12 Best Guitar Volume Pedals in 2017
If you are new to the world of electric guitars, it can be a little overwhelming. Sure, you can buy any guitar and plug it into an amp, but getting things tuned in properly can be difficult, to say the least. Even when you get the perfect setup, you may want a bit more volume or some “Wahwah” to compliment your playing style.
We will not get into effect pedals that can alter your tone this time around, but we will help you find the best guitar volume pedal to suit your needs. In a nutshell, a volume pedal acts just like the volume pot or knob on your guitar but under foot; this can give you a much-needed boost in certain parts of your song, and while there is only one kind of true volume pedal for your guitar, there are several variations of it. Our guide will help you get through tricky terms and playing at increased strength in no time.
Top 12 Guitar Volume Pedals Ultimate Table
|Design||Name||Active or Passive||Tuner Output||Rating (1-5)|
|1. Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal – Low Impedance||Passive||Yes||4.6|
|2. Mission Engineering VM-1 Volume Pedal||Passive||Yes||4.5|
|3. Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics||Passive||Yes||4.5|
|4. Yamaha FC7 Volume Expression Pedal||Passive||No||4.4|
|5. Boss FV-500H Volume Pedal – High Impedance||Passive||Yes||4.4|
|6. Ernie Ball MVP, Most Valuable Pedal||Active||Yes||4.2|
|7. Fender FVP-1 Volume Pedal||Passive||Yes||4.2|
|8. Dunlop GCB80 High Gain Volume Pedal||Passive||No||4.1|
|9. Dunlop DVP4 Volume X Mini Pedal||Passive||Yes||4.1|
|10. Ernie Ball 250k Mono Volume Pedal||Passive||Yes||3.7|
|11. Morley Mini Volume||Active||No||3.5|
|12. BEHRINGER FCV100||Active||No||3.4|
Volume pedals may be one of the simpler components for your new axe, but you still need to know a bit of the lingo which will help you make an informed decision going forward.
Active or Passive
This area is far simpler than some would lead you to believe. If you see a guitar volume pedal labeled as “Passive,” this means it does not need power as it has its own. While more universal than some of our guitar pedals, you may need to think about what other equipment is being used in your signal chain. Passive pedals can cause issues with other components depending on your setup.
Active volume pedals need juice from an external source or in some cases a simple battery. They work in a similar fashion to their Passive brethren but use a buffer to keep the input and output separate: this means things will be nice and steady regardless of which way you choose to wire. The pickups play a part as well, so you will need to also know if you have a humbucker or an active pickup on your axe.
When looking for the best guitar volume pedal, you are going to hear the term “Expression Pedal” more often than not. While this normally would not be an issue, it becomes problematic when the word Volume is thrown into the mix. If you see an expression with volume control, here is what you will want to keep in mind.
All volume pedals have an input and output. That means it is essentially an effect unto itself and can be used anywhere in your signal chain which can include all types of tech between your guitar and your amp. Some expression pedals will allow you to control volume and throw in a few extra features, but may not fit into your signal chain as you would like if they only have one input. In other words, check for input and output if you want full volume control.
Like any other device or gadget with technical parts, some volume pedals will come with a few extra features. While it may seem like something you can’t live without, many are designed to complement certain types of setups and will be useless to some consumers. Below are two common features found on volume pedals for guitars along with one that’s a bit more exotic.
- Minimal Volume Control – Some guitar pedals will have an extra knob that allows for an extra measure of control. If this is a feature you want, make sure it is foot switchable, or you may end up having to stop to adjust the knob in the middle of a tune.
- Tuner Output – As the name suggests, this port allows you to hook your tuner up to your volume pedal. While it sounds like an amazing idea, you can experience tone loss. You will want to listen for any changes with that port active and possibly make some adjustments if you experience any volume loss or unwanted changes in tone.
- Gain Control – On a guitar amplifier, you generally have to make adjustments for volume with gain knob and your master volume knob. That means you always adjust the gain before setting your max volume at the last stage. Gain control on a volume pedal is more of a bonus than anything and a bit of a rarity on true volume pedals.
Top 5 Best Guitar Volume Pedal Reviews
First up is Boss with the FV-500L Volume Pedal. This one is low impedance, and of the passive variety meaning, it does not need a power cord. This one is a true volume pedal, and from a design standpoint, it is quite attractive with an aluminum body. It is thick and sturdy which means it is built to last and those rubber treads up top should give you great traction whether you are going full foot down or just want to give it a gentle nudge during your solo.
While referred to as an “Expression” pedal, the FV-500L has two sets of inputs and two outputs along with a tuner out jack. You will also get a knob for minimum volume control on the side as a nice additional perk. The Boss FV-500L is far from fancy but is a true workhouse that will definitely get the job done and last for years.
Mission Engineering has produced several solid guitar pedals including the VM-PRO and the VM-1 Volume Pedal. The latter is our pick and has a unique feature dubbed the Mute button. When engaged, the mode enables the tuner which in turns isolates the primary output; this gives players silent tuning during guitar changes. On the flipside, the pedal is only “active’ in mute mode which may turn some consumers away.
Other features to note with the Mission Engineering VM-1 volume pedal include hand wired input and outputs, a 500K impedance and the fact that it is sealed. That means you will not have to worry about the occasional spill, dust, grime or other nasty substances that can gum up the works. It may seem minor, but it is something to consider over models with a more open build.
If you are in the market for something a bit smaller but built for big boosts, you will appreciate the Ernie Ball VP Jr. It lives up to its namesake as it is small measuring only 3.5” x 10” x 2 3/8” so it is ideal for pedal boards as well. The passive mono volume control has a 250k Ohm resistance and sports Kevlar cables with stainless steel springs. It looks good and is extremely tough under foot.
In addition to its style, this passive pedal has a micro taper switch. It is located under the footplate and offers up two different swell rates. When you go “heel down” you can get tuner output with silent tuning for changes which is handy, to say the least. This particular model is not sealed, but you do get an input, output and a tuner jack for connectivity. This one is also available in two models with 250k or 25k.
Yamaha is not the most well-known name in the guitar world. They do know a thing or two about keyboards however and are known for making top notch audio equipment; this includes pedals for keyboards and guitars including the Yamaha FC7 volume expression pad.
The first word to come to mind with this one would be industrial. It is not fancy and has a clean black style with a series of nubs on the top for traction. It is a large pedal but sports spring point adjustment and allows you to adjust the pedal angle as well. If you have ever had a bad foot cramp, you already know how important that can be. It also has a “fortissimo function” which allows you to accent particular parts of your performance on the fly.
Due to its durable nature and the metal connection plate, you can use this for multiple-pedal ganging. It is a bit larger than some on our list as well which means it is friendly to big-footed folks. We just focused on the Volume Expression pedal, but this model has a few variants. There is an assignable sustain pedal, compact sustain pedal and a sustain pedal with half-pedaling as well if you are looking for something to go along with your new Volume pedal.
If you think the Boss FV-500H volume pedal looks familiar, that is because it is a dead ringer for the top choice on our list of the best guitar volume pedals available. This one has the same kind of style with a clean aluminum housing and rubber pads to prevent slippage. That is a good thing unless you are just dead set on Black for performance purposes. It also has a minimum volume control knob on the side to go along with the Tuner Out port. There are some differences, however.
This model is high impedance and only has only one set of input and output jacks compared to the FV-500L. You can adjust the torque of the pedal to get it to swell or jack into the Expression port to kick things up a notch or two as well.