The 4 Best Volume Pedals for Swells – Guitar Pedal Reviews 2024

best volume pedal for swells, guitar swell pedal

Photo by Nick Thompson / CC BY

Many people simply overlook what proves to be a critical part of your pedal board – the volume pedal. Volume pedals can give you one of the following things – precise control of notes; a prolonged, airy note that fades away; you can also use it to silence your guitar when you want cleaner and distinct tones, or turn it up when you need to solo.

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.

Ernie Ball VP Jr. Volume Pedal - Gear Review

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.

VPLM / ok custom design Volume Pedal Level Meter / Bass Ver.(BOSS FV-500H, FV-500L)

Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal

Here’s another one from Ernie Ball that’s a versatile volume pedal for any situation. It has all the little details you want out of a swell pedal, combining versatility, portability, and precision into a durable metal stompbox.

We’ll start with the switchable taper. It gives you the option of two different swell rates, letting you tailor the effect better to your sound. The sweep itself is super smooth on both settings so its easy to find the sound you’re looking for. Expanding its versatility, this pedal will work with both passive and active signals—basically everyone from guitarists to bassists to keyboardists will love this pedal.

In terms of the design, it’s sleek in both size and build. It’s relatively lightweight and doesn’t take up much space, but it’s big enough to be comfortable under your foot. The weight also has a nice balance: light enough to be portable but weighty enough it stays put when you stomp on it. The overall design of the rubber feet and durable traction add to the usability.

This is a great value. You’ll love the sound, the build, and the feel, no matter what instrument or genre you play. We’d like to say it should also be on anyone’s list of the best volume pedals for swells.

Ernie Ball 40th Anniversary Volume Pedal

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.

Morley Little Alligator Volume Pedal Review (Steve Vai Signature)

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 with one of the Ernie Ball pedals. Both the Ernie Ball Jr. and the 40th Anniversary pedal are also excellent space saving choices, with compact builds that make them easy to fit into your gear bag. The all-metal construction of these two units also makes them rugged, so they tick all the boxes for a musician on the road.

But really, any one of these will qualify for the best volume pedal for swells. Good luck!

Written and Reviewed By

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

  • Marko is the senior editor and writer on Ultimate Guitar, the No. 1 guitar spot on the web, since early 2013. His work was also featured on a variety of other notable gear spots such as Guitar Fella, Consordini, and, of course, Song Simian. His musical journey began at a very young age, and he finally opted to pick up an instrument in his early teenage years. A fan of King Crimson. A travel enthusiast.

Share the Post and Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *