I can tell you from my experience that as a musician, I have been guilty of hyping about audible effects and underestimating those that lie in the background. I would get so excited about distortion boxes, but would yawn with boredom when someone started talking about volume or EQ units. I lived in such ignorance for quite a while. In fact, some sort of enlightenment happened really late in my career. My friend left his volume pedal at my place and I got so curious, I could not help myself. So I told my judgmental self to shut up, picked up the unit and started playing. I was amazed by the possibilities I had on hand. I could not imagine that something so simple could change my sound so much. This might sound surprising, but volume pedals have a lot hidden up their sleeves. Since after that experience I went on the quest of finding the best possible option, I have tried out many of those. But today I will present to you Mission Engineering VM-PRO – one of the most capable units out there. If you are searching for a simple tool that offers a wide variety of features, then this article is the perfect place for you. Let’s begin!
It is quite common to think that volume pedals are one trick ponies with nothing interesting to explore. But such an assumption is not always true. The pedal that we are discussing today is actually steeped with modifiable features that differentiate it from the bulk of units available on the market. VM-PRO is comprised with a metal enclosure that has quality wiring and material on the inside. It has classic taper switch design and can be purchased in black, red, carbon or vintage white colors. More importantly, it has a buffered circuit that prevents any tone loss that might occur if you have a long chain. This way you can make sure that the quality of your sound is not compromised no matter how many cables you shove in there. This feature might be the only one that cannot be tweaked. What I mean is that the rest of the circuitry can be adjusted to your rig. You have the ability to change the impedance, increase the brightness or tailor the pedal to your pickups. Such flexibility makes it possible to avoid impurities in your performance. Additionally, VM-PRO can be activated with the help of a single 9V battery, or you can utilize the adapter with 9VDC or 18VDC. This baby has a TRS type output that enables you to route it to a tuner and an amplifier simultaneously. The ring passes the signal to the tuner (and allows for silent tuning without affecting your overall signal), while the tip transfers it to the amplifier. This way, you have the whole package needed for maintaining the clarity in your tone. It is no mystery that VM-PRO is an extremely diverse unit for a volume pedal, don’t you agree?
When talking about the controls of VM-PRO, we are referring to the internal switches that allow you to modify various parameters. On the surface the only thing we have is a taper which creates the volume swells, or simply acts as a level control when needed. You do also have the ability to alter the tension of the pedal. This can be done by inserting the included hex key into the rocker tension adjuster screw and making it looser or tighter. This way the feel of VM-PRO will always be tailored to your preferences. Now it is time to lift the hood, look beneath the surface and explore the possibilities that are hidden in the circuitry.
As you lift the bottom plate, you will not have any difficulty locating the internal switch in the center of the interior. It has On/Off positions for three parameters. SW1 allows you to shift between Active and Passive positions whenever needed. If your pickups have high output, they might cause the unit to overdrive (which means you should set this switch to the off position). SW2 is a Sparkle control that allows you to add some brightness in the lower spectrum, while SW3 enables you to modify the impedance of the pedal. The latter makes VM-PRO compatible with vintage fuzz boxes and eliminates the chance of malfunction. Easy stuff!
Though discussing the sound of Mission Engineering VM-PRO will not take us ages, there are things that are worth mentioning. The overall vibe of the pedal is that it is transparent and clear. It does not affect your signal in any weird ways, which is always a good thing. It does not have any noise and it will not suck your tone no matter what. The smoothness of the taper allows you to create swells in the volume or amplify quieter parts with subtle attitude. Buffered circuitry maintains the brightness of higher frequencies throughout the chain and, thus, keeps your guitar signal in its original shape and form. If you have a thing for shimmer, you can always turn on the Sparkle and add some more ‘oomph’ to the lower end as well. The diversity of this pedal is completely up to your movement and this baby provides you with everything that you would need to get experimental and produce different sounds. But VM-PRO is an amazing unit even with typical applications solely.
Though typically there is not much to say about volume pedals, there are brands that change this tendency and force you to rave on and on about their products. VM-PRO is just like that. Once you plug it in and experience everything it offers, you cannot stop talking and appraising its qualities. And nobody can be blamed for it – this thing is a real wizard. If you are ready to invest in a top-notch pedal that will amplify all the good characteristics of your sound, this might be the one to choose. Good luck and let this simple tool shine through the darkest days!
Click here to view more from 10 Best Volume Pedals.