There’s no doubt that today’s music products market is saturated with pedals of all shapes and sizes. And that’s why, when TC Electronic released its straightforward Ditto Looper pedal to wide success in 2013, even members of the Danish company, including Tore Mogenson, the Guitar Products Manager, were surprised by its warm reception worldwide.
Founded by guitarist brothers Kim and John Rishøj, TC Electronic started as a pedal company in 1976. Its ever-popular Stereo Chorus Flanger—still produced to original spec 39 years later—was the first pedal that the musician brothers came up with. Built in response to problems they felt existing pedals exhibited at the time—specifically, noise floor and sound quality issues—the company’s original pedal became popular through word of mouth, spreading from local guitarists to players all over the world.
Back when the Stereo Chorus Flanger was gaining in popularity, TC Electronic began to focus on the high-end studio market, becoming one of the biggest brands for high-end reverbs, compressors and delays. When DAWs and high-quality home recording options caused a rapid decline in the high-end market, the company went back to the drawing board, focusing again on the products for which it had initially become known.
Mogenson spared some time to answer The Music & Sound Retailer’s questions about three hot pedals the company has unleashed into the market over the past couple of years, all to extremely positive results. A guitarist himself, Mogenson said the company is in the position of being one of the top three pedal brands in the world, coming from more or less nothing eight years ago.
In a market in which even a boutique company making pedals in the garage can have global draw, it can be a challenge to stay ahead of the curve. “The pedal business is incredibly competitive, totally over-crowded and mind-bogglingly diverse,” said Mogenson. “I gave up counting when my personal database reached 5,000 pedal makers.” Following a more recent trend of focusing on pedals in the music products market, the company determined that it would not do what many other companies were doing: creating copycats of already-existing products. “We wanted to avoid that at all costs,” he stressed. With an emphasis on development and engineering, both of which Mogenson called the company’s hallmark, TC Electronic decided to keep it simple by making its pedals easy to use.
TC Electronic had already been planning a Ditto Looper for five years or more. However, in an exemplary display of patience, the company waited until it felt it could make its product stand out in the current pedal market. To prep, TC Electronic invited guitar players to visit its headquarters in order to test existing loopers already on the market. The general feedback seemed to converge on how complicated each looper was, even as the products were expensive and lacking in basic features that, incidentally, were important to guitar players: true bypass and analog-dry-through. As a result, the specs for the Ditto Looper became centered on affordability and a user-friendly interface and size, so as not to take up too much space on a pedal board.
It took 15 months from when the idea was initially sketched to ship the first batch to dealers. The simplicity of the Ditto Looper—as well as the attention the company paid to the guitarists for whom they designed it—contributed to making it the bestselling guitar pedal in the world. “Unlike other loopers on the market, Ditto Looper doesn’t look like you need a degree in rocket science to operate it,” remarked Mogenson. “Most other loopers want to cater to everybody.”
The specific features that make the pedal a mainstay include 24-bit, CD-quality audio, as well as true bypass and analog-dry-through to ensure the pedal doesn’t alter the pure tone of your guitar signal (whether the pedal is on or off). In addition, the pedal’s small size helps maintain enough space for the everyday-use pedals on your pedalboard. Finally, its streamlined design and intuitive functionality (no need for a manual with this baby) seal the deal for a highly user-friendly experience all around. Although the pedal can be used in concert, it’s also great as a practice tool; you can loop a favorite rhythm guitar sequence to practice hours of soloing by yourself.
Taking into account requests from users of the Ditto Looper, TC Electronic released the Ditto Looper X2 in 2014, adding four additional features to the same model. The new features include an additional footswitch equipped with three options—a dedicated stop switch and reverse or half-speed loop effects—a backing track feature for importing and exporting loops to and from the pedal, stereo input and output with true dual mono functionality, and battery power.
At the 2015 NAMM show, TC Group’s TC-Helicon brand released the most recent pedal to join this family: the Ditto Mic Looper.
The most interesting and helpful feature the newest device has to offer is an automatic mic gain feature that also works with a condenser mic requiring phantom power. The single-button looper allows a singer to loop anywhere he or she is onstage. The Mic Control feature from TC-Helicon allows him or her to control the looper from the mic.
As far as which pedal is best for whom, Mogenson suggested the Ditto Looper for all who are interested in improving their guitar playing, practicing and creativity in songwriting. The Ditto X2 is centered more on serious looping and practicing to complete tracks. The Ditto Mic Looper is a Ditto Looper for any type of singer, or an instrument that uses a microphone.
The company works hard with its dealers to spec and launch new products, actively soliciting and making use of their advice. “I think both the dealers and we—despite having a good feeling it would sell well—were a bit surprised by how massively the Ditto Looper took off,” Mogenson admitted. “One can never quite plan for these things, I guess.”
As for additions to the Ditto family of pedals that might be on the horizon, Mogenson said other products are in the works that are being considered, but he wouldn’t reveal anything specific just yet.
We’re looking forward to seeing what the company comes up with!