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New to looping/processing

I'm an acoustic guitarist/singer/composer and I'm getting interested in the
concept of looping and processing the acoustic guitar.  I'm intrigued with
the idea of extending my solo guitar and voice concept to incorporate new
sounds, textures, and rhythms via electronics.

I've got a little money to throw at this (~$1500) and I'd like some advice
on how I might best spend the money.

My idea is to install a decent quality pickup on my acoustic, something
that would maintain a reasonable amount of the acoustic guitar timbre
before sending it to processing.  I've heard good things about the Sunrise
and McIntyre pickups for this type of application.

The Echoplex Digital Pro seems the clear choice for a looper.  Has
availability of these improved lately?  (sorry if it's a faq, just joined
the list).  I did phone Thoroughbred Music and they had three in stock, but
no pedalboards.

In addition, I'd like a multifx box to do standard digital processing for
both the guitar and the voice.  My main question revolves around the issue
of stereo processing.  Do you really need 2 Echoplexes to get a decent
stereo sound happening?  Do most people running stereo process first (add
reverb, flange, etc.) and then go into 2 Echoplexes?  Or do people loop
first and then send the mono looped signal into a stereo processor and
output from there?

My choices (for around $1500) seem to be:
1) Echoplex mono into good quality multifx to stereo output.
2) El cheapo multifx stereo output into 2 Echoplexes operating in sync.

Any advice to help me think about this would be much appreciated.  It sure
would be great to be able to do both the processing and looping in a single
box, but I don't think anything like that's on the market....correct?