The 10 Best Volume Pedals

Updated May 15, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Volume Pedals
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. For superior control and effects when playing live shows, you won't find any better options than in our comprehensive selection of versatile and technically advanced volume pedals. Our top picks include models suitable for professional musicians, as well as those who just enjoy jamming out in their garage or are just starting to book their first gigs. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best volume pedal on Amazon.

10. Dunlop GCB-80

The Dunlop GCB-80 is designed for extended regular use, with a one-million cycle potentiometer that will last through hundreds of gigs. It offers superior performance for a reasonable price and produces minimal mechanical noise.
  • won't color a guitar's sound
  • creates rounded swell effects
  • can't fully mute
Brand Jim Dunlop
Model GCB80
Weight 3.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. Signstek Daphon

If you need a budget choice that still gets the job done, consider the Signstek Daphon. It features dual instrument control and utilizes passive electronics, meaning it doesn't require batteries. This unit is great for the budding rocker, or a suitable backup for pros.
  • easy to get the sound you want
  • also works well for vocals
  • overall durability is questionable
Brand Signstek
Model MUS265927
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Dunlop DVP4

The Dunlop DVP4 can control both volume levels and FX parameters and comes in a small housing that makes it easy to fit on nearly any board without it sticking out like a sore thumb. Adjustable rocker tension allows you to customize it to your playing style.
  • single input and output
  • reversible heel and toe functions
  • doesn't require a power source
Brand Jim Dunlop
Model DVP4
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

7. Goodrich 120

The simplicity and dependability of the Goodrich 120 have made it a favorite of professional musicians for years. It's guaranteed to get over 1,000 hours of service life, so if you play gigs every night and don't want to buy another for a long time, this is a smart choice.
  • feels substantial under foot
  • maintains its level without pressure
  • too pricey for most amateurs
Brand Goodrich
Model H-120
Weight 4 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

6. Ernie Ball VP Jr.

The Ernie Ball VP Jr. comes in two models, one for instruments with active pickups, and one for those with passive. The traditionalists out there will appreciate its old school string, spring, and potentiometer construction, which offers an analog taper feeling.
  • two separate swell rates
  • silent tuning in heel down position
  • produces a dramatic expression
Brand Ernie Ball
Model P06180
Weight 2.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

5. Mission Engineering VM-Pro

The Mission Engineering VM-Pro features an always-on audiophile-quality buffer that helps you maintain the perfect treble levels and produces clean tones that every musician will appreciate. Three internal switches make it a versatile addition to your gear.
  • sturdy all-metal chassis
  • separate heel and toe-down settings
  • large sweep range
Brand Mission Engineering
Weight 0.2 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

4. Morley PLA Steve Vai Little Alligator

If you are in the market for a model that looks as sexy as it sounds, the Morley PLA Steve Vai Little Alligator is for you. It has a stylish black housing with contrasting fluorescent lettering and only one input and one output, making it exceptionally easy to use.
  • produces smooth transitions
  • very clean swells
  • doesn't cause any signal loss
Model PLA
Weight 3.5 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

3. Boss FV-500H

The Boss FV-500H has a tank-like die-cast housing that can withstand years of heavy stomping as you jam out. It also features a rubber foot pad, so your foot won't slip and miss a beat at that crucial moment when the show must go on.
  • built-in tuner output
  • extremely smooth action
  • doesn't over-attenuate the highs
Brand BOSS
Model FV-500H
Weight 3.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Valeton EP-2

The Valeton EP-2 is affordable, compact, and durable, making it the ideal choice for struggling musicians often on the road heading to gigs. It acts as both a volume and expression pedal and doesn't require batteries or a power supply.
  • auto output source detection
  • lightweight plastic casing
  • same movement as larger models
Brand Valeton
Model EP-2
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

1. Ernie Ball 6182 MVP

With an impressively smooth foot sweep, precision volume control, and zero frequency loss at any volume level, the Ernie Ball 6182 MVP is a great choice for professionals. It can boost your gain enough to cause a 20 decibel increase.
  • for active and passive audio signals
  • billet aluminum housing
  • works on ac or battery power
Brand Ernie Ball
Model P06182
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

Why Volume Pedals Are So Necessary

Volume pedals, also commonly called expression pedals, are a must have for many musicians. No matter what instrument you play, having a quick way to adjust your volume without turning off your instrument is critical. Fumbling around for the volume knob can be a stressful experience; worrying about not missing your cue can often be the cause for doing exactly what you fear most; missing your cue. In the early days of guitar, everyone played without the use of a volume pedal. While it is true that there are many great performers today who still use no effects at all, even they would probably admit they could benefit from the use of a volume pedal.

Nowadays, music can be pretty complex. Playing a two handed instrument such as a guitar means your feet are the only things free to control effects and volume. Enter volume pedals and stompboxes. In addition, the complex keyboard synthesizer can be made a little bit easier by taking expression responsibilities away from your hands, and putting them into your feet. Control of a function, effect, or volume is simply a step away.

The History Of The Volume Pedal

The concept of a volume pedal actually goes as far back as the 19th century, to an object found on pipe organs called a swell box. The swell box was a large enclosure built around the pipes of an organ, which had shutters on it that opened and closed like window blinds. The organist would use the pedal to open and close these shutters to create more or less sound. Thus, the first expression pedal was born. This is why expression pedals are sometimes called swell pedals.

With the birth of the electric organ came the evolution of the expression pedal. Organists no longer had to use both feet to operate an organ’s pedalboard, and could focus instead on making changes in the music with the expression pedal.

This transferred almost immediately to guitarists, who, as early as the late 1930s, had been looking for a way to increase the volume on their instruments without using their hands. Over the years, the volume pedal has evolved. In the modern era, a volume pedal combined with a digital amp or controller now provides many more options than the pedals of the 20th century. Modern volume pedals can now be set to control multiple effects and features; such as gain, vibrato, and the infamous wah. These features used to require their own circuitry and a dedicated pedal to operate. Now they can be mapped from a digital amp and controlled interchangeably from your volume pedal.

Things To Consider When Buying A Volume Pedal

There are five main things that must be considered when choosing a volume pedal: compatibility, accuracy, durability, function, and size.

Before you buy any volume pedal, you want to make sure it is compatible with your gear and play style. To this end, ask yourself a few questions before making your purchase. Will the pedal work with MIDI equipment, or is it only for regular ¼ inch cables? If you need a pedal to control your MIDI board, this is a question you can’t afford to miss. Does the slightest off note or out of tune guitar drive you crazy? If so, you may want to consider a volume pedal that will not affect the tone of your guitar. You may even consider an expression pedal with an attached tuner output, so you can be sure to tune between every song.

Consider how accurate you need your volume adjustments to be. Do you play with a group whose dynamics require very finely tuned sounds? Then you will want a volume pedal that can give you an accurate reading and complete volume control. On the other hand, if you are the lead guitarist of a garage rock group, and only need your pedal to take your sound from loud to ear piercing, a simpler pedal may be the way to go.

Durability can be extremely important as well. It would be terrible for your volume pedal to break in the middle of a show. Will your pedal be getting heavy use? Traveling the road, getting stomped on night after night? A pedal of strong construction would be the one for you. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a home studio setting, a rugged pedal can be swapped for one with lighter construction. This may save you money and shave some extra weight off of your gear bag.

You will also want to think about the functions of your volume pedal. Many pedals can be used to express different effects besides volume. Will you also be using the pedal to create swells or control other effects on your guitar? Some pedals are more suited for that use. Do you simply need a pedal to turn your instruments up and down? There are very simple pedals without all the add-ons that may suit you.

Size can be another vital area to consider. For a musician with a lot of effects pedals, adding another one to your board may be enough to cause minor anxiety. Instead of buying a new board just to fit your volume pedal, consider buying a pedal with a smaller profile.

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Last updated on May 15, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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