We all love our effects pedals. The way they alter our tones and transfer us to the parallel universe often awakens our creative juices and lets them flow interminably. We spend hours and days perfecting our sound. What if there was a pedal that could make that process easier, a device that would let us take control and be pros at our music? I have a good news, my friend, there is one and it is called an expression pedal. This little unit will let you master all the parameters of your beloved effects without little to no effort. It will make sure that your every desire is satisfied, will read your mind and act accordingly. Gather up control-freaks of the universe and let’s figure out together, which one deserves the name of the best expression pedal on the market.
Top 5 Best Expression Pedals
|Mission Engineering Inc EP-1 Expression Pedal||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Line 6 EX-1 Expression Pedal||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Valeton EP-2 Passive Volume Expression Guitar Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Moog EP3 Expression Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|M-Audio EX-P Expression Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
Mission Engineering Inc EP-1 Expression Pedal
Mission Engineering EP-1 is a real star of the show. It has an all-metal body, that will guarantee its long-term presence on your pedal board. Apart from sturdy body, it features a simple and classy design, that will seduce you from the very first glance. The pot that acts as a main control here promises to be long-wearing as well. This pedal is passive, meaning that it does not need a power supply and, thus, operates using a 10K potentiometer. It can be operated using a taper switch, which is relatively big and offers a good grip. If you have ever used an expression pedal, you will know what to do with this one. Nothing to write home about in terms of features (very common among units of this ilk). However, it is worth mentioning that its cam system ensures smooth and reliable operation. In short, EP-1 offers everything you would look for in an expression pedal.
- Extremely durable
- Does its job perfectly
- Offers a lot of control and precision
- Will take up some space on your pedal board
Line 6 EX-1 Expression Pedal
Line 6 has been one of the most renowned brands out there. Their amplifiers have maintained a high bar for a while now and I’m sure they will continue to do so in the future as well. It won’t be surprising to anyone if I say that they have a wonderful expression pedal at an affordable price tag. Line 6 EX-1 offers simple operation but still engulfs you with diverse opportunities. It can be used for volume swells, subtle variations in pitch or delay times and etc. It all depends on your creativity and attitude. The build quality here is decent, but keep in mind that the shell is made out of hard plastic. Though it is not a deal-breaker for me, it might be one for some. But other than that, this bad boy is real badass. If you have a limited budget and want to purchase a reliable expression pedal, this puppy might be the one!
- Responds wonderfully
- Can be utilized with a number of musical devices
- Made out of plastic
- Might not stay in place
Valeton EP-2 Passive Volume Expression Guitar Pedal
Valeton EP-2 has a lot to offer. It is basically two-in-one deal, since it can act as volume and expression pedals simultaneously. It is featured in a compact design that will save you a lot of space on your board. Apart from small size, the benefits of this pedal include affordability. Just like many other expression pedals on the market, EP-2 is passive, which means you will not have to worry about additional cables and power supplies. Plug in and you will be ready to go. It is operated with a taper switch that has a decent grip. This pedal can detect the source automatically and will switch between volume and expression functions accordingly. A little unit that can change your game big time – what else could you ask for?
- Knows what to do
- Easy to operate
- Quite small
- Volume swells are not really smooth
- Does not have 100% pristine sound
Moog EP3 Expression Pedal
Moog has delivered yet another quality product. EP3 is a solid, well-built pedal which has a taper switch as a main controller. The surface has a nice grip and guarantees a non-slip operation. It features a cam system, which ensures smooth performance. Apart from these mainstream qualities that almost every expression pedal offers, EP3 comes with two knobs: Volume and Polarity. The former lets you adjust the level of the overall output, while the latter can be tweaked to achieve maximum compatibility with other pedals. This bad boy will not disappoint you. It is so durable and reliable that it will be hard to say no to. You can connect it to keyboards, guitars, basses, basically anything that has an expression port. If you are looking for a quality unit at an affordable price, EP3 is the way to go!
- Smooth operation
- Ease of use
- Additional controls
- Good quality
- Comes with cheap cables
- Has a plastic feeling
M-Audio EX-P Expression Pedal
Right off the bat, M-Audio EX-P does not look that great. There is nothing fancy or classy in terms of design. However, we are not here to talk about the appearance, all that matters is the performance. Luckily, this pedal excels at that. It has a typical taper switch, which is all you need to unveil its full potential. However, it has more. This pedal comes with a Polarity knob which makes it adjustable to any other brand you have on your pedal board. This way you will have all your stompboxes working as a whole. It is true, though, that this might not stand the test of time, but for the price you pay, you cannot really ask for more. EX-P has everything you would need in the expression pedal. Affordability and quality performance is what guaranteed its place on this list. All those budget-players out there, do not hesitate to try this one!
- Is compatible with almost anything
- Build quality is not that great
- Does not work well with keyboards
Expression pedals and their purpose
Let’s be honest – expression pedals fall into the category of overlooked units. Even though they are utterly beneficial and can assist you a great deal on stage, many consider them as useless and a waste of money. Why, you might wonder. Well, since they do not alter your tone or add any effect to it, the changes they make are less audible. Think of an expression pedal as a knob in the form of a stompbox. They give you a lot of control and allow you to shape your tone on the fly, without having to reach for the switches all the time. This guarantees hands-free operation and saves you from additional headaches on stage. In order to grasp the concept of these pedals, I will discuss their utilization and features in-depth and try to underline their importance as well.
Let me start off by saying that expression and volume pedals are not the same. At first glance, they might seem similar, but at core they do different things. Volume pedals solely control the level, while expression pedals can be used to modify any desired parameter. These two can be combined in a single unit, but that is a different story. As individual stompboxes, these two are far cry from each other.
Now, there are two basic types of expression pedals: passive and active. As with wahs, passive ones rely on potentiometers and do not require any additional power supply. This will save you from tangled cables and batteries. One drawback of passive units can be the fact that they might suck your tone a bit, but it still depends on the brand and the model. As for active pedals, you will need to mess with power to activate them. However, the chance of interfering with the strength of your signal is pretty low in this case. Fortunately, we are lucky enough to have an abundance of both types on the market. You can try each of them with your instrument to find out what is the best fit. Your music and techniques will define your choice as well.
Last but not least, there are several features that you should look out for when purchasing an expression pedal. Even though it is generally a one-trick pony with the mere mission of giving you additional control, certain units of this ilk have additional functions. Some expression pedals offer volume and polarity knobs. I will not be a broken record and will not start mumbling about the volume knob. I am sure you know quite well what they do. The polarity switch is where things get a bit more interesting. This is a little addition that makes your pedal compatible with others and makes sure that everything operates smoothly. After all, nobody wants to ruin their performance with a device that does not really like other members of the family. The other feature that you will come across with is the volume pedal functionality. This means that you will have two units in one. Could things get any better? I do not think so.
And we have made it to the end. If you have read this article carefully, you know what to pick up the next time you shop for an expression pedal. If you are still skeptical about this device, I will give you some time to contemplate. Sooner or later you will fall in love with the taste of extra control will not think twice about purchasing the best expression pedal. For now, I will consider my mission complete. Hopefully, I have given you all the information you needed. And one last piece of advice from me: be open to adventures and devices that make unimaginable things happen. Good luck!