Looking for a Guitar-friendly sampler/sequencer

Hey everyone!

As I find myself reaching more and more to my guitar, I’m been looking for a sequencer/sampler/groovebox that can primarily:

  • sample a predefined number of bars (1/2/4 etc)
  • sequence the sample (step sequencer or other)
  • arrange the sequences/patterns into a song (song mode)

Right now, I sample my guitar with my Sp-404 Mk2 and sequence it with a circuit Track, and I was wondering if there were any better option for me. I’ve tried the MPC One, but didn’t like it, as there are too many possibilities. Any suggestion would be appreciated, thx!


1010 Blackbox


The MK2 SP40 is great as you have the guitar sim, but not so great for the sequencing as you’ve found.

Do you have an Amp sim pedal to use? I can’t think of anything that comes with that other than the SP404. Looks like the new MPC software may have it, but no one has spoken about using it for guitars?! (I’m not a big fan of the MPC either, for the same reasons as you).

Blackbox will do everything you ask apart from the amp sim. And you need to get on with its UI and occasional oddities.

Will be interesting to hear what people recommend. I gave up and just use a DAW for this now… Occasionally using the SP404MK2

BlackBox, Loopy Pro through your 404mk2, BitWig/Ableton (just the 8-track/free versions would be perfect), used Korg KP3.

Deluge looper was terrific with a guitar while I owned one. Lay the first track down and you can keep overdubbing. Then you can take those tracks and drop them into the arranger. It was a blast while I owned it. I sold it due to lack of screen but that was me. Many others get by no problem with it.

OT also works with loops well but is limited to the 8 tracks if that matters to you.

I’d recommend an amp sim pedal like @brucegill mentioned if you don’t have one. I use the Simplifier with good results.


Also with the deluge looping. Each pass of an overdub it creates a new track so you can have a bang-up session and remove any of the tracks that didn’t work out. This also means you can drop them in the arranger to create a whole song structure track by track. Hope that makes sense.

The new sonicware smpltrek might be a good shout. It is certainly aimed at people playing instruments like guitars.


One idea would be to use a looper pedal to come up with guitar parts and sample those into your SP404MKII, that’s the route I’ve gone. Loopers are so much more guitar friendly than samplers and once you have parts you like, you can sample them into your SP and arrange them in the pattern mode.

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For my guitar I mostly use OT and op-1. If you’re just sampling shorter guitar lines, Polyend Tracker works well if you use a looper pedal. And I second the Simplifier, it sounds great.

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Use an MPC Live for this and works really well. The current MPC range is as good as you’ll get for this in my opinion. Plenty of options as you’ve mentioned. The key, for me, is to use the ones you need and not be distracted by the things you don’t need at the moment.

Appreciate that this is sometimes easier said than done and a more limited workflow can sometimes be helpful in getting things done quickly.


The first time I got an Octatrack, it was for this, and I soon gave up. Now I use Ableton to record set-length loops, chop them to a Simpler, and loop.

The Push 2 is great for all that.

Pedal-wise, nothing was ever quite right.


Same for me!

I’m currently playing with a fender mustang micro headphone amp and an op-1. Can’t get any simpler and is good fun.


I’m also very interested in this subject.

It seems there isn’t really a perfect device, but the SP404 MKII seems the closest especially with the Boss amp sims built in.

I think the Blackbox is also potentially an option, but I find it really hard to get excited about it. I found RIcky Tines comparison to a Digitakt particularly damning.

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I built a simple foot controller based on an arduino to start/stop/delete recordings and select any of the 16 pads on my Blackbox. That works like a charm.

I’m not a big fan of working on the Blackbox to chop/sequence samples unfortunately : (

Thank you all for your suggestions, and sorry for my late response! I’ll try to sum up and synthetise the pros and cons of the different machines:

  • Even though it’s not yet available, it seems that Sonicware’s SMPLTRK meets the requirements, as far as amp simulations, looped tracks and arrangement mode are concerned. But since it’s not available yet, we’ll have to wait and see…

  • The Roland SP-404 mk2, which I have and love, is almost the pefect sampler for guitar based music. It have great effects and amp sims and it’s really easy to put patterns together to create a song. For me, the only negative aspect as an instrumentist is the fact that the mk2 doesn’t have à looper track, or at least a sample to grid function that can predetermine the number of bars I want to sample. The easy workaround (if you work in pattern mode like me), is to always record a sample slightly longer, and then it will automaticly stop at the end of the pattern. For me, right now, the MK2 is the best tool for an instrument-based musician looking for a tool to make simple songs.

  • The Roland Verselab MV-1 is really intresting, but the reduced sampling abilities are a deal breaker for anyone looking for instrument based device. However, a SP featuring the looper track, Midi sequencing capability and arrangement mode of the MV-1 would be perfect for me!

  • I had the OT a few years ago, and I loved it. I enjoyed the sequencer but, like the Deluge (even if they are both kinda capable of doing what I want) they aren’t exactly designed to be instrument based devices. For me it is like buying 5000 $ vintage polysynth to make chiptune. Yes it can do it, but I think you miss out on the originality of the machine.

  • Before buying the SP, I was really hesitating between the Mk2 and the Blackbox. Loved the simplicity, the design and the looping capabilities, but I didn’t like the touch screen, the lack of guitar input and effects. I’m still interested in it, and I think it can be a great combo with the 404!

Here are my conclusions. I’m still focusing right now on the 404 as I don’t think I mastered every aspect of it, and with 2.0 I’ve even put aside my CT and sequence everything in the box. Still waiting on the SMPLTRK, as it might fit my requirements even better than the SP!


I haven’t used the force this way but I remember this video forever ago.

While I’ve since acquired other sample-playing hardware sequencers, I still like my OT. I used it to live-loop my guitar, viola (piezo pickup) and electric violin, with KMI Soft Step 2 as the MIDI foot controller to start/stop loop recording, go up/down tracks, etc.

The OT has some limitations like 4-voice polyphony limit per MIDI track. OTOH, it’s got Arranger, which is basically the song mode; the Scene fader, etc.

Any sequencer which has a song mode would appeal to wide range of guitarists. I’m sure there are some, though, who can put up with manually changing sequencer patterns all the time - seen a few of those in the wild. The happiest among that odd sub-species of guitarist tend to make music that pretty much stays in one key and one time signature.

I’ve come to appreciate the different results produced by using different hardware sequencers, each with its particular sound engine (sample playback, FM synth, wavetable, etc.).

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