A volume pedal may be the least necessary item on your rig. But with it you can increase the volume for powerful and intense climax or lower it for sweet whisper and wails. If you can make the most out of the volume pedal, you can have impressive and mind-blowing performances.
Below is our volume pedal review, where you can find the 7 best models in the market at the moment. In addition, you fill find answer for the most commonly asked questions about volume pedal to have your own decision of which volume pedal you should buy.
Top 7 Best Cheap Volume Pedals Reviews
1. Goodrich L-120 Low-Profile Smallest Volume Pedal
As its name, Goodrich L-120 Low-Profile is only available for rich customers, but if you can afford it, it will be one of the best volume pedals.
Goodrich L-120 Low-profile is a second generation of the famous, favorable Goodrich 120 Volume Pedal but with more improvements. This pedal is passive, in other words, a bare potentiometer that changes the amplify or attenuate the signal. It can wear out as times goes and more physical shocks and pressure. However, Goodrich L-120 is a heavy-duty, super durable potentiometer. It can last for 1,000 hours of working. This is a valuable quality for professional players who have a lot practicing and performance.
Moreover, the rugged design holds the pedal still in its position, not moving or slipping when you stomp it. It’s a useful feature for when the players are immersed in mad, wild solos that may put a lot of forces into the pedal.
This pedal treadle has a clear difference from its old version: it’s lower in height. It provides a more comfortable, intuitive feeling for holding your feet on it while playing. In addition, the pedal housing has smooth movement to eliminate any noise when being press. Tough material also plays a role in keeping the quality of the tone, reducing as many vibrations as possible in the operation.
One more impressive feature of this pedal is that it has two dedicated outputs. By connecting each output to an amplifier, you can drive two amps at once. This is necessary when playing in a vast, large space as the in the stadium, where only one amp is not enough. The pedal is designed to avoid frequency loss or tone such even when driving two powerful amps simultaneously.
- Longevity and reliability
- Low-profile for comfort foot placing and controlling
- Made to not move or slide away when operating
- One extra output for driving another amp
- Clean and pure tone
- Luxurious, only available for the rich or professionals
2. Ernie Ball MVP – Best cheap volume pedal
This is an elaborate and powerful volume pedal of Ernie Ball, one of the most favorite and acclaimed brands about volume pedals. It has a clever word choice when describing the pedal as MVP – most valuable pedal. And the pedal’s performance derserves this complimentary name.
The MVP is cool and sturdy as other Ernie Ball’s pedals. The pedal made of durable aluminum material with a compact and tough pedal housing on the top. It can withstand physical shocks as user stomp the pedal and last for a longer period than other counterparts. Moreover, it still has the signature inputs and outputs design of Ernie Ball: in the back of the pedal. This is what makes hundreds of guitars love using the brand’s pedal.
This volume pedal is passive but has low impedance, so that it can work with both active or passive pickups. It is suitable for not only guitars but also any instruments such as organ or drum,… More impressive, the Ernie Ball MVP has three outputs. There are two mono outputs, which makes the MVP a stereo volume pedal. There is also a separate tuner output for those who love an extra tuner. When using all the three output or the tuner one, you should connect the pedal with a power supply through the AC Adapter input. Otherwise, the extra impedance of all the tuner, cable and other devices may affect the signal strength and the original tone, resulting in tone suck.
If you just connect the volume pedal directly to other effects in the chain or to your amp, you can use only one mono output. In that case, the power supply is not needed anymore. The effect then becomes a passive volume pedal that preserves all the quality of your original tone.
About performance, the highest boots the pedal can add to your signal is +20 dB. It is a very outstanding performance that a very small amount of volume pedal can offer. Besides, the pedal comes with a minimum volume control, allowing you to set the lowest power gain for the signal. With these settings, placing the pedal in different positions in the signal chain will result in different and unique effect. You can easily turn the volume up to the level you want and moderate other effects to create your own cracking solos.
- Powerful gain effect, up to 20 dB
- High durability and toughness
- Passive and stereo volume pedal, drives more natural sound into more amps
- Tuner output to tune the signal into more nuances
- Minimum volume control
- Ultra-smooth treadle movement for precise control over the effect
- Not a killswitch – still affect the signal even when volume knob is set to 0
3. Boss FV-500Hl Foot Volume Pedal – High Impedance Bass
BOSS is famous for making fabulous EQ stompboxes such as octave pedals, overdrive pedals… But it also owns a series of luxurious and powerful volume pedals, and Boss FV-500HI is the best representative.
The most significant difference between the highest and average volume pedals is the reliability. FV-500HI is among the top-notch models, thus having the exceptional durability. Its body is made of heavy-duty die cast aluminum, which is very tough and elaborate. No matter how hard you stomp the box, it will not be damaged easily. Its taper, joints and other parts are crafted carefully to not be broken in extreme conditions. Its longevity is a blessing for those who play very often or have a busy practice schedule.
The FV-500H is a passive volume pedal with high impedance. It has a cousin, FV-500L which has low impedance for those who want. High current resistance means that the FV-500H matches the impedance of passive pickups, which exist on most guitar models. Passive pickups provide more natural and sweet sound, unlikely from sterile sound of active pickups. So, a passive volume pedal with high impedance like FV-500H is more favorable than it’s the low-impedance cousin and other similar pedals.
You can also use the FV-500H as an expression pedal if your effects allow EXP control. There are many multi-effects pedals has this option on its design. Just connect the output of this pedal into the EXP input of the EQ pedal, you then can control the desired effect or the entire chain with hassle-free.
- Heavy-duty material and construction
- High impedance – 500K
- Well-designed to work smoothly but still stay firmly in position
- Can be used as an expression pedal through the EXP output
- Somewhat expensive for basic volume pedal features
4. Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal – Best volume pedal for swells
In celebrating its 40th year in the guitar and musical instrument accessories, the company introduces Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal with its signature design and style.
The most outstanding thing about Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal is its design. It is elegant and luxurious with strong appearance and the matte black material. The most needed thing in a volume pedal is sturdiness, as it’s being under physical pressure much more than other pedals. This aluminum pedal can last hundreds of hours under the strongest stomps of crazy guitarists. Moreover, the cord, which transfers any tiny forces put on the pedal for changed volume, is made of Kevlar for extended longevity and smoother transition.
Another design spark is that, unlike other volume pedals, all the inputs are placed at the back of the pedal. The look of the sides will be cleaner and more beautiful. Moreover, this position of the inputs makes your pedalboard look neater, no more messy cabling. This is more helpful when there’re a large number of pedals and long cable in your set up.
The amazing thing about this volume pedal is that it can work effectively with both active and passive pickups. You now don’t have to worry about the pickup you use or spend time looking for instrument with a suitable pickup. Just need to plug it in and play. As it’s passive, the Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Pedal doesn’t need a power supply. It’s a bare potentiometer process and convert input signal for more powerful output one. It can work continuously when having no power supply, save you a decent cost of a high capacity battery or clumsy additional power supply.
The last outstanding feature of this pedal is the switchable taper. The taper decides the way the volume is increased when the treadle is moved from heel-up to heel-down position. With switchable taper, you can flexibly switch between 2 different swells for unique and outstanding solos. With this feature, it’s reasonable to say that Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal is the best volume pedal for swells.
What we like
- Durable and cool look
- Kevlar cord provides more precision in volume control
- Switchable taper for 2 different swell sounds
- Passive, can run without a power supply
- Compatible with both passive and active pickups
- All inputs and outputs are placed at the back for more convenience
What we don’t like:
- No powerful gain in volume
5. Dunlop GCB80 High Gain Volume Pedal
Dunlop GCB80 is another passive volume pedal with impressive features and performances. Like previously products, Dunlop is very durable, a significant quality for a volume pedal. However, Dunlop is not made of aluminum but die-casted iron. Die casting increases the toughness, combined with durable material to create undestroyable rocker pedal. With ultra-sensitive 1 million cycle taper, the volume pedal can stand for thousands of stomps while still be able to detect any movements of user’s feet.
This volume pedal is a bare potentiometer. It means that it does not need a power supply to run but input signal from the instruments. The box’s impedance is about 250 kOhm, which is still in the range of acceptable impedance for working with passive pickups. If you plug it into an active pickup, the sound may be shallow and distorted due to the impedance mismatch.
Dunlop GCB80 doesn’t offer much detailed control over the gain effect. However, a know for adjusting the minimum volume gain is enough for making your desired swells. The pedal can work well with any instruments but really stand out with pedal steel guitars, a console-type of steel guitar with pedals and levers added.
- Die cast, indestructable material and housing
- Ultra-sensitive 1 million cycle taper for precise control and perfect swells
- Passive volume pedal with 250K Ohm impedance, matches the impedance of most passive pickups
- Work with a wide range of instruments but really shines with pedal steel guitar
- Quiet, not making noise when working, not affecting the performance
- How the volume is increased is not steady
- Sometime the housing cannot stay at the heel-down position, unintentionally affect the signal
6. Valeton EP-2 Passive Volume Expression Guitar Effects Pedal 2 Performance
Valeton EP-2 is a quality choice for budget customers due to its low cost and versatility. EP-2 is a passive volume pedal with the impedance in volume mode is 100K (Ohm). Such impedance suits many instruments and guitars but more compatible with those have active pickups. Although cheap and average-looking, the potentiometer is still well-performed in increasing volume. It uses a smooth taper to increase the accuracy in detecting user’s action. Even if you press a little more on the pedal housing, Ep-2 will recognize and immediately affect the signal.
As said, the most valuable feature in Valeton EP-2 is the versatility. You can use it as a volume pedal or an expression pedal without hassle. It is the temporarily or even permanently reasonable replacement for your luxurious, high-end expression pedal. And it’s always better when having a back up for your main EXP in case of accidents. FOr using, you just need to connect your cable to the pedal’s output instead of the input and unplug anything from the input. Then, the box will automatically detect changes and switch to EXP mode, becoming a real expression pedal.
This feature in company with the independence of a power supply gives users a lot of convenience and comfort, leaving them time to take care of other things in their performance. However, as a cheap volume pedal, Valeton EP-2 does not score well in durability. Although the pedal is die cast, the hard plastic material is somewhat unreliable for a heavy duty work of a volume pedal. Therefore, Valeton EP-2 is more suitable for players who have not to practice or perform a lot. Also, you need to limit its workload and maintain it regularly to retain the state and shape of the pedal.
- Versatility, can be a volume and expression pedal
- Smart switching, auto-detect input
- Passive volume pedal
- Smooth taper
- Quite low impedance – 100K
- Not so durable to be used often
7. Morley Mini Power Wah- Best mini Volume Pedal
As the only active volume pedal in our list, Morley Mini Power Wah Volume deserves credit for its standout performance. The pedal is a combination of Wah and Volume gain effect, you can easily switch between modes by pressing the VOL button with your feet.
Inherited Morley’s famous design, Electro-Optical, this pedal stores signal in its circuitry to process the signal. The problem with this system is that the tone and frequencies are lost at some degree when passing the circuitry. But TrueTone bypass technology is here to prevent any changes from the original signal to preserve the purest tone. It also mitigates the negative of active pedals, sterile and cold sound, closely reach the extensive range of passive volume pedals. Moreover, this pedal can prevent “tone suck” no matter what you have after it: numerous pedals, tuners, high impedance devices, etc.
This pedal housing scores high in durability due to the cold-formed housing and the fact that there is no physical, susceptible potentiometer. Besides, the Morley Mini Power Wah Volume Pedal also has interesting and helpful additions: luminous treadle and logo, LED indicator or quick clip battery door…
Typically, volume pedal is put first of the signal chain, next to other level-sensitive effects such as wah and distortion. Thus a combination of a wah and volume pedal will be a good consideration. It can save space, save time to set up and reduce the cable length – which is clumsy and causing trips and accidents. The Morley Mini Power Wah and Volume Pedal is a good choice for any players who want convenience and uses a large collection of effects.
- Combination of wah and volume pedal, save space, cable and money
- Exclusive design and technology: Electro-Optical and TrueTone bypass
- Useful feature like LED indicator, glowing patterns and logo
- Active volume pedal, no “tone suck”
- Can be redundant for those who’s already possessed a wah effect
- Wah effect function increases the cost
Volume pedals: frequently asked questions
There are different volume pedals in the market and every year now models with bundles of improvements are introduced. You may be confused when deciding which one is the most suitable for your work unless you have foundation knowledge about the subject. The below are the most common questions, as well as guides to pick out the best volume pedals on your own.
What is a volume pedal and how it works?
Volume pedal is a device that can amplify or weaken the audio signal from the instruments or other effects. Depends on the position it is in the effect chain, you can use the volume pedal to control the level of all the effects, as master volume, or just control the power of the original instrument’s output. The input signal comes to the volume pedal through the input, it is processed to be amplified or attenuated inside the pedal, then is transferred out from the output.
- Pasive volume pedal
Based on the way it works, volume pedals are divided into 2 types: passive and active. A passive volume pedal is the most traditional form of a volume pedal. The most important part of a passive volume pedal, is also mainly responsible for adjusting signals is the potentiometer inside it. A potentiometer is a device that controls and adjusts many aspects of audio signals such as loudness and frequency. Other parts of the pedal like treadle, taper,…is the additional tool to enhance the work of the potentiometer.
Potentiometer doesn’t require power to run: it mechanically works only when the signal comes through. Every aspect of the signal is preserved except the loudness. So, passive volume pedal keeps your original tone intact.
- The problem with passive volume pedal
Although passive volume pedals can preserve all the quality of the signal, it is not perfect. Sometimes, users want volume pedal to split output, into two channels for two amps or into a separate tuner output. Because passive volume pedal does not rely on a power supply, the additional loadings will be driven by the pickup on the instrument. This is the cause of “tone suck”, high-frequencies signal loss, making the sound not as sharp and clean as it should be.
The above problem is an inherent quality of every passive volume pedal due to the way it works. The only resolution is to replace it with an active volume pedal.
- Active volume pedal
An active volume pedal does not use a potentiometer but rather an electronic amplifier circuit to process the audio signal. And it runs on battery power or by an AC Adapter. Therefore, it can power itself to drive the load of the input, even when you have a lot of stompboxes and high impedance instruments. And such a thing as “tone suck” never happens with active volume pedals.
However, everything has its own flaw. Active volume pedals can avoid tone sucks, its electrical mechanism can color the original signal. It’s because technology, until now, cannot reproduce or maintain exactly the extensive ranges of the audio signal. Hence, the output of an active volume pedal is sometimes considered heartless and sterile.
In fact, many models of volume pedals are passive. It indicates that the “tone suck” is not a common issue but in certain situations with certain users and needs. Most of us don’t need a secondary tuner or another amp, passive volume pedals are the most favorite choices most of the time. But there still be a lot of players, especially rock & metal enjoys using active volume pedals for their gut-wrenching live performances. So, choosing a passive or active volume pedal is mostly depends on your desired effect and conditions.
How does impedance affect?
Impedance denotes the electric resistance of a particular marterial, the higher the impedance is, the harder for the electricity is to get through something. For almost electric devices and instruments, impedance is an important parameter. It affects the power of the devices and how two different devices can work together. When there’s a impedance mismatch between two objects, either one of them cannot operate at its designed strength.
Impedance is also a significant specification of volume pedal but is overshadowed by other flashy numbers. But again, impedance play a crucial role in providing a clear and accurate performance of a volume pedal.
Every volume pedal has its own impedance rating and often reach thousands of Ohm (kilo Ohm/K Ohm). If you take a look at the manual or the bottom of the pedal, you may see this specification is described as 500K, 250K, 50K and so on. The number is high or low depends on the production and purpose of the manufacturers.
The only thing you need to care is that whether that impedance of your pedal matches the range of your pickup. It is crucial to match the impedance between your volume pedal and pickups. The impedance of passive pickups often varies from 250K to 500K, while that of active pickups are 25K – 50K Ohms. If your pedal’s impedance is in the range of a passive pickup, you need to use a passive pickup guitar or organ. Similarly, if your pedal’s impedance is in a range of an active pickup, never use a passive one. If not, the impedance mismatch will decrease the quality of the volume gain effect, and you will hear weird sounds in your signal.
Where to place the volume pedal?
Volume pedal is one of the most flexible pedals in your effect chain. Depends on where you put in, you will have different control over particular pedals and effects. There are 3 common positions to place your volume pedal.
Volume pedal at first
Firstly, you can put it in the very first position of the chain. Your volume pedal will be the first to receive the input signal, process it, and then transfer it to other effects. So, if you raise the level of the input signal, you also increase the level of other effects like overdrive and distortion. If you weaken the signal, other effects will fade out accordingly. This says, putting a volume pedal in front of the chain gives you more flexibility and give your sound better harmony.
However, you need to be aware that the more effects after the volume pedal is, the more the impedance is. Therefore, if your pedal is passive, it is easier to get “tone suck”. If there must be a large number of effects follows the volume pedal, may be you should use an active one.
Volume pedal behind effects and before amp
The second method is opposite as the above: put the volume pedal behind other effects and just before the amp. In this case, you will have a master volume control to adjust the level of all the effect, including volume, boost, wah, and so on. It avoids the situation where the volume of the signal or a particular effect is too dominant over the others. In conclusion, placing the volume pedal after other effect pedals and just before the amp allows every effect in your sound can be perceived correctly and equally.
Volume pedal in effect loop
The last option is the least common way to put a volume pedal: in the effect loop. An effect loop is a series of effect pedals that connect to the amp but not include the distortion, overdrive, and boost. An effect loop is not so necessary with many players, but if you have one, you can put your volume pedal in it.
In fact, placing the volume pedal at the end of the signal chain still influences the output after the amp, especially the drive level. Hence, some people start putting it into the effect loop to completely remove the negative effect. Then, it becomes a real master volume of your pedalboard.
The only issue here is that you need a volume pedal with low impedance. Items in the effect loop (the reverb, the delay,…) should be as low-impedance as possible to prevent signal loss, and so does the volume pedal.
The above are the list of 7 highest performance volume pedals that in the market at the moment that we’ve researched. All the information is carefully taken and reviewed from the manufacturer official homepage and manuals. User’s reviews and expierences are also considered to provide the most objective judgements. We hope, through the list and guide, you can know which the best volume pedal is for your needs.