10 Best Volume Pedals for Guitar in 2021 [Gear Guide]

Volume pedals certainly don’t have the appeal of other effects pedals, like a wah, chorus, or distortion. But if you ask any gigging guitarist with a pedalboard which guitar pedals they couldn’t live without, they’ll tell you that the humble volume pedal is one of them.

Using a volume pedal puts you in control of the mix and ensures that your instrument will always sit as it should in the mix. Many of these effects also provide additional features that make them even more useful. We’ll cover those in just a moment. 

First, we’ll cover everything you’ll need to know when it comes to volume pedals and take a look at ten of the best guitar volume pedal options available today.

best volume pedals for guitar

What Are Volume Pedals?

Volume pedals are a guitar effect that allows for volume control of your signal using your foot instead of with your picking hand. These effects look similar to a wah pedal, or for the uninitiated, like the gas pedal in your car. 

Some effects also provide additional features, such as a switchable boost or an onboard EQ. 

How Do Volume Pedals Affect Guitar Tone?

A quality volume pedal will have absolutely no effect on your guitar tone at all. The purpose of this pedal category is to help make it easier for guitarists to control their volume, not add a new effect to their sound. 

Inside a guitar volume pedal is a standard potentiometer, just like the volume and tone knobs on your guitar. There’s a small piece of plastic known as the treadle inside, and it catches onto the potentiometer’s knurled shaft, allowing it to spin the pot. Moving the pedal towards the heel reduces the volume while moving the pedal towards the toe raises it. 

Occasionally, you’ll find a volume pedal that uses an optical sensor instead of potentiometers to control the pedal’s volume. Regardless of the mechanism, these effects function in the same way to raise or lower your volume with your foot without any effect on your tone.

Volume Pedal Features to Consider

Since these guitar pedals provide such an essential function, it’s challenging to decide on which pedal is the best fit for you. Knowing the different features to look for when shopping for a volume pedal is the key to selecting the ideal pedal for you. Look for each thing below when you’re shopping for a volume pedal. 

Sound Transparency

Keeping your sound transparent is one of the most important jobs of a volume pedal. Your volume pedal should control your volume and nothing else. Your tone should sound the same whether you’re plugging into your volume pedal or not. The thing is, this isn’t the case with most volume effects. 

Even some excellent guitar volume pedals on the market can color your tone. Cheaper effects tend to be the worst offenders, while a great volume pedal adds little or no color to your sound. 

If your volume pedal seems to be sucking the life from your tone, there’s hope for you yet. The main reason for tone loss when using a volume pedal is because the signal entering the volume pedal isn’t strong enough. You can combat this issue by using a buffer in your setup, which will boost your signal as it travels through its path.

Dedicated buffers are available, but they’re pricey. The best option is to place a buffered pedal before the volume in your signal chain. Many effects employ buffers to ensure signal quality, including almost all of the Boss pedals. Many guitarists place a Boss tuner pedal before their volume to combat the effects of signal loss. 

Still, you can avoid dealing with any workarounds by selecting a pedal that’s as close to utterly transparent as possible. 


One area that many novice guitarists are guilty of ignoring is the impedance of a volume pedal. If you choose a pedal whose impedance does not match your guitar, it will affect your tone and the pedal’s performance. Always make sure the volume pedal you select is compatible with your pickups.

The impedance of your volume pedal should match the impedance of the pots for your volume and tone. In most cases, single-coil guitars have 250k pots, guitars with humbuckers have 500k pots, and instruments with active pickups have 25k pots. 

When choosing a volume pedal, make sure to select one that matches the impedance of your most commonly used guitars. If you’re like many guitarists and you occasionally switch from single coil to humbucking pickups, this won’t have much effect on your volume pedal’s performance. Still, choose the impedance for your most commonly used guitar. 

If you use a combination of guitars with active and passive pickups, you may want to invest in a different volume pedal for your active setup and one for your passive setup. While you won’t notice much of any difference between 250k and 500k options, there’s a notable difference between 25k and 250k or 500k. 

Active or Passive

All volume effects fall into one of two categories, passive or active.

Passive volume pedals don’t require any power to function. There’s no circuitry to power with a passive pedal, just a single potentiometer wired from the input of the pedal to the output. Passive versions come in 250k and 500k varieties, and they’re the perfect choice for guitarists who need volume control and don’t care about any extra features. 

Passive pedals are an excellent choice because they have no upkeep costs, and since the design is so simple, there’s hardly a thing that can go wrong. But, they are susceptible to tone loss, so you’ll want to run a buffer in front of them to prevent any signal issues.

There’s a bit more to the circuitry of an active volume pedal, and they require a battery or power supply to provide juice. Active effects are always buffered, so tone loss isn’t an issue. These effects often have additional features beyond basic volume control, such as a boost function or onboard EQ. Active pedals come in 25k, 250k, and 500k varieties. 


Responsiveness is a crucial characteristic to look for when selecting the best volume pedal. The best volume pedals feel like an extension of your body when you use them, and they allow you to precisely control your volume without any surprises or jumps in volume as you move through the sweep of the pedal.

Responsiveness is critical if you plan to use your volume pedal as an expression pedal to control the parameters of other effects on your board.

Taper Control

Potentiometers are available in two different tapers, linear or audio. These designations pertain to the resistance point as you turn the knob.

Audio taper pots generate the lion’s share of their resistance between the 5-10 positions, whereas audio pots ramp up their resistance equally as you turn the knob. So, if the knob is at ‘2’, it’s generating 20% of its resistance, and so on. 

Linear pots offer a much smoother transition from 0-10 compared to an audio pot. But, that doesn’t necessarily make them a better choice for volume control. In fact, many guitarists prefer an audio potentiometer to control their volume, especially if they use volume swells in their playing.

You’ll find volume effects in either configuration, and some of the best volume pedals can work in either configuration. If you’re not sure which type you prefer, or if you’d like the option to switch between the two, a few of the best volume pedals allow you to change the taper of the potentiometer with the flip of a switch. 

Stereo or Mono

Depending on the type of music you play and how involved your rig is, choosing between a stereo or mono volume pedal may be an essential factor for you. 

Stereo models offer two outputs, which allow you to run your signal to two different amplifiers or control the volume of two other instruments. This feature is convenient if you’d like to be able to pan between your two rigs while playing. 

Mono pedals offer a single input and output, allowing you to control one signal. For most players, this arrangement is ideal. But, if you run your signal to two amps, or would like the option to do so, go with a stereo model. 


Volume pedals come in many sizes, and how large or small the pedal is may be quite important to you. 

Large effects are comfortable and feel secure under your foot. But, if you run a cramped pedalboard or you’re a gigging musician, the prospect of lugging around another huge pedal may sound like a drag. Fortunately, there are much smaller models available that may be a better fit for you. 


One of the major differentiators between the best volume pedals and the budget options is their construction. 

Most players are hard on their effects, but quality manufacturers make their pedals from heavyweight materials like cast metal or heavy gauge aluminum. Stay away from models made of plastic or thin metals, as they’re much more prone to damage. 

As for the internal components, passive models are the most durable because they’re so simple. These pedals are also easiest to repair if something goes wrong. Active volume pedals have more that can go wrong, so be sure to choose a pedal from a leading manufacturer with a reputation for quality if you go the active route. 

The Top 10 Best Volume Pedals for Guitarists

Now that you know all you’ll need to select one of the best volume pedals, it’s time to consider your options.

Whether you’re looking for a pedal for your small pedalboard or need one that offers exact volume effects, there’s something for everyone.

Check out the ten top options on the market!

Ernie Ball 6181 VP JR 25K Volume Pedal

Best volume pedal for active electronics

The Ernie Ball VP Jr is one of the most popular volume controls on the market. Look down at any pedalboard, and there’s half a chance you’ll see a VP Jr staring back at you. EB voices this model especially for the hot signal of active pickups, and it features a 25K ohm potentiometer. 

The Ernie Ball VP Jr pedal offers a simple design to ensure long-lasting durability. There are very few internal components that can break, and each aspect of the pedal is heavy-duty and ready for the road. 

The Ernie Ball VP Jr is a mono pedal that features a tuner out, which provides silent tuning when the pedal is in the heel-down position. The Ernie Ball VP Jr model is 22% smaller than the original volume pedal, making it ideal for cramped pedalboards. 

Features & Specs

  • Heavy-gauge aluminum construction
  • Dedicated tuner out
  • Vectran cable for durability
  • 25K ohm pot for active instruments
  • Passive circuitry

Who Should Use This?

The Ernie Ball VP Jr is an ideal pedal for guitarists and bassists who use active electronics and anyone who needs to maximize the available space on their pedalboard.

Boss FV-500L Volume Pedal

Best stereo volume and expression pedal 

Boss volume pedals have long been a favorite of gigging pros and guitarists who want to customize their pedal feel, and their new 500 series volume controls are a considerable improvement over an already great pedal. 

This stereo passive volume pedal is the low impedance model, voiced especially for guitars and other instruments with passive pickups. This pedal offers stereo I/O, an expression pedal input, and a tuner output on the pedal’s side for quiet operation while tuning. There’s also a minimum volume knob to control how low the minimum volume setting is on the pedal. 

This pedal offers sturdy die-cast aluminum construction and a comfortable and slip-resistant rubber base on the face of the pedal. The pedal’s resistance can be adjusted with a wrench, allowing you to dial in a custom feel for your pedal. 

Features & Specs

  • Die-cast aluminum housing 
  • Stereo I/O
  • Expression pedal compatible 
  • Adjustable pedal tension
  • Tuner output
  • Minimum volume knob
  • Passive circuitry

Who Should Use This?

The FV-500L is the perfect pedal for any guitarist who wants a customizable stereo volume pedal that can pull double duty as an expression pedal. 

Dunlop DVP4 X Mini Volume Pedal

Best for small pedalboards

For many years, guitarists who would otherwise use a volume pedal had to go without because they couldn’t give up space on their pedalboard to accommodate another thing. Thankfully, volume controls have been shrinking in recent years, making it easier to add one to your setup without giving up three effects worth of space on your board. 

The DVP4X from Dunlop is perhaps the smallest of them all, and it’s perfect for guitarists with limited room. This small volume pedal provides full-size operation in a small package. 

This mono volume pedal also offers an aux input that you can use as a tuner output or an expression pedal input. A switch inside the pedal allows you to toggle between the two, and there’s also an internal trim pot for setting the minimum parameter value if you’re using it as an expression pedal. 

Dunlop makes this pedal from lightweight yet durable aluminum, and the pedal tension is fully adjustable to provide a custom feel under your foot.

Features & Specs

  • Die-cast aluminum housing 
  • Adjustable pedal tension 
  • Tuner out / Expression output
  • Passive circuitry

Who Should Use This?

The DVP4X is the best volume pedal for players who have small pedalboards but still need volume or expression pedal functionality. 

Boss FV 500H Foot Volume Pedal

Best mono volume and expression pedal for active instruments

Guitarists and bassists who rely on active electronics to deliver their signature sound are sure to love the Boss FV-500H, which is practically identical to the FV-500L, with a few small differences. 

For one, the Boss FV-500H is mono instead of stereo. Boss designs this model for high impedance instruments, like guitars and basses with active pickups. Outside of these differences, this pedal is identical to the low-impedance stereo version, the FV-500L. 

The Boss FV-500H offers an expression jack and a tuner output. Like the low-impedance version, there’s also a minimum volume control, and the pedal tension is fully adjustable. All Boss volume pedal options, including the FV-500H, feature some heavy die-cast aluminum frames with a comfortable and slip-proof rubber base. 

Features & Specs

  • Die-cast aluminum housing 
  • Volume or expression pedal
  • Adjustable pedal tension
  • Tuner output
  • Minimum volume adjustment
  • Passive circuitry
  • Designed for high impedance (active) instruments

Who Should Use This?

Any guitarist who relies on active electronics is bound to love the Boss FV-500H volume pedal, which also functions as an expression pedal. 

Ernie Ball 250K Mono Volume Pedal

Best pedal for single-coil instruments

The 6166 from Ernie Ball is one of the most popular volume pedals of all time, and these effects offer bulletproof reliability, smooth operation, and a tough-as-nails look that suits any pedalboard. 

This pedal features a 250K potentiometer, making it ideal for use with single coil instruments. You can also use this pedal with humbuckers, although the 500K version would suit you better.

The 6166 is a mono pedal with a single input and output. There’s also a tuner out that allows you to tune silently in the heel-down position. An internal micro taper switch allows players to choose from an audio or logarithmic taper, which provides two different swell rates, so you’ll have the power to choose the best option for your music. 

Features & Specs

  • Heavyweight aluminum construction
  • Passive circuitry
  • 250K potentiometer is ideal for single coils
  • Tuner out
  • Taper switch

Who Should Use This?

The Ernie Ball 250K mono volume pedal is the perfect choice for Strat and Tele players who are after a volume pedal made for single-coil pickups. This pedal is also a smart choice for players who want the feel of a full-sized pedal. Best of all, this pedal is ideal for beginner guitarists and comes in at an attractive price point. 

Lehle Mono Best Volume Pedal

Best of the best volume pedal

If you’re the kind of guitarist who demands the best of everything, we’ve got just the thing for you. This pedal uses a unique mechanism of action to deliver the most precise, durable, and musical volume effect available today, and it’s our choice as the best volume pedal for guitar.

Unlike volume pedals which rely on a potentiometer or optical sensor, the Lehle uses a magnetic VGA sensor to control volume. The result is an incredibly precise pedal that feels like an extension of your body when you use it. 

The Lehle has a broad dynamic range of 110dB, which is far higher than the competition. A trim pot on the rear of the pedal allows you to dial in up a boost of up to 10dB for keeping your signal volume universal, and there’s also a direct out for sending your sound out to a tuner or secondary amplifier. 

This all-metal pedal features cast aluminum construction and a thick and textured pad that ensures non-slip operation. The size is ideal for smaller pedalboards. 

Features & Specs

  • Magnetic VCA control
  • Cast aluminum construction
  • +10dB gain boost
  • Extremely precise operation
  • Requires included power supply
  • Active circuitry

Who Should Use This?

The Lehle Mono volume pedal is the ideal choice for guitarists who need the most precise and musical volume effect they can get their hands on. 

Morley 20/20 Volume Plus Pedal

Best optical volume pedal 

While most players opt for a potentiometer-controlled volume pedal, fans of Morley’s bulletproof optical sensor design are sure to love the new 20/20 volume pedal, which is a favorite of Steve Vai.

The 20/20 Volume Plus has several intuitive features that are entirely unique. Many effects offer a minimum value knob to control the volume of your playing in the heel down position. But, Morley adds a footswitch that allows you to toggle whether the minimum volume engages or not. 

The optical circuitry is maintenance-free and built for a lifetime of use. Morley is so confident in the fact that they offer a bulletproof lifetime warranty on this pedal. 

The pedal and treadle have cool Steve Vai-inspired glow-in-the-dark graphics, and the bright green base of the 20/20 sets it apart from other pedals on the market. The 20/20 series is a bit smaller than Morley’s famously giant full-size effects, but it’s still a space hog, so you’ll want to ensure it’ll fit on your pedalboard before purchasing. 

Features & Specs

  • Rugged rolled-steel construction
  • Electro-optical design – no pots
  • Switchable minimum value
  • Active circuitry
  • 9V battery or power supply
  • Lifetime warranty 

Who Should Use This?

The Morley 20/20 volume pedal is an ideal choice for fans of Morley’s volume and wah pedals that enjoy Morley’s unique feel and design. This model is also a wise choice for lead guitarists who can use the switchable minimum value feature.

Xotic XVP-250K High Impedance Volume Pedal

Best passive volume pedal

Xotic is well known for its versatile and meticulously built effects, and their XVP-250K volume pedal falls right in line with their other excellent offerings. This passive volume pedal offers a sharp and sophisticated look to go along with vintage-style components, which are entirely hand-wired. 

The 250K potentiometer is ideal for single coil guitars and basses, but this pedal also plays well with humbuckers. The pedal tension is fully adjustable so you can dial in the perfect feel for you, and the sharp hot-rod-inspired gold flake finish will make this Xotic volume pedal the crown jewel of your pedalboard. 

Xotic is serious about the vintage vibes their effects deliver. Everything inside the XVP-250K volume pedal is hand-wired using the highest quality vintage-spec components, including cloth-covered push-back wiring. 

Heavy-duty nylon bushings ensure long-term reliability, and there’s a dedicated tuner out to provide silent tuning when this easy-to-use pedal is in the heel-down position. 

Features & Specs

  • Die-cast aluminum construction
  • 250k potentiometer – ideal for passive pickups
  • Tuner out 
  • Gold sparkle finish
  • Passive circuitry 

Who Should Use This?

The Xotic XVP250K is a smart choice for guitarists looking for a meticulously built and beautifully finished volume pedal that the manufacturer crafts with care to vintage specs.

Ernie Ball MVP Volume Pedal

Best active volume pedal

The Ernie Ball MVP is EB’s holy grail volume pedal, offering all the features of their other volume pedals like the VP Jr and then some. This pedal boasts the same bulletproof reliability and premium construction as the other Ernie Ball volume pedals while also delivering the versatility that modern guitarists demand. 

This mono device offers buffered circuitry, so there are no concerns of tone loss common with passive versions. There’s a dedicated tuner out that allows you to tune silently in the heel-down position. 

The most notable feature of the Ernie Ball MVP is the minimum volume and gain knob controls, which offer a level of precision that few other pedals can compete with. Not only can you set the minimum value for the effects pedal in the heel-down position, but you can also add up to 20dB of boost to the pedal in the toe-down position. 

The gain boost is convenient if you’re looking to drive your other effects harder. If you run distortion or overdrive in your circuit, crank the boost up to 20dB and marvel at the additional snarl and meanness your gain effects can produce. 

Features & Specs

  • Rugged brushed aluminum construction
  • Tuner out
  • Minimum volume control
  • +20dB gain boost
  • Active circuitry

Who Should Use This?

The Ernie Ball MVP volume pedal is ideal for lead guitarists who need a boost for their leads and solos and any guitarist looking to drive their effects harder with the help of some extra gain.

Dunlop GCB-80 High Gain Volume Pedal

Best volume pedal for swells

The GCB-80 from Dunlop is instantly familiar-looking, as it shares a housing with the instantly iconic CryBaby wah pedal. Fans of the bulletproof construction and rock-solid reliability of the CryBaby are sure to feel right at home with the GCB-80. 

Like the wah, the GCB-80 features solid cast construction with a textured finish that can stand up to years of abuse. A solitary input and output are all you’ll need to contend with when plugging into this easy-to-use pedal. 

If you like to use volume swells in your playing, you’ll enjoy a warm and responsive feel that breathes life into each note. Simple and practical, the GCB-80 is a smart buy for guitarists who just want the simplest solution possible. 

Features & Specs

  • Die-cast housing 
  • Passive circuitry
  • One-million cycle potentiometer

Who Should Use This?

The Dunlop GCB-80 is the pedal of choice for guitarists who want simple, no-frills control over their volume without any extra features. 

How to Use Volume Pedals

Using a volume pedal couldn’t be more simple. All you’ll need to do is plug your guitar into the input, plug a cable from the pedal’s output to your amp, and enjoy a dedicated control without having to fiddle with your guitar’s knobs. 

One of the most popular ways to use a volume pedal is to create volume swells. This effect works best with sustained chords. To achieve it, bring your volume pedal to the heel down position and strum a chord. Next, slowly move the pedal to the toe-down position, which will produce a volume swell. 

Many volume pedals allow you to use them as expression pedals with the help of a TRS cable. Using the pedal in this manner will enable you to control one of the parameters of your other effects with your foot instead of the knob on the pedal. 

Where Volume Pedals Go in the Signal Chain?

Guitarists will place their volume effects in different spots depending on the effect they’re looking to achieve. You can figure out the best placement for you by answering a straightforward question: Do you want your volume pedal to work as the volume knob on your guitar, or would you like it to work as a master volume for your whole rig? 

If you want the volume pedal to function just like your guitar volume, place it at the beginning of your signal chain. Putting the pedal here will allow you to change your guitar’s output as it travels through the other pedals in your signal chain, affecting how the effects interact with each other. You can achieve some exceptional tones with this configuration, especially if you have overdrive on your pedalboard. 

Placing the volume pedal at the very end of your signal path allows the pedal to function as a master volume for everything that came before it. Since the signal has already run through all your other pedals, using the volume pedal will increase or decrease your overall volume with no effect on how the rest of your effects sound. This configuration isn’t quite as musical, but it’s much more precise. Your personal preference will dictate the best setup for you.

Ready to Use a Volume Pedal?

It’s easy to overlook the volume pedal, but they’re among the most useful musical weapons in a guitar player’s arsenal. If you’re a gigging guitarist, there’s a strong chance that your sound can benefit by having a volume pedal. 

Each of the pedals above could make an excellent fit for you, depending on your playing style. Take some time to consider each pedal’s main features before picking one to add to your guitar equipment.

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