The Best Volume Pedals for Guitar

The Highest Rated Guitar Volume Pedals

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Volume pedals allow you to utilize your foot to control volume, resulting in convenient hands-free volume adjustments, muting and dynamic expression.

This frees up your picking hand to do more tricks, including advanced techniques like volume swells, fades, boosts, manual tremolo and more. And this convenience has made it an important piece of gear for many professional musicians.

Here we look at the best rated guitar volume pedals, based on user ratings and reviews that we analyzed, including the most recent market feedback up to mid December of 2021.

The Best Volume Pedals

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Ernie Ball 250K Mono Volume Pedal

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 275+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$126
Ernie Ball 250K Mono Volume Pedal

The main distinguishing feature of the Ernie Ball 250K is its taper switch, which you can use to change the volume curve as you rock the pedal.

The first taper mode follows traditional design, providing consistent volume change all throughout its taper. The second mode gradually accelerates the volume changes, which allows for quicker volume swells, boosts, tremolo and similar techniques.

With an impedance of 250K, it is designed to better handle instruments with traditional non-active pickups.

It comes with a tuner output, which allows you to use a tuner that does not affect your main signal chain.

Key Features:

  • Design: Volume Pedal
  • Circuit: Passive
  • Best For: Passive Pickups
  • Dimensions: 2.75" x 4" x 11"
  • Weight: 3 lbs

Pros

Transparency and clarity get the most commendations, satisfying users who are sensitive to tone changes. And reviewers are consistent in commending its solid build and feel. As expected, the taper switch is welcomed by many, especially those who utilize advanced volume related techniques.

Cons

The movement of the pedal is controlled by a cord, which allows for good control but can sometimes break. For this reason, there are a few users who caution that this may become a problem if you rock the pedal too hard.

Overall

The Ernie Ball 250K Mono is a solid option if you’re looking for a rugged yet flexible volume pedal for passive pickups.

Dunlop DVP4 X Mini Volume Pedal

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
Dunlop DVP4 X Mini Volume Pedal

The DVP4 X Mini is a volume pedal that follows after the compact design of the Dunlop Cry Baby Mini Wah. It sheds off the usual bulk expected of volume pedals, making it easier to integrate into pedalboards.

In addition to volume control, it can also double as an expression pedal for controlling other effects via its aux output.

It even has an internal pot for setting the minimum value of the pedal swing when used as expression controller.

Finally, you can also use the aux output for plugging into a tuner.

Key Features:

  • Design: Volume or Expression Pedal
  • Circuit: Passive
  • Best For: Active Pickups
  • Dimensions: 2.5" x 2.97" x 6"
  • Weight: 1.28 lbs

Pros

Market response to the Dunlop DVP4 X Mini volume pedal continues to be positive, owing most of its high ratings to its compact size. Owners are pleased at how good it performs, and at the space it saves them. For the size, many are surprised at how solid and reliable it is.

Cons

While most are happy with its small size, some users feel that the size is a little too small for them. There are also a few who are not happy with the ratio by which volume swells up.

Overall

Even with its minor drawbacks, most are more than happy to give the Dunlop DVP4 X Mini high ratings and to recommend it to others.

Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$140
Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal

The Boss FV-500L is a low impedance volume pedal that is ideal for use with active pickup equipped guitars. It follows the same profile and mechanical design as the FV-500H, albeit utilizing passive circuitry.

This volume pedal can also function as an expression controller, and you can fine tune its feel via a torque adjustment - with it you can set the amount of force required to rock the pedal.

It also features a tuner output, for plugging in a tuner that has minimal effect on your signal chain.

It also comes with a minimum volume control.

Key Features:

  • Design: Volume or Expression Pedal
  • Circuit: Passive
  • Best For: Active Pickups
  • Dimensions: 2.9" x 4.4" x 4.4"
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs

Pros

A key selling point of many Boss pedals is that they’re one of the few widely available (and affordable) pieces of gear that are capable of handling the stress of continuous use, and this is even more important for gear with moving parts like volume pedals. There are plenty of reviews that corroborate its durability and reliability, which leaves you with one less thing to worry about. And as time goes on, there are even more long-term users who are satisfied, if not impressed with its overall performance and quality.

Cons

This is not ideal for those who are looking to downsize their rig, and will it will have a hard time fitting into compact pedalboards.

Overall

When space and weight is not an issue, and you want a worry free volume pedal for your active electronics equipped guitar, then this is for you.

Boss FV-500H Volume and Expression Pedal

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 1100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$140
Boss FV500H Volume and Expression Pedal

If there’s one thing Boss effects pedals are famous for its their durability, and this is definitely reflected in the FV-500H.

The FV500H, as denoted by the "H" in its name, is a high-impedance pedal. This means that it’s going to function best with passive pickups.

The pedal comes with an expression output, allowing the pedal to function both as a volume and expression pedal (which can be done simultaneously).

The FV-500H also sports a tuner output, which lets you keep a tuner on your board without it being a drain on your signal chain.

Lastly, the FV-500H also comes with a minimum volume and torque control. The minimum volume control allows you to dictate the lowest volume your volume pedal will achieve, and the torque control allows you to dictate the amount of force needed to use the pedal.

Note that the series also has a FV-500L (a low impedance variant of this pedal) that pairs well with active pickups.

Key Features:

  • Design: Volume or Expression Pedal
  • Circuit: Passive
  • Best For: Passive Pickups
  • Dimensions: 2.9" x 4.4" x 4.4"
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs

Pros

As expected from a Boss pedal, the FV-500H is built to last, it’s not a piece of gear you’re going to have to worry about breaking down. It helps that it looks as solid as it actually is, which it gets a lot of thumbs up for, along with how smooth it operates as you rock the pedal back and forth. It is also commended for being transparent.

Cons

The main issue would be its size, which can be too bulky for those with small pedalboard setups.

Overall

The Boss FV-500H is a volume pedal that will last you a lifetime, and do its job without fail for a long long time.

Lehle Mono Volume Pedal

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Lehle Mono Volume Pedal

At publication time this was the Highest Rated Guitar Volume Pedal.

The Lehle Mono Volume Pedal's main advantage over the others is its wear-free "Hall sensor", a device which uses magnets as a way of sensing to what level the volume pedal should be reducing volume. This means that you don't have to worry about cords and potentiometers breaking, because it reduces parts that require maintenance.

For the magnets to work, the pedal utilizes active circuitry, and this is the reason why it comes with an external power adapter. And since it uses active circuitry, some users are able to drive the volume high enough to make the pedal behave as a clean boost.

Other features include torque adjustment for setting the feel of the pedal, and a buffered out which can be used to power a tuner pedal or to split the signal to a second amplifier.

Key Features:

  • Design: Volume Pedal
  • Circuit: Active
  • Best For: Passive Pickups
  • Dimensions: 2.60" x 3.94" x 10.24"
  • Weight: 3.57 lbs

Pros

The Lehle Mono Volume Pedal is widely considered as one of the most reliable volume pedals currently on the market, thanks to its “Hall sensor” design which removes the need for potentiometers. The build quality and feel of the unit is as solid as the technology it uses it uses, and this is continually reflected in reviews. There are also many who use it as a clean boost for driving tube amps to great effect.

Cons

This pedal requires a considerably bigger investment, not viable for those working with budget constraints. If you don’t already have a power strip to power multiple pedals, the lack of a battery compartment may prove to be an inconvenience.

Overall

If budget is not an issue and you're looking for a more modern and durable take on the volume pedal design, then be sure to check out the Lehle Mono Volume Pedal.

Things to Know Before Buying a Volume Pedal

This information will help you in finding the perfect volume pedal for your rig.

Get the Right Pedal Impedance For Your Pickups

One of the most important things to know before you buy a volume pedal is that when using one 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 ohm range, and if you’re using active pickups you’re going to want a volume pedal in the 25K – 50K ohm 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.

Basically, think of a passive volume effect as a physical limitation of a signal and an active volume pedal as a circuit. You have more options with what an active volume pedal can achieve, though the extra expense may not be worth it if you aren’t going to take advantage of the extra features.

Expression

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. These days, there are volume pedals that are designed to double as expression pedals, it will be best to go for one if this is an important feature for you.

In summation, do not buy an expression pedal if you want a volume pedal. Also, should you purchase a passive 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. Strymon has a helpful guide on this topic.

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. If you're still not sure, you can simply go with the most common route of placing the volume pedal first in your chain, and make adjustments as you gain experience.

Minimum Volume Setting

Some volume pedals let you adjust the range of volume that the rocker will be working with. The minimum volume setting is usually zero, which is equivalent to muting your signal. Raising this setting to your preferred level allows you to go back to your base volume when you rock the pedal back, making it work like a volume boost.

Taper

While most users prefer gradual volume changes, there are some who want bigger changes for volume swells and other stylistic playing. And in order to cater to both of this needs, some manufacturers added Taper control into the pedal. This is a feature you should look into if you're looking to utilize the volume pedal in more expressive ways.

Best Volume Pedal Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2017 and the current edition was published on December 23, 2021.

First we looked at all the highly rated volume pedals available from major online American retailers and short-listed 20 of them for further analysis - you can see the list in the Music Gear Database.

Next we gathered ratings and reviews from retailers, forums, YouTube, blogs and major music gear publications - including the most recent ones up to mid December of 2021. For this update, we ended up with over 6,200 sources, all of which were processed with the Gearank Algorithm to produce rating scores out of 100. These scores were then used to make the final selection of the best volume pedals which you see above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

I've written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at my local church, in addition to teaching guitar, bass and mentoring young musicians.

Drawing from his experience in performing and recording, he teaches guitar and bass and mentors young artists to be better musicians. And when he is not busy playing or tinkering with musical gear, he puts on his entrepreneurial hat, which helps fund his passion for collecting guitars, mecha figures and Gunpla kits.

Contributors

Mason Hoberg: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: By Gearank.com incorporating photographs of the Ernie Ball 250K Mono and Lehle Mono.

The videos above have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images were sourced from websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation provided by their respective manufacturers.

Comments

Hi, I am playing with a Prs

Hi, I am playing with a Prs custom 24. What do you think the best volume pedal for that guitar.
Regards
Marc

As a result of our June 2020

As a result of our June 2020 update, the following volume pedal came off the recommended list above, but you can still see our analysis of it:

Due to being discontinued, we

Due to being discontinued, we've removed the following volume pedal from our recommended list above, however you can still read what we have to say about it: Dunlop DVP1.