5 Best Guitar Volume Pedals – Buying Guide and Reviews

Volume pedals are an often overlooked element in a guitarist’s arsenal. After all, just about every piece of equipment has a volume control on it somewhere.

So, why should you spend good money on a volume pedal?

They might seem redundant at first glance, but the best guitar volume pedals are one of those boring but exceptionally practical pedals that every guitarist should own and master.

At a Glance: Our Choice Of The 5 Best Guitar Volume Pedals On The Market

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Scenarios when you need a volume pedal

There are three common situations all guitarists will at some point encounter that absolutely require a volume pedal.

  • Solos. This goes for all instruments, not just guitars. You need to be able to boost your volume in order to take the spotlight, and doing it via the amp or with the guitar’s volume knob can be tricky to work in whilst you’re in the middle of playing. A pedal allows you to do this hands free.
  • No sound engineer. If you’re going to be in charge of your own EQ, a volume pedal is a simple little way to give yourself control over your volume levels as needed. This also comes in handy if the sound engineer isn’t very good, or the sound test wasn’t done properly.
  • Volume swells and other creative uses. Volume pedals aren’t just for boring technical details. You can pull off some truly beautiful tricks with nothing more than the humble volume pedal.

How to use and care for guitar volume pedals

Where to place the volume pedal in your chain:​

How to create volume swells:

How to repair an Ernie Ball volume pedal with a broken string:

So now that we’ve covered what a guitar volume pedal is for and how to use them, let’s take a look at what makes the best guitar volume pedals.

Buyer's Tips: What to look for when buying the best guitar volume pedals

  • A good volume pedal won’t interfere with your tone, it will only adjust the volume and nothing more.
  • You will need to decide between Active and Passive volume pedals - passive pedals have more of an impact on tone, but Active volume pedals require power to operate. The strength of a Passive volume pedal is measured in ohms, and a volume pedal with too much impedance will negatively impact your tone, particularly if your guitar has active pickups or you intend to use the volume pedal with another instrument that has a low signal output.
  • Consider whether the volume pedal can be dual purposed as an expression pedal. Not all of them are capable of performing this task, but it can help save money and pedal board space.
  • The durability of your volume pedal will also be important. When properly applied, they can become one of the most frequently used pedals you own. You should expect it to stand up to a lot of wear and tear without being any worse off for it.
  • Some volume pedals can be adjusted to respond differently and set minimum volume thresholds. A volume pedal that can be altered in this way is always going to be superior as you can have one that just “feels right” rather than one that’s too tight or sluggish.

Ok let's look at each product in more detail. To make things easier for you, we've added pros and cons for each guitar pedal, as well as a video demonstration so you can see them in action. So without further ado, let’s take a look...

5 Best Guitar Volume Pedals On The Market

1. Boss FV-500H (Editor's Choice)

Boss FV-500Hl Foot Volume Pedal - High Impedance

The high impedance model of the Boss FV-500 will be suitable for most guitarists, and is one of the best guitar volume pedals currently available.

  • Very high build quality
  • Adjustable resistance
  • Can set a minimum volume parameter
  • Can be used as an expression pedal
  • Takes up a lot of space on a pedal board
  • For low and high impedance, you’ll need to purchase each version separately

Let's take a look at this product...

2. Ernie Ball MVP

Ernie Ball MVP, Most Valuable Pedal

Among guitarists that know what they’re doing when it comes to getting the best, this is one of the most commonly sought after volume pedals. It’s similar in terms of quality to the Boss FV-500, but has a few extras that make it stand out. Furthermore, it’s also the easiest guitar volume pedal to use and understand, as it will work with any guitar or other instrument regardless of what comes before or after it in the signal chain.

  • Works with both active and passive pickups equally well
  • No alteration to tone, regardless of where it’s placed in your signal chain
  • Has a minimum volume setting plus a gain boost of up to 20db
  • Pedal resistance is not adjustable
  • Potentiator string can snap, rendering the pedal useless until it’s repaired
  • Can’t be used as an expression pedal

Let's take a look at this product...

3. Ernie Ball VP Jr.

Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics

As the name implies, the VP Jr. is the little brother to the MVP in more ways than one. It’s at a slightly more accessible price point, and retains enough of the qualities of the MVP that it’s one of the most popular guitar volume pedals.

  • Smaller size compared to both the Boss FV-500 and the Ernie Ball MVP makes it a better choice for compact set ups
  • Good grip on the footplate ensures you won’t accidentally slip off whilst using it
  • Can select between two volume swell speeds using a switch
  • Has a more noticeable impact on tone compared to high end volume pedals (but can be modded to completely mitigate this effect)
  • The pedal comes in high and low impedance version, but they must both be purchased unlike with the MVP which is an all-in-one solution
  • Fragile string assembly that has a track record of breaking

Let's take a look at this product...

4. Signstek Guitar Stereo Volume Pedal (Budget Choice)

Signstek Guitar Stereo Sound Volume Pedal DJ Band Guitar Pedal with Amplitude Adjusted Knob

A very cheap volume pedal that has several flaws, but also provides extremely clean volume control with no tonal damage - making it an excellent backup pedal for gigs or a cheap way to experiment with volume pedals.

  • No alteration to guitar tone when placed properly in your chain
  • As a passive volume pedal it requires no power supply
  • Has adjustable minimum volume setting
  • Can be used with stereo instruments
  • One of the more fragile volume pedals, it won’t stand up to a beating for years at a time like the Boss FV-500 can due to the choice of plastic casing instead of metal
  • Poor grip on the pedal surface
  • As a relatively low impedance volume pedal, it is best to place it after another pedal that can buffer the signal for a better sound

5. Dunlop DVP3 Volume (X)

Jim Dunlop DVP3 Guitar Volume Pedal [Electronics]

The DVP3 is a volume pedal that is a solid choice for a volume pedal, however it is a little overpriced.

  • Can function as an expression pedal
  • Sturdy construction (although not built like a tank as Boss pedals tend to be)
  • Adjustable tension
  • No risk of string assembly snapping as it uses a steel band instead
  • More expensive than a mid range pedal should be, in comparison to the better priced VP Jr.
  • As a passive pedal it’s not as flexible as the MVP, and will leech high frequencies if not placed after a buffering pedal

Let's take a look at this product...

So what are the best guitar volume pedals? 

The MVP is the volume pedal that’s perfect for just about any guitarist as it is so easy to use, as you don’t need to understand any of the electrical jargon that goes on with volume pedals.

However, the weaknesses in its construction that make it vulnerable to breaking at the worst possible moment keep it from the top spot. The more reliable Boss FV-500H is the one we considered to be the best guitar volume pedal, plus the fact that it can be used as an expression pedal makes it a more versatile piece of equipment beyond its primary purpose.

However, if you need something a little more budget friendly, the Signstek Guitar Stereo Volume is something you should be considering, especially if you’ve never used a volume pedal before and aren’t sure whether you’ll be using it as one of your core pedals.

Ged is Founder and Editor-in-chief at Zing Instruments. He’s a guitarist for London based gypsy jazz band ‘Django Mango’ and a lover of all things music. When he’s not ripping up and down the fretboard, he’s tinkering with his ’79 Campervan.

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