For music enthusiasts and guitarist, bass volume pedals form a core element in the industry. If you have been in the industry for long, you will agree that impressive bass volume variation can never be achieved with unreliable volume pedals. Such unreliable pedals end up disappointing the guitarist using them and often limit the guitarist from unleashing their full creativity.
Here, I have compiled a list of 6 bass volume pedals which, according to my research, are the best in the market. Read and see what best fits your music needs.
Bass Volume Pedals We Recommend
Lehle Mono Volume Pedal
What’s good: High precision volume adjustment and robustness.
Not so good: It’s a little pricey.
I’m just in love with the Lehle Mono pedal. According to me, this is the best bass volume pedal for any band or studio. This pedal will most likely surpass your expectations. But you will need to dig deeper into your pockets.
The pedal comes with buffered output, VCA control, and adjustable gain. The buffered out feature will ensure that the sound output falls within the desired frequencies with little to no additional harmonics while the VCA control and adjustable gain will ensure that you get a precise volume level. The bearings are made of polymer to ensure longevity.
The gain is accurately controlled using the Hall Effect, a magnetic principle used to vary the voltage levels without maintaining physical contact with the potentiometer. Such magnetic contact guarantees the least wear and tear and also high precision volume control.
I guess now you have got where the high price is coming from. The depth of attention which has gone into designing these pedals explains it all.
Ernie Ball VP Volume Pedal
What’s good: They are simple to use, with only three jack points; the Volume IN, the Volume Out, and the Tuner jack.
Not so good: Have a few adjustments options and thus not suitable for sophisticated guitarists.
One amazing thing with the Ernie Ball VP base pedal is that it not only comes with the base jack but it also has tuner jack (see dedicated bass tuner pedals). This is crucial as it gives the guitarist more control over the tone.
It’s also good to note that this pedal is passive in nature. It uses a potentiometer to vary the volume gain and will not add any active component to the produced sound.
This base volume pedal will only deliver mono audio and thus not suitable for those who would like to split the audio to stereo mode.
Boss FV-500Hl Volume Pedal
What’s good: Does not distort the tone under different volume levels.
Not so good: The volume tends to jack and thus not good for those looking for smooth volume variations.
This model is built with longevity in mind. The materials used in the design make this instrument suitable for rough handling and rugged environment. But, like any other piece of equipment, it will still need some amount of care.
These pedals work great with a pre-base amplifier and will produce impressive bass. I like the high expression which comes with these pedals and often little to no tonal distortion. I have used these pedals with a semi-acoustic guitar and I must say that the overall sound experience is quite uplifting.
On the downside, these pedals may not suit you if your aim is to achieve smooth and seamless volume variations. The volume increase with impulse before dampening at the right level.
What’s good: Suitable for heavy-duty music.
Not so good: Tends to completely dampen low volume sounds emanating from the bass guitar.
I like the simplicity and their heavy-duty construction of the Dunlop GCB80 pedal. This pedal is good for those who are looking for longevity and pedals which can sustain intensive and continuous use.
Another likable feature with these pedals is the instant dynamics implying that you will experience instance change of base volume with little to no delay.
On the downside, the minimum volume level of this pedal is quite dampened such that you will only detect the bass on high-gain amplifiers. This may not be so attractive especially when you are the only guy doing the bass.
What’s good: Pocket friendly.
Not so good: It’s made of hardened plastic and not aluminum.
This light-weight bass pedal has quite a competitive price. Its friendly price comes with some compromise though.
The outer casing is made of plastic. You need not back off when I mention the plastic casing. It’s reasonably durable and the plastic material used has been hardened to suit its functions.
I would recommend this pedal to those who have a limited budget but still want to enjoy the goodies which come with robust pedals.
What’s good: Comes with adjustable spring to suit your foot pressure.
Not so good: This pedal may be a little unsteady at first due to its small size but with time your foot will get used to it.
For guitarists, the ease of use of pedals is a key consideration when choosing the pedals which they would like to buy.
The Dunlop DVP4 pedals are designed to give you a comfortable foot grip while still allowing you to control the bass volume.
If you settle for these pedals, you will benefit from low friction volume adjustments, high volume-range, and quite a competitive price.
On the downside, these pedals may feel a little tiny for your feet. But with practice, this feeling will go and you will realize that their volume delivery does not match their size!
Here you have the best bass volume pedals in the market. Evaluate the features, compare the functionalities, and choose the pedals which best suits your needs. Depending on your experience in the music industry, your budget, and your taste, you may find one model to be more suitable for your needs than the rest. Weigh out the options and make a wise choice.
Can I use guitar volume pedals on bass?
In simple terms, yes, you can, but there’s nothing simple about volume pedals. These pedals are great for having full volume control over the entire signal, for easy volume swells and creating sweeping, ambient sounds when used with delay and/or reverb pedals. However, things get a little technical so bear with me here.
They fall into various categories: passive or active, which we’ll get to, and high-impedance or low-impedance.
Essentially, knowing the impedance (the value of potentiometer) of your bass is crucial because volume pedals that are high-impedance will work well with bass guitars that have passive pickups, whereas low-impedance pedals work with bass guitars with active pickups i.e. pickups that need power or batteries.
They have a general impedance range so make sure you match it to your pickups otherwise you’ll experience tone loss. If you match the impedance then there’s no need to worry whether a volume pedal is guitar-specific.
Knowing whether your pickups are active or passive should be enough in itself when choosing high or low, but for the best results match the impedance as closely as possible.
Unfortunately, however, it’s still not that simple. Low-impedance volume pedals aren’t exclusively used for active pickups… ouch, my brain! However, before we get into that we need to know the difference between passive and active volume pedals. That is passive and active pedals, not pickups!
Volume pedals are a headache but worth it in the end. It should be noted that matching the impedance only applies to passive ones, which leads me to the next question.
Active vs passive volume pedals
The distinction to keep in mind here is between pedal and pickup. Volume pedals are generally either active or passive separate from whether your guitar pickups are active or passive. Passive volume pedals usually don’t require any external power source and have either high or low impedance to which you match the impedance of your pickups too.
A high-impedance volume pedal will fit nicely at the start of your signal chain if you’re using passive pickups and will function as another potentiometer, and a low-impedance passive pedal with active pickups at the start of the chain will do the same.
However, low-impedance passive pedals are also used if you want to place them later in the signal chain regardless of your pickups. If you put the volume pedal at the end of the chain, it will function as a master volume.
It operates a bit differently to a high or low impedance pedal (matched to your pickups) at the start of the chain in that it won’t clean up any overdrive pedal you have activated. It quite simply turns everything down that came before it in the chain. Low-impedance pedals can go just before delay and reverb too for some nice sweeping soundscapes. This cuts out the signal before the delay and reverb but keeps their trails playing for some ethereal ambiance.
In summary, because this stuff can really fry the noodle, high-impedance passive volume pedals at the start of the signal chain for passive pickups or low-impedance for just about everything else.
Fortunately, with active volume pedals, you don’t have all that malarkey of matching high and low impedance to your pickups to deal with, they’re designed to function with most inputs…hooray!
Active pedals can be placed anywhere in the signal chain and because of their internal buffer, they’re not susceptible to any unwanted tone suck that so often plagues passive pedals. That does mean that they need a bit of juice (external power supply) though and, for the most part, they’re much more expensive than passive pedals. A decent active pedal will cost anywhere from $200 upwards whereas passive pedals are a fraction of that.
In my opinion, an active volume pedal is worth the extra money. They make life much simpler and you’ll get all the benefits of having a high and a low impedance passive pedal. Just make sure you look for one with a decent build quality because they’re likely to take a bit of a hammering, and, as always, read reviews as to whether the pedal is of high quality. Make sure you’re getting one that has the least amount of adverse effects to your tone. Passive or active, they can be a pain for adding unwanted personality to your signal; the best volume pedals offer transparency and smooth control.
Volume pedal as an expression pedal – is that possible?
Volume and expression pedals are fundamentally not the same things. A volume pedal controls volume whereas an expression pedal controls the parameters of a respective effects pedal if that pedal allows for an expression pedal. That being said, there are volume pedals that have a built-in expression feature, but this is a separate function, they are not the same.
Many volume pedals have dual expression and volume functionality like the Dunlop DVP3 or the Boss FV-500L/ 500H. However, this means that you can only use either one at one time. If your setup requires both an expression pedal and a volume pedal then obviously, you can’t use them both at the same time. Expression pedals aren’t usually too expensive so it might be wise to have both.
There is a little nifty trick in converting passive volume pedals into expression pedals, but the process is a bit finicky so here’s a link with more information.
Volume pedals are a great way to control your overall sound, but can also offer avenues for experimentation. Although they can be a little daunting at first, once you get the hang of it, they’re a great addition to that ever-increasing pedalboard.