The Best Volume Pedals for Guitar

The Highest Rated Guitar Volume Pedals

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While not as popular with beginners, volume pedals are essential to many professionals. The handsfree volume control they provide is indispensable for realtime dynamic expression and volume adjustments, so you won't have to further burden your playing hands with volume knob adjustments.

Here we look at the best of these guitar volume pedals, based on actual market feedback including the most recent review and rating data up to February of 2021.

The Best Volume Pedals

Author & Contributors

Alexander BrionesAlexander Briones

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

Ernie Ball VP Jr 25K Volume Pedal

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 250+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$100
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, especially designed to work with guitars and basses that have active pickups.

Everything about its rocking mechanism follows conventional design, utilizing stainless steel pivot shaft, Kevlar cable and springs. This tried and tested design ensures reliability and makes it easier to maintain and repair if needed be.

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, which means that volume adjustment is distributed nicely as you rock the pedal. It also gets a lot of commendations for being reliable, even from those who have put the pedal to regular use. Being relatively small is also well loved, because as its Jr. label implies, this pedal has a smaller footprint compared to other volume pedals.

Cons

Since it doesn't have an expression output, you cannot use the VP Jr 25K as an expression pedal. There are some who caution that the Kevlar string and spring mechanism it uses may fail at times, although it's unclear when and how often this happens.

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.

Dunlop DVP4 X Mini Volume Pedal

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 375+ 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, 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. Most owners are simply pleased at how good it performs without hogging too much 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 give the Dunlop DVP4 X Mini high ratings and to recommend it to others.

Boss FV-500H Volume and Expression Pedal

91
GEARANK

91 out of 100. Incorporating 900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
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 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 (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) 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 also 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.

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.

Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$130
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 this one is a low impedance pedal, making it ideal for instruments with active pickups.

It is a passive volume pedal that can also function as an expression controller, and comes with a torque adjustment which lets you dictate 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.

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.

Ernie Ball 250K Mono Volume Pedal

92
GEARANK

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

Street Price: 

$135
Ernie Ball 250K Mono Volume Pedal

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

While it doesn't stray too far from conventional design, the Ernie Ball 250K does have a distinct 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

Transparency and clarity get the most commendations, satisfying users who are sensitive to tone changes. Many also agree that this volume pedal is solid and reliable. The taper adjustment is also well received, allowing for a bit more flexibility.

Cons

Since it uses a cord to control pedal movement, there are a few who caution that it may not be as durable.

Overall

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

Lehle Mono Volume Pedal

93
GEARANK

93 out of 100. Incorporating 175+ 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.

It 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, thanks to its “Hall sensor” design which removes the need for potentiometers. It also helps that almost all users are impressed with its good build quality. 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, no 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 February 4, 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. 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, blogs and major music gear publications - including the most recent ones up to February of 2021. For this update, we ended up with over 5,100 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

He's written about and researched music gear for many years, while also serving as a music director at his 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.