip 3
Record Keys Clip 4
Stop Keys
Overdub Keys (using a "O" keystroke)
Record Keys Audio
Undo (using a "Control-Z" keystroke)
Duplicate (using a "Control-D" keystroke)
Delete (using a "Delete" keystroke)

Bank 06
Record MIDI Drums Clip 2
Record MIDI Drums Clip 3
Record MIDI Drums Clip 4
Arm/Disarm All Tracks Except MIDI Drums
Arm/Disarm Only MIDI Drums Track
Overdub Drums(using a "O" keystroke)
Record Drums Audio
Undo [using a "Control-Z" keystroke)
Duplicate (using a "Control-D" keystroke)
Delete (using a "Delete" keystroke)

Bank 07
Select Scene 1
Select Scene 2
Select Scene 3
Select Scene 4
Stop All
Stop Guitar 1
Stop Bass 1
Stop Guitar 2
Stop Bass 2
Stop Drums

Bank 08
(Looper 1 - See below)

Bank 09
(Looper 2 - see below)

Bank 10
Select Drums
Select Guitar 1
Select Bass 1
Select Guitar 2
Select Bass 2
Select Keys

The last thing you will want to do is make sure everything that is going to happen in Ableton is in sync. At the above right, I always set the Global sync to 2 bars, sometimes 4 bars. Then, anywhere where it asks you for a quantization value, set it to Global. That way, I am able lay down a 2 or 4 bar drum beat, then record guitar, bass, keys, and other percussion clips over it in sync with the drums, then when I disengage the recording for the clips with the midi foot controller, the clip doesn't stop recording until it stops recording in sync with the rest of what's going on.

As you noticed above, for good measure, I also included two Loopers. Sometimes it's fun to loop audio on top of itself in one track, perhaps for ambient type music, which you can't do with clips in Ableton. Create two more Audio tracks and drop a Looper in each. Set the input for one Looper to be 1/2 (guitar and bass 1) and the other to 3/4 (guitar and bass 2), and the outputs the same. Here is where it's different: make sure audio monitoring is On. Then, in the actual Looper effect, set Input->Output to Never - this will mean you don't hear any of the latency ridden direct input. Also, create another audio track for each Looper, and set the input to come from each. This will give you the ability to record the audio from the Loopers. Then MIDI assign (blue color page) to Ableton the buttons on Bank 08 and 09 as follows:

Bank 08
Select Looper 1
Looper 1 Record
Looper 1 Stack
Looper 1 Play
Looper 1 Stop
Looper 1 Undo
Looper 1 Clear
Record Looper 1 Audio

Bank 09
Select Looper 2
Looper 2 Record
Looper 2 Stack
Looper 2 Play
Looper 2 Stop
Looper 2 Undo
Looper 2 Clear
Record Looper 2 Audio

There you have it. That is my entire setup for having an extremely good time live looping, sometimes alone, sometimes with friends tapped into the set up. It makes jamming with myself or with one other person a lot more fun. It also makes recording as easy as just turning on your computer and rig. You can then go back and record new clips for your songs, work on songs for production purposes, and everything else. Any questions, leave a message and I may or may not be able to answer. Also, I'm sure I'm missing things, so please include more input, so this can truly be comprehensive. Thanks!


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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by joeyfivecents » Tue May 26, 2015 7:12 pm

Thanks for this. Very informative. I have a similar setup based around my Ableton Push.
iMac, MacBook Pro, Live Suite, Reason, Logic Pro, Melodyne, FL Studio, iConnect Audio4+, Little Martin, ukelele, Fender Jaguar, pedalboard, amps, mics .

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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by BooshBass » Wed May 27, 2015 11:54 pm

My pleasure. Just wanted it all in one place. Additional info on this is definitely welcome as well. There's always so much more when it comes to both MIDI and recording.

Sometimes I think people think Ableton is only good for electronic music which is not true. The intro version is definitely lacking as far as post recording production and I've read that even the full version gets beat out by really cheap if not free DAWs. But for recording itself I think Ableton takes it. Have never used other really expensive DAWs tho.

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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by H20nly » Thu May 28, 2015 2:22 am


Thanks for sharing... Inspiring, truly.

*hats off*

And... *bookmark*

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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by EasyWorkflow » Thu May 28, 2015 5:03 am


I am amazed how much time you must have taken to put together such a organized and informative post. Thanks brother man. I am sure many members will benefit from this. I see you are a guitar player. I been playing gtuitar semi pro for 37 years so. I also happen to love trance/EDM etc and spent a lot of time in those clubs in late 80s. Some of the best times of my life. You need to to slap a Fishman Triple Play Wireless MIDI pickup called Fishman Triple Play (FTP) on your axe and you are will be amazed at the sounds and your music writing changed forever.

I have an outdoor rig I use just for fun, not gigging. I am just using sounds out of amp know which are very heavy and lots of gain . Amp is size of lunchbox. Oh yeah. Runs on 8 reachable batteries and also has an input for MP3s so you can use the backing track albums in every key and genre and BPM of music to jam along with. I am tryimng to find best way to add the FTP MIDI sounds using a laptop or ipad and best way to use them to jam with backing tracks. But I forgot all about loopers so what is the best possible battery powered loop pedal on the market today.

SEnd me a private message if you want any details about Fishman Triple Play.

Thanks bro.

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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by BooshBass » Sat May 30, 2015 8:01 pm

My buddy's dad has the BOSS version of that guitar synth. It rules. He was jamming along with us playing the sax on that thing. It was the best. Looks like this Fishman Triple Play is a slightly less expensive version. Will have to check it out when I have the dough.

On another note, here is a jam I busted out this morning and edited a little bit with the setup described above.

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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by BooshBass » Sat May 30, 2015 9:31 pm

And another loop from last week also edited a bit:

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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by BooshBass » Sat Aug 01, 2015 1:40 pm

So after a little over two months I had my first serious problem with this setup. Ableton all of a sudden stopped receiving messages from Bome's MIDI Translator. After a lot of infuriating troubleshooting, I determined that Bome's MIDI Translator stopped sending outputs to MIDI Yoke. What made this hard to determine was that MIDI Translator was still receiving messages from my foot controller. So I could capture the input from my foot controller for a new translation which made it seem like MIDI Translator was working just fine. Not so. Apparently MIDI Translator, while able to capture inputs, was not sending the outputs to MIDI Yoke. However, when I make a brand new translation, capture the input from my foot controller, put in the code for a CC MIDI Message as the output, and reassign it in Ableton, it works again. So I basically just have to recreate all of my translations. Don't know why MIDI Translator stopped sending outputs from the preset's I've been using for the last two months, but it did. Luckily, its fixable, just a huge pain in the ass.

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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by BooshBass » Tue Aug 11, 2015 12:34 am

Here is a video of a live loop using this setup. The gear used is explained in the comments section.

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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by twilly86 » Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:23 am

Would you mind posting your ableton template? Thanks so much for the detailed description. I'm trying to set something like this up myself. Looking at getting an ableton push or apc40 to help with controlling. My thoughts were to do live looping/mixing.


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Re: Comprehensive Guide: Live Looping Drum, Bass, Guitar, & Keys

Post by BooshBass » Tue Apr 19, 2016 3:04 pm

twilly86 wrote:Would you mind posting your ableton template? Thanks so much for the detailed description. I'm trying to set something like this up myself. Looking at getting an ableton push or apc40 to help with controlling. My thoughts were to do live looping/mixing.

Yea sure! By Ableton template do you mean just like what I have for each track and such? Sorry, not overly adept at Ableton lingo and everything.

Also, I have a few new additions to the setup, I'll make a new post with an update. The new additions have gone extremely far in reducing hiss/noise. Things I, being fairly new to recording gear, did not know about when I posted the original post.

More to come.

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