With the plethora of different pedals and effects, it is hard to figure out what is worth buying. We spend so much time and money on brand new devices that sometimes we wonder, do we actually need them? But then we dive into our performance, start concentrating on perfecting our tones and all those doubts start fading away. These suspicions are especially relevant when it comes to volume pedals. At first glance, they do not offer much, but when you plug them in, they do make a lot of difference. In order to choose the best volume pedals, you have to consider many factors. This article will guide you through most of them and help you make the final decision.
Table of Contents
- Top 10 Best Volume Pedals
- Mission Engineering VM-PRO Volume Pedal Pro
- Boss FV-500H High ImpedanceVolume Pedal
- Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics
- Mission Engineering VM-1 Volume Pedal
- Dunlop GCB80 High Gain Volume Pedal
- Fender Expression Pedal for Guitar
- Morley PLA Steve Vai Little Alligator Optical Volume Pedal
- Valeton EP-1 Active Volume Pedal
- Pigtronix BST Guitar Volume Pedal
- Morley M2 Passive Volume Guitar Effects Pedal
Top 10 Best Volume Pedals
|Mission Engineering VM-PRO Volume Pedal Pro||(5 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Boss FV-500H High ImpedanceVolume Pedal||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Mission Engineering VM-1 Volume Pedal||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Dunlop GCB80 High Gain Volume Pedal||(4.9 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Fender Expression Pedal for Guitar||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Morley PLA Steve Vai Little Alligator Optical Volume Pedal||(4.8 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Valeton EP-1 Active Volume Pedal||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Pigtronix BST Guitar Volume Pedal||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
|Morley M2 Passive Volume Guitar Effects Pedal||(4.7 / 5)||Check on Amazon|
What does a volume pedal do?
The capacities of volume pedal are very easy to explain. It is the simplest concept of all. Basically, it does what your guitar volume control would do – increases and balances out the volume of your signal. It also allows you to create dynamic yet clear tone. The fact that it is a pedal makes it easier to operate, since you can concentrate your hands on your instrument (this is the very difference between guitar volume controls and volume pedals). In addition, you can create swells by switching between different parameters of the volume. The majority of them can be used as expression or boost pedals in order to define your sound even more. It is true, though, that the difference it makes to your tone is not that audible, but when you spend years playing and perfecting your music, volume pedal will be something you will use on daily basis. The words that describe this pedal the most are accuracy, precision and clarity. If you are a perfectionist, you cannot skip this pedal in your signal chain.
The difference between Active and Passive volume pedals
Try searching for a volume pedal and the first words that will pop up will be passive and active. If you are a newbie in music industry and have just started experimenting with various devices, you might not know what these words mean. I will explain the difference between the two briefly, so that you have the core understanding of the pedals you purchase.
Passive Volume Pedals operate using potentiometers that are mechanically activated by pressing the footswitch. This means that they do not need any power supplies in order to operate. This saves you a lot of money spent on batteries and DC/AC adapters. You should remember that potentiometers utilize pots, which may wear out after a while. This will make your tone a bit odd-sounding, so make sure that you check on them from time to time. One more thing to keep in mind is that passive volume pedals are quite sensitive. You will receive different sounds depending on what instrument you use and where you place them in a signal chain. Volume pedals that have additional tuner outputs can be quite a headache, since they might suck your tone. Nevertheless, most of the volume pedals on the market rely on potentiometers and are passive in nature. They will work great provided that you use them correctly.
Active Volume Pedals operate using power supplies, such as insertable batteries or adapters. They usually rely on electro-optical circuits that use sensors to identify the signal. They might consist of amplifier circuit, which is typically utilized as buffer, but can act as a booster or tuner isolator as well. The main value of this pedal is that it separates input and output sections. This way it makes sure that there is no signal loss when connected to a chain. What is more, active volume pedals last longer, because they do not use pots or any other parts that can be worn out. In that sense, they are more reliable and versatile.
What you choose between the two is completely up to you. It depends on your preferences and the instruments you use. Some of you may fall in love with active volume pedals due to their durability, others might find passive volume pedals more convenient for their personal needs. Try both of them and the sound will dictate which is THE ONE.
Where should a volume pedal go in a signal chain
When it comes to assembling your signal chain, there are a lot of things to consider. The placement of each pedal will affect your sound. In this part of the article I will be talking about different ways of putting your volume pedal in your signal chain.
The first technique includes placing your volume pedal before overdrive and distortion. This way you can either increase or attenuate the effect. If you turn your volume pedal all the way up, the distortion applied to your signal will be very intense and defined. On the contrary, if you use lower settings, the overdrive will be subtler.
Now, if you put your volume pedal after the overdrive and distortion, you will be able to take full control of these effects. This means that you can either boost your sound even more or balance it out and remove the harshness. Volume pedals do this without adding color to the tone.
You can place your volume pedals before delays. This way you can reduce the volume of the signal and send the resulting tone to the delay pedals. The outcome of such placement is a more sustained sound, natural and organic swells as well as more defined delay effect.
Last but not least, volume pedals can go right at the end of your chain. In this case, they will shape the overall sound while maintaining all the overdrives, distortions, delays or any other effects that you have added to your sound. It can also act as a noise reducing tool when placed in this order.
No matter where you put your volume pedals, they will not suck your tone. Plus, they will keep the clarity and precision of the sound. And one more thing, these “rules” are not set in stone. You can (and should) experiment with different ways and techniques in order to create a perfect-sounding chain. These are just some suggestions based on the experience of a lot of musicians and what has worked for them. You have the freedom of deciding what will work for you.
What features should a volume pedal have?
If you ask me, volume pedals are the most straight-forward devices. They do what they are supposed to, but they do not usually have a lot of features to offer. Nevertheless, there are some of them that can be good addition to any volume pedal.
Some pedals come with a Minimum Volume knob, which lets you control the amount of output when your pedal is at its lowest value. This is a very handy feature, especially for those who want to achieve maximum precision in their tones.
Most of the volume pedals come with tapers, which are very sensitive to your touch. Being able to adjust their tension can change your game significantly. This allows you to modify the pressure you apply to your pedal and leaves room for heavy/slight stomping. Flexible tension adds a sense of individuality and tailors the pedal to your preferences.
Now, the tuner output can easily become a determinant factor when choosing the volume pedal. It lets you tune your instrument constantly without any fuss or head-wrecking. But be careful: some volume pedals with tuner outputs can suck your tone.
Finally, some volume pedals are combos, which means they offer much more than just controlling your volume. For example, Valeton EP-1 Active Volume Pedal can produce a wah effect and adjust your volume simultaneously. This adds more versatility to your sound and saves you some space on your pedal board (it is basically two pedals in one body).
When you play on the professional level, it is hard to skip through volume pedals. They provide a lot of control and make it easy to shape your sound. Their effect is not that noticeable, but if you compare the performance with a volume pedal to the one without it, you will see a significant difference. They offer hands-free operation, which is especially useful on stage. All things considered, volume pedal will improve your sound and add some precision to it. So, stop hesitating, consider all the information I have given you and get yourself the best volume pedal out there. Now is the time to shine!