In this video, we check out the new Agamidae Tail Loop from One Control. A fantastic, compact, feature-rich pedal switcher at a great price. So how does this bad boy stack up? Let's take a look!
Hi, you're in the studio with Luke from GuitarIQ.com. A few weeks ago, the good folks over at One Control sent me an Agamidae Tail Loop to check out. In this video, we're going to do a few key things. We're gonna look at what this unit is and what it does. We’re gonna look at how it works. I'm gonna give you some of my feedback from having used this unit on my pedalboard for the last few weeks—what I think about it. We’re gonna look at who I think this unit is perfect for and hopefully answer the question: Whether or not you should have this on your pedalboard?
So what is the Agamidae Tail loop and why is it useful? Well, you may have heard units like this referred to as true-bypass loopers or pedal switches. And the giveaway is really in the name, they allow you to switch different pedals in and out of your signal chain. Why is that helpful? The astute among you will realize that guitar pedals usually come with a switch which turns them on and off… which is true. But if you're like most guitar players, your pedalboard will probably be a mismatch of, maybe a few pedals that you've had lying around from back in the day, maybe a couple of new pedals that you've just bought—some of them might be active, some might be passive, some might be buffered, some might be true bypass. And all of these different pedals, depending on the way they're designed (the type of pedal they are and the quality of components used), can affect your tone in various ways—even when they're switched off! And that's the real key here. So what a true-bypass looper or a pedal switcher allows you to do, is take those pedals not being used completely out of your signal chain. So you get the cleanest possible run between your guitar and your amplifier with minimal tone suck or coloration from the pedals—which aren't even being used.
The secondary, probably slightly cooler, function that's specific to the Agamidae Tail loop, is that it allows you to save different pedal presets. So what that means is, you can switch different combinations of pedals on and off simultaneously. Probably the best way to explain that is just to head over to the pedalboard cam and demonstrate how this works.
So here we have my latest pedalboard build that I've just finished completing in the last few weeks. As you can see, from first glance there is a fair bit going on here. And in the spirit of keeping this video relatively short and concise, I'm not going to do a full pedalboard walkthrough here. So if you want an in-depth explanation with sound samples and all the rest of it, then that's certainly something I can look at in another video. For this video, I really just want to focus on the Tail Loop. That said, so you have some understanding of what you're looking at, I’ll briefly explain what's going on. Here we have a buffer and that splits the signal into two different channels. Our first channel is highlighted by everything in that nice purpley, aubergine type color. We have a tuner, a compressor, a booster, a couple of drive pedals, a tremolo, and delay. The secondary channel goes directly to the Tail Loop. And the way that works is that, everything that's connected to the Tail Loop I can then blend in parallel with my main signal chain. If you understand about parallel signal chains and how they differ from pedals that are connected in serial, then that's fantastic. If you don’t, again that's something we can talk about in another video. The main thing you need to take away is that, not every effect here is connected to the Tail Loop. I'm just using it to control specific effects that I want to blend in with my main signal.
So take a closer look at the Tail Loop. We can see over here on the right, we have our main input which we would plug our guitar into (or any effects that we have before the Tail Loop like a tuner, for example). Over here on the far left, we have our main output which would go to our guitar amp (or again, any effects that we have after the Tail Loop). In between those two points, we have 6 different switches. Each of those switches represents a different loop and each of these loops has an independent send and return. So the way that works is, Loop 1 over here has an ‘S1’ for send. The send goes to the input of the pedal I have connected in that loop (which in this case is a volume pedal). The output of the volume pedal is then connected back into the return (so the ‘R1’ here) and each loop has its own ’S’ and ‘R’ (send and return). Again, you can see that I have color-coded things to match up with the loops that they correspond to. In Loop 2, we have this octave pedal. In Loop 3, we have a delay (or in this case, a reverse delay that I've set up on the pedal). We have a vibrato effect in Loop 4. Loop 5 is our reverb. And finally, Loop 6 corresponds to a master volume preset attenuator I have at the end there. So with a normal true-bypass looper, that would basically be all there is to it. You would just switch on the different loops that you want to engage when you want those effects in your signal chain.
With the Tail Loop, we have a bit of extra functionality, as I alluded to earlier. You can see when I first power this up it defaults to Bank 1. And within Bank 1, we have 5 different presets. The important thing to note here is that these presets which are indicated by the red LED don't correspond to the pedals in those loops. They correspond to whatever pedals we have programmed to that switch. So how do we find that out? Well, we head over to the Bank/Edit button over here. And we press that for a couple of seconds and that brings up our Program mode. You can see the LED’s turn blue and this comes up with a ‘P’ to indicate that we're in the Program mode. And now, each of these switches correspond to whatever is in that loop. You can see with this preset I basically have everything switched on except the volume attenuator at the end. I can then exit the Program mode (again, by holding that button for a few seconds) and we come back to our preset again. To repeat that, if I come over to this octave preset that I've set up… let’s see what's switched on. And If I call up the Program mode, you can see that I have my octave pedal, and my vibrato pedal on—and that gives me a kind of organ type effect. If I wanted to add some reverb, I would simply come over, switch the reverb loop on, and then exit the Program mode back to the Recall mode (by holding that for a couple of seconds). If I change my mind, I simply hold that down, switch the reverb off and then exit. It's as simple as that!
Now, I mentioned this is Bank 1. We actually have 5 different banks pre-installed in the Tail Loop. And the way that works is, if we (instead of holding the Edit button) simply press it, we can then move to whatever preset we've set up within that bank. If we want to scroll to a different bank, we just rinse and repeat. So that basically gives us, out of the box, 25 different presets that we have to tweak till our hearts are content. But it doesn't stop there! You can actually program up to 20 different banks on the Tail Loop for a total of 100 different presets—which in some ways is overkill, but might be handy for those who want to program each bank to correspond to a different song in the setlist, for example. Instead of having these as preset effects settings, you could have this as your chorus preset, your verse preset, your bridge and solo preset, for example. And then you go through the banks and just program those settings to whatever corresponds to those sections in the song. That’s kind of a bit more of a complicated/convoluted way to go about it (especially when your lead singer decides to change the setlist at the last minute). But it's nice to have that functionality if you so desire.
Apart from that is probably just a couple of other things to cover here. When you switch one of your presets off, this sort of dash comes up and indicates that you have a master bypass. So everything connected to the Tail Loop is bypassed and your input is just connected directly to your output. And then again, you can engage your presets as you would expect. And finally, this just takes a normal 9v power supplier that you would power most pedals with. And it even gives you the option to daisy chain a number of other pedals to power off this unit as well, if you so desire. So a very compact, feature-rich little offering here by One Control!
Having looked at how this works… now, time for the moment of truth. What do I actually think of it? Having had it in the studio for the last few weeks, I can certainly attest to the build quality. (I may or may not have accidentally dropped this unit when I was installing it on my pedalboard but it worked first time I fired it up!) There’s been absolutely no reliability issues, this thing's built like a tank, and I have no doubt that it would fare very well in a touring situation. So price point wise, how does this unit stack up to the competition? Well, I think it's actually pretty darn competitive in terms of what you're getting. As of the time I'm filming this video, I imagine the street price on something like this would go for maybe $200 to $250 depending on where you get it and if you can get it on sale (US dollars, I’m talking). wWhich is actually pretty good considering you might be looking at say $100 to $200 for a similar sized unit, which doesn't have that programmable functionality. So if you can afford it, certainly forking out that little bit extra for the ability to save presets and different banks of effects, is money well spent in my opinion. It certainly adds a whole new element of functionality to your pedalboard.
So, aside from the build quality and the value for money that this unit represents, for me the biggest selling point is just how compact this thing is. It measures well under 40cm in width. Given that most pedalboards in the small to medium range are gonna be about 40cm to 60cm, this thing could pretty much fit on almost anything (assuming the depth works out with the particular pedals that you're using). Usually for something this compact, you would be expecting to compromise on something—maybe you would be looking at something with less loops or something which doesn't have that programmable functionality. The fact that the Tail Loop has you covered on both fronts, given its size, represents a pretty unique option.
And that leads me to probably the only friction point that I had when I was installing this unit on my pedalboard. It’s obviously designed for your standard straight or right-angled patch cables. Unfortunately, on my pedalboard (as you saw earlier), I’ve used exclusively those pancake-head, slimline patch cables in order to fit so much in such a small space. Which meant in some of the loops I actually wasn't able to plug them in side-by-side, because they just didn't fit. So the workaround for me was ordering a number of those really slimline patch cables (with the tiny heads, as you saw earlier) and now everything works fine. Again that's not a deal breaker. It’s just something to consider if you're thinking about getting this unit—in terms of how it's all going to fit with the pedals you have and the cables that you're using.
So with all that said and done: Who is this unit for and is this something you should be incorporating into your pedalboard? Well, in my opinion, this is a perfect solution for someone who has a smaller to medium sized pedalboard (so by that I mean, anywhere from say 4 to 8 pedals). If you only have 2 or 3 pedals, than any kind of pedal switching solution probably isn't going to provide a whole lot of benefit for you. That said, if on the other spectrum you have a massive pedalboard (say 10+ pedals), then unless you're using this unit like I am, to just switch specific things, you might want to take a look at some of the more advanced offerings that are out there. One Control have a number of solutions (as well as a number of other brands) that offer more loops and more functionality—in terms of MIDI switching, and in terms of reordering pedals to go into one another, and different combinations. Which is a very cool thing indeed! Obviously, you’d be looking at a lot more money for something like that. But if you have a massive pedalboard, chances are you might consider that a worthwhile investment. Probably the biggest endorsement I can give this unit at the end of the day, is the fact that I'm using it on my personal pedalboard. So if you're looking for a sleek, compact, feature-rich unit that will clean up your signal chain and offer you some extra functionality in terms of switching, then the Agamidae Tail Loop is definitely something you should check out!
Well, that’s it for this video. Thank you so much for watching. If you're interested in the Tail Loop, I’ll certainly leave a link to the One Control website in the description so you can check it out there for more information. If you enjoyed this video, please like and share it. I’d love to hear from you in the comments section. Do you have a pedal switcher on your board? If so, how are you using it? What combinations of pedals are you using it with? Please let me know, it’s always great to hear from you. And finally, if you'd like to check out some of my educational guitar books then, at your leisure, head over to GuitarIQ.com and that would be fantastic. Thank you so much and I'll see you in the next video, cheers!