If you’re looking for the best volume pedals for guitar, you’ve come to the right post!
What to Look for in a Volume Pedal
For the most part, volume pedals are pretty straightforward. It’s a simple wah-like enclosure with that regular rocking treadle part. The only difference is that you can lock it in one spot. Whereas with some wahs, they go back to the open position.
Other than that, they’re just a volume potentiometer with foot control. However, there are a few things to bear in mind.
Firstly, you should consider the quality of the treadle. I had some bad experiences with Boss’s FV-300 and I had to open it up and repair it.
Another thing that some might neglect is the high vs. low impedance issue. High-impedance ones go at the beginning of the signal chain, or more precisely, before the distortion pedal in the chain. Low-impedance ones usually go at the end, or anywhere after the distortion pedal.
You can technically use them in the non-intended positions in the chain. However, they’ll eat up your signal and reduce some sustain.
One thing to know is that volume pedals before and after the distortion give different effects. If you use it before, you can do those volume swells. It’s kind of like you’re also reducing the gain, or messing with the volume knob on our guitar. Whereas at the end of the chain, it’s like you’re controlling the volume knob on your amp.
Finally, you should also think of additional features on a volume pedal. Some of them can also be used as expression pedals. And most of the time, they should also have an output for a tuner.
Volume pedals also come with the minimum volume control. This one sets the minimum level for the pedal’s open position. They’re either external or internal.
Most guitar-oriented volume pedals are in mono. But you might also find some stereo variants.
Best Volume Pedals
Dunlop DVP4 is a more compact volume pedal. It comes with your regular input and output jacks. However, there’s also an additional aux output.
The aux feature is a pretty interesting one. You can use it in two ways. Firstly, you can connect it to a tuner that’s not a direct part of the chain. Secondly, the aux jack serves its purpose if you want to use it as an expression pedal.
There’s also an internal control that allows you to set the minimum volume. It may be a bit of a downside since you need to open the pedal. However, this is an expected feature since we’re looking at a small-sized volume pedal.
Ernie Ball VP JR 6180/6181
Ernie Ball’s classic volume pedal comes in two variants. The 6180 model is a high-impedance one, with 250K ohms. This one is promoted as a volume pedal for regular passive electronics. But the model practically goes at the beginning of the chain.
Meanwhile, 6181 is a low-impedance one, marketed for active electronics. But you can use this pedal with any guitar at the end of the chain.
Either way, both of these variants have the same casing. The pedals are fairly rugged and can handle some rough touring settings.
Speaking of rugged pedals, Boss’ FV-500L and FV-500H are built like tanks. What I love about these is that they feel pretty great. The operation is pretty smooth and not too loose. You can also set them at the desired volume level and the pedal will tightly keep its position.
This one is the improved and more reliable variant of the old FV-300. The L version is a low-impedance one, while the H version is a high-impedance one.
FV-500 also comes with two inputs and two outputs, making the pedal useful for advanced stereo setups. There’s also an additional output that turns it into an expression pedal. On its side, there’s also an additional tuner output and a minimum volume knob. If you ask me, this is the ultimate volume pedal for any guitar, bass, and keyboard.
Morley 20/20 Volume Plus
Morley is famous for innovative wah pedal designs. And we have the same format for their 20/20 volume pedal. What I need to point out first is that this is an active volume pedal. It requires a regular 9-volt battery or a 9-volt adapter.
From my experience, Morley’s 20/20 works the best near the end of the chain, or after distortion. But they seem to work okay at the beginning without ruining the tone too much.
The most interesting feature is its switch. You can set the minimum volume with a knob on the left side. However, the footswitch on the right side lets you bypass it completely. And, of course, you can switch between these two modes.
Additionally, I should point out that Morley pedals are pretty well built. Along with Boss FV0-500L/H, I’d recommend it to any touring guitar player.
Lehle Stereo Volume Pedal
Lehle Stereo Volume pedal might not be that cheap. However, it comes with a few interesting features. There’s a noticeably different design and incredible build quality. And, above all, it’s a powered pedal that requires an external power supply.
Then we have two inputs and two outputs, making this a fully stereo device. But aside from that, it comes with a few other unusual yet useful features. For instance, its design allows it to be fixed in place, be it on a pedalboard or any other surface.
There’s also an additional screw that allows you to set the feel of the pedal. You can set it tighter or looser according to your personal preferences.
What’s also great is that you can split a mono signal into two with this pedal. Or, you can also turn a doubled stereo input into a mono output. This is more than just your regular volume pedal, but rather an advanced piece of gear.
Fender also has a pretty interesting volume pedal as part of their Thread-Light line. Now, the first thing that you can notice is that it looks different. Fender has put in the effort to come up with unique aesthetic features.
But the pedal’s advantages are more than just skin-deep. The feel of its sweep is incredibly smooth. In addition to that, the Thread-Light volume pedal is just incredibly rugged and durable.
Aside from its output and input, we can also find an expression jack. This enables you to use it as an expression pedal with other effects units.
You will also notice that the pedal requires power, external or battery. However, this is only for its LED light, located under the treadle. There’s also a switch on the side, allowing you to turn it on and off. This feature can come in handy for some live stage settings.
I hope this article has helped you think through volume pedals and which is best for you!
And if you want to read more about pedals on this blog, then check out:
- Rat Vs Big Muff: Which Pedal is Better?
- Boss RC 50 Vs RC 300: Which Pedal is Better?
- EHX Crayon vs Timmy: What’s the Difference?
- MXR SuperComp vs Dyna Comp: Which is Better?
Lastly, feel free to leave a message in the comments below if you have questions about this or another guitar-related topic!