The Electro-Harmonix 720 is a looper. That is not a comment on its state of mind. It is a piece of electronic hardware that will capture sound and create instant recordings. It will then play those recordings back in real-time.
The benefit of a looper pedal is that it allows a musician to create a track and then play with it. Overdubbing themselves. I probably don’t need to go into more details about the possibilities of sound creation that such options create. So, let’s get straight into my Electro-Harmonix 720 review…
Now they are compact
These days loopers can realistically be called stompboxes. They are small enough to be put on a pedalboard and activated with your foot.
Yet, despite their compact size, they are capable of giving you plenty of recording time and a great number of overdubs. We are going to look at a great looper effects pedal in this review of the Electro-Harmonix 720. Before we do, let’s remind ourselves of who Electro-Harmonix are.
Born in New York in 1968, they have built a reputation for creativity, great pedals, and at times downright lunacy. Mike Matthews is one of these “mad professor” types. In the nicest possible way. And he has surrounded himself with people who share his vision to do something a little differently. Most of the time, they get it right.
They have produced some great pedals, including the much sought-after Big Muff. Some big names have used their pedals, Dave Gilmour being one. It helps to have a top-of-the-range testimonial.
They went quiet in the 80s, but their pedals returned, mainly by popular demand. The originals are still around in various shapes and sizes. And these days, they have added some extras. We are going to look at one such pedal today. And you can bet your boots it won’t be a plain old ordinary pedal. That is not what Electro-Harmonix does.
Electro-Harmonix 720 – Overview
The 720 can be called the improved follow-up to the Electro-Harmonix Nano Looper 360. Why 720? We shall see in a minute.
First came the “360”
Not quite accurate. First came some large multitrack Loopers like the 2880. Electro-Harmonix decided to move away from that design and make them compact and usable. The 360 had a single footswitch with two controls on a standard-sized stompbox. It worked fine, but it was rather restrictive, and its potential as a pedal, some would say, was never really fulfilled.
Then came the “720”
So named because it is twice the width, has twice the number of footswitches, and twice the memory. However, it manages to maintain its core appeal and simplicity. It also managed to keep its color scheme and design. It, therefore, looks quite similar.
With it being twice as wide, there is extra room for another footswitch and more space generally. In many ways, it is an identical design, including the color scheme. It has its control and buttons in the top third, and the footswitches in the bottom.
The real difference, though, is in how it performs. It offers quite a bit more, both in what it can do and in its user-friendliness. It doesn’t tick all the boxes for performance that some may require. But it goes a long way towards it and has some great features. Let’s take a close look.
By today’s standards, it has a fairly typical build quality. This pedal, as we have already mentioned, is twice as wide as most pedals to accommodate the extra controls. It measures 7.25 by 6.2 by 3.25 inches and weighs a chunky 14.1 ounces. That might seem big, but it’s one of the best compact looper pedals on the market.
It has two footswitches and two control knobs, plus a small screen. There are also five ¼-inch jack sockets. More on those later. Most of the internal parts, boards, etc., are made overseas. The pedal is assembled and tested in America. It comes with a power supply and can also operate on a nine-volt battery.
Let’s take a look at the pedal controls by where they are located on the pedal.
The top third
Why they have used two different types of control knobs, we aren’t sure. Aesthetically they would have looked better if they were the same. Is that just me being picky?
There is a Push mode/loop button and control and a Level control, also a small screen for basic control information. At the top left, there are three lit indicators for the loop status. These include Record, Play, and Memory.
The bottom third
This area contains the two footswitches. One to start the loop, the other to stop the effect.
The center third
This only contains the controls for reverse and half-speed. These have red LED lights to indicate when they are in use. On the sides are the five ¼-inch jack sockets. They have added two stereo ins and two outs to give you more flexibility. And to allow you to record two instruments at once if you choose. A worthwhile addition.
One of the upgrades made to this pedal over its predecessor is that it now offers twelve minutes for recording and ten independent loops. Although, it does suffer a little from a lack of storage space. That said, it’s one of the best long recording looper pedals you can buy.
You select an empty location and press the Loop footswitch. This starts the recording process. The first loop you play is what might be called the foundation loop. That is the loop that you will build the rest of the sound around. This can be a riff or a procession of chords.
You can start playback by hitting the loop button again. And then, you can repeat the process to add on as many overdubs as you like.
Undo and Redo function
This is a vital control allowing you to erase and then bring back the last layer of overdub you choose to keep. You can do this by just holding the footswitch down for two seconds while the loop is playing. This is a good tool for letting you correct mistakes or just improve what you have recorded.
The second footswitch
This will control stopping the loop but also any onboard effects you may have. The stop button will stop the loop with one press as against the two required by the other Loop footswitch. As with the first footswitch holding it down for two seconds erases the loop you are on.
Another of the upgrades over the 360 has been the addition of stereo looping. As we have already mentioned, to accomplish this, they have added two ¼-inch outs and ins. These are located on the sides of the pedal and are easy to use. It has a 24-bit depth and 44.1kHz sample rate.
There are some nice features built-in. You can pause the loop whenever you need to. And you can also fade the loop out over a preset time. As a result, this is one of the best looper pedals for solo performances.
We wouldn’t say this was the easiest pedal to operate we have ever seen. And having similar functions performed by footswitches can confuse matters. Therefore, there will be a learning curve associated with this pedal.
What Do I Think?
If you can accept that this pedal has its limitations, then there is very little to complain about. Once you have got your head around the operation, it will perform quite well. The quality of the sound is good, and the fade-out and pause functions are useful additions.
From what I can see, it is the things it doesn’t do that make up the downsides. It does not have MIDI sync, and there are no features built-in to help you keep time. The transit between loops is not seamless, and there is no multi-track facility.
Also, you cannot change the tempo of playback without that affecting the pitch. If you are playing with other musicians, that feature becomes redundant. There are then, one or two problems that will affect some users. And the price makes it quite an expensive option.
Electro-Harmonix 720 Review – Pros and Cons
- An upgrade on its predecessor, the 360.
- Larger sized pedal makes it slightly easier to operate.
- Two-foot switches instead of one.
- Comes with a power supply.
- Twelve minutes of recording time.
- Ten independent loops.
- Undo and Redo function.
- Pause and fade functions.
- No MIDI sync.
- Memory is a little limited.
- Changing the tempo affects the pitch.
Looking for a Great Effects Pedal?
We have you covered. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Looper Pedals For Electric Guitar, the Best Uni-Vibe Pedal, the Best Volume Pedals, the Best Wah Pedals, the Best Fuzz Pedals, the Best Guitar Pedals For Blues, and the Best Mini Guitar Pedals you can buy in 2023.
Also, have a look at our detailed reviews of the Best Flanger Pedal, the Best Multi Effects Pedal, the Best Delay Effects Pedals, the Best Transparent Overdrive Pedals, the Best Phaser Pedals, and the Best Octave Pedals currently on the market.
Electro-Harmonix 720 Review – Bottom Line
As a basic looper for casual use, it works fine. But if you are planning to use it a lot more, then it might be lacking a few features. What you need to decide is whether any of the items that are not included will matter.
If you are looking to use it live to create an impact, it might not be the best. If you are only planning to use it occasionally for practicing, maybe only a few loops per song, it might suffice. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, so it is going to suit the casual user.
It has its competition, of course. The TC Ditto X2 being one. But in many ways, it could be said to be better. And the price point is a little bit lower as well. If you aren’t affected by what it can’t do and can appreciate what it can, it will do just fine. It will do enough for a casual user to be a decent buy.
Until next time, let your music play.