All volume pedals are the same, right?
Wrong. As with any object you place in your signal chain, a volume pedal is going to affect your tone. With a good pedal, this effect is minimal. With a bad one, you're going to lose some highs and lows.
This is not to mention the different features may have: Like, ability to control the taper (speed at which it fades in and out), or, ability to use it as an expression pedal.
We dove deep and compared the top 3 volume pedals on the market today: The Dunlop Volume X, the Ernie Ball VP JR and the Telonics FP-100.
|Passive or Active?||Passive||Both Available||Active|
|Can you use it as an expression pedal?||Yes||No||Yes (new model)|
|Are there multiple taper settings?||No||Yes, 2 settings||Yes, 9 settings||Where to buy?||Amazon $120
Reverb (check listings)
Dunlop Volume X REview: Best Volume Pedal
The Dunlop Volume X is a good all-around volume pedal. For the price, it has a great sound with minimal tone suck and an impressive set of features: It has a huge sweep, which means you can make long, gradual fades. Or, just loosen up the adjustable tension/resistance and you can fade more quickly.
The pedal is made of aluminum and features a thick rubber tread over the footswitch. It has an expression pedal output (so you can use it to control your Space Echo, DL4, or any pedal with an expression input) as well as a dedicated tuner output.
Despite what you may read in Amazon reviews, I have not personally experienced any hardware issues using this pedal. I've been using it on the road for about 2 years (often not very well secured in my pedal board case) and haven't experienced a single issue. In fact, the taper mechanism is likely much sturdier than the single wire used on the VP JR (see below).
Ernie Ball VP JR REview: Best Budget Option
The Ernie Ball VP JR is a staple among guitarists. It’s one of the most affordable volume pedals, yet it’s also very will built with a rugged aluminum body.
What’s the downside? You can’t go too far into researching this pedal without coming across “tone suck” - this pedal removes highs and lows from your guitar and kills some natural harmonics.
What’s our take on it?
Yes there is some tone suck. You can hear it pretty clearly in this demo video (he starts with a Ernie Ball VP JR on the far right and ends with a Dunlop Volume X on the far left)
It still sounds pretty decent for a $65 pedal.
If you’re using a $1,000+ guitar, boutique pedals and a tube amp, skip this pedal. You probably shouldn’t be using any $65 pedals in the first place, but especially not one that’s notorious for cutting highs. On the other hand, if you’re using mostly budget gear, this probably won’t affect your signal any more than your other pedals. You don't have much to lose by purchasing it... that is, unless you plan to upgrade your gear sometime soon.
Telonics FP 100 Multi-Taper Review: Best High-End Option
This is the cream of the crop when it comes to volume pedals. It not only preserves all your tone, but as one reviewer pointed out, actually ADDS some rich upper harmonics. The Telonics also gives you 9 different taper options, which means you have 9 different settings (or “curves”) for volume fade outs & fade ins.
Most of us don't have $500 to spend on a volume pedal. But for those who do? Hey, you got an option.
Author: Jay M.