What Looper Pedal Does Ed Sheeran Use: Is It Possible To Emulate Ed Sheeran’s Sound?

what looper pedal does ed sheeran use

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Do you love listening to Ed Sheeran and aspire to utilize looper pedals and play music like him? While you might not be able to emulate his singing talent, but you can try to emulate his instrumental abilities.

The looper pedals that Ed Sheeran uses the most are Boss RC-30 Loop Station and Chewie Monsta Looper. For solo musicians like Ed Sheeran, looper pedals will help recreate the effect of having supporting musicians.

In this article, you’ll get to know all about looper pedals, how do they work, what looper pedal does Ed Sheeran use, the influence looper pedals have on Ed Sheeran’s music, and how to emulate the sound of Ed Sheeran among others. Continue reading to get all the answers you’re looking for.

How do looper pedals work?

Looper pedals essentially operate on a fairly simple principle. You record what you are playing by kicking the pedal and then playing the recording music. It may sound easy, but looper pedals are actually tricky and difficult to play well. If you get the timing off, it can easily turn into an absolute mess.

Once the music plays back, you’ll be able to overdub it with new passages on top of the original lines. This will allow you to add to the soundscape. Most loop pedals will allow musicians and guitarists to change the tempo and direction of the looper part. This will, in turn, give you limitless possibilities to create rhythms to perform.

For solo musicians like Ed Sheeran, it’ll help recreate the effect of having supporting musicians. The most advanced looper pedals available in the market will allow musicians to record several lines of music. This helps add more to the intricacy of the performance.

How does Ed Sheeran utilize looper pedals to deliver splendid performances?

The pop superstar Ed Sheeran uses his tried and tested Loop Pedal method to deliver special performances. His method is always the same. He starts off by recording a simple line of music on the looper pedal. Then, he replays it and adds more supporting melodies to it, allowing him to add to the sonic effect.

Once he replays it, he then adds more supporting melodies to help add to the sonic effect. He then slowly builds up the loops and adds vocal effects. The result is a rich combination of complimenting sounds. This gives the effect of a full band and backup singers, which is created by an individual and a guitar.

It’s important to consider that using a looper pedal isn’t the same as using a backing track. A backing track is essentially a pre-recorded musical accompaniment for live performances. You can either have a pre-recorded band, pre-recorded vocals, or both. Using backing tracks is incredibly popular for solo performances or when the performance involves elaborate dance routines. However, it can sometimes leave the audience feeling a bit cheated. Even more so when it isn’t explained through the lens of complex visual performances.

However, looper pedals will allow for the live creation of supporting audio tracks. Ed Sheeran creates all the loops on-stage. He has refuted the claims multiple times after accusations that he uses backing tracks during his performances. Sheeran’s use of the looper effect is so widespread and effective that this technology has been intrinsically linked to his live performances. 

What looper pedal does Ed Sheeran use?

A key piece of gear in Sheeran’s rig is his beloved looper pedal. If you are looking to play and sound like Ed Sheeran, you’ll need to get a looper pedal. Any looper pedal will help you recreate many of the things that Ed Sheeran does on stage. However, some looper pedals will be better than others. Here are some of his preferred looper pedals.

Boss RC-30 Loop Station

For a long time, Ed Sheeran made use of the iconic Boss RC-30 Loop Station as his primary choice. The Boss RC-30 is one of the most well-known and oldest looper pedals in Boss’ Loop Station range. For a long time, the RC-30 was the go-to loop option for buskers and musicians wanting to experiment during performances.  

What makes looper pedals so popular is that you’ll be able to run multiple lop tracks at the same time. You can also plug a mic in and run both vocal and guitar loops. If you’re singing as well, you may want to get a looper pedal that offers features like RC-30 Loop Station. Boss has grown a wide range of loopers and there are superior options available today.

Chewie Monsta Looper

It is worth mentioning that Ed Sheeran doesn’t use the Boss RC-30 as his primary looper pedal. Instead, he makes use of a custom-built pedalboard with the Chewie Monsta Looper.

The Chewie Monsta Looper started as a custom-built MIDI controller that connects to a computer running a looper plugin. The important point worth remembering is that this pedalboard is not actually a looper pedal. Instead, it is a MIDI controller.

MIDI controllers are generic pedalboards that send commands to devices like a computer. The latest version of Sheeran’s custom pedalboard is the “Chewie II”. He famously unveiled it to the world during his Grammy Awards performance in 2017. While it may look massive and impressive, you should remember that this pedalboard is still a simple MIDI controller. It will come with two displays built into one unit. It is still running a looper plugin, the same way that the original Chewie Monsta does.

Just looking at it makes it evident that Ed Sheeran can run four independent loops simultaneously. The four loops will be controlled with the four footswitches on the right side. He can easily start and stop the loops as he likes. His mic is also connected, which means that he’ll be able to create vocal loops too. The left footswitches will control standard looper functions like Rec/Play, Stop, Clear, and Undo. The screen on the far left will show the waveform of the current loop. Meanwhile, the display on the right will show all four tracks and their current statuses.

Ed’s Chewie II pedalboard controls the VST looper plugin called Mobius 2. This is a free looper plugin that you can use with the DAW. Ed Sheeran also makes use of Ableton Live as his DAW for hosting this plugin. The big advantage of running a custom looper like this is that it’ll give him full control over his loops. Such control isn’t always available in a standard looper pedal. If you’re trying the Mobius plugin, you’ll quickly notice how versatile it can be. There will be a bit of a learning curve, but it’ll still pack plenty of features for a free plugin.

What effects pedals does Ed Sheeran use?

The only pedal that Ed Sheeran uses apart from his preferred looper pedals is a tuner. The tuner pedal he uses is a modified Boss TU-3. The Boss TU-3 is an incredibly popular tuner pedal thanks to its simplicity. He uses a 100% digital signal on stage, which his crew needs for modifying the pedal to work with the rest of his guitar rid. The tuner pedal has been modified such that when he hits the footswitch, it’ll send a signal to the rest of the rig to switch the signal to send to the pedal.

It’s quite a complicated setup to have just because he wanted the specific tuner on stage. If you’re looking to replicate Sheeran’s guitar rid, any decent tuner pedal will work just fine. You don’t actually need to purchase the TU-3 and there are comparatively better tuners available.

How to sound like Ed Sheeran?

When you break down Ed Sheeran’s sound to the basics, you’ll end up with an acoustic guitar and looper pedals. While you might think that it would make it easy to replicate the guitar tone, however, it isn’t that straightforward.

It’s worth remembering that when you listen to one of his songs, you aren’t just hearing the acoustic guitar. You’re also hearing the acoustic guitar recorded through multiple high-quality mics in a professional studio environment. Then, this tone will be edited, mixed, and tweaked by some of the best audio engineers in the industry.

When you hear Ed Sheeran in a live performance, you still aren’t just hearing his acoustic guitar. You are also hearing his guitar pass through multiple processing software and mixed by talented professional engineers. The result will be entirely different from the tone you’re hearing as you play the acoustic guitar at home. So while his guitar tone is as simple as things get, a lot of work will go into dialing in the perfect tone on stage or in the studio.

You shouldn’t be frustrated if the tone you’re hearing from the guitar doesn’t sound the same as what you’d hear in his albums. The type of acoustic guitar you’re using will play a major role in how close you can get to Sheeran’s tone. Using one of his signature guitars will be helpful for sure. However, it won’t guarantee that you’ll be able to replicate his tone. You shouldn’t expect to sound like Ed Sheeran because you purchased his signature guitar.

The key to emulating Ed Sheeran’s sound would be to practice his songs regularly. Moreover, practice them using a looper pedal in the same way that he does. You should watch live performances of Sheeran playing a song while paying close attention to what he is recording on his looper pedals. You should try and copy everything that you’d see with your own looper pedals. Do it again and again for each song you learn.

With enough practice, you’ll start getting a feeling for how Ed Sheeran thinks about his music. You will also learn how he makes use of his looper pedal, and you’ll start writing your own songs in the same way. Purchasing a ¾ size acoustic guitar with looper pedals could get you 70% of the way to sound like Sheeran. While no one other than Ed Sheeran can go all the way to 100%, you can still try to get closer to his sound by analyzing his playing style. Moreover, regularly practice his songs and his looper pedal tactics.

Looping to improve your performance

As many beginners and novices will find out, incorporating a looper pedal into your music might involve a substantial learning curve. Before you’re able to create more complex arrangements with the pedal, you’ll have to master the basics. Keep these tips in mind when you’re working with a looper pedal.

Opening and closing the loop

Start off by working on getting a clean stop to the loop. If you haven’t used a looper pedal before, you may have trouble cutting off the loop without introducing part of an extra beat towards the end. The exact technique might vary depending on the looper pedal. However, the general strategy to ensure the clean loop is similar.

You shouldn’t open the loop as soon as you start playing. Strumming a few bars of the pattern before you trigger the loop creates a more precise start. The crisp opening offers a smooth transition at the back end. Waiting the extra while can alert you to any deficiencies in your playing. If you’re having trouble playing the riff that you want to cleanly loop, slow it down and then practice on your own first.

When you close the loop, ensure that you’re clicking the pedal exactly on the download. Do this even if you aren’t playing anything when it falls. Cutting the loop off too soon can create a short “skip” each time the finished loop repeats. On the other hand, waiting too long to hit the button adds an extra half-beat. It could throw off your timing when layering parts of improvising. 

Closing the loops at the right time will require a great sense of rhythm, timing, and a strong playing feel. If you’re struggling to find the downbeat in the patterns, it might help you practice your rhythm guitar playing without the looper pedal first.

Overdubbing the loops

Many looper pedals go directly to the overdub mode after you’ve laid down the basic track. Like loop timing, it can take some practice to do properly and precisely. If you feel hurried or rushed, many pedals will give you the option to switch to a loop, playback, or overdub setup in the pedal settings.

Before you start looping, you should sit and plan out the strategy for the rhythm track and for overdubs. If you feel like it, you can always practice switching directly from the first track to overdubbing it before turning the looper pedal on. Taking the extra time to learn this skill could save you from having to delete and re-track the overdubs.

It’ll also relax you when you need to switch quickly from one track to the other. Having this skill in your arsenal will be helpful when you’re playing fast melodies and pushing your maximum speed. If you intend to use multiple overdubs, you should consider laying down the simpler overdubs first. Then you should move up to more complex beats in other layers.

Loop levels

The level settings are yet another overlooked feature of many looper pedals. While it can be quite tempting to plug into the looper and start playing track to track, failing to adjust the level settings could lead to a loud, cloudy mess.

ed sheeran playing guitar while singing

Loop levels will be critical for keeping the mix orderly and preserving the audience’s ears when you start soloing. Many basic looper pedals only come with one loop level dial for adjusting the level of the loops and overdubs. You just need to ensure that you’re keeping the knob sufficiently low when you are improvising over the loop. This helps in maintaining a clear distinction between the rhythm and the lead parts.

Some advanced looper could give you the opportunity to play back multiple loops simultaneously. Each one will come with its own level controls. This will give you more flexibility for raising or lowering each track in your mix depending on your preferences. If you’re looking for a rhythmic, percussive feel, you can easily raise the volume of the backbeat and strummed chords of the mix. More ambient and melodic styles will benefit from keeping the overdubs louder than the rhythm section and muted strums.


Thank you for reading. Hopefully, now you know a lot more about looper pedals, how do they work, what looper pedal does Ed Sheeran use, the influence looper pedals have on Ed Sheeran’s music, and how to emulate the sound of Ed Sheeran among others. Ed Sheeran is one of the biggest, influential and avid users of looper pedals. He makes masterful use of looper pedals to wow the audience despite being a solo musician. The looper pedals that he uses the most include the Boss RC-30 Loop Station and the Chewie Monsta Looper.

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Rick is the founder of All Stringed. He started playing with a classical guitar when he was 10, but changed soon to electric guitar and later also to an acoustic. You can find more about him here.