Recommended Guitar Pedal MIDI Controllers for Ableton Live Looping (All Instruments)

This website is built around the idea of a specific, powerful looping solution that uses Ableton Live. That being the case, I’m going to speak to what I think works best in the context of this integrated solution.

For ease of use, I use a hand controller and a foot controller. You can see both in action in the video.

Hand Control

The Akai APC40 MKII Midi Controller

best midi controller for looping in Ableton
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This controller works really well for triggering loop recording in Ableton, quickly arming/disarming tracks, controlling volume levels, panning, and effects parameters. It’s fairly large: 16.5″ wide x 9.75″ tall, and the buttons are good sized and have a good feel. I prefer this over Ableton’s Push because this device has volume sliders (and it’s significantly less expensive).

Programmable Keypad

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This is not a MIDI device. However, you can use it with AutoHotKey on PC or the Automator on Macs to trigger actions in Ableton. And of course not just Ableton, you can use this with any DAW.

In the above image, I have laser cut a stand for the keypad and ordered colored keys to replace the default black ones. I use the colored keys to help my brain map which key does what.

Ideas for key presses include:

  • Undo
  • Restart Loop Recording
  • Delete clip slot recording
  • Duplicate track
  • Move up/down clip slots (with knob)
  • Restart arrangment recording
  • Start/stop playback
  • Start/stop arrangement recording

There is also a smaller, bluetooth version available.

Foot Pedals

Behringer FCB1010 Midi Foot Controller

Behringer FCB1010 Midi Foot Controller
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This MIDI foot controller is a more expensive (and more versatile) alternative for foot control than the simple, 3 pedal USB foot switch shown below.

It can be used with Mac or PC and can be programmed to send MIDI signals directly into Ableton. You can then use Ableton’s MIDI mapping feature to assign the pedals to do various things in Ableton. That includes mapping bar length selection in the Clip Slot Looper. However, if you want to enable “restart loop recording” in Abelton’s session view and/or “restart take recording” in arrangement view, then you’ll need the Bome MIDI translator to convert MIDI signals from the pedal board to keystroke sequences.

For anyone who is trying to use this pedal board with Overloud’s TH-U, here are some helpful tips.

iKKEGOL Upgraded USB Triple Foot Pedal Switch Control 3 Three Key Foot switch

three pedal USB footswitch
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This USB footswitch can be used with AutoHotKey (PC only) or the MacOS Automator to control Ableton in some very handy ways. Personally I use it to start/stop playback, to undo or redo a loop recording, and to undo/redo session takes in Ableton. See the video below for examples of how it can be used to dynamically control your loop making process.

Here’s an article on how to set up the foot switch using AutoHotKey for PC

Note for Mac users: This foot switch will work on Mac. But, you have to have access to a PC in order to be able to assign keys to the foot switch. (That requires software which runs only on PC.) Once the keys are assigned, they are saved in the pedal and you can then plug it into your Mac. Then you use Automator on Mac OS instead of AutoHotKey. Instructions here…

guitar pedal for mac os
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For Mac : Kinesis Savant Elite2 Programmable Triple Foot Pedal (FP30AJ- with Extra 4th Jack)

While much more expensive than the PC foot pedal, this pedal does work with the Mac OS, including the ability to program macros into the pedal.

Personally, I think if you’re going to spend this much, you might as well go for the FCB1010.