The volume pedal is one of those pedals that are fairly simple to operate but often ignored by beginner guitarists. Here I will tell you how volume pedal helps you with your tone and why you should start using one!
As a general rule, you should get a volume pedal if you attenuate (adjust) the volume levels at least 2 to 3 times in a performance. A volume pedal provides a lot more control over the output volume as compared to the pots and allows to adjust the levels with more accuracy and ease.
Let’s dig into this more and check whether or not you should think about a volume pedal?
What Does a Volume Pedal Do?
The obvious question you may have is why you can’t use the pots on your instrument to control the volume levels because both of them are essentially doing the same job of attenuating the whole signal chain?
The volume pedal is essentially doing the same thing as the knob on your amplifier or on your instrument, except for some subtle difference in terms of how they attenuate the audio signals.
When you adjust the pots on the instrument, you’re messing up with the signal at its origin. For Ex: If you lower the volume through pots, It not only makes the audio signal weaker but also results in a very poor and shallow effect that lacks almost all of the natural characteristics.
On the other hand, A volume pedal allows you to attenuate guitar signals anywhere in the signal chain while providing you with lots of flexibility in terms of preciseness. It gives you a lot more control over the volume levels and allows you to adjust it more easily and with much more accuracy.
Along with that, many modern volume pedals allows you to add a swell effect into your tone and turned up the volume of the note you’ve already played.
Basically, with a volume pedal, you can break some of the inherited limitations of your guitar and pour a new life into the music by controlling the dynamics of it.
How to Choose the Best Volume Pedal for You?
Although volume pedals are fairly simple and any descent pedal could be enough for you, these are some of the important features you should know before you make any purchase:
Before you start looking for a volume pedal, its important to decide how much amount you’re willing to spend. because it enable you to set a conservative expectations while choosing between the affordability and specifications of the pedal.
Size of the Pedal
Depending upon the number of features, size of the volume pedal can be vary significantly, everything from a large stampbox to a miniature pedal.
That’s why its important to make sure whether or not you have enough space on your pedalboard to put a new gear, before you double down on anything.
Active vs Passive
Similar to guitar pickups, the key difference between the active and passive volume pedals is their power requirements. The passive pedals don’t need any battery or external power whereas volume pedals do required a secondary power source.
Volume pedals comes with a circuit build-in with them and that’s why they are relatively costly and provides you much more control as compared to the passive ones.
Stereo vs Mono
The basic difference between stereo and mono volume pedals is: A mono volume pedal allows you to input one guitar’s signal and produces single sound as an output. Whereas in case of stereo pedal, you can put the two audio signals simultaneously and mix them in the volume control stage.
For most of the players (even me!) mono pedal is more than enough. Although stereo pedals are great if you’re a band memeber but I think you get relatively less control over each audio signal.
In most of the cases, you’re going to use your volume pedal lot more as compared to other effect pedals. and that’s why build quality and overall durability of the pedal becomes necessary.
Personally I use THIS pedal with an aluminum chassis which is sturdy enough to handle years of stomping. Definitely you can also go with a plastic pedals that provides you an awesome value in quite affordable price, but can fail a lot sooner than a metal.
Here’re Some of My Favorite Volume Pedals for You:
Where to Put Volume Pedal in Chain?
Generally, Many guitar players prefer to put a volume pedal in the beginning stages of the signal chain and use it as a volume knob to control the amount of gain that comes through dynamically. But it can be placed at the last to control the overall volume level of the signal chain.
There is no doubt you get quite a room for your experimentation and you can decide the position of the volume pedal depending on kind of music you play and what you want to achieve with it. But, Impendence of the pedal also plays its role here.
Usually, if you’ve a volume pedal with a low impendance, it should be placed later in the signal chain (after distortion pedal) whereas high impendance volume pedal should go in the beginning (after compressor pedal) of the chain.
Do Volume Pedals Affect Tone?
The volume pedal sure has effects on the tone and might lead to a dull and lifeless sounding tone. You can easily solve this tonal issue by using a bypass buffer circuit before the volume pedal.
Is an Expression Pedal the Same as a Volume Pedal?
Volume pedals and expression pedals are essentially same with a slight difference in them. A volume pedal modifies the amplitude of your guitar’s audio signals between input and output, whereas an expression pedal provides you option to control certain parameters of another pedal.
Why Are Volume Pedals so Expensive?
Volume pedal allows you to adjust volume levels with more accuracy while adding a swell effect into your tone. Also, It required a development cost to create hardware that is compact enough while meeting the expected level of perfomance quality.
Final Thoughts: Do I Need a Volume Pedal?
The volume pedal is considered as a subtle effect pedal that doesn’t add anything special to the definition of your guitar’s sound but surely adds its effect touch here and there.
If you’re a beginner guitar player, most likely you’re not going to need a volume pedal. But if you can afford, even a budget option, I strongly suggest you to explore this part of the guitar world.
I hope you got your answer whether or not a volume pedal is necessary for you. If you find this article helpful, do let me know in the comments. Also, don’t forget to share it with your guitarist friends. Thanks!
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