Effects pedals are an important part of modern guitar tone. That much is obvious by now.However, the types of guitar effects pedals are numerous. Some are more popular than others, but all of them are built to perform a specific job. Today we are going to talk about one of the more obscure types of effects pedals. The category in question are expression pedals. We will start things off by listing our top picks, while later we will go deeper into what expression pedals are for and how to find one that fits your needs. Lets jump right in.
|Image||Guitar Pedal / Rating||Summary||Check Price|
|+ -|| AMT Electronics EX50 |
Total of 4.75/5
A tiny, durable, red bundle of pure performance and high quality hardware.
|+ -|| Mission Engineering Inc EP1 |
Total of 4.75/5
A more classic solution which shows that full size pedals still rock.
|+ -|| Boss EV30 |
Total of 4.55/5
Proof by Boss that looks aren't what a good expression pedal's about.
|+ -|| Morley M2 Mini |
Total of 4.50/5
One of the more basic pedals that brings rocksolid performance all around.
|+ -|| Moog ACCEP003 EP3 |
Total of 4.30/5
A simple, robust, but ultimately effective expression pedal that is extremely affordable.
AMT Electronics EX50 represents one of the most elegant expression pedal designs out there. If you are looking for something that is practical, functional and compact, this is about as good as it gets.
EX50 comes in a robust metal chassis which is painted bright red. The top side of the pedal features a thick rubber grip pad with a rather aggressive texture. As far as hardware goes, AMT went for the heavy duty stuff. There is a top class 50k pot inside there, while the entire pedal is passive.
What really defines EX50 is how portable it actually is. Compared to other compact expression pedals, this one takes things to a whole new level of weight and size economy.
Current market for expression pedals is full of all kinds of weird and advanced designs. Sometimes it is just best to stick with the old school solutions. Mission Engineering Inc.EP1 is a perfect example of what we mean by this.
We have a very retro looking pedal, which you might confuse for something that VOX produced a couple of decades ago. It is retro but modern at the same time. All metal chassis that combines aluminum and steel elements means great durability and resistance to wear.
The pot used is robust but also very nuanced as well. This expression pedal is all about getting the job done and doing it right. Best of all, it is priced quite reasonably.
Boss is well known as a brand that delivers performance at a reasonable price. In the world of expression pedals, their Boss EV30 carries that banner proudly. We are looking at a rather simplified design, but one whose foundations are all about function over form.
You won't see stuff like rubberized grip pads on top of the pedal's surface or complex controls. Even so, EV30 just works. Itis extremely accurate with a very natural throw. Thanks to a built in polarity switch, you can use this bad boy with a wide range of gear.
With that said, it naturally works the best with other Boss units. At this price, Boss EV30 is a great bargain to say the least.
Morley has a very good reputation of being a brand that delivers both performance and reliability with their pedals. Their M2 Mini expression pedal brings these qualities to a market that is in need of a no nonsense product.
It is a simple expression pedal that stands out from its competition. We are looking at a large base paired with a compact expression pedal and a proper pot switch. Morley kept it fairly basic for the most part, however that is something we consider to be a plus.
When it comes to performance, M2 is on point. It's easy to use, offers plenty of grip and has the precision necessary for more advanced work. All that comes at an affordable price.
In the world of expression pedals, Moog EP3 comes across as a nononsense choice. It is a simple pedal with a good switch that is packed securely in a durable, rugged chassis. Moog EP3 offers two awesome things.
First we have rock solid performance, which is exactly what you would want froman expression pedal. The other thing is affordable price. This is by far one of the cheapest, reliable expression pedals you can find on the market.
As such, it's no wonder why it has become the favorite for so many. On top of that, the pedal is extremely compact and lightweight. In other words, it is a great choice for traveling performers whoare mindful of equipment weight.
Expression pedals are among the obscure class of pedals, despite them being extremely useful. One of the reasons for this could be that an expression pedal isn’t really an effect on its own, but rather serves as an accessory to another effect. In essence, this type of pedal allows you to better control an effect and thus gain a much better level of mastery over said effect.
This is also why there is so much controversy regarding expression units. There is a misconception that expression and volume pedals are the same thing. They are not. With that said, some volume pedals have an expression mode, which makes them multifunctional in nature.
From a technical point of view, expression pedals can be either active or passive. Passive ones are the most basic type you can find. They require no additional power to work, which makes them efficient, however they might consume some of the signal strength. Active models do require auxiliary power, but they don’t have this issue. Which type is going to better suite your needs will largely depend on the gear you plan to use with it. The reason for this is the fact that not all expression pedals will work with every effects pedal. Lets figure out why.
One of the simplest explanations of what an expression pedal actually does, is to thing of it as a knob you have pulled from your effects pedal, rack or digital processor, and placed it on the floor in front of you. Since you definitely need a source effect for an expression pedal to have any meaning, the next logical question is whether or not there are any limitations to what you can or cannot use? The answer is yes. Here are some factors that will impact the compatibility of your pedal with your gear.
Just about every expression rocker pedal has a potentiometer. This is the same solution that was used on Wahs and other similar pedals for decades. The issue with potentiometers is that they have a specific resistance rating. Some work up to 50K Ohms, while others are set to 250K or even higher. Figuring out the resistance values with which your effects pedals or other gear can work with is essential. If you mismatch these values, you won’t damage your gear, but you won’t get the needed results either. Some pedals will offer limited performance at best, while others simply won’t work at all.
Believe it or not, but the way things are wired inside an expression stomp box also matters. The main thing you will be looking for here is the relationship between a CW and Sleeve, Wiper and Ring, as well as CCW and Tip. Aside from CW which is always wired to the Sleeve, the rest can come in three different wiring patterns. The situation here is similar to that with the resistance. If you mismatch the wiring polarity, you will end up with a pedal that either works at a very limited capacity or doesn’t work at all. Luckily for us, there are more and more pedals which allow you to switch polarity as you see fit. These used to be rare back in the day, but nowadays they are becoming the standard on the market.
The last thing we would like to touch upon are multifunctional models of expression pedals. You will often see something like a Volume/Expression combo, or a Wah/Expression package. This type of pedals can actually be a great choice, especially if you are looking for an active setup. On the other hand, you have to be more careful with them at the same time. Some brands are keen on trying to squeeze in most performance they can in a single package, which is then marketed at a very affordable price. While there are notable exceptions that work, there is always a risk that a jack of all trades is actually a master of none.
The answer to this question solely depends on what you want to do with your tone. Guitar players who have mastered their effects but still want a bit more control, can definitely benefit from linking an expression pedal into the mix. In that case, investing in what appears to be a pot on a plate actually makes perfect sense. Fortunately for all of us, there are numerous models that affordable but reliable as well. We have even listed some of them on our short list.
Adding an expression pedal to your signal chain can definitely alter the way you experience your guitar effects. This simple pedal has so much power when put into right context. The ones we’ve shown you today are in our opinion the very best you can currently find, without having to spend an obscene amount of money. We wanted to cover the entire spectrum of budgets, thus making sure that everyone can find something that fits their needs and abilities. Hopefully, we have brought the idea of an expression pedal a bit closer, and answered whatever questions you’ve had about them.