Volume vs Expression Pedal - What's the Difference_

Volume vs Expression Pedal – What’s the Difference?

Volume pedals and expression pedals may look very similiar to one another, but they each have a different purpose when it comes to the functioning of each pedal. 

Simply stated, a volume pedal is for controlling the volume, while an expression pedal is for changing the tone of your sound.

They can be very useful to have on your board depending on what you’re trying to accomplish with your overall sound.

In this article, we will examine what the difference is between the two different pedals and where you should put them in regards to the order of your signal chain. 

A volume pedal is pretty obvious in terms of it’s basic function: to control your overall volume by your foot. This way, there is no interruption to your playing. 

A volume pedal will take your guitar’s signal and send some of it to ground, usually by decreasing the resistance between your ground and signal as you press on it with the heal of your foot. The rest of the output moves on to the next pedal. 

Equally important to mention is the fact that there are two different types of volume pedals you can use with your guitar – passive and active types.

A passive volume pedal has a potentiometer inside of it that is turned mechanically by the pedal. They work similiar to the volume knob on your guitar. 

You will recognize this type of pedal by the fact that it does not need any power to operate, which makes them very easy to use. 

An active volume pedal, on the other hand, will need some type of power supply like an AC adapter or battery in order for it to function. 

Active pedals also use amp circuitry that acts as a buffer, sometimes causing somewhat of a boost effect. 

Where Does a Volume Pedal Go in the Signal Chain?

Where you put your volume pedal within your signal chain will really depend on what exactly you’re trying to accomplish with the pedal. 

If you intend on using your volume pedal as the overall volume control of your rig setup, then the best place to put it is at the end of your signal chain. 

If you’re trying to have a less grainy sound and a more cleaned up signal, then you’ll definitely want to put the volume pedal in the beginning of the chain. 

The most common place to have your volume pedal is in the middle of the signal chain. When you put the volume pedal after your overdrives and distortions, but before any reverbs, it will enable you to keep the same amount of gain in your tone. 

What Are Expression Pedals?

An expression pedal can be used to change or control the parameter of an effects pedal already on your chain, as well as a multi-effects pedal.

They are more versatile than a volume pedal in that they can be used for wah, pitch, and even volume.

But note, however, that an expression pedal by itself cannot control the volume. In fact, some pedals have inputs that are especially for hooking up a separate volume pedal.

And just like a volume pedal, an expression pedal also utilizes a potentiometer to function. It basically manipulates any incoming voltage by splitting it so that half of it goes back into the device that alters your sound.

Where Does an Expression Pedal Go in the Signal Chain?

An expression pedal isn’t technically a part of your actual signal chain, so it can pretty much go anywhere you want it to go as long as it’s hooked up to the exact pedal that you are looking to manipulate the sound with such as reverb or delay. 

For further reading on this subject, go here

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