The Best Volume Pedals for Guitar

The Highest Rated Guitar Volume Pedals

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Volume pedals allow for hands-free volume adjustments, be it for expressive dynamic effect, or for simply adjusting and setting your volume.

While often overlooked by beginners, good dynamic and volume control is integral to good musical performance, making volume pedals an essential piece of gear for many professional guitarists' rigs.

Here we look at the best of these guitar volume pedals, rated according to the most recent reviews and ratings data up to June of 2020.

The Best Volume Pedals

Sonicake VolWah 2-in-1 Volume and Wah Pedal

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$67
Sonicake VolWah 2-in-1 Volume and Wah Pedal

The Sonicake VolWah is a compact pedal that houses two functionalities - that of a volume pedal and a wah.

And this extra functionality is made even more special by the fact that the Sonicake VolWah is actually the cheapest one to make this list. It is also among the smallest in terms of size, which means you are saving both money and pedalboard real estate.

It sports a simple pedal controlled active volume circuit, with no extra features to complicate. But what sets it apart is its built-in Wah functionality that is inspired by vintage Crybaby style wah.

As expected, it is housed in plastic, but reviewers point that it is robust enough for regular use. There are two LED lights that indicate the mode of the pedal, whether it is on Wah or Volume pedal mode.

Key Features:

  • Design: Volume / Wah Pedal
  • Circuit: Active
  • Best For: Active Pickups
  • Dimensions: 148 x 65 x 61 mm
  • Weight: 0.55 lbs

Pros

Value for money is the obvious edge of the Sonicake VolWah, it is simply hard to beat in terms of features per dollar. But it's not just about getting a lot of return, because most owners are satisfied, if not impressed, by its overall performance and quality. Its simple volume pedal operation is appreciated by many, while there are also plenty of positive comments about its wah function. And more importantly, it does all of this while maintaining a compact profile that many find just right for their pedalboards.

Cons

Ironically, there are a few others who find the size of the VolWah to be too small for use. There are also a few reports of minor cosmetic issues.

Overall

If you're looking for a budget friendly volume pedal that gives you the best return for your money then this is your best bet.

Ernie Ball VP Jr 25K Volume Pedal

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$70
Ernie Ball VP JR 25K Volume Pedal

The Ernie Ball VP Jr 25K is a volume pedal that uses a potentiometer with 25K ohm resistance. And it is especially designed to work with instruments with active electronics, that means guitars and basses that have active pickups.

Everything about it follows after conventional design, utilizing stainless steel pivot shaft, kevlar cable and springs.

The unit also comes with a tuner output. The tuner output removes your tuner from the signal chain, which can help to lessen your chains overall length. This is a huge selling point for those who feel like your tuner has a negative effect on your tone.

Key Features:

  • Design: Volume Pedal
  • Circuit: Passive
  • Best For: Active Pickups
  • Dimensions: 2.4" x 3.5" x 10"
  • Weight: 2 lbs

Pros

The reason that the Ernie Ball VP Jr 25K has been so well received is that it has a smooth taper and the body of the pedal holds up extraordinary well under regular use. The Jr. line in particular is also beloved because Ernie Ball reduced the line’s footprint when compared to their other volume pedals.

Cons

A potential flaw with the pedal is that many musicians have reported that the mechanism that controls the footswitch isn’t as reliable as the rest of the unit. The pedal uses a Kevlar string and a spring, and the spring has been known to break (though the regularity with which this occurs hasn’t really been discussed). Odds are that it probably won’t happen to you, but it is something to be aware of. The pedal also doesn’t have an expression jack, so you can't use the unit as an expression pedal.

Overall

The Ernie Ball VP Jr 25K Volume Pedal is a solid option if you’re looking for a mid-range volume pedal for instruments with active pickups.

Ernie Ball VP Jr 250k Volume Pedal

87
GEARANK

87 out of 100. Incorporating 850+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
Ernie Ball VP Jr 250k Volume Pedal

The Ernie Ball VP Jr 250k s intended for passive instruments with its 250k ohm potentiometer. It is part of Ernie Ball's VP Jr line, which is a smaller take on the usually bulky profile of volume pedals.

Ernie Ball equipped this pedal with a taper switch that lets you modify its volume reduction curve. The first setting allows for even reduction curve, great for basic volume adjustments. While the second setting gradually accelerates the reduction, ideal for volume swells and other fast volume change uses.

Note that the VP Jr 250K utilizes a pulley mechanism as opposed to a pot, and it also has a silent tuning feature that removes your tuner pedal from your signal chain.

Key Features:

  • Design: Volume Pedal
  • Circuit: Passive
  • Best For: Passive Pickups
  • Dimensions: 2.4" x 3.5" x 10"
  • Weight: 2 lbs

Pros

This pedal is well loved for its simplicity and slightly smaller than usual profile. There is also plenty of positive feedback regarding its taper switch, which makes applying dynamic effects easier. Those who own the pedal describe it as solid and well built.

Cons

As stated above, while the string design is intended to increase the reliability of the pedal, there are some who report that it is less durable than more traditional designs.

Overall

Those who are planning to use their volume pedal for dynamic effects will want to look into this volume pedal.

Boss FV-500H Volume and Expression Pedal

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 800+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$120
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 this multi-function pedal.

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

The pedal comes with an expression output, allowing the pedal to function both as a volume and expression pedal (this can also 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) which 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

Like any other Boss pedal, the FV-500H is built like a tank. Everything from the chassis down to the smallest components were built with gigging musicians in mind, so it’s not a piece of gear you’re going to have to worry about breaking down. Many also love how smooth it operates as you rock it back and forth.

Cons

There are some who complain about it size, describing it as being too bulky for their rig.

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.

Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal

89
GEARANK

89 out of 100. Incorporating 425+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$120
Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal

As stated above, the Boss FV-500L is very similar to the FV-500H. The main difference between the two units is that the FV-500L is a low impedance pedal, which means that it will function better with active pickups than it will with passive pickups.

Just to reiterate the features in case you skipped to this pedal, the FV-500L is a passive volume pedal that can also function as an expression pedal.

It features both a tuner output as well as torque adjustment. The tuner output allows you to use a tuner that, when disengaged, is removed from your signal chain. The torque control allows you to dictate the amount of force required to use the pedal.

The pedal also comes with a minimum volume control, which sets the lowest volume the pedal is capable of.

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

Like any other Boss pedal, the Boss FV-500L is incredibly durable. 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 there are plenty of reviews that corroborate its durability and reliability, which gives guitarists one less pedal to worry about.

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.

Dunlop DVP4 X Mini Volume Pedal

90
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$120
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.

For its size, it is actually quite versatile, as it can be used as an expression pedal for controlling other effects via its aux output.

Another nifty feature of the DVP4 X is that it has an internal pot for setting the minimum value of the pedal swing when used as expression controller.

Finally, this same aux output is also useful 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 is overwhelmingly positive, and it owes most of its commendations to its good overall performance and its pedalboard friendly size. Reviewers describe it as good and reliable pedal that works as intended without hogging too much precious pedalboard space.

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 users are more than happy to recommend the Dunlop DVP4 X and give it perfect ratings.

Ernie Ball 250K Mono Volume Pedal

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 225+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$108
Ernie Ball 250K Mono Volume Pedal

As the label suggests, this volume pedal has an impedance of 250K, which is designed to work well with passive pickups.

Like other volume pedals in the series, the Ernie Ball 250K comes with a taper switch that allows you to change the pedal’s volume curve.

The pedal has two modes, the first of which is a consistent change in volume while the second mode gradually accelerates. The second mode in particular is great for volume swells.

It comes with a tuner output, which allows you to use a tuner while not having it in 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

Most users are in agreement that this volume pedal is solid and reliable. It also impresses many users with its transparency, it doesn't affect tone. The taper adjustment is also well received, which allows for more control over the pedal's volume curve.

Cons

Unfortunately, it does not have an expression output. So if you’re looking to use the unit as an expression pedal you’re going to want to pick up a TRS cable (though keep in mind this still won’t work as well as a dedicated expression pedal). This pedal also uses a cord to control pedal movement, a design which some feel makes it less durable that it should be, but this is a minority opinion.

Overall

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

Lehle Mono Volume Pedal

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 150+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$300
Lehle Mono Volume Pedal

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

One stand out feature of the Lehle Mono Volume Pedal is the use of "Hall sensor", a device which uses magnets as a way of sensing to what level the volume pedal should be reducing volume, which results in a pedal with an almost wear-free operation.

This is also an active volume pedal, which means that in order to use it you will need an external power source. The Lehle uses a power adapter as opposed to a battery.

The Lehle also comes with a buffered out (which can power a tuner pedal or split the signal to a second amp) as well as torque adjustment. And this leads to another interesting function, you can actually use it to boost gain, allowing the unit to function as both a clean boost and a volume pedal.

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, due to its “Hall sensor” design and good build quality. This design also allows the Lehle Mono to function quietly. There are also many who use it as a clean boost for driving tube amps to great effect.

Cons

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 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 range, and if you’re using active pickups you’re going to want a volume pedal in the 25K – 50K 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. There are also volume pedals which double as expression pedals.

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.

Minimum Volume Setting

A minimum volume setting allows you to control the amount a volume pedal will reduce a signal. So, as you turn up the minimum volume control the lowest setting of the pedal becomes louder. Likewise, as you turn the minimum volume control down the lowest setting of the pedal becomes quieter.

Best Volume Pedal Selection Methodology

This guide's first edition was published in August of 2017 written by Mason Hoberg. The current edition was published on written by Alexander Briones with contributions from Mason Hoberg.

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. Note that while there have been a small number of new budget volume pedals released since we last updated this guide, unfortunately none of them had high enough ratings to make the cut.

Next we gathered ratings and reviews from retailers, forums, YouTube and blogs and major music gear publications - including the most recent ones up to June of 2020. For this update, we ended up with over 4,300 sources, all of which were processed with the Gearank Algorithm to produce the customer satisfaction ratings out of 100 that we call Gearank ratings. 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.

Comments

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.

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