Perhaps the most overlooked and underused “effect” by guitarists is the humble volume control on your guitar.
With this you can control your volume and overall gain at the turn of a switch.
As useful as the volume control may be, sometimes it’s nicer to have this kind of control at your feet in the form of a Volume Pedal.
In this article, I’m going to show you the best guitar volume pedals available on the market, as well as some useful tips for picking the right volume pedal depending on how you plan to use it.
Snapshot: Top 8 Volume Pedals in 2021
- Boss FV-30H – Best Overall
- Sonicake Vexpress – Best Budget Option
- Fender Tread Light Volume/Expression – Best for Live Use
- Ernie Ball MVP
- Ernie Ball VP Jr. Tuner
- Morley 20/20 Power Wah Volume
- Jim Dunlop Volume X Mini – Best Mini
- Xotic XVP-250K – Best High End Option
Shopping for the Right Volume Pedal
You might think that volume pedals are limited in their functionality to just changing your volume. While this is certainly their primary purpose, picking the best guitar volume pedal for your board isn’t as simple as you might think.
In compiling this list, I made sure to incorporate volume pedals that can fit onto a wide array of pedalboards depending on how they will be used.
For example, if you want to use a volume pedal to control the gain of your overdrive pedals, the volume pedal needs to be a high impedance model and should be placed first in your pedalboard signal chain. On the other hand, you may want a low impedance pedal if you plan on using it as a master volume control, after buffered pedals.
There are also volume pedals on this list that combine the volume effect with another effect such as wah and expression, or even with tuners to save you space.
These pedals come in large and mini sizes to accommodate your foot size. And no matter what your price point is, you can surely find a volume pedal on this list to fit your budget.
The Best Guitar Volume Pedals in 2021
1. Boss FV-30H – Best Overall Volume Pedal
- Space-saving volume pedals with rugged aluminum die-cast body designs
The new FV-30H from Boss is a standard high impedance volume pedal that works the way you want a volume pedal to. If you want a straight-ahead, built to last volume pedal, there’s no better out there than this one for the value.
- Built like a tank
- Small, but not Mini, footprint
- Both High and Low impedance models available
- Less features than Boss 500 Volume pedals
- No grip on pedal
For long, the go-to high-impedance volume pedal from Boss has been the Boss FV-500H for its indestructible build quality and smooth taper. While this is an awesome volume pedal, it is large and weighs a lot.
The folks at Boss have taken the best parts of the FB-500H and distilled it into a smaller, but still robust, model known as the FV-30H.
The FV-30 comes in both high-impedance and low-impedance models (check out the FV-30L), so you have the option to pick whichever suits your needs best. These pedals are made with aluminum, making them especially road-worthy, and the FV-30H has a tuner out. This is a passive pedal, therefor it doesn’t require any power.
This is a high-impedance volume pedal, which means it runs best with passive electronics like the ones in your guitar. Because of this, you want to use the FV-30H first in your chain, making it a great option for controlling your overall gain. If you want to use a volume pedal as a master volume control, I would opt for the FV-30L (it is a stereo pedal as well).
The controls are super simple. There is a foot treadle, with the heel setting the lowest volume at zero, and the toe at full volume. There is a single, mono input and output jack, as well as a Tuner Out so your tuner doesn’t have to be in your signal chain. You can adjust the feel of the treadle using the side screws.
- Effect Type: High Impedance Volume Pedal
- Signal: Analog
- Power Requirements: Passive
- Dimensions: 3.19 x 7.56 x 2.31”
- Features: Tuner Out, Passive
Final Thoughts on the Boss FV-30H
The FV-30H is first/best on this list because it sets the standard for all volume pedals to follow. Everything else on this list may have some compromises or features that make up for those compromises. Not so with the FV-30H. This is what a volume pedal is supposed to be.
2. Sonicake Vexpress – Best Budget Volume Pedal
- Passive Volume Control/Expression Control 2 functions in 1 Pedal
Volume pedals don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. They also don’t have to feel or sound like garbage to come in at a budget friendly price. The Sonicake Vexpress proves just that.
- 2 in 1 Design
- Passive – no power required
- Plastic parts won’t last forever
- Small footprint may be too small for larger players
The Sonicake Vexpress is a budget friendly volume pedal that doubles as an expression pedal. This affordable and versatile 2 in 1 pedal design makes the Vexpress punch way above its weight class.
Not only is it pedalboard friendly from its hybrid design, but it is also a mini volume pedal. This is ideal for those looking to squeeze in as many effects as possible onto their board, but mini food treadle style effects run the risk of feeling flimsy and unstable under large feet.
The Vexpress is built with plastic parts that make it unworthy for the road, but with light use it feels good under the feet. This is a great pedal for those looking to try out a volume pedal for the first time, or to squeeze in a mini expression pedal for a single effect on a crowded board.
The Vexpress works like most volume pedals and has a single foot treadle with no extra settings or dials. Whether you use it as a volume or expression pedal depends on which jacks you use. Plugging into both the input and output routes the pedal for “Volume” mode, while connecting just the output to your favorite effects pedal turns it into an expression pedal.
- Effect Type: Volume/Expression
- Signal: Analog
- Power Requirements: Passive – None
- Dimensions: 5.85 x 2.58 x 2.4
- Features: Passive, Dual Volume/Expression
Final Thoughts on the Sonicake Vexpress
The Sonicake Vexpress is the ideal volume pedal for the guitarist working with a tight budget, and you get some great features for your money. It’s a mini sized volume pedal that can double as an expression pedal. So when you work your way up to a large pedalboard, make sure you hold onto this as a mini expression pedal when you need it.
3. Fender Tread Light Volume/Expression Pedal – Best for Live Use
Fender has really been stepping up their effects pedal game in recent years, so it is no surprise that they have delivered a solid expression pedal that could be a challenger as the new standard.
- Unique Look
- LED lets you know when pedal is active
- High quality build
- Too simple of a design for the price
The Treadlight Volume/Expression pedal is a dual Volume and Expression pedal design made to work on any pedalboard. It features an all-original Fender circuit that is designed for optimal signal and high end frequency integrity.
While the circuit is impressive, the Treadlight works in a familiar way that any guitarist will be able to understand. What really seems to separate the Treadlight from other Volume pedals are the subtle aesthetic details like the wooden accent, and namely the switchable LED light that makes the pedal easy to spot on stage.
The Treadlight is made from aluminum and is sure to last on the road.
There isn’t much to go over with this pedal in terms of controls. You have your standard treadle to control volume or expression changes. There is a switch that lets you turn the LED on or off. All jacks are top-mounted to make it work well with even the most crowded of pedalboards. The Treadlight requires 9V power via an adaptor or battery to work the LED, but is otherwise is passive/analog.
- Effect Type: Active Volume/Expression
- Signal: Analog
- Power Requirements: 9V DC
- Dimensions: 9.25 x 3.75 x 2.75
- Features: LED, EXP Out
Final Thoughts on the Fender Treadlight Volume/Expression Pedal
The Treadlight is similar to the Boss FV-30H in that it is an incredibly streamlined pedal, but what separates it from its predecessors are its classy aesthetic and LED light that make it ideal for use on dark stages. The design may be uninspired for the price point, but if you want some spice in the looks department with your pedals, go with Fender as always.
4. Ernie Ball MVP
If you’re going to name a pedal the “MVP” or “Most Valuable Pedal”, there’s going to be some hype surrounding it. Let’s take a look at what makes the Ernie Ball MVP a great volume pedal for some.
- Works with active and passive electronics
- Can be placed almost anywhere in signal chain
- Can be used as a boost
- Grip tape treadle prevents slipping
- Common complaint: Heel doesn’t always fully cut volume unless foot is on pedal
The Ernie Ball MVP is the first on this list so far to be a truly active volume pedal. Whereas the other pedals on this list have been passive and work like the volume pot on your guitar, the MVP works like many other effects pedals in that it is buffered and requires 9V of power to function.
Why is this necessary? Well, including a buffer in the pedal makes it work better later on in your signal chain, whether that be in conjunction with time based effects, or at the very end as a master volume pedal. It also allows the pedal to have other functions, such as the 20db of extra gain on tap, making this not only a volume pedal, but an expressible boost as well.
Unlike some volume pedals, the MVP actually has extra controls! The top of the pedal has dials for Gain and Min Volume. The Gain control allows you up to 20db of boost, which is further controlled by the foot treadle. The Min Volume, functions as a volume floor and lets you set a minimum volume other than zero.
I would use this pedal as follows: set the minimum volume at unity and then dial in a substantial amount of extra gain. This effectively turns the MVP into an expression based boost pedal that can pump up volume for solos when placed after overdrive, or increase saturation when placed before.
- Effect Type: Active Volume Pedal
- Signal: Analog
- Power Requirements: 9V DC (100mA)
- Dimensions: 11.25 x 4.75 x 3.5
- Features: Min Volume, 20db Boost, Tuner Out
Final Thoughts on the Ernie Ball MVP
The MVP Volume Pedal from Ernie Ball is a clever design and expands the functionality of volume pedals beyond pedals that “turn your guitar up or down”. With some clever routing this can be a really valuable (yes, maybe even the most valuable) pedal on your board.
5. Ernie Ball VP Jr. Tuner
- Enjoy the same rugged construction and time-tested performance as Ernie Ball’s traditional volume pedal PLUS an enhanced definition digital tuner pedal.
The MVP isn’t the only hybrid volume pedal from Ernie Ball worth checking out. While many manufacturers give you the ability to connect your tuner pedal, Ernie Ball went and built one into your volume pedal with the VP Jr. Tuner
- Save board space with hybrid design
- Effects Loop built in
- Plenty of headroom
- susceptible to dust/dirt through openings in pedal
- Costs more than competitors, but feature rich
The Ernie Ball VP Jr. Tuner is a volume pedal, effects loop, and Tuner all wrapped into one, high-tech pedal. The famed VP Jr. is one of Ernie Ball’s best-selling pedals, and this takes that same design up a notch by incorporating a great effects loop, as well as a touch screen Tuner on the treadle.
There is a PVC covered Kevlar cord to ensure that the VP Jr. remains intact no matter how much use it gets over the years. It also features an 18V power section for additional headroom. The effects loop is great for controlling specific pedals on your board.
The tuner has reference pitches ranging all the way from 432 Hz to 447 Hz, making it perfect for any drop tuning. It has multiple different tuning modes, all adjustable from the touch screen. Personally, I would keep this pedal on my session or studio board, as opposed to live performances, purely from a germophobic standpoint considering you’ll be touching a screen that has had beer and pee covered boots all over it if you’re playing in bars.
- Effect Type: Volume Pedal/Tuner
- Signal: Analog
- Power Requirement: Active 9V-18V
- Dimensions: 10 x 3.5 x 2.52
- Special Features: Volume Pedal, Effects Loop, Touch Screen Tuner
Final Thoughts on the Ernie Ball VP Jr. Tuner
While not without its flaws, especially for the germophobic out there, the VP Jr. makes its way onto this list for its creative and original design. Volume pedals are cool and often essential tools, but if they can be combined with other utility pedals like tuners, they are all the better. The Ernie Ball VP Jr. Tuner does this well and presents itself with a modern design concept.
6. Morley 20/20 Power Wah Volume
For years, Volume pedals have been combined with other similarly shaped effects pedals like expression pedals. Morley has taken things in a slightly different, and in my opinion a more fun, direction by combining volume with wah-wah pedals with the 20/20 Power Wah Volume.
- Switchless design means pedal will last for years
- Save space with Wah/Volume combo
- Boost your Wah signal
- Glow in the Dark
- Volume cannot be used as a Boost
Morley makes some of the most innovative wah pedals on the market today, so it comes as little surprise that they would create one of the most useful combo wah pedals – wah and volume. The 20/20 Power Wah Volume is easy to use and built to last on the road with its switchless design. Just push the treadle down and the pedal activates, eliminating the need to start at the toe position.
The pedal has up to 20 dB of boost in the Wah mode, making it ideal for players that like to use wah pedals during solos. This eliminates the need to switch on another boost pedal.
The Power Wah/Volume also has glow in the dark features, making it easy to see on even the darkest of stages, making it a great option for working musicians.
The treadle is a switchless design, making it easy to use and highly likely to resist dirt and water buildup that often destroys both traditional wah and volume pedals.
The Power Wah has a dial for Wah Boost, providing an incredible 20 dB of boost. My only wish is that this could be applied to the volume side of the pedal as well so that you can boost your signal without the wah effect.
Switching between the Wah and Volume effects is easy with the Wah/Vol switch and corresponding LED light.
- Effect Type: Volume/Wah hybrid
- Signal: Analog
- Power Source: 9V DC
- Dimensions: 6.85 x4.5 x 2.5”
- Features: 20 dB Boost, switchless design
Final Thoughts on the Morley 20/20 Power Wah/Volume
Hybrid effects are not for everyone, but I think that Wah and Volume hybrid pedals have their place considering that people rarely have the ability to use both at the same time. So, why not combine then into one pedal to use them independently? This is a slick pedal that is easy to use and is sure to last a long time. It’s a great option for players that use either effect sparingly.
7. Jim Dunlop Volume X Mini – Best Mini Volume Pedal
Jim Dunlop is another name in the pedal world that is often synonymous with volume pedals, and my personal favorite from them is the Volume X Mini. Not only is it a great volume pedal, but it’s a compact, dual function expression pedal as well.
- Dual Expression and Volume pedal
- Dip switches allow for internal programming
- Mini Sized pedal with incredible versatility
- Larger boards may require pedal with more outputs
Typically speaking, mini volume pedals fall under the budget category, and you often get what you pay for… a flimsy and easy to break volume pedal. Not so with the Jim Dunlop Volume X Mini. While it isn’t a budget pedal, it is appropriately priced, and you get what you pay for.
The Mini X is an all metal enclosure that has rubber feet, as well as a rubber top so that your footing won’t slip in use. This is a passive pedal, which is pretty incredible considering that the Aux function can be used to power a tuner or be used as an expression pedal.
The controls most worth noting with the Volume X Mini are the internal dipswitches. These are what make the Volume X Mini a powerhouse volume pedal without having to be any larger than it is.
These internal dipswitches can let you set minimum and maximum output settings. They can also allow you to determine whether the AUX output functions as a Tuner jack or to turn the Volume X Mini into an expression pedal.
- Effect Type: Volume/Expression Pedal
- Signal: Analog
- Power Requirements: None. Passive
- Dimensions: 6 x 3.5 x 3.5”
- Special Features: Internal Dipswitches, Dual Expression/Tuner Aux Jack
Final Thoughts on the Jim Dunlop Volume X Mini
If I were to pick a volume pedal from this list for my own board, I would go with this pedal. It has the right amount of flexibility and dimensions to work on small or large boards alike. If you really want a mini volume pedal, I recommend going for this over the budget level pedals if you can afford it. You’ll be rewarded with a pedal that can last for years on end.
8. Xotic XVP-250K – Best High-End Volume Pedal
When it comes to great volume pedals, what makes the best products are not what you see on the pedal, but rather what the pedal is made up of inside. If you have the money to spend, the Xotic XVP is a simple, traditional high impedance volume pedal made with the best parts possible.
- Audio potentiometer is high quality
- Built to last
- Smooth “throw” due to nylon brushing
- Tuner Out
- Expensive for traditional style volume pedal
Starting with the size of the pedal, the Xotic XVP lies somewhere between a standard sized volume pedal and a mini one, as it measures in around 8.3 x 4 x 2.6 inches. I personally think this makes the Xotic volume pedal an accessible option for players of all sizes – neither too big nor too small.
The XVP-250K gets its name from its impedance rating, which is a high impedance value. This makes the XVP an ideal volume pedal for first in your chain. Typically speaking, single coil guitars’ volume pots are ranked at 250K, so this is a great option for instruments with passive electronics.
It is made of a gold metallic aluminum casing, making it sturdy and ready to go on the road, and look good while doing so.
The beauty of this pedal is in its simplicity. The only control is the treadle, along with a Tuner out jack.
What elevates this pedal above its competitors is the high quality audio potentiometer. All of the wires are cloth covered and hand wired, and the pedal has a smooth throw in part due to the nylon brushing for a smooth taper.
- Effect Type: High Impedance Volume Pedal
- Signal: Analog
- Power Requirements: Passive
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 4 x 2.6
- Features: Tuner Out, Cloth Covered Wires
Final Thoughts on the Xotic XVP-250K
If you’re looking for a traditional volume pedal with the best parts possible, the kind you may have found in the best vintage pedals, then this is the volume pedal for you. Xotic doesn’t make any bad pedals, period, and the XVP-250K is no exception. They also make a great Low Impedance model that is well worth checking out too.
Volume Pedals… Not as Simple as Their Name Suggests
It turns out that in today’s market, volume pedals are capable of a lot of different things. Traditional volume pedals vary greatly in impedance values and audio potentiometers, meaning that where you place them in your chain can have a big effect on your tone.
They can also be combined with utility effects like tuners or expression pedals, even full-blown effects like Wah-Wah.
I think the most important thing to remember about picking out the best guitar volume pedal for you is to think about how you’re going to use it. Whether it be to control the gain of your overdrive pedals, the trails of time based effects, as a master volume, or volume swells, the function will determine what kind of volume pedal is best for you.
If you need to work within a budget, there are options for you. If you don’t think you will use Volume often, but you want it in case, there are hybrid effects to save you space. Or, if it’s a must-have effect, there are vintage spec pedals as well.
They aren’t quite the same as the volume pot on your guitar, but they can be equally or more expressive when used correctly.
Whatever kind of volume pedal you need, I hope this article helps you find it!
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Davis Wilton Bader is a professional guitarist/writer based out of St. Louis, MO. He plays in the bands Lumet and The Outskirts.