You’d think that buying a guitar volume pedal would be a pretty simple process, as volume pedals don’t necessarily have specific sounds that you need to worry about.
All they do is change the volume with a pretty basic volume modulation mechanism.
Well as you’d probably guess (as you’re about to read an entire article on it), there is much more to this piece of gear than you would expect.
If you’re someone looking to get your first volume pedal, or you want to swap out an old one for something sleeker and cleaner, we have the guide for you!
Having a volume pedal is necessary if you want to have full on control of your output, so take control of your knowledge, and check out the rest of our article to find out which volume pedal is best for you.
Our 8 Favorite Volume Pedals
If you’re serious about getting the very best volume pedal on the market, look no further than the Lehle Mono Volume Pedal. Thanks to the built-in Hall sensor, it is easily one of the most reliable pedals out there (or so many pro guitarists will tell you).
The Hall sensor is a small device that utilizes magnets to determine what level the volume should be when the axis reaches a certain point. Essentially, since you aren’t using an actual axis mechanism, it doesn’t wear out over time.
Because it is an active pedal, you will need an external power source to use it. It does not take batteries either, so you will have to use the power adapter that comes with it.
Bottom Line: Overall, the Lehle Mono Pedal gives you an incredible mix of power and precision when compared to other products. If your playing and performance style require the best in class, we highly recommend picking one of these bad boys up.
Ernie Ball is known for making some of the best volume pedals around, as they are seriously rugged and incredibly flexible. The Ernie Ball 250K mono is no different.
As you probably guessed by the name, the pedal has a 250k impedance. This means that if you use active pickups on your guitar, you’ll likely experience a loss in tone if you use it in conjunction with this pedal.
The coolest thing about the Ernie Ball 250k Mono is that it comes with a taper switch on the side. This feature, present in all of the Ernie Ball Volume Pedals, allows you to adjust the volume curve of the pedal.
The first mode allows for a very consistent change in volume while the second mode accelerates a bit faster, making it perfect for those dreamy volume swells.
The pedal also comes with a nice tuner output so that you can use a tuner without having it taking up space in your signal chain, a pretty neat feature.
Bottom Line: For a tough and versatile pedal, best for passive pickups, look no further than the Ernie Ball 250K Mono Volume Pedal. It has a durable build and two different modes to mold with all your volume needs!
The Boss FV-500L is a low impedance pedal, meaning that unlike the Ernie Ball 250K, this pedal is intended to work with active pickups.
Like other Boss pedals on the market, this pedal is ridiculously durable. More than any other pedal on our list, the Boss ones can handle the trials and tribulations of heavy performance.
This is thanks to the metal build and durable pedal rubber for comfortable, non-slip play action.
This pedal also functions as a stereo pedal, allowing you to use it on instruments besides guitars.
Furthermore, the FV-500L can be used as an expression pedal thanks to the included expression function, and has a tuner output!
Bottom Line: The Boss FV-500L is one of the toughest and most versatile pedals out there for active pickups. There is no doubt that this stereo pedal will last you for years to come!
Just like the Boss FV-500L, the FV-500H is seriously durable. The main difference between the two is that this pedal is built for high-impedance. This means that it will function best when paired with passive pickups.
Unlike the FV-500L, this model is a mono model, meaning you would most likely just be using it for guitar or some other mono instrument.
Beyond its standard use, it comes with some pretty sweet added features as well. You have the expression output, which allows the pedal to function as an expression pedal simultaneously, as well as a tuner output, in case you want to keep your tuner out of the way of your signal chain!
Bottom Line: If you have passive pickups and you want a durable and long lasting pedal that can be used for both expression and volume, you need to look no further than the Boss FV-500H. This thing is a tank!
Mission isn’t known for many things, but their guitar volume pedal is one that shouldn’t be underestimated. Crafted by a family-owned company, this bad boy stands up against all the majorly manufactured competitors.
The most noticeable difference is the sleek and eccentric red finish that separates from the onslaught of black and silver pedals.
It comes with 500k impedance, meaning you’ll likely want to use it with passive pickups. The potentiometer on this model is completely sealed, require zero maintenance. You could use it a million times without having any problems. Literally.
There is an isolation output for the tuner so you don’t have to worry about degrading the signal and a mute mode that can be engaged by pressing on the front of the pedal.
Bottom Line: Both simple and sleek, the VM-1 by Mission Engineering is one of the best “boutique” volume pedals around. If you have passive pickups and want something easy to use and long lasting, this may be right up your alley.
The Dunlop GCB80 is designed for guitars, straight up. You’re probably familiar with the Dunlop Cry Baby (Dunlop’s famous Wah Pedal). This is essentially an iteration of that pedal regarding build and design, though for volume instead of envelope filtering. It’s best for passive pickups with high impedance as well.
The feel of this pedal is smooth and responsive, similar to the Cry Baby, making it great for taking out on the road. It is designed like a tank, meaning there’s no doubt you could pass this pedal along to your grandchildren if taken care of.
Bottom Line: If you’re all about the classics and need a gig-worthy pedal for all your shredding duties, check out the Dunlop GCB 80. It’s both simple and durable and will last you a lifetime.
Moving into the less expensive territory, we have the Valeton-EP2. Even though this little orange pedal may not look like much, it gives you reliable volume modulation and expression at a surprisingly affordable price.
It’s different from many combo pedals in that you only get a single input and output for both expression and volume. It essentially detects the output source to decide which one you are using.
We also love the EP-2 because of how compact it is. Unlike most volume pedals, it won’t take up much space on your board. On the downside, it is constructed out of plastic, meaning it’s a bit weaker and flimsier than the other pedals, though it also makes it far more lightweight and easy to transport.
Bottom Line: This passive guitar pedal is compact, inexpensive, and can be used with an array of passive pieces of music equipment. If you need both expression and volume wrapped up in a small pedal that won’t break the bank, the EP-2 is a great choice.
One of the most interestingly budget friendly volume pedals out there is the Signstek Guitar Stereo Sound Volume Pedal.
This passive, stereo volume pedal has a minimum volume adjustment knob and a price that seems almost too good to be true. It’s mostly because it is a no-frills pedal. The housing is made of plastic unlike most pedals on our list, and there is not much grip.
Other than that, the pedal is solid! It works from zero volume to full volume, just as a volume pedal should. You can easily use this on everything from guitars to synthesizers to keyboards and beyond. It also comes without the tone suck that you typically hear from most cheap volume pedals.
Bottom Line: The Signstek Volume Pedal is easily the best budget-friendly/entry-level volume pedals on the market right now. While it may not be the most durable, concerning functionality, it is a serious competitor for many of the top name pedals on the market.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Volume Pedal
The best kinds of guitar volume pedals are the ones that don’t bring any of their own sounds onboard!
With most effects pedals, it’s crucial that you get personality and color, as your goal is to manipulate the sound of your guitar.
For volume pedals, that is not the case. You want your sound to simply become louder or softer, not change in tone. If you find yourself looking at reviews and see that people are talking about some pedals altering their guitar’s tone, don’t even bother with it.
The very first thing that you need to know when looking for a volume pedal is what type of pickups you have in your guitar. It’s extremely important that your pedal and pickups match in impedance so not to cause any loss in tone.
We know impedance can be complicated, so thankfully matching the impedance of your pickups to a pedal isn’t.
Just remember, if you have passive pickups, you’ll want to get a volume pedal that is somewhere in the 250k-500k range. If you’re using active pickups, you’ll want to look in the 25-50k range instead.
Check out Mission Engineering’s QA for more info on this.
Passive Vs. Active
Passive pedals are similar passive guitar pickups in that they do not need any sort of external power to get going. Active pedals, however, need external power sources.
Passive volume pedals will control the volume of a guitar similarly to how you would control it with a knob. Active volume pedals usually have extra expression features onboard and can be used to manipulate the sound a bit more. This is why they require the extra power.
If you are just looking for a way to control the level of your signal, go with a passive volume pedal. On the other hand, if you want to be able to take advantages of other features like expression, an active pedal may work to your advantage.
Stereo Vs. Mono
While it is not on the top of many people’s priority list when searching for a pedal, it might be important for you to consider whether you want a stereo or mono pedal.
If you only plan on using your volume pedal for your guitar, then mono should be just fine. On the other hand, if you plan on using your guitar for stereo instruments such as keyboards or synthesizers, you’ll want to get one with stereo capability.
Crank Up the Volume!
Overall, if you’re serious about volume pedals, pick up the Lehle Mono Pedal. It’s non-mechanism, magnet functionality is top-of-the-line.
Even if spending that much money doesn’t float your boat, there is bound to be another pedal on our list for your budget, preferences, and needs.
As long as you are in the market for a guitar volume pedal that does its job well, we can say with certainty that you won’t regret purchasing any of products listed above!