Top 5 Best Volume Pedals 2021:
- Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics
- Yamaha FC7 Volume Expression Pedal
- Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X) 250k Ohm Resistance Volume and Expression Pedal
- BOSS Volume Pedal (FV-500H)
- Ernie Ball MVP, Most Valuable Pedal
No matter which stage of your musical journey you’re currently at, your pedalboard is something that constantly develops with you, and there’s always the space for improvement.
In the sea of different kinds of pedals, there’s one that doesn’t really affect your tone or create many additional effects to it, but rather enables you to control your output to the fullest – the volume pedal.
Just because this kind of pedal does not produce a unique sound doesn’t make it easier to choose the right model.
Organized and timely control of your volume can make a difference between a good gig and a bad gig, so you need the best volume pedal that you can find.
I mean, who doesn’t like the ability to adjust the volume on the go, hands-free?
After evaluating more than a dozen volume pedals at our lab, we’ve created a thorough buying guide and top list of the five best choices on the market.
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5 Best Volume Pedals In 2021: Detailed Reviews
1. Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics – Best Overall
Make some space for the best volume pedal on the market as of now, the Ernie Ball volume pedal Jr.
Let’s dissect it to the latest bits and see why it has achieved such a status.
Firstly, its build reflects all of the materials that are used to make the most durable and reliable pedals. It was made of stainless steel that is half an inch in diameter, enhanced with nylon bushing on both ends that support the hard surface.
The best part?
This front material is non-slip, and it can withstand oil, alcohol, water, and anything that might get on it by accident.
And the body of the pedal is connected via one of the strongest cables out there – the long-lasting Kevlar cable – attached by stainless steel springs.
What all of this translates to is the sturdy volume pedal that is sure to serve you for years to come.
Now we can cover the performative functions of this volume pedal by Ernie Ball.
The potentiometer comes with a 250k Ohm resistance, which is perfect for passive guitars and basses. As it is a passive model, it doesn’t require any power supplies.
Ernie Ball also offers the same model for active instruments, if that’s what you need. It’s equally good.
Our favorite part of this volume pedal is the area under the jack, where there’s a micro taper switch that enables you to choose from two distinct volume swell rates.
As you could have probably guessed – the “Jr” part of the name stands for a good reason. It means that this volume pedal is the smallest one in the line.
This fact can only be seen as a pro, meaning that its compact size doesn’t come at the expense of other features, and it also frees up some precious space on your pedalboard.
- Ideal for passive electronics
- Excellent for live performance
- The most compact out there
- High-quality construction
- No cons here!
2. BOSS Volume Pedal (FV-500H) – Runner-Up
With the FV-500H, Boss has hit the jackpot in their production of volume pedals.
Our tests have shown that it performed exquisitely on all fronts, and the only thing that kept it from winning the title of the best volume pedal is a somewhat higher price tag than that of our first pick.
It is the perfected version of the famous Boss FV-300 that is a canon and a standard when it comes to volume pedals.
Designed to meet the needs of seasoned musicians, this volume pedal can be used both for guitars and synthesizers due to its expression function.
Starting from the heavy-duty aluminum cast body enhanced with rubber that guarantees the non-slip performance and ultra-smooth movement, using the FV-500H is a real pleasure.
It lets you choose the best type for your preferred instrument – mono or high-impedance – thus empowering your sound and adding resonance to it.
Having said that, it’s clear to you if you own an electric guitar that you should buy this one. Related: The Best Travel Guitar
On the other hand, if you need a volume pedal for keyboard instruments or preamps, you’d be better off with the 500L version of this pedal. It’s the same pedal, with the same qualities – it just has a low impedance.
Of course, we had to try the FV-500H with signals that are characterized by low impedance, too – we couldn’t resist it – and, to our surprise, it performed great! Perhaps not that great like the specialized model did, but certainly above the expectations.
What does this mean?
Well, you can hit two birds with one stone if you don’t have the cash to splurge on two separate volume pedals!
- Suitable both for electric & bass guitar and synthesizer
- Excellent value for the price
- Easy to use
- No tone loss with both high and low impedance signals
- It’s a bit bulky, compared to some other volume pedals
3. Ernie Ball MVP, Most Valuable Pedal – Best Versatile
As you can see, here’s another pick from Ernie Ball that has made it to our top 5 list.
What can we say? This reputable brand really sits at the top of the industry, and for a good reason.
Compared to its cousin on the list, the Ernie Ball MVP is not the volume pedal in the standard sense of the word.
Instead, it is one of the first pedals that has managed to successfully merge the volume and overdrive pedal into the same unit, and you got to give the manufacturers credits for that.
As for the volume control, which is probably your primary concern, this pedal offers a really effective control without any frequency losses at both high and low volume.
The whole volume control mechanism is controlled by a super-smooth foot sweep that allows you to adjust the volume very precisely.
Another fact that speaks about its functionality when it comes to volume control is the fact that this pedal works with both active and passive audio signals!
It requires a 100mA minimum power supply, which is equivalent to a 9V-battery. A power source doesn’t come with the purchase.
Now, about the overdrive part of this pedal – it allows you to gain boost and alter your tone to sound a bit more funky and stylish.
Its compact and rugged aluminum design deserves to be mentioned, too. Just like the previous pick by Ernie Ball, the MVP is going to be your long-term companion on the musical journey due to its durable design.
- Sleek design
- The most versatile pedal out there
- Suitable for both active and passive instruments
- Increases the signal up to 30 decibels
- A bit pricey
- No silent tuning mode
4. Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X) 250k Ohm Resistance Volume and Expression Pedal – Budget-friendly Pick
Our next pick is an attractive pedal by Dunlop, an industry leader in the creation of high-quality units in many areas.
Their take in the volume pedals, the DVP3 pedal, has 250k Ohm of resistance, and it is a fully adjustable rocker tension.
You first need to set up the parameters for effects, and also adjust the heel down or toe down position via the internal switch. No matter which one you set, this pedal comes with a smooth transition and control.
There are three outputs (tuner, expression, and audio) for your convenience, and also an audio taper for a slow increase of the volume at the start, and then increased amounts later.
As you can see, this volume pedal has earned the title for the best design. It’s not one of the first elements that we assess, of course, but it doesn’t hurt if you have an aesthetically pleasing device on your board. And also, measuring at 8 x 12 x 12 inches, it won’t take up a lot of space!
Finally, this is passive, and only passive, volume pedal. We’ve tried it with active instruments, but it has not performed nearly as good as some other volume pedals.
With the purchase, you get two 10-feet instrument cables, which is a nice bonus.
When it arrived, we were not completely satisfied with how the rocker was too loose, but we adjusted it in a matter of minutes using the rear set-screw and two screws inside the unit. So, if it happens to you too, no worries; it can be fixed quickly.
- Compact size
- Extremely durable
- Beautiful design
- Fully adjustable rocker tension
- Smooth volume swells
- If you need an active volume pedal, search elsewhere!
5. Yamaha FC7 Volume Expression Pedal – Best for Keyboard
To top it off with another volume pedal we were delighted with, the Yamaha FC7 volume expression pedal is your best go if you own an electronic keyboard.
The quality of Yamaha products need not be discussed at all, and when we tell you that this is their best keyboard volume pedal, you can rest assured that you’re getting top-notch characteristics.
Just like with guitar pedals, you should use this pedal in-line between the instrument and the amp to control the volume.
If it hasn’t already been clear by now, we want to emphasize: this is not a guitar pedal, it’s only for the keyboards. It may be compatible with some amplifier and effect units, too, though, if they have the so-called “expression,” aka controller, input.
This 50k potentiometer is actually the upgraded version of their FC series, and it sports a number of killer-features.
Due to its smart design, you can fully adjust the pedal angle, as well as the spring point, which will account for each and every playing style that you pursue.
Another exciting thing about this volume pedal is the so-called “fortissimo function.” We believe its name speaks volumes about what it does, but let us describe how it was when we put it to practice.
Namely, it allows you to accentuate different parts of your performance by simply pressing the pedal, and release it to go back to the normal mode. The transition is smooth and trouble-free.
The 5-ft cable is not the longest one we’ve seen, but it will still account for most of the uses.
- Ideal for keyboards
- Durable construction
- Easy to control
- No tone loss
- Nice feel to your foot
- Not very versatile
Factors To Consider When Buying A Volume Pedal
In order to find a volume pedal that is well suited for your needs, you have to consider some important factors.
To aid you, we’ve compiled a short buying guide and summed up everything you ought to know in a few paragraphs!
1. Power Supply
Active or passive, that’s the question.
These are the two main types of volume pedals.
- Passive volume pedals are a lot simpler, and, consequently, usually cheaper. They don’t require a power source to be used, and also, there aren’t any buffers or a circuit inside.
- The way they are powered isn’t the only difference between the two types. They have a completely different feel.
- So, a passive volume pedal feels less sensitive, and it’s somewhat easier to hit the right spot with it, but then again, it can limit your possibilities.
- Our part was that we made sure to find the passive volume pedals that don’t interfere with your tone, as it can happen that you experience signal loss of top-ends. However, that won’t happen with our picks!
- On the other hand, an active volume pedal contains a buffer, so you can power them by an AC adapter or a battery.
Overall, even though active volume pedals are more sensitive, they give you the absolute control of the output, and you also don’t need to worry about the loss of signal.
2. Material & Size
- We have a rule here: don’t go for plastic volume pedals. Just believe us. Metal-built pedals sound better, are easier to operate with, and are much more durable.
- We eliminated some volume pedals even though they were made of high-quality metal just because they were slippery – that’s something you want to avoid at all costs with any pedal, not just the volume one.
- Also, the smaller, the better, because you don’t want a volume pedal to take too much space on your pedalboard. Then again, it shouldn’t be too small so that you don’t feel it.
- We prefer mini pedals that manage to strike just the right balance.
Bonus: Where To Put A Volume Pedal?
There are three main positions in a signal chain that musicians use for volume pedals:
- At the beginning of the chain – this will result in cleaning your signal if there’s a distorted amp or even if you’re using some overdrive pedals that come afterward, resulting in less grit and gain.
- In the middle of the chain – this is the most common position – after the overdrive, distortion, and boost pedals, and before modulations and reverbs. When placed here, the volume pedal serves only for controlling the volume, and there’ll be no effects on the sound.
- At the end of the chain – this is not quite usual, but if you decide to put the volume pedal at the end, that is, after delays and reverbs, you’re assigning to it another function: ending those effects. Thus, if you press the volume pedal, you will end any reverb trails or prolong sounds abruptly.
The Encore: Our Recommendations
We hope that our review has spared you some cash and aided you in search of the best volume pedal.
Based on our tests, the best volume pedal overall is the Ernie Ball VP Jr P06180. It smashed the tests with flying colors, and for its price, it’s truly the best volume pedal out there.
If you, on the other hand, aim for a keyboard volume pedal rather than the guitar pedal, your best choice is the Yamaha FC7 pedal.
Lastly, all of your needs for the volume pedal can be completed on a budget-friendly note, too, with the Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X) pedal.