Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
Best volume pedals 2018 – [Buyer’s Guide]Last Updated October 1, 2019
Best volume pedals of 2018
If you’re reading this, it is very likely that you’re scouting for the best volume pedals. I review the three best volume pedals on the market at the moment.
I’ve based my selection methodology on customer feedback, the size, functionality, and budget to meet various demands. Check them out and decide which one suits you the best to splurge upon.
Test Results and Ratings
|Ease of use||
Why did this volume pedals win the first place?
I really enjoy the design. It is compact, comfortable and reliable. And it looks amazing! I am very happy with the purchase. It is definitely worth its money. The product is top-notch! I don’t know anything about other models from this brand, but I am fully satisfied with this product. The material is stylish, but it smells for the first couple of days.
Why did this volume pedals come in second place?
Managers explained me all the details about the product range, price, and delivery. This is a pretty decent product that perfectly fitted the interior of our office. I recommend you to consider buying this model, it definitely worth its money. The material is pretty strong and easy to wash if needed.
Why did this volume pedals take third place?
I liked the design. We’ve been using it for 2 months and it still looks like brand new. This price is appropriate since the product is very well built. The material is incredibly nice to the touch. It has a great color, which will suit any wallpapers. It is inconvenient to use due to the size. I am going to get something different next time.
volume pedals Buyer’s Guide
What To Look For In A Volume Pedal
We mentioned that volume pedals can be rather complicated little pieces of gear, and after reading this section hopefully you’ll be convinced (and much more knowledgable)! We’re big fans of lists, so we’ll make a list of what you need to consider and the knowledge you need to arm yourself with.
No tone loss: The dreaded “tone loss” or “tone suck” issue has been known to plague some of the more popular guitar volume pedals out there – even ones that are widely considered to be the best. The Ernie Ball VP Jr. in particular gets a bad rap for this. Your guitar signal, which in itself is a weak signal, can get split into two by a volume pedal that has a dedicated tuner output. In layman’s terms, you take a weak signal and weaken it further by splitting it, which robs the high end of your tone. Not all guitarists seem to be affected, and everyone’s signal chain and tolerance for “imperfections” is different, so your milage may vary. But it’s definitely something to be aware of.
Passive vs. active: A passive volume pedal usually doesn’t require power (through a battery or an adapter). This is convenient and simplifies your setup, but a passive volume pedal is more sensitive and finicky. You have to pay more attention to where you place it in your signal chain (beginning, middle, end) and what instrument you’re using it with. Passive volume pedals, especially ones with a tuner output, can be the cause of the tone loss we mentioned above. For a passive volume pedal, you need to pay attention to its impedance (measured in ohms). In fact, several passive pedals come in two flavors, high and low impedance. An electric guitar like a Tele, Strat, Les Paul, etc has passive pickups, so a passive volume pedal between 250k and 500k ohms will work well with it. An impedance mismatch does not make your volume pedal useless, but can adversely affect your tone. An active volume pedal needs to be powered, and you don’t have to be as careful at where in your signal chain you place it. It’s not susceptible to the “tone suck” issue.
Build quality: This is important for any piece of gear you buy, but particularly something you’ll use as often as a volume pedal. What mechanism is responsible for adjusting the pedal? Do reviewers say it is prone to breaking? Is it easy to fix? In terms of the pedal’s housing, look for one with metal construction from a brand known for building durable gear. The budget volume pedal recommendation we make in this guide is the only one on our list that is housed in plastic, not metal. Whether or not this is ok for you depends on how hard you are on your gear, how heavy your foot is, how frequently you gig, etc.
Stereo vs. mono: This is definitely lower on the list for most people shopping for a volume pedal, but we’ll mention it just in case. Most guitar chains are mono, so that will suffice. If you want a volume pedal you can also use for a stereo instrument like a keyboard, look for one with stereo capability.
Tuner output: Several volume pedals have a tuner output separate from their main output. This is so you can connect your tuner pedal to it, and silently tune, which can be massively handy during a gig in between songs. As we mentioned, be careful if you’re using a tuner output and your volume pedal is passive, as you might be sacrificing some of the high end of your tone.
Adjustability/versatility: Some volume pedals are dead simple – you can rock the pedal back and forth and increase/decrease volume, and that’s it! Some are more versatile, letting you adjust the minimum volume level, the tension/torque of the pedal, the taper (i.e. how the volume curve behaves as you step on the pedal), etc. More features generally means the price increases. This is also where we’ll include the feel of the volume pedal, meaning, if the amount the pedal travels and how it feels under your foot suffices for your needs.
Pro player usage: We as musicians are all unique snowflakes, but sometimes looking at other pedalboards helps our decision making process, particularly when those pedalboards belong to the pro musicians we love. Have a look around Equipboard at your favorite artists’ gear setups, and look at the volume pedals they use. We’ll mention some famous users of the pedals on our best-of list within our reviews.
I have seen some conflicting stories when i tried to research this online, but I just wanted anyone with a Nord Electro to know that this volume pedal will work fine with that keyboard. There is a fairly obvious configuration setting you need to make on the keyboard, (i.e. set the expression pedal type to “Yamaha” in the system settings), and then it will work as expected. So it does exactly what I was looking for…can’t complain. Also, if you read the manual that comes with the pedal, there are two ways to adjust the sweep of the pedal: one that adjusts the angle to be more comfortable depending on if you are sitting or standing, and the other adjustment which allows for a Nigel Tufnell-esque “more” function, (i.e. allow you to “go to 11” when you press harder at the end of the pedal’s travel). So, some nice functionality here for those that care to delve beyond the surface.
How to fix this pedal’s too rapid change
This pedal is made of very strong rubber and should meet most needs for an expression pedal. The big problem is that most people find the pedal changes volume or MIDI values in the first degrees of movement, making it almost useless for most generic applications. The reason the Fexpression pedal does this is the unit contains a single 50k ohm variable potentiometer (resistor). Yes, ALL expression pedals are about as complicated as a volume knob on your guitar. In fact that is exactly all they are.
Here is a simple fix to make your Fvolume expression pedal work for your keyboard or guitar effects unit.
We need to change the potentiometer from a 50k to a 10k ohm pot. However you don’t have to replace the 50k ohm pot. Instead you can add a simple 12.5k ohm resistor in parallel with the pot. This will reduce the effective resistance to 10k ohm.
Why does this work? When you put resistors in series, the resistance adds up. Imagine pumping water through one narrow opening, and then adding a second narrow opening in series. It will slow the water further. Same thing for electricity.
When you put resistors in parallel, you provide two parallel paths for electricity to flow.
The resistor should be connected from the shield (ground) to the top of the pot.
While a smooth taper and a durable casing are a must-have for gigging musicians, those of us who mostly play in our bedroom and lightly (if ever) gig don’t really need to shell out a bunch of money for the best gear money can buy.
While Valeton may not be a household name, the EP-is worth a solid look for anyone who’s just wanting a basic volume/expression pedal to get the job done. The unit, as implied by the name, pulls double duty as an expression and volume pedal; two tasks which it performs admirably.
Right off the bat, contrary to what you may believe this volume pedal actually isn’t intended for high-gain genres. Rather, when they say high-gain it’s a designation to make it clear that it’s for guitars as opposed to keyboards. It does seem like a bit of an odd choice to give this pedal that particular designation when in reality it would be better suited to passive pickups.
With that out of the way, the Dunlop GCB-80 is incredibly reminiscent of the company’s most well-known product the Crybaby Wah. Because the designs are so similar, the unit shares both the strengths and weaknesses of the design.
Get the Right Pedal For Your Pickups
One of the most important things to know before you buy a volume pedal is that when using a volume pedal you have to match the impedance of your pedal to that of your pickups. If there is an impedance mismatch, it can cause tone loss.
Thankfully, matching impedance between a volume pedal and a guitar pickup is actually pretty simple. All you’ve got to remember is that if you’re using passive pickups you’re going to want a volume pedal in the 250-500K range, and if you’re using active pickups you’re going to want a volume pedal in the 25K – 50K range.
Also, if you want to use your volume pedal in an effects loop (which allows you to control the overall volume without having the pedal color your tone) you’re going to want a low impedance volume pedal.
To tell whether your instrument has active pickups, all you need to do is figure out whether or not your guitar needs a battery. Guitars that do have a black panel on either the back or side which, if popped open, reveals a battery enclosure.
Passive vs. Active Volume Pedals
A passive volume pedal, like passive guitar pickups, does not use a separate power source. Active volume pedals, like active pickups, use an external power source. Passive volume pedals control a signal’s volume like a guitar’s volume switch, while an active volume pedal controls volume with more fidelity.
Expression and volume pedals are often lumped together, but in reality they’re two distinct pieces of equipment. Basically, expression controls a parameter of an effect while a volume pedal controls volume. Expression includes things like increasing a delay’s repeats, or a chorus pedal’s depth.
However, while the two effects are different you can actually use a volume pedal as an expression pedal if you purchase a TRS insert cable. However, should you choose to go this route you do need a passive volume pedal as opposed to an active one. There are also volume pedals which double as expression pedals.
In summation, do not buy an expression pedal if you want a volume pedal. Also, should you purchase an active volume pedal and a TRS insert cable or a dual function volume/expression pedal you can get a pedal which will perform adequately at both tasks.
Where to Put a Volume Pedal In Your Signal Chain
There are two schools of thought when it comes to volume pedals. Some musicians prefer to have a volume pedal first in their chain (or second if they’re using a compressor), and others want it last. Basically, when a volume pedal is first in the chain it acts like your guitar’s volume; controlling the amount of gain that comes through. When placed last, a volume pedal controls the overall volume as opposed to gain.
Think of it like this, all a volume pedal does is reduce the strength of a signal. A higher signal going into a distortion pedal (which already boosts the signal) will create more distortion. If used after all of your effects, it will boost the entire signal chain.
Minimum Volume Setting
A minimum volume setting allows you to control the amount a volume pedal will reduce a signal. So, as you turn up the minimum volume control the lowest setting of the pedal becomes louder. Likewise, as you turn the minimum volume control down the lowest setting of the pedal becomes quieter.
Although it is not the volume pedal that sits on the peak of the industry, it is still undeniable that the Ernie Ball VP Jr. has the qualities of being a great stompbox.
Obviously, it is a cousin of the Ernie Ball MVP. But it still has different arsenals on its sleeve.
One of the best selling points of this product is its simplicity. You don’t have to burn your head just to learn how this volume pedal work.
Also, the Ernie Ball VP Jr. is the compact and sleek version oof the MVP. It is the real meaning behind its name. However, it doesn’t mean that this one has a poor performance.
Ernie Ball MVP
The closest contender of the Boss FV-500H is the Ernie Ball MVP. The MVP means Most Valuable Pedal, by the way.
Because it claims such title, the Ernie Ball MVP seems to have something to show off. And we tested, it is indeed an excellent unit of a volume pedal.
Because this volume pedal is buffered, it can accommodate passive and active signals. Of course, it also means that you can put this pedal in any location of your signal chain.
Fender FVP-Volume Pedal
If you are looking for another affordable volume pedal, the Fender FVP-is a good choice. Although the brand Fender is not usually akin to pedals, their units are still commendable.
The setup of the Fender FVP-Volume Pedal is pretty basic. It appears as similar to those standard volume pedals you can see on sales garage. However, such simplicity is perfect for those who doesn’t want to complicate their lives.
This particular volume pedal is sensitive to the finest changes in volume. It doesn’t color the sound, nor induce any alterations on the signal.
Dunlop DVPVolume X
Another good volume pedal that you should try is the Dunlop DVPIt can perform well on any applications. It has fantastic construction and interface, too, which makes it a favorite of many guitar players out there.
Specifically, it is the top competitor of the Ernie Ball VP Jr., considering they share almost similar specs.
This product comes with three outputs (Tuner, Expression, and Audio). Therefore, this product provides its users with some freedom of modification. It also uses and audio taper.
This technology enables a slow increase in volume at the start of the rotation then peaks during the later part.
Meanwhile, the overall aesthetics of device is top-notch, too. It has a beautiful appearance that instantly blends with your instrument.
Signstek Guitar Stereo Sound
The battle for the best volume pedal is always dominated by the brands of Dunlop, Ernie Ball, and Morley. However, they are not the only players who seem to stand out in the scene.
An interesting dark horse, the Signstek Guitar Stereo Sound, is a volume pedal is definitely worth your attention.
The Signstek Guitar Stereo Sound is a performing volume pedal. But despite its excellent features, it has a very low price.
The glides for this pedal is pretty smooth. It provides a nice feeling to the feel. Although there are some mechanical grinds that you can hear, that is not exactly a deal breaker that can make you turn off.
What is a Volume Pedal
Before we begin, we should clarify that volume pedals are not limited to guitars alone. There are volume pedals you can use for other electronic instruments such as your synthesizer and keyboard.
However, in this article, we will just limit the product selection to volume pedals for bass and standard guitars.
By operational standards, a volume pedal is a variant of “dynamics” stompboxes. Guitarists use this device to modify the volume of their instruments through the increase and decrease of the audio signal’s aptitude. By concept, it is not that complicated process.
However, once you dissect this product, you will discover that there are a lot of things that operates it. The presence of multiple factors becomes a detriment to what brand of volume pedal you are going to choose.
Moreover, volume pedals have the same appearance as wah pedals. Many beginners always mistook one for the other.
Transparency and Sound
You can consider that a volume pedal is great if it is transparent. Specifically, the device should not induce their character to the sound of your instrument. If you want such kind of pedal, you must choose wahs and overdrives, not volume pedals.
If you are going to buy a volume pedal, make sure that it doesn’t suffer from “tone loss.” Many pedals are suffering from such kind of detriment.
By nature, the signal is already weak. Once the latter travels to the pedal, it becomes weaker because of the tuner.
Of course, many players won’t notice this. One reason is that the tolerance of our ears for such kind of imperfections varies. However, you should still be aware of this concept.
Passive and Active Volume Pedal
A volume pedal that is passive does not use power coming from an adapter or battery. It is a simple setup that gives you an irreplaceable form convenience, wherever you look at it. But still, passive volume pedals still tend to be finicky and sensitive.
Specifically, you have to pay attention to the location of your signal chain as well as the instrument that you are using. Most of the passive pedals have tuner controls. As we mentioned earlier, this particular part is the culprit for tone loss.
Meanwhile, an active volume pedal requires power to operate. But as compensation, it will free you from any worries of tone loss.
It’s best to start with the most obvious pedal, one you’ve probably heard of already. Distortion! The term “distortion pedal” is actually used quite a bit as an umbrella term to refer to different types of pedals.
Distortion is can be quit a heavy, obvious effect which provides a good amount of sustain & crunch to your sound. Because it heavily distorts the sound, it can sometimes hide the actual tone of the guitar.
However you can still hear the original tone of your guitar and amp in there somewhere. It just makes everything sound much more aggressive.
An overdrive pedal still distorts your sound, and gives it an extra punch, but it’s great at keeping more of the sound of your amplifier & guitar intact. So it sounds a little bit more natural.
It drives or “pushes” your amplifier more subtly than a distortion pedal so it doesn’t sound too heavy or overpowering. Yet it still gives you that beefy, thicker sound.
It’s often used in classic rock and blues but is a versatile pedal which is on the pedal board of millions of guitarists around the world.
Fuzz is the most extreme of the distortion effects and kind of sounds like it’s pushing your amplifier to breaking point. It provides a bass heavy and noisy guitar tone and means that it’s very hard to hear any of your original guitar tone.
However it’s still a very diverse pedal depending on how you use it. It can be used to create very heavy attacking sounds, or add more of a discrete buzz which isn’t too overpowering.
The different pedals are differentiated by the amount of the distortion / saturation they provide. Overdrive has the least, fuzz has the most, and distortion is somewhere in the middle.
Delay is another effect which does what it says on the tin. It delays your signal by a varying amount and then plays it back. This creates a doubling effect. The pedal will let you define how long the delay is.
Digital pedals can usually delay for longer, but some people think that these digital pedals don’t sound as good as analogue alternatives. Delay pedals are great for creating experimental effects and sounds, but can be subtle too.
The chours effect sounds like hundreds of different guitarists playing what you are, but very slightly out of time. The effect also creates a mild wobble type noise.
Overall the sound sound rich, full and thick because of the chorus effect.
It can be used effectively both as a subtle effect or a more obvious experimental effect.
Flanger is very similar to chorus, however it can provide a little bit more of an obvious effect.
It’s got more of a wooshing sound which goes up in pitch and then down again. People often say it sounds like a plane flying past.
Unlike the chorus effect it doesn’t sound like there are hundreds of guitarists copying your sound, but still can thicken your tone up.
Again the phaser pedal is similar to the flanger and chorus effects. It creates a sweeping sound by creating peaks and troughs in your guitar tone. You can alter the height of these peaks and troughs by manipulating the controls on the pedal.
The phaser also adds a similar, but not as obvious, effect to the guitar tone as the chorus. So it sounds like there are a few guitarists playing the same as you.
Tremolo sounds like your volume is being turned up and down very quickly after you play a note. However the sounds gets blended together nicely so it doesn’t sound too obvious or out of place. Essentially it proves a nice wobble sound.
The controls on the pedal control how big this volume change is, and how quickly it occurs. It’s not too far away from the phaser, flanger and chorus pedals, but still sounds unique when compared to them.
For worship guitarists, the main use appears to be for volume swells, which is when you strum a chord or play a note and slowly roll up the volume on either your VP or guitar’s volume control for an ambient ‘swelling’ effect. This swelling sound is usually increased with the use of staining effects like overdrive, delay and reverb.
The second most common use of a VP is as a kill switch. While I love the sound of a volume swell, almost 90% of the time, when I’ve used a VP, it’s been to “kill” the sound off my board. This most common at the start and finish of a worship time, but there are also places during the set when a kill switch would be useful. Many guitarists use their tuner like the Boss Tu-or TC Polytune for the same result.
If you are using your VP to create ambient volume swells, then I would recommend placing your VP directly after your gain pedals. There are two reasons for this. The first is that you hit the VP with the most intensity possible by having your gain pedals in front rather than behind. The second reason is that you allow time based effects like reverb and delay the chance to trail off naturally instead of being cut off by the VP. This will produce what is commonly considered to be a better sounding swell effect.
Something that is often overlooked in discussions about VP placement is that they are often large, long and bulky. Pedalboards aren’t put together in a vacuum and the size and shape of other pedals play a role in your rigs set up as well.
Now, technically you could put the VP anywhere and it will kill the signal from your guitar to your amp. But, whatever you put after the VP can still send signal to your amp, even if it’s just background noise, it might be very unwanted on a Sunday Morning. So, while I understand if there are space or size reasons why you’d want to put your VP somewhere else in the signal chain, I would advise you put it very last if at all possible. This way you kill any and all possible signal and noise that could go to your amp.
If you’re using your VP as a volume control be careful. Remember that your guitars own volume control is still there and no matter what you do with the VP it will still affect how much signal your guitar is sending out. Personally, I would experiment with both the VP’s placement in the signal chain, and the setting of your guitar’s volume control to figure out what’s best for you.
Slimmer, lighter platforms have become a priority in modern flat pedal design. Taller pedals offer less ground clearance and aren’t as stable, and don’t benefit from reduced rider centre of gravity, resistance to flipping, and improved efficiency by spinning closer to the centre of the pedalling axis. Thinner pedal bodies can also be made even wider, which increases shoe contact for more stability and control.
Using axles without pedal flats means platforms can sit tighter into the crank arms and the closer the pedal body sits to the bike, the greater the ground clearance and the more efficient your pedalling stroke. Stubby axles allow brands to position pedals further in-board, but one compromise can be some rubbing where feet catch the crank arms. Pedal bodies that incorporate oversized bearing housings might push feet outwards and eat into effective shoe area in bigger foot sizes too.
As a direct connection between rider and machine, a flat pedal needs to be as stiff and solid. With a rigid body, minimal energy is wasted and it also allows you to feel exactly what’s going on underneath you, which helps with control, balance and grip. Most of the pedals here are plenty stiff enough, but the leverage of the widest pedals also generates more twist and flex in cranks, so this is a performance consideration too.
It’s worth checking beforehand the price of new bearings or an axle on really expensive set of pedals, as, chances are, in the UK the platforms themselves will far outlast the internals. A bearing or axle rebuild is a job most home mechanics can tackle and will make tired, baggy pedals feel fresh again for under £20 on some models.
Ernie Ball is a company known for its history of making volume pedals that are most sought after by professional guitarists. The VP Jr. P06180 is known as the best guitar volume pedal that is perfect for passive pickups because of its 250k potentiometer. It is a nice, solid and compact volume pedal with a smaller footprint and sandpaper like grit on the pedal surface. It has a micro taper switch right behind the input jack under the footplate that provides you the option to select between two volume swell rates. It also has a tuner output that allows silent tuning when the pedal is in the heel down position which means there will be no sound leak. This Ernie Ball volume pedal is a very versatile and popular pedal that adds an expressive dynamics to your playing.
The Fender FVP-is a passive volume pedal that is ideal for guitars and can control volumes using the passive 250k potentiometer with a high life cycle. The FVP-is a mono pedal meaning there is one in and out jacks along with a tuner jack that allows silent tuning during live performances. This volume pedal is heavy and sturdy but compact. It can be used as an expression pedal also by connecting the out jack to the expression in jack of the desired stomp box. It is a strong and sturdy tank like device made with die-cast aluminium. The sound from the FVP-volume pedal is loud, clear and natural.
The term overdrive refers to when a tube amp is driven past its range to supply a clean tone. This is something we as guitar players have come to love and seek out. A common question is “what is the difference between overdrive, distortion, and fuzz as the terms have become interchangeable?” The short answer is not a lot, just one is more extreme as we go down the line.
The Ibanez Tube Screamer is the industry standard for overdrive pedals. Kicked into legendary status by the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan. The Tube Screamer TS80was first released in the late 70’s and now catches a small fortune on the vintage market but fortunately there are reissues and many boutique clones out there. The Tube Screamer is not the only overdrive circuit of course, there are many excellent options, it is just clearly the most famous. What makes the TS so cool is the way it interacts with an already overdriven amplifier. It can add a nice amount of gain, sustain, and tonal shaping options. They do provide a bit of a boost in the mid frequencies that many people love as it helps to cut through a band. The list of TS users is extensive but Stevie Ray is the most notable.
Many distortion pedals can also be used as overdrive pedals simply by reducing the gain, so once again we see how these terms are a little loose. In high gain amps like a Mesa rectifier the amp is taking advantage of gain staging, many pedals do this as well. Gain staging is simply putting one overdriven tone into another and cascading them to produce even more gain or distortion. So in a Mesa, one preamp tube is being run into another to bump up the level of distortion, there can be any number of gain stages. We can also do this by stacking pedals as well, as we will see in the gain staging pedal chain section. Dialing in a good distorted tone can take some time and slight EQ changes can make a big difference.
You can hear one all over Led Zeppelin’s debut record and all over Jeff Beck’s trademark “Heart Full of Soul” intro riff from the Yardbirds. He also used it extensively on the Jeff Beck Group sessions. Of course the most famous fuzz pedal is the Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face. This pedal was favored by Jimi Hendrix and set the benchmark for fuzz tones that we are still chasing to this day.
As a lover of fuzz pedals myself I have both kinds and find uses for them, they sound different and excellent. Other famous fuzz users are Eric Johnson, David Gilmour, Joe Bonamassa, and Stevie Ray Vaughan to name a few. When shopping for a fuzz, try to play as many as you can next to each other, even of the same model. Due to the transistor values the same model pedal can sound and feel very different from pedal to pedal.
Digital Delay Pedal
In the late 70’s digital technology boomed and made its way into the guitar community. It first entered in the form as rack units which were expensive and relatively large. As costs came down and the technology shrank, digital delay pedals were introduced into the market by Boss in 198with the Boss DD-Since then as technology advanced, delay pedals now offer many features in a very small box such as tape echo, analog, reverse delay, modulated delay, and loopers.
The main difference between analog and digital delays is delay time and note clarity. Digital delays can produce multi second delay times whereas the Deluxe Memory Man offered a delay time of 550ms. Digital delay units also introduced the tap tempo function which is extremely useful when using delay as a rhythmic tool. There are many excellent companies producing excellent delay units, certainly a ground breaker was the Line DLwhich is still popular today. Although I love the sound of a true analog delay, the latest offerings from companies like TC Electronics and Strymon offer so many options and analog emulation options it makes it a tough sell to stick with analog delays.
Chorus pedals can provide a nice subtle doubling effect to the guitar or an extreme “watery” effect when maximized. Famous tunes that use chorus is “Come As You Are” (1991) by Nirvana, and “Brass in Pocket” (1979) by The Pretenders. But basically almost any clean guitar sound in the 80’s had some chorus on it! Certain effects are timeless such as overdrive, reverb and delay. Other effects like chorus can evoke certain time periods such as the 80’s so that is something to keep in mind when using an effect.
What Categories of Volume Pedal to Look Out For
There are a few main things that you need to look out for when choosing your volume pedal. Each different feature will affect the way your pedal works, sounds, and how long it will last before wearing out.
Yes…Made of Pots…
What happens is the Pots get worn out, and then they start to get scratchy and make some pretty irritating noise when you are trying to control your volume.
The upside of the Pots is that they are common. You will find them in almost every volume pedal out there. advantage of the Electro-Optical Circuit is that it doesn’t wear out.
That is because there are no moving parts in it. The Optical Circuit just uses optical technology to read the position you have put the pedal in, rather than an analog connector.
If you choose to have 2
Inputs/Outputs (Stereo), then you have the option of plugging in up to instruments into your pedal. You are probably already aware of the types of possibilities that it opens up for you.
Some Guitar Volume pedals even give you the option to use your Stereo Guitar Volume Pedal as a pan, to pan the mix of your signal between two amps. Doing this can allow you to make some pretty wicked tones as you shoot your amp sound from one side of the stage to the other.
Canyon’s Grand Canyon cross-country hardtail
Cross-country bikes tend to use larger diameter 29in wheels — so are often referred to as 29ers — combined with lightly treaded, low-volume and fast-rolling tyres for maximum speed, though some brands offer them with 650b wheels — also called 27.5in.
They tend to use steeper head angles combined with longer stems and narrower bars for quick reacting handling and to place the rider into an efficient pedalling position.
The downside of this type of geometry is that it can make them harder to control on steeper descents, especially when combined with shorter-travel suspension and skinnier tyres.
Cheaper cross-country bikes will use alloy frames, but carbon is the default choice for top-end race bikes — although exotic materials such as titanium are sometimes seen. They tend to have a very wide range of gears to allow steep climbing as well as a high top speed.
Buy one if: you like pushing your heart rate as high as it’ll go and riding for hours on end.
Entry: £750 (hardtail), £1,000 (full suspension)
This is the most popular style of bike because it can be used for pretty much anything.
Trail bikes have more relaxed angles to give greater confidence when descending and kit that’s designed to deal with more punishment. They use shorter stems and wider handlebars to help improve control at speed, while tyres will have more aggressive tread.
Enduro is a racing format in which the descents are timed, but you still have to pedal yourself around the course. That means that these bikes are designed to perform exceptionally well down steep and difficult trails but are still light and efficient enough to pedal back to the top.
Enduro bikes tend to have more travel than ‘normal’ trail bikes, and are almost exclusively full suspension. Most use around 160-170mm of travel at either end, paired to tough wheels and reinforced tyres. The suspension units they use are still air-sprung but tend to be heavier duty with a wide range of damping adjustments to tune their downhill performance.
Some have remotes that allow you to change the bike’s geometry and travel between a downhill and uphill mode. Many have just one chainring and a device to prevent the chain falling off paired to a wide range of gears at the back. Enduro bikes are also called ‘all mountain’ bikes as they’re ideal for riding in mountainous and technical terrain.
As the name suggests, these bikes are about doing one thing; going down steep and technical tracks very, very quickly.
They have around 200mm of travel at either end, often using coil sprung suspension that’s optimised for pure traction and support, rather than pedalling ability.
To put up with the huge forces the bikes are put under, the forks have legs that extend above the head tube and are then braced together, known as a ‘double-crown’ or ‘triple-clamp’ fork. Again, aluminium is the choice for cheaper bikes, while pro-level machinery will be carbon.
Electric mountain bike
Motorised mountain bikes are becoming very popular indeed, and it’s now possible to find electric mountain bikes in pretty much all of the disciplines listed above.
These bikes incorporate a motor and battery into their design and work by assisting the pedalling that a rider delivers. The power on offer is usually adjusted via a control unit at the bike’s handlebar.
These bikes are significantly heavier than their non-motorised equivalents but can make light work of climbing up the steepest of gradients. Don’t go thinking riding an e-bike is a piece of cake though, these can deliver a workout that many pros use to train with.
Dirt jump bikes
As the name suggests, these are meant for hitting jumps or pump tracks.
They use tough frames that are easy to move about in the air, short-travel forks and often only have one gear for simplicity.
Singlespeed mountain bikes
Popular with masochists, these bikes only have one gear.
The lack of moving parts means they’re simple to maintain and many people like to run them through the winter months to prevent damaging another bike.
They can be very cheap but many are also expensive, exotic bikes built by niche custom framebuilders. They’re usually hardtails or fully rigid.
After you’ve been playing guitar for a while it may occur to you that many of those awesome sounds you hear in recordings by your favorite guitarists are coming from something more than their guitar and amp. Those guys are using guitar effects, in many cases pedals and stomp boxes that alter their sound and impact their tone.
It is clear that learning how to properly choose and utilize guitar effects pedals can make a big difference in your sound. However, as a beginner it may not be so clear what each effect does, or even what it is supposed to sound like.
In this article you will learn the basics of guitar effects pedals so you will be better prepared to choose the right analog stomp boxes and digital effects to complement your sound. I’m not going to spend too much time on the science of how effects boxes do what they do. But I will do my best to explain, in plain English, the basics of each effect.
I’ll also present examples of different types of pedals, where possible, from some of the best guitar effects companies in the business. The point is to give you a taste of what’s out there, and a good idea of what each kind of pedal can do for your sound.
Distortion and Overdrive
Overdrive pedals are intended to mimic the sweet sound of an overdriven tube amp. They are generally more subtle, warmer and a bit richer in sound. Overdrive pedals typically don’t produce the kind of heavy distortion needed in hard rock and heavy metal, but they are fantastic for blues, country, rock and anything else where you need warm, textured distortion. A good example of a quality overdrive pedal is the Ibanez Tube Screamer.
Distortion pedals take things a step further. They often feature multiple gain stages, and most are intended to get that thick, meaty distortion guitarists love for heavier forms of rock. Some pedals take this to the extreme.
I could generalize and say distortion pedals are harsher than overdrive pedals, but truthfully there are some good ones out there than can complement your tone in a very positive way. An example of a popular distortion pedal is the Boss DS-Distortion.
Many newbie guitarists seek out distortion effects because they don’t like the distortion sound that comes with their amp. Analog distortion and overdrive pedals can help, but it is important to realize they are not magic bullets. Even the best distortion pedal is still at the mercy of the amp you are playing through, and the same pedal will react far differently whether played through a 100-watt tube head or a 40-watt solid-state combo.
What this means is, when choosing a distortion or overdrive pedal, it is wise to spend some time doing research so you know you are getting exactly what you want.
Tremolo and Vibrato
When it comes to whammy bars the words tremolo and vibrato are used interchangeably. We’ll give that a pass because it’s standard in the guitar world, but it is important to understand that they are not at all the same effect.
The key difference is this: Tremolo describes a change or wavering in volume, where vibrato describes a change in pitch. Therefore, the whammy bar on your guitar is more accurately described as a vibrato bar, not a tremolo.
Tremolo and vibrato are in many ways the granddaddies of guitar effects. They can be heard prominently in early rock, surf rock, rockabilly, country and blues. These effects even came standard on many amps back in the day, most notably classic Fenders.
Wahs and Envelope Filters
The Dunlop Cry Baby is a classic example of a great wah pedal. This pedal adds a ton of texture and nuance to guitar solos, and can also be used to create some very funky ‘70s-ish effects. A wah is essentially a controllable frequency filter. By manipulating the pedal you can change your tone from treble to bass and anywhere in between. This control is part of what makes the wah effect so popular.
An envelope filter is similar to a wah, except the changing of the frequency is controlled via the input from your instrument rather than by a pedal. This means you can control the sound by how hard you pick, for example.
The Dunlop Cry Baby is a must-have guitar effect pedal, but the Original version is a pretty hefty hunk of gear. The new Mini Cry Baby makes toting a great wah to gigs and rehearsals easier than ever.
Compression is somewhat of a utilitarian effect, though I suppose some players see it as a key part of their sound. Essentially, compression is used to even out your sound. In recording situations this means helping instruments blend together by smoothing out the peaks and valleys inherent in the overall frequency spectrum. Louder sounds, like the crack of snare drum or a shout from a vocalist, become smoother, softer and woven into the overall mix.
So why would you want to make your guitar sound smoother and softer? You might not, but there are some smart ways to use compression for guitar and especially bass.
For example, bass guitar frequencies are on the relatively low end of the tonal spectrum. However, plucking a bass string can create a sudden, short burst of high and mid-frequency sounds. You need your bass amp to be loud enough to make those low-frequency sounds strong and audible in the mix, but you don’t want to flatten your band mates or blow out your speakers by sudden pops of high-frequency sounds.
The solution is to use compression, which many bass amps feature as an onboard effect. While the issue isn’t nearly as pronounced with guitar frequencies, you can use the effect to the same end.
Choosing Your Effects
There are a gazillion different effects pedals out there, and new ones are released every year. Legendary guitar players get their sound in part by the concoction of effects units they employ. They found their way by trial and error, and you will have to do the same.
Your first step should be to think about what you’d really like to add to your sound. If you like the clean tones you get from your amp but can do without the buzzy onboard distortion, consider adding an overdrive or distortion pedal to your rig. If you’d prefer to experiment with chorus, a phaser or a pitch shifter, start there. There are no wrong answers when it comes to effects, and the units you choose and how you decide to use them are part of the creativity of playing guitar.
Don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune either. While there are some very pricey boutique pedals on the market that get outstanding reviews, there are also affordable pedals that will do the job just fine. Consider brands like Boss, DOD and MXR for some great pedals at affordable prices. If you end up with a pedal you don’t like as much as you thought you would, you can always trade it in and get something different.
Good luck on your quest to explore the world of guitar effects pedals. As a beginner you have a lot to learn, but hopefully this article got you started off right.
Gear returned in mint condition. If you’re looking for a virtually new instrument in possibly less-than-perfect packaging, this is a great value.
Worth The Trouble
I have taken mine apart and put it back together many times now. It started to squeak at the pivot bar so I sprayed some gun oil in it. The squeak stopped but the feel of it changed to a loose/mushy feel. I completely tore it down, cleaned the parts with alcohol, then greased the friction points with Vaseline to restore the smooth action I wanted. Then the pot started causing a crackling noise in the signal. Sprayed the pot with brake cleaner and fixed it for about weeks then it locked up completely. After replacing the pot, I stretched the spring out of shape and tension was too loose. The string kept coming off so I had to replace the spring. I have tried to find a better pedal but I keep coming back to this one. Nothing else has the same gradual swell I want. Besides, now that I’m an expert on it I can fix just about anything else that may go wrong with it again. It’s been a real pain but I can’t find anything that works better.
As a bonus, it should be noted, with some of these pedals you can use them to control other pedals if they have ability to connect an “expression” pedal. Some types that utilize this are tremolo pedals or chorus pedals; we put together a list of the best of those if you click the links.
Ernie Ball VP Potentiometer
This pedal is a pretty decent pedal that doesn’t impact tone very much, but also isn’t as expensive as the Boss pedal below which makes it pretty appealing. It should be noted this pedal is ONLY for passive instruments and not active instruments, they made a different model for active instruments like a keyboard, or if you have active pickups in your guitar or bass guitar.
Since it is for passive instruments, it doesn’t actually need a power source, it basically just impedes the signal from your guitar or other passive instrument. In my opinion, that is pretty worthwhile as I have quite a few pedals and only so much room/plug-ins using my daisy chain.
The VP Potentiometer is pretty easy to use and it is a fairly straightforward pedal. The pedal face controls the swell and volume using their respective knobs. The footpad allows you to control the volume/expression of the pedal. When the pedal is in the heal down position it allows you to utilize silent tuning so you wont blow out the speakers with the clicks of the tuner…. okay, a bit exaggerated but you get what I mean.
A feature of this pedal that should be highlighted is the fact that it has a switch behind the jack under the footplate to toggle between two different swell rates. This can be nice so you can fine-tune your sound/how you want the pedal to react; making it personalized to your use.
All and all this pedal is great for what you pay for. It doesn’t break the bank account and is a pretty solid volume pedal that keeps true to the tone of your guitar and amp. I would recommend this pedal to anyone who is on a budget but needs a great pedal to use.
Like I said at the beginning of this article, when it comes to volume pedals I think you really get what you pay for, especially compared to some other pedals out there. If you have the extra cash that you can afford a minor splurge on a decent volume pedal, I would suggest splurging.
However, if you are on a budget, or you don’t really know if you will use a volume pedal and want one you can use and burn after, then this would be a great option for you. Also, probably not best to burn pedals….
The controls are pretty standard and similar to the other volume pedals on this list, and surprisingly it can be used as an expression pedal as well. If I were to have bought this pedal as a trial for a volume pedal, which I was close to doing, then I would have probably used it for a bit, purchased a better volume pedal and made this one a permanent expression pedal.
That is a longwinded way of saying this is a decent pedal for what you are paying for. Not quite as durable as a boss, not quite the tone as an Ernie, but all and all decent for the price point.
The RC-300 is built for
Breaking out of the traditional foot pedal design, the RC-50offers up some significant looping power – at your fingertips! Beatboxers, singers, and club performers, your Loop Station has arrived. This compact tabletop device, has five stereo phrase tracks and various loop playback behaviors, plus INPUT FX and TRACK FX that deliver a wide range of real-time processing options for dynamic, expressive sound creation. Just plug in a mic, instrument, or other audio source, and then ride the intuitive panel controls to build and mix some amazing loops! The RC-50also supports computer integration via USB and operation with external pedals and MIDI, opening a world of advanced looping possibilities for all types of musicians.
Here we’ve gathered a carefully curated selection of the highest-scoring guitars to hit the mid-price category in the past few years. It’s not all Fender and Gibson, either – there’s a whole world of well-appointed designs now available outside of the high-end market.
This San Dimas echoes the Pro Mod spec sheet – Duncan pickups, neck profile and compound radius, switching arrangement – of the hardtail model, right until you get to the bridge bit itself.
Here, you get a Floyd Rose vibrato with locking top nut, with all the tuning stability and dive-bombing potential that entails. Like the equally Floyd-blessed So-Cal, here the vibrato occupies a recess in the guitar’s top to allow you to pull back its arm. That means you can do those accelerating motorbike impressions everyone with a Floyd did in the 80s.
Multi Effects Units
As a beginner you’re probably anxious to try out all of the different effects above and then some. A very costly endeavour to undertake, and where to start!? If you’re taking your first tentative steps into the world of guitar effects then a much more money efficient option is a multi-fx unit. These will generally contain the majority of the effects listed above, enabling you to sample each one and find out which you like the best. As a bonus, multi-fx units will often contain other useful features such as a built-in metronome and tuner. You can absolutely use one of these units in place of an amp while you learn the ropes, all you need is a pair of headphones.
Each unit features 100 effects and amp models, of which can be used simultaneously. They have a built-in drum machine (metronome) featuring almost 70 different patterns for you to practice along with at your own speed. An accurate tuner ensures you are always playing at perfect pitch. Another awesome feature is the built-in looper, which allows you to record up to 30 seconds of high quality audio. A headphone jack allows for quiet practice. Unbelievably at this price, both units also include a well-lit LCD screen for easy navigation of the menu system. An auxilliary input on the back allows you to connect a music source, to allow you to jam to your favorite songs.
Both units can be powered with 4xAA batteries. Alternatively they can be powered with a standard 9V PSU (such as this one), or USB mini cable (such as this one).
Check out this excellent overview and demo video from our friends over at GuitarWorld magazine.
Both units include 70 different high quality effects, amp and cab emulators, and the ability to chain of them together in any order. Other key features include a built-in tuner, drum machine, looper with up to 80 seconds of recording. Three large LCD displays with corresponding footswitches and knobs makes it easy to view and edit multiple effects at a glance.
Computer Based Effects
In my opinion the most important effects pedal a worship guitarist needs is a delay pedal. The rhythmic and textural sounds of delay have influenced the sound of modern worship music more than any other musical effect. Dotted 8th note delays and volume swells have been taken right out of the Uplaybook of guitar sounds and have become so prevalent that it’s hard to find a modern worship song without them.
There are many uses for a volume pedal. Are you heading into a lead solo? Then you use your volume pedal. Are you doing swells, sending signal to a different effect as Kyle did, or maybe you just need a mute? The volume pedal is the way to go.
An active volume pedal contains and amplifier circuit that is normally used as a buffer, and sometimes for other features such as boost, tuner isolation, and so on. Active volume pedals require power from an internal battery or an external power supply.
Back in the day when my head would support long hair, I played in a Christian rock band named Morningstar. I remember one gig we did where it was a talent show for a traditional church. Because we had guitars with distortion pedals, one of the Elders of the church said we were 60 decibels too loud regardless of the fact that we could sing without amplification of our voices and still be heard. He equated distortion with loudness.
Phrase Loopers require a bit of playing experience beyond rank beginner status. They let you record a phrase or passage of music, play it back on command, and play along with it. Using the better units, you can record more and longer passages and record layers of performance on top of them. See our Phrase Looper Pedal Buyers Guide.
Anyone with a stereos system is familiar with EQ. EQ boosts or removes certain frequencies and at extreme settings can create unusual effects, such as extra deep bass or an emphasized midrange. Tone controls are the most familiar EQ filters, but you can get very creative with an equalizer and this is where the EQ Pedal comes in. EQ Pedals can also be used to boost your signal by moving up all the faders and hitting the button, but watch out, it will be quite a boost and could damage your speakers. See our EQ Pedal Buyers Guide.
Wah Wah pedals
Wah Wah Pedals work by varying the filtering of frequencies dynamically with your foot to give a Wah Wah or quacking sound to your playing. A Wah Wah pedal is essentially an EQ that can be constantly varied by your foot. Since you need to coordinate the movement of the pedal with your playing, the Wah Wah is not a tool for rank beginners. See our Wah Wah Pedal Buyers Guide.
Amps are how the electrical currents in a unit are measured. It is important to look at the rating to see how many amps the pedal can handle. There are all different amp ratings for footswitches, so make sure you have a pedal that will have the amps that you require.
View on Guitar Center
The Line Helix Control Foot Controller can be used with pretty much any MIDI-capable device. When you add the Helix Control Floor Controller for Helix Rack, you have the same performance as the floor-based Helix that gives you a whole new range of creativity.
The Helix Control connects with just one cable, so you can create custom labels, select blocks to edit by just touching a footswitch, edit parameters hands-free with Pedal Edit Mode, and connect up to three expression pedals. The dual-DSP engine gives you lots of power to precisely create the awesome feel of tube amplifiers, plus the Helix 2.0 firmware gives you five new amp models that are inspired by the legendary Mesa/Boogie Mk IV and Marshall JCM 800, and delay effects, EQ, modulation, and new distortion.
The Helix Control also features new HX Hybrid cabs that show a new approach to speaker cabinets as they give you resolution lower DSP usage with a 2048-point Impulse Response. You also get a more precise low-end response with the microphone accurately captured at 1different distances. Plus, you get to load your own custom impulse responses that let you customize your rig setup even more.
The Helix also gives you footswitches that are touch-sensitive, so you can easily choose to edit something like an effect block with a simple touch. The large LCD display gets rid of the need for menus and gives you the level of control that you would normally see with an external editor. You can easily see which footswitch you are using with just a glance from the easy to understand user interface.
There are four stereo signal paths per preset that let you create scenarios that have complex routing with variations and schemes that are easy to select with template presets. Tonal possibilities are big with the four freely-assignable effects loops that are used in conjunction with the onboard effects models. Individual presets are also features in the new Snapshots performance in Helix 2.0 firmware that lets you pull up, change, and control certain elements of your tone instantly. The Helix Control will quickly become the control center of your rig.
The Helix 2.0 firmware gives you control enhancements with the new Variax for new performance possibilities. It has the same accessible and intuitive user interface, so you do not have to learn a new workflow, and you can easily rename patches, edit tones, and reorganize your patch list.
The other classic option is the VOX V847A which is a reissue of the classic 60s V84Some guitarists prefer the Crybaby and some prefer the VOX to get a classic wah tone. Just like the Crybaby, this pedal is incredibly simple without any flexibility or features you will see in the pedals later on.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your volume pedals wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of volume pedals
- №1 — Donner 2 in 1 Viper Mini Passive Volume Expression Guitar Effect Pedal
- №2 — Donner 2 in 1 Vowel Mini Active Wah Volume Effect Guitar Pedal
- №3 — Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics