Volume pedals are not the most exciting on any pedalboard, but they are often key elements to a guitarist's (or other instrumentalist's) rig. From muting the signal to volume swells and controlling the dynamics throughout a performance, the volume pedal can quickly become our best friend on the pedalboard.
Volume expression pedals are all pretty well designed to do the same thing. There's not a whole of variation in effect, but there is in quality. In this article, we'll discuss the top 5 volume pedals in the world.
The Top 5 Best Volume Pedals For Guitar And Bass Are:
Of course, any “best of” list like this is subjective at best. I totally understand and expect other people to have a different top 5. However, any of the pedals on this list make for a great addition to a rig in need of a volume pedal.
Let's discuss each pedal on this list and the reasons why they are the best.
Related My New Microphone articles:
• The Ultimate Effects Pedal/Stompbox Buyer’s Guide
• Top 11 Best Guitar/Bass Effects Pedal Brands To Know & Use
What Are Volume Pedals & How Do They Work?
Volume expression pedals are treadle lever-type foot pedals the control the output amplitude of a guitar (or another instrument) signal.
Typically volume pedals will be at max volume in toe-down position and minimum volume (mute) at heel-down position. Oftentimes these poles can be switched to achieve the opposite.
In general, volume pedals will not add any gain (amplitude) to the signal. Rather, they will attenuate the input signal as the pedal is “turned” down and allow the full signal level to pass when set at the maximum level.
Volume pedals control the audio signal's dynamics and fit in well with other dynamics pedals at the beginning of the signal chain. However, if the pedalboard happens to have several noisy pedals, a volume control pedal may be better near or at the end of the pedal chain.
Related article: How To Order Guitar/Bass Pedals (Ultimate Signal Flow Guide)
With that being said, let's talk about some delay pedals!
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Ernie Ball MVP
First up is the Ernie Ball MVP. The pedal is fully deserving of its “Most Valuable Pedal” title and its spot on this list.
The Ernie Ball Most Valuable Pedal provides a super smooth foot sweep. It's an ideal volume pedal that allows for precise volume control without losing high-frequency content throughout the volume sweep.
Ernie Ball's MVP works with both active and passive electronics. It's got a minimum volume knob and a powerful gain circuit capable of +20 dB of clean boost.
There is also a tuner output, allowing us to drop the volume and tune silently while also removing the tuner from the main signal chain.
The pedal has a compact, rugged design that will withstand the tests of time, which is especially important considering the moving treadle.
Ernie Ball VP Jr.
The Ernie Ball VP Jr. offers a smaller footprint and sounds amazing across its entire sweep.
The Ernie Ball VP Jr. has all the same awesome features as the aforementioned MVP, only with a significantly smaller footprint.
There is a micro taper switch directly behind the footplate that offers two distinct volume swell rates.
The 250K version is designed especially for passive signals (from passive guitar pickups), while the 25K version is tailored toward active signals (active guitar pickups). Choose the version that's right for your guitar.
The Boss FV-500H is one of many Boss pedals to make a My New Microphone “best of” pedals article.
Boss's FV-500H is the successor of its successful FV-300 volume pedal that was respected as an industry standard for 14 years of production.
The FV-500H is designed for mono, high-impedance, instrument-level signal like guitar and bass. Its treadle rubber is comfortable and provides a good grip, and its heavy-duty aluminum die-cast body is very durable.
The pedal features a dedicated tuner out and minimum volume control. It can even be used as an expression pedal for other instruments instead of simply as a volume pedal.
Dunlop DVP3 Volume X
Dunlop's Cry Baby Wah expression pedal is world-famous. The company furthers its name in the expression pedal game with the Dunlop DVP3 Volume X.
The Dunlop DVP3 Volume X is capable of beautifully smooth volume swells. It also doubles as an external expression controller for other pedals and instruments.
The pedal looks durable, and it is, featuring an aluminum chassis, aggressive non-slip tread, and our patent-pending Low Friction Band-Drive. Not only is the DVP3 rugged, but it's also very comfortable to use.
Use the internal pot to set the minimum level of the parameter you’re controlling with the rocker and/or flip the internal switch to reverse the function of the heel-down/toe-down positions.
Like many great volume pedals, Dunlop's DVP3 also has a convenient tuner output for silent tuning.
Last up on the list of the top 5 volume pedals is the Lehle Mono.
The Lehle Mono does things a bit differently. It's equipped with a precise magnetic sensor enabling it to operate almost wear-free.
Using the Hall effect, the pedal moves a built-in magnet, the distance of which is measured by the Hall sensor, which controls a VCA. The VCA then adjusts the output level/volume of the pedal.
Mechanically, the pedal is smooth and comfortable. It's steady across the entire control range and transmits the full sound spectrum of the connected instrument with precision and clarity.
The pedal offers a buffered direct out that can supply a tuner, DAW or a second amp without affecting the sound. It also has a gain control that can be adjusted to boost the level up to +10 dB.
Former Top Volume Pedal Picks
Here are pedals that used to be on this list and the reasons they are no longer.
Fender FVP-1 (Discontinued)
It only makes sense that this legendary guitar company would produce pedals for their axes. The Fender FVP-1 (discontinued) was a top-performer when it comes to volume pedals. It was featured in this article in 2020 (original publishing year).
The Fender FVP-1 is a passive volume foot pedal designed for guitar, bass and other instruments.
Like the aforementioned 250K version of the Ernie Ball VP Jr., the rocker-style pedal controls volume using a passive 250 kΩ potentiometer. This allows for quiet, clean operation. We can
The pedal maintains the tone across the volume sweep with superb precision without any loss of high-end clarity (a common issue with lesser volume controls).
This compact pedal has its input, output and tuner jack on the front panel for easy access, making it an easy addition to packed pedalboards. Once it's on the board, the heavy-duty die-cast aluminum body and high-quality electronics will ensure it continues to perform for years to come.
Mission Engineering VM-1 (Discontinued)
The Mission Engineering VM-1 (discontinued/upgraded to the VM-1 Aero) was featured in this article from 2020 (original publishing year) to 2022.
The Mission Engineering VM-1 is a passive volume pedal designed primarily for use with passive electric guitar pickups. It requires no power to function properly.
The pedal is designed to last with a sealed potentiometer, point-to-point hand-wired circuitry, and a durable chassis and treadle.
The VM-1 features isolated tuner output that is engaged via a mute switch. this allows for quick and easy tuning and practically eliminates tone suck from the signal.
Choosing the right effects pedals for your applications and budget can be a challenging task. For this reason, I've created My New Microphone's Comprehensive Effects Pedal Buyer's Guide. Check it out for help in determining your next pedal/stompbox purchase.