Guitar effects pedals have really changed the game when it comes to modern music and guitars in general. Before them, you were limited by the abilities of your guitar and the amp you were using. These days, there is pretty much nothing that can’t be done with decent guitar effects pedal chain. Speaking of which, there are many different types of guitar effects pedals.
Some contribute to the tone more than others. You have overdrives and distortions which define the sound of a band, and then you got more subtle pedals which only add a touch here or there.
Volume pedals belong to the latter group. Their purpose is often times overlooked. Most guitar players start using volume pedals only when they mature enough and begin to appreciate subtle changes to the signal chain. If you’re reading this, chances are that volume pedals are a new concept to you. You are in a right place. We’re going to talk about why using a volume pedal is a good idea, and why you should start using one as well.
The purpose of volume pedal is to attenuate the whole signal chain and allow you to do swells and similar effects. The next logical question that comes to mind is why not simply use pots on your guitar to achieve those same effects? In order to give you the complete answer, we first need to talk about how both the volume pedal and guitar pots attenuate the signal.
Let’s imagine a basic signal chain that consists of a guitar, a distortion pedal, some kind of modulation pedal, a delay and an amp. Using pots on your guitar to attenuate the volume reduces the signal at its origin.
This has a very specific effect on every subsequent element of the signal chain. When you turn down the volume using pots, you are feeding a weaker signal into the distortion pedal. The result is a very shallow distortion that lacks almost all of its original qualities. Another drawback of using volume pots is the fact that it’s just hard to do at times.
On the other hand, a volume pedal allows you to attenuate the signal anywhere in the signal chain. You can put it after the distortion, allowing a fully distorted signal to be reduced only in volume and not quality. You can also put a volume pedal behind a delay.
Using a volume pedal simply gives you a lot more flexibility that is crucial depending on what kind of music you play, and how important volume attenuation is to your playing style. If you would like to know more about using a volume pedal, check out our article here ‘How To Use a Volume Pedal’.
The best thing about volume pedals is the fact that you can control volume more easily and with much more accuracy. If you have ever used expression pedals of any kind, you know just precise you can be. Naturally, the quality of the volume pedal and its performance will largely depend on the model you get. In general, even the most basic volume pedal will give you the baseline performance.
The matter of how crucial is a volume pedal for an average guitar player is definitely up for discussion. There are some guitarists who will never need to use one, but there are also a lot of them who would benefit greatly from having a volume pedal in their signal chain. For most, it’s hard to commit to a new piece of gear they are not sure is worth the money. Because of this, it’s highly recommended that you go out and try a volume pedal somewhere.
Whether it’s your friend's gear or a model you can try out in the store, you should definitely experience what this pedal has to offer.
When we talk about volume pedals, we’re dealing with guitar effects that are subtle and not as overt as some other types. Whether or not you need a volume pedal in your signal chain depends on the type of music you play and how often you need to adjust the volume.
A good rule of thumb is to get one if you attenuate your levels at least 2-3 times during your performance or practice. If you’re not ready to invest in a piece of gear you are not that familiar with, there are many inexpensive volume pedals on the market which will give you the taste of just how important this pedal can be.
We hope this article cleared up some misconceptions about volume pedals and introduced you to a pretty awesome piece of gear. A lot of people don’t realize that guitar effects pedals go far beyond distortions and delay. There are many other tools available that you can fit in your signal chain and get amazing results.
With all that out of the way, feel free to check out our list of Best Volume Pedals on the market today.