How to use a looper pedal with a drum machine together with the amplifier’s built in effects

I recently decided to invest a bit more into my music gear and decided to get an electric guitar. Soon after that I got a Boss Katana 100 amplifier and a used Boss RC-3 looper pedal.

This looper pedal has a built-in drum machine, which was really good for jamming, and jam I did, until I realized that I can’t use the effect in my amp without distorting the drums. So I started to investigate.

Before I bought my amplifier, I was a bit torn between the Katana 50 and 100. I ended up with the latter, which ultimately proved to be the better choice, and I tell you why!

The Boss Katana 100 has an effects loop. The effects loop lets you take the output of the preamp, change it with your own effects, for example with pedals, and drive it back to the amplifier. The effects loop in the Katana 100 can be configured in series or parallel. We are interested in the parallel operation for now. When the effects loop is set to parallel, the output of the preamp (where the built-in effects are) is routed to the Send jack and to the speaker at the same time. Whatever is fed into the Return jack will also be routed to the speaker. This way you can mix the output of the preamp section and and an audio signal that fed into the Return jack and output them through the speaker, which we will use to our advantage.

Setting up the chain

Boss Katana 100 back panel
  1. Turn off the amplifier
  2. Connect the guitar to the input of the amplifier
  3. Locate the Send and Return jacks on the back of the amplifier (it’s marked with red on the picture)
  4. Connect the input of the looper pedal to the amplifier’s Send jack
  5. Connect the output of the looper pedal to the amplifier’s Return jack
  6. Turn on the amplifier

Configuring the amplifier with Boss Tone Studio

Boss Tone Studio effects loop settings
  1. Connect the amplifier with the USB cable to the computer (see the USB port on the back of the amplifier marked with blue)
  2. Start Boss Tone Studio for Katana
  3. Go to the [S/R] tab (see the screenshot)
  4. Enable the effects loop by clicking the grey [OFF] button (it will turn red when it’s on)
  5. Set the [POSITION] to [POST REV]
  6. Set the [MODE] to [PARALLEL]

In this configuration, the looper pedal is connected between the preamp section and the speaker, which means that we are not recording the clean guitar input, but the audio signal with all the effects on it.

I’ve used the Boss RC-3 looper pedal, but any other looper pedal will work.

This will work with the Boss Katana 100, Artist and Head, or any other amplifier with a parallel effects loop.

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