What happens when you want to take things up to 11 from the stage but the sound guy or gal has control over your reach? If they are ignoring your calls to turn up the guitar then you can take matters into your own hands from the stage with a volume pedal.
Although they lack the fun of a wah or flange pedal and have less of an effect on your songs that a distortion pedal, they are a necessary purchase. If the name needs any explanation then yes, they give you control over the volume and are convenient. However, some volume pedals are not as easy to use as you would hope and if you end up with a dud, you could be missing out on some of the neat extras from the reputable brands.
This is why we have created a list of the best volume pedals available.
Quick Summary of Volume Pedal
BOSS Volume Pedal (FV-500H)
For a straight-up pure volume pedal that doesn’t have any unnecessary tricks up its sleeve, this is the best option out there. The reputable Boss name is a regular feature in our list of the best pedals and in the FV-500H they have created another worthy option. The aluminum die-cast body is sturdy ensuring it can last a long time and the smooth pedal movement puts you in control.
This means you aren’t going to accidentally apply to much pressure and blow the ears off your neighbors and you can adjust the torque of the pedal to what suits you. It gives an expressive output so you can use it alongside your effects pedals and it will only enhance the sound. There is also a non-slip rubber layer on the pedal although remember it is mono so not for everyone.
- Adjustable torque
- Grippy pedal
- Sturdy design
- Smooth pedal movement
SONICAKE Wah/Volume Guitar Pedals VolWah Active Wah & Volume 2-in-1 Pedal
Another excellent option and this one has a quality wah effect included. The 100% analog volume is easy to adjust with the foot pedal that sits right between sensitive and responsive. It feels pretty lightweight but has a sturdy construction and two LED lights show you what mode you are using.
The wah is a CryBaby style effect which sounds great and although it has this additional feature, it remains one of the most reasonably priced volume pedals on our list. Compared to other pedals in the niche, it is pretty compact which leaves you with more room for other pedals. However, you won’t need to find a wah so enjoy the active volume control without having to sacrifice too much precious space on your pedalboard.
- 100% analog volume
- Includes wah effect
- Compact size
- Good value
- Plastic casing not as robust as others
Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics
With a small footprint and a mono volume control, this is an excellent volume pedal for anyone trying to save space but not compromise on quality. The tone won’t suffer from putting this in your circuit even after many years and because it is passive you don’t need a power supply or battery.
It is best to run a powered pedal in front of this one to not sacrifice on tone and has precise positioning to make it easy to find the ideal volume when you’re switching between sections. The cock and leave function remains steady when you take your foot off and there is plenty of grip when you’re trying to settle it in the right place. It’s fine to use in the middle of your circuit board and features a taper switch so you can move between swells.
- Small footprint
- Grippy pedal
- Maintains tone well
- Passive volume pedal
- Not as durable as other options
Dunlop Guitar Volume Pedal (DVP4)
This is half the size of some of the popular volume pedals on the market and it remains easy to use and has plenty of grip. The pedal itself is responsive and you can tailor it to your needs through the adjustable tension. What makes it stand out is the internal pot. This allows you to set a minimum parameter level that you are in control of.
The AUX output can be used to connect to a tuner so if you want to keep your circuit nice and tidy, this is a good option. It is a reliable volume pedal that won’t take up a lot of room on your pedalboard which is all a lot of people ask for. Still, the numerous positive reviews and sturdy design ensures it is worthy of consideration.
- Adjustable tension
- Can control the level parameter
- Compact size
- Sturdy build
- Range not quite as good as more expensive options
Lehle Mono Volume Pedal
With an appealing design, this mono pedal makes a great first impression and it is often considered to be the best volume pedal available for a reason. This is what you should be taking on tour as it has a hall sensor mode that gauges the environment, using magnets to determine what the ideal volume should be for your guitar or bass. This saves you from having to touch the pedal and reduces wear.
Because it’s an active pedal it requires an external power source although it can’t take batteries. This might be a pain for some people but because it is a high-end product, expect to have to give it all the power it needs via an adapter.
Another feature that makes it stand out is the boost gain so you can give your sound some clean overdrive as well as some volume.
- Looks great
- Hall sensor gauges the required volume
- Boost gain feature
- Sturdy design
- Might be a bit pricey for some people
Mission Engineering Vm-1 Volume Pedal w/Mute & Tuner Out Red
Best With Tuner
If you are worried about your volume pedal eating your tone then this should ease any fears. It allows you to control the volume at your feet without compromising the sound quality. We like the design and there is enough grip on the pedal to make you feel comfortable using it on stage and it also doubles up as a tuner.
This is possible when you press the pedal down and mutes the guitar making it easy to tune and change guitars without any unwanted noise.
- Great for tone
- Good amount of grip
- Tuner mode
- Mutes when in tuner
- A little heavy
Volume Pedal Guide
Whilst there are other pedals that most guitarists want over a volume pedal, there is no getting away from the importance of being able to control the volume of your guitar on stage. Even when rehearsing, there are times when you need to play with the level to bring yourself into the foreground without having to take your hand off the neck of your guitar.
The best products give you control over the sensitivity of the pedal but that is just one feature to make sure you get. To help you make a sensible purchase, we have created the following buyer’s guide.
What To Look For In A Volume Pedal
Not everyone likes the feel of their volume pedal, to begin with. The springiness should be adjustable so you can find the right level so you aren’t stomping on it too far which shoots the volume up and ruins the song but it should also be comfortable.
The best products are those that make this possible otherwise you are stuck with what the brand gives you.
This can be everything from a built-in tuner to an additional effect but it can make it feel like you’re getting a good value. As long as the volume control is to a high standard, anything else is a bonus but added effects can save you some room on your pedalboard. Speaking of which…
A full-size volume pedal can take up a fair bit of room. Think of your wah pedal and how much of your pedalboard that needs. If you have both then you are losing a lot of room before you have thought about the likes of distortion or a tuner pedal.
This is why some people prefer to use a compact volume pedal. Think of where you are going to put it before you buy it.
This is especially important when playing to an audience as an innocent slip can result in an embarrassing mishap. You’ll either mute your guitar or send it through the roof so look for a product with a grippy tread.
Not all volume pedals offer this but you can turn the volume off so that when you change guitars between songs or tune your strings it mutes everything. Useful if you want to look as professional as possible.
Yes, you step on a volume pedal to adjust the settings but some are built better than others. It is fine for a volume pedal to save a bit of money with plastic housing but remember that you get what you pay for. By this we mean you shouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t last too long after you drop it.
A touring guitarist should go for a product with a metal outer to ensure it can withstand the rigors of daily use.
Volume Pedals and Pickups
One of the main things to remember when buying a volume pedal is that it should match the impedance of your guitar’s pickups. This might be difficult if you are changing instruments between songs but just go with the one you use the most. This will save you from losing tone.
Passive pickups are better suited to a volume pedal that sits in the 200k – 500k mark. Active pickups are going to require a 25k – 50k volume pedal.
Passive Vs Active Volume Pedals
Any active volume pedal is going to require an external power source to power it, a passive volume pedal does not. A passive volume pedal works the same way as the volume switch on your guitar whilst an active volume pedal can be combined with other features such as boost.
What Does A Volume Pedal Do?
Although it might seem obvious, a basic volume pedal doesn’t do a lot more than give you the chance to control the volume with your foot whilst you are playing. This means you can keep your hands-free and can help you to bring certain guitar parts to the foreground then bring them back in again.
This means you can also fade guitar parts manually and allows you to control the entire chain.
How Much Does A Volume Pedal Cost?
Although they aren’t as exciting as some of the other options for a guitarist, they do cost the same as most types of pedals. This means you will find it hard to buy a reputable product for anything less than $100.
There are some good basic products around this price but something between $100 – $150 will get you a superior build and the potential for a couple of useful features.
The high-end volume pedals are closer to $300 but these elite models can give you additional features like gain boost or even a sensor that gauges the best volume.
Where Should I Put A Volume Pedal In My Chain?
Unless you are using a compressor (which is often placed before a volume pedal) a lot of people like to place their volume pedal first in the chain. This way it can control gain as well as volume but mainly works on the guitar whilst the other effects work their magic.
The other preferred choice is to put it last to control the volume of everything at once, encompassing all the effects.
What Is The Best Volume Pedal?
Although a lot of people like to save a bit of money on their volume pedal to buy a better model of a different effect, there is no denying the quality of BOSS Volume Pedal (FV-500H). It does all the basics to a high standard giving you adjustable torque control and a grippy pedal.
The build quality feels solid so it is going to make it to the other side of those months of touring and has an expressive output. For anyone on a budget, you can get a lot of joy out of the SONICAKE Wah/Volume Active Pedal. With Wah as an additional feature and a compact size, it is a good volume pedal for what is usually under $100.