If you are a beginner, choosing a volume pedal can be a bit of a headache. There’s so much terminology that it’s hard to know where to start.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide, outlining basic information about the various aspects you need to consider, all culminating in us introducing you to our chosen 5 best volume pedals.
But, before we go on to the reviews, let’s get the basics out of the way. To begin with, we are going to tell you what volume pedals are, how you use them, before explaining the criteria you should consider when choosing one.
What Is a volume pedal?
As the name suggests, you use a volume pedal to control the volume of an instrument, in our case, of a guitar. You connect it to your guitar, and, using your foot, you control the volume. If you are playing electric guitar, you already have a volume knob, but changing the volume with a volume pedal is more convenient. You don’t have to use your picking hand, instead, you use your foot.
Generally, when pressing all the way down with your toe, you reach the maximum volume, whereas heel down will give you the lowest volume.
It only gets complicated when you start looking at all the different functions of a volume pedal. Depending on the volume pedal type, you can create all sorts of different sounds and go way beyond controlling the volume. With some of the best volume pedals, you can achieve many different sound effects.
Volume Pedal Buying Guide
Here are the most important aspects to consider when choosing the best volume pedal:
This is a bit of a no-brainer but do make sure to buy one that will go the distance.
Make sure you buy a volume pedal that doesn’t alter the sound of your instrument. Some volume pedals do.
A rare few volume pedals can produce a degradation of tone which is a no-no for wood instruments like guitars, so it’s best to steer away from volume pedals that cause tone loss.
Active or passive volume pedal
An active volume pedal requires a power supply but is less sensitive than a passive one. There are two types of passive volume pedals, those with high impedance and those with low impedance. For guitars, you need volume pedals with high input impedance. All our recommended volume pedals of course feature high input impedance. If you are using a passive volume pedal, it will be important to choose the right spot in your signal chair for it. Passive volume pedals are more finicky but also more convenient in many ways.
You can connect some volume pedals to a tuner which can be convenient during gigs.
This has to do with the functions of the pedal. Do you just want to control the volume or create different sounds?
Some volume pedals double as expression pedals, so you can alter the sound and create special effects.
These are the fundamental points to consider, read on to find out about our 5 best volume pedals.
Valeton EP-2 Passive Volume Expression Guitar Effects Pedal
This is a classic 2-in-1 volume and expression pedal, available at a reasonable price. It’s made of durable plastic and doesn’t require batteries or a power supply. What’s more, it’s compatible with most guitar types as well as a range of other instruments.
Using the input jack, you connect it to your instrument, while for the output jack, you can either use it for your signal out or connect it to your stereo for use as an expression pedal in which case you would leave the input empty.
This is a solid, value-for-money choice and performs well for volume control and as an expression pedal.
- Passive so no need for a power source
- Volume and expression pedal
- Lightweight and durable
- Suitable for use with most instruments
- Value for money
- Precise volume control can be difficult to achieve
Boss FV-500H Volume Pedal – High Impedance
This is another 2-in-one, currently coming in at double the price of the Valeton. There are, however, a few major differences.
For starters, this pedal is made of durable aluminum. Secondly, you can use this pedal as an expression and volume pedal all at once, and the sound control is exceptional. This is the high impedance version, which should match all guitars. Look for the low impedance version if you plan to connect it to a keyboard.
This is also a passive pedal, so it doesn’t need a power supply or batteries.
An additional feature here is the tuner output, which can come in pretty handy.
With this volume pedal, you have excellent control over the sound.
- Made of sturdy aluminum
- Smooth pedal action
- Can be used as a volume and expression pedal simultaneously
- Tuner output
- No power supply required
- There’s a point of sudden increase in volume so it’ll take a bit of getting used to
Dunlop DVP4 Volume X Mini Pedal
If you are looking to save space, this might just be your best volume pedal. It performs just as well as the larger DVP3, doesn’t require a power source, and it also doubles up as an expression pedal.
This low-friction volume pedal is designed for smooth pedaling, and it has a few extra features. Using the AUX output, you can connect it to a tuner or use it as an expression pedal. You can also reverse the heel down and toe down position if that’s more comfortable for you.
All in all, this pedal provides precise volume control, even though it’s much smaller than most volume pedals.
The build is sturdy and the surface features non-slip rubber.
- Great for saving space on stage
- Excellent volume control
- No power supply required
- Connectable to a tuner
- Doubles as an expression pedal
- May be too small for some people
Lehle Volume Pedal
This is an active volume pedal, so it requires a power supply (included), but the sound control is incredible. We have to mention that it’s priced way above the three volume pedals reviewed so far. This is because it is an active pedal. Active pedals are preferable if you have to run long cables.
This volume pedal is super sturdy, so say indestructible. There’s never a question of losing sound quality or of you getting annoying interference. Throughout the entire range of volume control, the sound is smooth and faithful, so it’s worth the extra dollars if you are fussy about sound quality. This is especially so if you consider that the gain can be adjusted, which should make the Lehle compatible with a wide variety of guitar pickups.
You can connect it to a tuner and a second amp using the included splitter which is, no doubt, an added bonus.
Most guitar players have this volume pedal for many years without ever experiencing a loss of quality in performance.
- Exceptional volume control
- Adjustable gain
- Free of scratching noises
- Ultra-sturdy and durable
- Allows you to create sweet volume swells
- Price is higher compared to similar models
- Requires a power source for the power supply
- Takes up a lot of space
Ernie Ball 500k Stereo Volume/Pan Pedal
This is the only stereo pedal on our list of 5 best volume pedals. As a result, you can use it for panning as well as volume control.
If you want to add a stereo sound dimension, this might be the best volume pedal for you. On the footplate, you can switch between pan and volume mode. It is possible to use this volume pedal as a mono pedal, but it also gives you the stereo option.
The design is sturdy, the surface non-slip, and when it comes to volume control, this pedal doesn’t disappoint either. The pedal responses are smooth and the switching noise-free. This is a passive pedal, so it doesn’t need a power source.
This volume pedal is more suitable for guitarists who want the stereo dimension as well.
- Panning and volume control
- Excellent responses
- Stereo mode
- Quite large and bulky
Each of our 5 best volume pedals has its own merits. The Valeton is a great entry-volume pedal, while the Ernie Ball is best for people who want to incorporate stereo sounds. The Dunlop Mini performs well and is convenient because it’s so small, whereas the Boss might be the best choice if you want the best build quality at a great price. Our choice of the best volume pedal is the Lehle, even though you need a power source for this active pedal. Our top priority is sound quality, and the Lehle comes out on top in this aspect.