Emma Ballantine

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Cycles of Disappointment

The trials and tribulations of buying a looping pedal

There are few things more likely to make a pub full of people pause over their peanuts than a looping pedal. Watching someone set up a groove and start layering over it can be mesmerising, and thanks to the Ed Sheerans and KT Tunstalls of this world, more and more people are doing it.

Great, I thought, I'll just swing by the Internet and buy one. They're only little, they can't cost too much.

Turns out they cost quite a lot - hundreds of pounds if you go for something fancy, and no less than three figures if you don't. So I did what everyone does when a price tag brings them out in sweats: I turned to ebay.

Now, I should say at this point, I am not exactly an ebay buff. I once ordered a poster, and it was a traumatic experience which culminated in the item getting lost by the French postal service (and this was a Buy Now product, so I hadn't even braved the bidding system!)

In some ways it was actually pretty straightforward. I found the pedal I was looking for, I typed in some numbers and a cheery green message told me I was the highest bidder. For three days I remained the highest bidder. Life was good. I downloaded a little app so wherever I was I could login and congratulate myself on still being the highest bidder.

Then one day, I wasn't. Out of the blue, a sneaky person outbid me, and when I tried to up my amount, it became apparent that they'd outbid me by quite a bit.

That's when the soul-searching began. How much do I really WANT a looping pedal? Can I carry it off? What if I'm not very good at using it, and I embarrass myself in front of a room full of people? WHAT IF I DON'T UNDERSTAND HOW IT WORKS!?

These are the kind of questions that can make you hover nervously over the 'Submit Bid' button. Only a masochist would pay large amounts of money for something that sits in a box at home and makes them feel incompetent.

So I bottled it. The deadline passed, that sneaky person got their looping pedal, and I retreated to lick my wounds.

A few days later I spotted another one approaching its deadline, and felt a familiar feeling of hope. This time I was more assertive, the numbers I typed in were slightly higher, I watched the item like a hawk, ready to increase the amount at a moment's notice.

But yesterday I lost the bid. It hit me hard, and led to a spiral of internal doubt, unanswerable questions and regret. If only I'd gone a little bit higher... If only I'd been a little bit braver... Reason told me that there were other pedals out there waiting to be bought, but experience told me to be cynical. Sure, I thought, the message looks green and cheery now, but I KNOW how this thing ends.

I still haven't bought a looping pedal, although I live in hope that one day I will. Perhaps the prices will come down, or maybe I'll be lucky and sneakily win a bid when all the other looping pedal buyers aren't looking. Either way, I feel as though the experience has made me a stronger person. I always knew that making it in the music industry would involve set-backs and disappointments

11.39am 14th Apr 2012