Best Volume Pedals of 2019 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

Playing the guitar nowadays has significantly changed. A while ago, your performance was mostly restricted by the guitar and the amp you had. However, there is one tiny (or not so tiny) device that now allows you to customize your performance. Keep reading in order to find out what a volume pedal is, why you need one and which products are the best on the market.  

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. 

We will also examine the different features these products may have, such as the ability to control the taper (speed at which it fades in and out), or ability to use it as an expression pedal. 

Comparison of the Best Volume Pedals

Product

Rating

Price

Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180

Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics

Best Overall

Boss FV-500H

BOSS Electric Guitar Electronics (FV-500H)

Runner-up

SONICAKE Wah/Volume Guitar Pedal

SONICAKE Wah/Volume Guitar Pedals VolWah Active Wah & Volume 2-in-1 Pedal for Guitar & Bass Players

Best for the Money

Dunlop Volume X

Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X) Pedal

Honorable Mention

Ernie Ball 500k Stereo Volume/Pan Pedal

Ernie Ball 500k Stereo Volume/Pan Pedal

Best Volume Pedal for Swells

What is a Volume Pedal and What Are They Used For?

The main objective of a volume pedal is to allow you to attenuate the signal chain, whereby you can do swells and other effects. This product permits attenuating the signal anywhere in the signal chain (as opposed to pots), either after the distortion or behind the delay; this allows you to create effects with different volumes without reducing the quality of your performance. Thus, a volume pedal offers you flexibility. 

Depending on your music genre, this tool can be crucial if you need complete control over the volume with high precision and accuracy. While it might depend on whether you need one or not, the best way to know how much you need one if you have never had one before is purely to give it a try, to practice and experiment with it. 

What Makes a Great Volume Pedal?

Here are the top characteristics you should consider before choosing a volume pedal that delivers great and consistent value. 

Powered/Non-powered

The main disadvantage of a volume pedal that requires power is that you need 9V batteries or a 9V power adapter for it. In addition, these devices use own their unique adapters, meaning that you need to purchase it additionally. This is especially a problem if your board has more than one pedal. 

Mono or Stereo

The main difference is that stereo has two inputs, allowing you to plug in two instruments into the device. Additionally, you can output the signal from your instruments to more than one amp, allowing you to generate stereo settings (useful to play with different effects). 

Potentiometers Versus Electro-Optical Circuits

Some volume pedals use pots (potentiometers) to control the instrument’s volume. You should avoid purchasing this one because the pots can easily get worn out, becoming scratchy and making noises when you attempt to change your volume. On the other hand, pots are extremely common in pedals. Alternatively, the electro-optical circuits are long-lasting and they use optical technology instead of the analog connector. 

Quick Take: 
Top 3 Picks

Review of the Best Volume Pedals

Here are the top 5 products in this category; read on to discover which options are the best and why, along with their drawbacks and user reviews. 

Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics

PROS

  • Compact design, saving floor space.
  • Product is perfectly voiced for passive signals.
  • 250k ohm resistance best for passive instruments.
  • Compact, sturdy design of aircraft-grade aluminum.
  • Micro-taper switch allows two distinctive volume swell rates.

CONS

  • Very long (10”).
  • Guts are open to the outside.
  • Not suitable for ambient players.

What Recent Buyers Report

This volume pedal is a top product that offers high quality at an affordable price. While the pedal is quite long, this can also be an advantage because it connects with your entire foot, offering you more control. It provides you with an easy way of lowering or muting, and you can easily use it for swells. The mechanism is extremely sturdy for precise positioning. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

The Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K is the best guitar pedal overall due to its perfect design for a passive signal with a sturdy, compact design based on aircraft-grade aluminum. In addition to this, the product offers the possibility of two distinct volume swell rates. It has a tuner output that permits silent tuning when the pedal is in the heel down position. 

The Ernie Ball VP JR is a staple among guitarists. It’s one of the most affordable options on the market, 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 device without coming across “tone suck”, which removes highs and lows from your guitar and kills some natural harmonics.

What’s our take on it? Yes there is some tone suck. 

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.

Who Will Use This Most 

This product is best for any guitar player, professional or beginner. The sturdy design offers indefinite life and it has the possibility of smooth and silent operation characteristics. On the other hand, it might not be a good option for ambient players due to the volume swell. 

Bottom Line

Overall, Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K is the best pedal on the market, combining precision and an indestructible design while offering you the control you need over volume and swells. It offers great advantages at an affordable price. 

BOSS Electric Guitar Electronics (FV-500H)

PROS

  • Easy to set up and use.
  • Long-lasting solid design.
  • Passive; no batteries needed.
  • Switch out guitars or tune them silently.
  • Best for any high-impedance instruments and on-stage performance.

CONS

  • Relatively large.
  • Minimal tone loss.
  • Sharp cliff when turning the volume up (due to a logarithmic scale, not linear).

What Recent Buyers Report

While it might take some practice to master it, this device is great for a wide range of instruments, including guitar. It is recommended to have a relatively large board due to its size; however, this might be a valuable asset for those looking for sturdy designs that offer increased control. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

This volume pedal offers very smooth control from the highest sound to complete muting, which is best for tuning for switching out guitars in complete silence. Its large design offers a high degree of control and it is very handy, allowing you to successfully adjust your volume without having to drop to the floor when the volume is too high or too low.

Who Will Use This Most 

This product is best for on-stage performance. It has a solid, sturdy construction that offers high reliability and a long lifespan. It might not be great for beginners, but it is great for those up to a challenge. This device works on the logarithmic scale, thus it might take practice to manage it (try incremental movements to adjust the volume as desired). 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Boss FV-500H Foot Volume Pedal is the best alternative to Ernie Ball VP Jr. due to its similar solid construction and features. It is long-lasting, but you need a few hours of practice to master it. 

SONICAKE Wah/Volume Guitar Pedals VolWah Active Wah & Volume 2-in-1 Pedal for Guitar & Bass Players

PROS

  • 2-in-1 active volume and vintage wah.
  • Vintage wah sound, both dynamic and responsive.
  • Space-saver with mini-sized design and long-lasting case.
  • Highly versatile and flexible; best for musicians of all genres.
  • Active circuit for volume, best for avoiding impedance mismatch problems.

CONS

  • Small size.
  • Plastic design.
  • LED lights might be difficult to see due to their positioning.

What Recent Buyers Report

The SONICAKE Wah/Volume Guitar Pedal is a great buy for the money with highly controllable volume and reliable functionality. Even though it is small, it is well-built and long-lasting and extremely useful for creating swells while playing.

Why It Stands Out to Us

This is a great asset to musicians of all genres due to its tiny-sized 2-in-1 design. It successfully combined an active volume and a vintage wah in a compact, space-saver device. It is extremely easy to use, having two LED lights that show which mode the pedal is in. Extremely versatile, suitable for any music genre and musicians with crowded or small-sized boards. 

Who Will Use This Most 

The versatility of this volume pedal makes it the perfect asset to bass and guitar musicians, for all music genres. It has a vintage wah sounds combining responsivity and dynamic features, while the volume part is based on an active circuit. It is best for musicians who own a small-sized or crowded board, due to its space-saving characteristics. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the SONICAKE Wah/Volume Guitar Pedal comes with a great price without compromising on quality. If you are looking for small-sized, yet long-lasting option that combines both volume and wah, this is the perfect option for you.

Honorable Mention:
Dunlop EQ Effects Pedal

Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X) Pedal

PROS

  • Fully customizable.
  • Silent tuning on-stage.
  • Solid and long-lasting built.
  • Pedal-board friendly design.
  • Rocker tension is fully adjustable.

CONS

  • Poor quality control.
  • Footpad can get detached easily.
  • Construction might be weaker than other products.

What Recent Buyers Report

The volume pedal has great features; one of the best is that you can easily adjust the feel of the pedal and the durability increased due to the fact that you do not have a string. It offers smooth actions and a lot of travel. It is a passive pedal that does not have any tone losses. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

The Dunlop EQ Effects Pedal offers the possibility of a smooth, quiet operation of your instrument. It is highly flexible in adjusting the rocker pedal tension. You can create extremely smooth and precise volume swells. All features in a pedalboard-friendly, small pedal volume with a sturdy design. 

For the price, this well-rounded product 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).

Who Will Use This Most 

This product is best for anyone who needs an option that is completely flexible and adjustable. Despite its affordable price, it is extremely reliable and it offers complete control over the volume. It is perfect for wah, volume, whammy, and other effects. 

Bottom Line

Overall, this is perfect for anyone who enjoys being in control. It is fully customizable and does not require any power outlet (all you need to do is just plug it in). It is versatile and one of the best assets for musicians. The core feature is its adjustability for tension and its solid design. 

Best Volume Pedal for Swells:
Ernie Ball 500k Stereo Volume/Pan Pedal

Ernie Ball 500k Stereo Volume/Pan Pedal

PROS

  • Good quality control.
  • Two operating modes: volume or pan.
  • Smooth and quiet operation – not gear driven.
  • Long-lasting design due to aluminum extrusion.
  • Best for both passive and active instruments due to high ohm resistance.

CONS

  • Large case.
  • Requires space on the board.
  • Takes practice to learn how to use.

What Recent Buyers Report

Extremely reliable and well-built, this pedal offers an extremely smooth response when panning between amps, after setting both amps to the same level and centering the control. You can easily switch between pan mode and a volume pedal, very fast and noise-free operations. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

This is best for swells because of both volume and panning qualities. It is a versatile product, being suitable for both active and passive instruments. The sturdy build bears the Ernie Ball reputation further, ensuring that it offers an indefinite service life. Deck mat is resistant to oil, alcohol, and other substances, keeping the device in perfect conditions in any situation. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This product is great for any musician looking for a powerful pan/volume pedal. The operations are instant, reliable and extremely high-quality. You can use it to set up the rig with a clean side and a dirty side of the sound, blending them in a harmonious mix. There is no need to constantly step on the distortion button to turn it on. 

Bottom Line

Overall, the Ernie Ball 500k Stereo Volume/Pan Pedal is great for guitar players looking for smooth operations, along with panning, allowing you to smoothly transition between two amp systems. 

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.

Perks of Getting a New Volume Pedal

Purchasing one of the products above has numerous advantages for your music performance. Here is a short summary of why you should invest in one of the best volume pedals on the market:

Customizing Your Performance

The best feature of a volume pedal is simply that it allows you to adjust the volume of your guitar easily and accurately. Depending on your music genre, this might have a significant impact on your performance. You can start to incorporate volume swells in your playing and much more. 

Versatility

These products are great if you play more instruments, not only guitars, therefore they are quite complex. Active volume pedals on our list can be used with other instruments, such as electric basses, keyboards, and others. 

Long-lasting Service

Our reviewed products come in extremely well-designed and strong variations. There is no need to worry about the reliability of your device. You can look at a volume pedal as a long-term investment!

Conclusion

Overall, this article introduced you to the benefits of owning a volume pedal. The reviewed products were specially chosen you provide for your every need, including mixed pedals, budget options and the industry-leading products. 

People Also Ask

Here is a quick FAQ section with more details about the content covered in this article. 

What is the Difference Between Active and Passive Volume Pedals?

Basically, an active volume pedal consists of an amplifier circuit (buffer), but they need power from internal batteries or an external power supply.  Passive volume pedals are potentiometers turned by a pedal; you can look at them as a volume knob. They usually don’t need power, they are easy to use and extremely convenient; however, they are sensitive to the type of instrument you use and where you place them in the signal chain. 

Does a Volume Pedal Need Power?

There are two types of volume pedals: those that need power and those that do not (usually passive ones). If they do, you either need batteries or additional power supply for them. 

Can I Use a Volume Pedal as an Expression Pedal?

You can use passive and low-impedance pedals as an expression pedal by connecting the input and output to the expression-controlled device through a TRS stereo insert cable. However, the response might not be very smooth (unless your device can accommodate a log pot).