There are a few main points to keep in mind when looking for the best swell pedal. These include but are not limited to the accuracy of the pedal, its smoothness, the linear volume level, sound quality (the signal has to be authentic, without sonic compression or sound interferences), and, of course, make sure that it’s good value for money.
We sifted through the market looking for the best volume pedals for swells, with our quest yielding four promising candidates. Without further ado, let’s check them out.
Ernie Ball VP Jr. P06180 250K Potentiometer for Passive Electronics
Like most of the volume pedals, the Ernie Ball VP Jr. uses a potentiometer to control the sound. The Ernie Ball Jr. has the best taper and smooth volume swell out of all the passive models we have tried.
The pedal will let you keep your guitar at just the right volume with respect to what you need for different parts of the song. This little rascal is very compact and pedalboard-friendly, occupying just a small amount of space.
It features a mono volume control, a 250-Ohm potentiometer and a micro taper switch behind the jack area to give you two distinct volume swell rates. The footplate and casing are made of extruded aluminum, which gives them greater endurance, strength and smoothness. The cable is Kevlar-protected and attached to the pedal by stainless steel springs.
If you were looking for durability and compactness, with good taper and volume swell, this may just be the pedal for you. It’s one of the best volume pedals for swells period.
Boss FV-500H Volume Pedal – High Impedance
With over fourteen years’ worth of happy customers, the Boss FV-500H Volume Pedal comes pretty close to setting the industry standard for volume pedals. This good-looking, if not downright stylish, little devil will make your guitar sing. Well, it will help you make it sing, but you know where we were going with this. It has the fastest taper out of the passive models we tried.
As far as features and specs go, this is a high-impedance pedal designed to meet the demands of the meanest of players. Its heavy-duty die-cast aluminum body will give you long years of service and move smoothly throughout. Other features include adjustable pedal feel (torque), an expression pedal function, and, most importantly, control rubber pedal that provides comfortable play and prevents slipping. There’s also a conveniently implemented tuner-output jack for better control of your rig.
The High Impedance Boss FV-500H Volume Pedal really comes into its own when used by experienced, professional players that are themselves used to intense bouts of sonic mayhem.
Fender FVP-1 Volume Pedal
Coming from a worldwide brand, the Fender FVP-1 Volume Pedal is a safe bet for anyone looking for excellent quality build and comprehensive features. The folks gathered round the designer table over at Fender put lots of love into this baby, and it shows.
The heavy-duty all metal casing houses a passive 250-Ohm potentiometer. You can expect a long life cycle and silent operation from the potentiometer. The pedal will give you lots of tension swell space in a small package. It will hold the tune true due to the special tone circuit that is designed to retain the clarity of the highs with volume reduction without the risk of becoming muddy.
All of the jacks (input, output and tuner) are conveniently set on the front of the pedal. Incidentally, the tuner jack allows for silent and convenient tuning during live gigs. Finally, the pedal uses no batter or outer power source. Just plug it in and rock on!
The FVP-1 is best suited for guitar players, bass players, or keyboard players with a heavy step, although we’d like to say it should also be on anyone’s list of the best volume pedals for swells.
Morley PLA Steve Vai Little Alligator Optical Volume Pedal
Unlike the rest of the boxy foxes on this list, the Morley PLA uses electro-optical circuitry. The PLA will give you consistent linear taper, smooth as honey, that’s Steve Vai specified and approved. It won’t make you play like the man, but it will inspire you to practice and reach some lofty heights, if that’s what floats your boat.
The Morley PLA Steve Vai Little Alligator is designed with effects loops in mind (send and return). The specifications also give the possibility of a front amp input. The pedal also features minimum volume knob to allow you to make a fluid transition from rhythm to lead volumes.
The pedal draws its juice from a battery placed in an easy-access compartment and sports LED indication for your convenience. The best feature of all, however, is the 2-year warranty coming with this tiny bundle of sonic goodness.
Which to Choose?
So, there you have it. Feel free to make your own choices, but give this a read if you want to know what your volume pedal is supposed to be doing.
The Little Alligator (see full specs) is your Holy Grail of versatility, and it comes at a decent price, too. If you’re not squeamish about shelling some serious buck for a pedal, the Boss FV-500H (see full specs) is the way to go – you’ll get what approximates to the golden standard of volume pedals.
All of these pedals are durable, but the Fender FVP-1 is a heavy-duty pedal and the most metal thing on this list. We recommend it especially to players who need a pedal to withstand the duress of playing shows and traveling, and still feel alive and able to create a swell.
Finally, for decent swells at a decent price, go for Ernie Ball Jr. It will also save you some space. But really, any one of these will qualify for the best volume pedal for swells. Good luck!