Looping in Ableton

February 9, 2011 9:45 AM

Looping Help! Ableton, FCB1010, Fiddle, Owen Pallet CDs.

Does anyone have any experience recording loops in Ableton? I finally got a beautiful FCB1010, but I'm having a devil of a time syncing things up. The goal would be to record a rhythm track, set it going, and then to record a bass loop over it. In practice, I either miss the first note of my bass riff, or else there's a loooong pause, and then a riff... which does not loop very well.

I'm using Jeremy Osborn's Ableton setup, although if you prefer a different set up please let me know about it.
posted by Squid Voltaire (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Oh, and I meant to add that I set the quantization to 1 bar, so in theory if I hit the pedal just after the bar begins, I should be able to wait out the rest of the bar and then start playing with the start of the next one, right?
posted by Squid Voltaire at 9:47 AM on February 9, 2011

Generally when you want to loop something you lay down a long series of the beat you want to loop over, and play the phrase over and over again, then choose the best and edit it into shape. Or do a loop record thing in (say) Logic where you stack up takes over the same phrase.

I don't know exactly how you'd do it in Ableton but I'm sure the concept's the same.
posted by unSane at 10:28 AM on February 12, 2011

Um, unSane - the OP seems to be referring to Live style looping / looping while playing on the fly - not selective (bast take) Looping.

I have some experience with a very similar setup. Ableton Live + FCB1010 and sample/looping guitar parts. It took some fiddling around but wasn't that difficult.

That Ableton template looks - um rather involved. Do you really need all that functionality?

My setup was driven around recording 'samples' into Scenes. where each "scene" would be a particular verse / chorus / song. and Launching a scene would immediately start recording that loop - well wait till the next Bar.

I simply had Ableton setup with a few scenes of different drum beats / Chorus / verse beats. Then setup an empty channel which the guitar runs into with Monitor sent to Auto.

Id then set an empty clip to record in say the chorus. = have an intro beat in the scene above. use the FCB to launch the next scene by sending a Note on. bang you are recording. to stop recording you had to either jump to another scene or there was a button on the FCB that would force a 'stop recording' it would then immediately start looping.
posted by mary8nne at 5:20 AM on February 14, 2011

Yeah, that Ableton Live template may be a little much.

I scaled down from an FCB1010 to a Line6 FBV Express with 4 buttons and a volume pedal, but my setup is still mostly the same.

Set up a rhythm track and put your beats, intros, verses, etc in them. Map one of your foot switches to the "Next Scene" button, which only appears when MIDI mapping mode is on. Map another one to "Previous Scene" if you feel you might use that.

Then create 2 (or in your case, what, 8?!?) identical bass input tracks, both getting input from the same source. Put whatever effects you want, and then a Looper in each (or put Looper first, depending on what you want as a finished product). Map the multi-function button in Looper in each track to separates switches on your FCB1010. This is nice because then you can play over yourself, but have separate clips if you want to drag a non-overdubbed sample to the clip view.

Make sure Looper Tempo Control is set to "Follow Song Tempo." I usually don't set the number of bars to record, but I set the "then X" function to "then PLAY," rather than "then OVERDUB."

So now when you play, you can control which part of the rhythm is playing, and several separate loops that you can overdub or not.

I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions. I struggled to find a solution for easy looping in Live that was on par with my simple DigiTech JamMan looper, and I think I was ultimately successful. But there was a good bit of annoying monkeying around when I would rather have been making music.
posted by MonsieurBon at 3:45 PM on February 14, 2011

what is this "Looper" that MonsieurBon is talking about? what version of Ableton Live is that? - I think I use Ableton 5 so that may not be available.

But anyway - I think you need to ditch that massive setup and just build your own. start from a blank setup and add what you need.

I looked in detail at JOs setup and thought it was a bit weird. - its a kinda of peculiar to me to have the 8 channels all taking all the different inputs as sources. - but maybe thats just me. It wouldn't suit my use.

Think of how YOU would like it to work. then spending a night reading HELP / trying things out you should be able to set it up.

I assume you have the FCB1010 editor program? - I spent a night or two just setting up all the FCB1010 Note ON/OFF things to work. Ableton (5 at least) works better when you send it MIDI Notes and the default in the FCB1010 is to send controller data. which won't trigger clips.
posted by mary8nne at 9:06 AM on February 15, 2011

oh this would be the LOOPER - that is only in Ableton 8.

posted by mary8nne at 9:11 AM on February 15, 2011

My experience is that learning to use ableton in real time is essentially like learning a whole new instrument (one that you intend to 'play' at the same time as your normal instrument), and it takes a lot of time and practice. Of course, you probably wouldn't have posted a question here if you weren't already aware of that, heh.

Anyway, I agree with those above- the template set that you're using seems too complicated. I recommend starting with as little as possible and then work your way up from there. See how few tracks and/or scenes you need to have active before you can start making music. My philosophy is that having limitations is more creatively useful than having none. ymmv.
posted by palacewalls at 12:16 PM on February 20, 2011

Hey, good point about his templates, I'm not sure what the idea was, really. I guess for one thing you can arm all of the recordable tracks without worrying, but that doesn't seem like a huge win. I've simplified the thing considerable, now.

And I think I've been selling the Looper short--I still need to play around with it a bit more, but it seems pretty keen.

Finally, mary8nne--is there an editor for Windows? The only editor I know of is Mac only. I set up one scene using my feet, slowly and laboriously, and it seems to be working fine. I think that it is sending CCs, though--are you sure they won't trigger clips? They seem to be working (I'm using Ableton 8).

Thanks for the suggestions!
posted by Squid Voltaire at 9:36 AM on March 3, 2011

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