Volume & Expression Pedals
Volume and Expression pedals are popular utility units that let you achieve even more articulation through your rig, allowing you to create some very unique sounds.
Volume & Expression Pedals
A guitar volume pedal can be a very useful device to add to your pedalboard. Giving you control of the output of your rig via a foot-operated rocking plate, volume pedals are great for creating ambient swells, especially when used in conjunction with reverb or delay effects.
Two types of volume pedals are available - passive and active. A passive volume pedal doesn’t require power from a PSU, and works in a similar way to your guitar’s volume pot (but in a pedal format). An active pedal however does need power, but will feature a buffered circuit to ensure that your signal remains strong with no degradation or loss of top-end presence.
The active Ernie Ball volume pedal is a go-to, however Jim Dunlop also produce the Volume X, which is a popular passive design. Both of these brands also produce mini volume pedal versions, which can save precious real-estate on pedalboards.
Similar aesthetically to volume and wah pedals, expression pedals are also operated with your foot. They are slightly more unique however, and are designed to essentially get the most out of other effects pedals. With many modern stompboxes featuring an expression pedal input, via the rocking plate you can control certain parameters of these effects on-the-fly.
You’ll find that many delay, reverb, modulation and multi-effects units will be compatible, with their mix or rate controls controllable with an expression pedal. Mission Engineering are a brand that create these specifically for certain units, producing a Kemper expression pedal and a Line 6 Helix version too.
For even more information regarding these pedals, check out our Ultimate Guide to Expression & Volume Pedals.
Volume & Expression Pedal FAQs
What does an expression pedal do?
An expression pedal is used to control the parameters of another pedal. For example, you can hook up an expression pedal to a delay stompbox and smoothly increase the delay level or feedback with your foot.
What does a volume pedal do?
A volume pedal allows you to adjust the overall level of your rig with your foot. You can use it for quick adjustments or as an effect with volume swells.
Do volume and expression pedals need power?
Most expression pedals do not require power while volume pedals can come in both active and passive versions.
Is an expression pedal the same as a volume pedal?
No, expression pedals control parameters on other pedals while volume pedals are standalone and control the level of the entire guitar signal.
Where should a volume pedal go in my signal chain?
Volume pedals can go at the beginning, middle or end of your signal chain. A volume pedal at the beginning will act like a guitar's volume control, in the middle it will keep your drive levels consistent, and at the end it will act as a master volume - allowing you to cut off reverb and delay trails.