Working The Volume Knob With A Volume Pedal

Rouge Delta

Member
Messages
274
I'm just starting to get into dialing in my OD / Dist sounds by rolling back the volume knob on the guitar, essentially turning distortion into OD. My problem is that when I go back to full volume on the guitar, my rig is too loud. Now I have to mess with knobs on the pedals in order to dial in the correct volume.

My question is if I can put a volume pedal in chain and then run it at half volume or so, and then use the pedal to balance out the volume of the rig. Then it's: "roll off the volume knob + step on the volume pedal" and visa versa when I'm going back to full volume on the guitar. The reason I ask is because I'm thinking that having a volume pedal at 50% might have an effect on the signal, much like how the volume knob on the guitar does.

I'm running dirt pedals into a clean amp, so I could put the volume pedal in the signal chain between the dirt pedals and the amp. This would alter the volume AFTER the signal's been clipped. But I know that volume control on the guitar does roll off some trebles along with the volume (which is the reason for the "Treble Bleed Mod"), so I'm wondering if I'd have the same issue with a volume pedal.

The pedal that I'm looking at is the Boss FV-500H. I'm open to suggestions on buying the right pedal to get 'er dun.
 

risto

Member
Messages
204
Sounds like the output volume level is set too high on the dirt pedals, and the amplifier is too loud. Set your gain to your preferred distortion tone, and start experimenting with volume at unity between the pedals and amp, and your guitar volume rolled down to the setting you use for your OD parts. Then work backwards from the guitar knob, focusing on nailing where that amplifier volume needs to be when you turn up the guitar to the desired loud setting. This does take some finesse but you probably dont need a volume pedal, which typically comes as the first thing on the board. If I can get away with one less thing in the chain, I am happy.

I use the volume knob in place of a boost pedal these days -- while at full volume, I alter my attack and play softer, then roll down for rhythm. The difference in volume between one and the other isnt huge, but it helps.
 

Rick CD

Member
Messages
760
I don’t know about other volume pedals, but the Lehle does not affect tone along its sweep. As to rolling the volume knob while adjusting the volume pedal, that seems like a major hassle.
 

urQuill

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,840
^ i agree. a volume pedal is a pretty unreliable way to set levels - it can work at home but it’s really hard at a gig, often it’s not a reliable or even repeatable way to do it.

I know the deal, though; rolling the guitar back with certain fuzzes and overdrives gets a certain and often very good, interesting sound. A good way to do it is to determine the overall level with the guitar controls at full volume both with and without the overdrive. Then, find the sound you want with the overdrive on and rolled back, and then set a boost after the overdrive to bring your level up. Just be careful with noise levels. And be careful with your own ear fatigue on long gigs, you can lose your sense of where you are ~ but then, I doubt anyone balances their sound directly off the stage anymore, as I did for uncountable gigs with my fellow neanderthals in caves and caverns and other paleolithic sorts of places

Hate to be obvious, but ... have you tried a Fuzzface? That circuit is really good for big changes in sound with a slight roll-off at the guitar and not that much loss of level (it seems to be the right amount of drop for the sound and what we tend to play with that sound). An overdrive that is perfect for sound changes from the guitar is the Custom Tones TWE-1 - reacts just like a Fuzzface, with a big change in the drive from slight roll-off, and not a lot of drop in level. Beautiful overdrive pedal.
 

Rouge Delta

Member
Messages
274
Sounds like the output volume level is set too high on the dirt pedals, and the amplifier is too loud. Set your gain to your preferred distortion tone, and start experimenting with volume at unity between the pedals and amp, and your guitar volume rolled down to the setting you use for your OD parts. Then work backwards from the guitar knob, focusing on nailing where that amplifier volume needs to be when you turn up the guitar to the desired loud setting. This does take some finesse but you probably dont need a volume pedal, which typically comes as the first thing on the board. If I can get away with one less thing in the chain, I am happy.

I use the volume knob in place of a boost pedal these days -- while at full volume, I alter my attack and play softer, then roll down for rhythm. The difference in volume between one and the other isnt huge, but it helps.
I get what you're saying. My issue is that I'm trying to use a distortion pedal as more of an overdrive pedal, and then go back to it being "full throttle distortion." I'm not trying to go from clean to dirty, I'm trying to go from dirty to even dirtier. The reason is because I like having OD that sounds like the distortion, but some of my distortion pedals don't go down to OD levels. So, if I'm trying to stay within a specific overall sound and then just mess around with different levels of saturation, I like to roll back the volume knob; sometimes quite a bit.

Altering my playing style to soften the volume isn't an option for me, because I'm also trying to work on shaping my tone by adjusting the way that I use the pick as I play: pick angle, location on the string, and amount of force.

I found this on the internet...

"Having a volume pedal before the distortion will determine how much signal goes into the dirt box, eventually doing a similar effect as a volume knob on a guitar. And the other option – if you have it later in the signal chain, it does pretty much the same thing as the master volume on the amp."

...and I'm a firm believer that there is no set location where a pedal is supposed to go in the signal chain. Conventional wisdom says that a phaser goes in the effects loop; while EVH says that a phaser goes in front of the OD.

I'm probably going to go with a volume pedal. If I hate it, I know what to do with it... :)
 

jaymeister

Member
Messages
2,568
I'm just starting to get into dialing in my OD / Dist sounds by rolling back the volume knob on the guitar, essentially turning distortion into OD. My problem is that when I go back to full volume on the guitar, my rig is too loud. Now I have to mess with knobs on the pedals in order to dial in the correct volume.

My question is if I can put a volume pedal in chain and then run it at half volume or so, and then use the pedal to balance out the volume of the rig. Then it's: "roll off the volume knob + step on the volume pedal" and visa versa when I'm going back to full volume on the guitar. The reason I ask is because I'm thinking that having a volume pedal at 50% might have an effect on the signal, much like how the volume knob on the guitar does.

I'm running dirt pedals into a clean amp, so I could put the volume pedal in the signal chain between the dirt pedals and the amp. This would alter the volume AFTER the signal's been clipped. But I know that volume control on the guitar does roll off some trebles along with the volume (which is the reason for the "Treble Bleed Mod"), so I'm wondering if I'd have the same issue with a volume pedal.

The pedal that I'm looking at is the Boss FV-500H. I'm open to suggestions on buying the right pedal to get 'er dun.
What you are looking to do will work. I have the same Boss volume pedal and use it exactly the same way, after my dirt and before my delay and reverb. Also is good for doing etherial swells.

I find this is a good solution, especially when playing at home. I know some dirt pedals like to have their volumes up to get into the sweet spot, but then need to be pulled down bit. There are other options too, but everyone can use a good volume pedal in their setup.
 

HBob

Member
Messages
851
The pedal called the Detox that is for cutting the signal to a distorted lead type setting in a rig down to a rhythm setting with less gain and volume. You can do the same with some boost, OD and distortion pedals but not all will do it well. The old Tube Zone does it very well. If you do wind up going with a volume pedal I’d recommend the Ernie Ball pedal with the tuner display. It will give you a number on the volume setting so you can go to where you like it, if you’re into having a number confirmation for your favorite sound setting. Also the tuner is good and I needed a tuner on the floor. Also, I need a good buffer in my chain sometimes and I like the option of using its buffering or not. I have mine running like a normal volume pedal and in the buffer in and out loop I just have a little cable connecting them so the buffer is on. I like the buffer, it sounds great. If I add a pedal with another buffer and there’s too much buffering and I don’t like that sound then I just take the jumper cable off the volume pedal’s buffered loop and it’s buffer is not in the signal chain anymore. I don’t think the volume pedal affects the tone too much if at all in my chain. I’ve a/b’d it and there’s not much, if any, difference with it in the chain or not. If the Ernie Ball volume pedals are good enough for Mark Knopfler, they’re good enough for me. Best of luck to you!
 

Rouge Delta

Member
Messages
274
The pedal called the Detox that is for cutting the signal to a distorted lead type setting in a rig down to a rhythm setting with less gain and volume. You can do the same with some boost, OD and distortion pedals but not all will do it well. The old Tube Zone does it very well. If you do wind up going with a volume pedal I’d recommend the Ernie Ball pedal with the tuner display. It will give you a number on the volume setting so you can go to where you like it, if you’re into having a number confirmation for your favorite sound setting. Also the tuner is good and I needed a tuner on the floor. Also, I need a good buffer in my chain sometimes and I like the option of using its buffering or not. I have mine running like a normal volume pedal and in the buffer in and out loop I just have a little cable connecting them so the buffer is on. I like the buffer, it sounds great. If I add a pedal with another buffer and there’s too much buffering and I don’t like that sound then I just take the jumper cable off the volume pedal’s buffered loop and it’s buffer is not in the signal chain anymore. I don’t think the volume pedal affects the tone too much if at all in my chain. I’ve a/b’d it and there’s not much, if any, difference with it in the chain or not. If the Ernie Ball volume pedals are good enough for Mark Knopfler, they’re good enough for me. Best of luck to you!
Great info, thx!
 

jamester

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,777
^ i agree. a volume pedal is a pretty unreliable way to set levels - it can work at home but it’s really hard at a gig, often it’s not a reliable or even repeatable way to do it.
Yeah same here...for live work it's either the guitar's volume knob or I'll use a boost or EQ pedal to cut volume, but I just can't get with volume pedals, they are awkward and inconsistent for me when in the heat of battle. Good for swells or master volume control, but not for riding the gain.
 

risto

Member
Messages
204
I get what you're saying. My issue is that I'm trying to use a distortion pedal as more of an overdrive pedal, and then go back to it being "full throttle distortion." I'm not trying to go from clean to dirty, I'm trying to go from dirty to even dirtier. The reason is because I like having OD that sounds like the distortion, but some of my distortion pedals don't go down to OD levels. So, if I'm trying to stay within a specific overall sound and then just mess around with different levels of saturation, I like to roll back the volume knob; sometimes quite a bit.

Altering my playing style to soften the volume isn't an option for me, because I'm also trying to work on shaping my tone by adjusting the way that I use the pick as I play: pick angle, location on the string, and amount of force.

I found this on the internet...

"Having a volume pedal before the distortion will determine how much signal goes into the dirt box, eventually doing a similar effect as a volume knob on a guitar. And the other option – if you have it later in the signal chain, it does pretty much the same thing as the master volume on the amp."

...and I'm a firm believer that there is no set location where a pedal is supposed to go in the signal chain. Conventional wisdom says that a phaser goes in the effects loop; while EVH says that a phaser goes in front of the OD.

I'm probably going to go with a volume pedal. If I hate it, I know what to do with it... :)
I understand what you're trying to do. What I didnt understand was why you'd add a volume pedal when really all you've got to do is find the correct volumes on your pedals and amp, and then use the guitar as your volume pedal. I use my guitar's volume knob in conjunction with a hot TS9 or DOD 250 to do the same thing. But I'm am old guy... set and forget it. I've spent my whole career twiddling with the volume knob, though. Let us know how it goes!
 

Dexter.Sinister

Still breathing
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,961
I own the Heavy Electronics Descend. It does what you seek.



Text I nabbed from a retailer:
Heavy Electronics Descend Reverse Volume pedal is perfect for guitarists looking to add a bit of clean channel versatility to their high gain, or cranked single-channel amp. It's essentially a volume knob in a box—but with the luxury of a proprietary circuit that allows you to decrease volume without altering tonal characteristics. The 6-way rotary Volume switch gives you a consistent and calculated level drop, while the bypassable Tone knob ensures that your resulting signal can either be matched to the bypass tone, or purposefully set apart. This Heavy Electronics Descend Reverse Volume pedal is super useful and once you try it, you may wonder how you ever lived without it.
 

louisnd

Member
Messages
452
I have the same "problem"..
I thought maybe I should loop my Muff in a loop selector with volume knob so I could keep my guitar signal high enough but lower it with the loop pedal when engaged.
But I think the best solution is to properly set everything and accept that the guitar volume knob is lower when engaging gain.
 

Rouge Delta

Member
Messages
274
I own the Heavy Electronics Descend. It does what you seek.



Text I nabbed from a retailer:
Heavy Electronics Descend Reverse Volume pedal is perfect for guitarists looking to add a bit of clean channel versatility to their high gain, or cranked single-channel amp. It's essentially a volume knob in a box—but with the luxury of a proprietary circuit that allows you to decrease volume without altering tonal characteristics. The 6-way rotary Volume switch gives you a consistent and calculated level drop, while the bypassable Tone knob ensures that your resulting signal can either be matched to the bypass tone, or purposefully set apart. This Heavy Electronics Descend Reverse Volume pedal is super useful and once you try it, you may wonder how you ever lived without it.
This is good info moving forward, thanks!

I bought the volume pedal, and it's just not quite what I'm looking for. But I'm really glad that I bought the volume pedal because it definitely has it's purpose.

A light bulb went off at some point along the way, and I realized that what I'm looking for is a clean boost pedal after the dirt. Then I can roll back the volume to get that "little bit of hair on the signal" type of sound, and then boost the signal back up using a clean boost pedal.

Bearing in mind that I'm new to pedalboards having come from modeling amps, I found out that I didn't even need to buy a clean boost pedal, because many of my OD pedals can do a clean boost! So, that's my solution at this point, just use an OD pedal set to clean boost AFTER the OD pedal that clips the signal. Works like a charm...!!!
 

piper19

Member
Messages
22
You are playing in a clean amp. I find that a clean amp with pedals never react the same to guitar cleanup except maybe with the high end Kingsley pedals. Most of the time you have plenty of headroom left on a clean amp and the guitar volume causes a drastic difference in volume. If the amp is set higher where it starts compressing, the volume loss is less.
For me it's cranked amp and guitar volume rolloff, or clean amp with guitar volume on full with pedals for different overdrive levels. The option you mention with the volume pedal seems too complicated for me, it's a constant battle with 2 volume settings.
 

Rouge Delta

Member
Messages
274
You are playing in a clean amp. I find that a clean amp with pedals never react the same to guitar cleanup except maybe with the high end Kingsley pedals. Most of the time you have plenty of headroom left on a clean amp and the guitar volume causes a drastic difference in volume. If the amp is set higher where it starts compressing, the volume loss is less.
For me it's cranked amp and guitar volume rolloff, or clean amp with guitar volume on full with pedals for different overdrive levels. The option you mention with the volume pedal seems too complicated for me, it's a constant battle with 2 volume settings.
I can't crank the amp, and rolling back the volume knob does just like you said, it causes a drastic difference in volume. Clean boost after the OD is the way to go...
 

Slow Graffiti

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
130
You are playing in a clean amp. I find that a clean amp with pedals never react the same to guitar cleanup except maybe with the high end Kingsley pedals. Most of the time you have plenty of headroom left on a clean amp and the guitar volume causes a drastic difference in volume. If the amp is set higher where it starts compressing, the volume loss is less.
For me it's cranked amp and guitar volume rolloff, or clean amp with guitar volume on full with pedals for different overdrive levels. The option you mention with the volume pedal seems too complicated for me, it's a constant battle with 2 volume settings.
This makes so much sense regarding clean amp/compression. Trying to clean up my OD pedal+clean Fender rig with the guitar volume always meant too much overall volume loss. I like the change in gain/saturation, but it’s an annoying juggling act.

I had always used a volume pedal for swells, so it made sense to use it to balance out the overall volume as the OP was initially planning, but it is a constant battle to stay around the same volume (and drives the sound guy nuts). Constantly balancing the two (pedal and knob) alongside what I am actually playing, singing, and giving cues.
 

ChampReverb

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
11,638
I have a volume pedal between my pedalboard and amp to adjust output level.

I use my guitar volume control to both adjust the amount of drive in my dirt pedals ...and also to adjust volume.

It takes a little getting used to but it’s not that hard.

My band does a variety of material and levels vary throughout the night and even mid-song.

The volume pedal lets me adjust my presence in the mix on-the-fly, mid-song real-time ...and adjust the breakup of my dirt pedals.

There are times when my hands are too busy doing key parts of certain songs and I just can’t stop to adjust my guitar volume and the volume pedal is the perfect tool right then.

-bEn r.
 

OotMagroot

Member
Messages
8,062
I use a TC Spark mini to clean boost ODs that have been turned down and are not loud enough. It also helps if you use a clean amp with something like an HSS guitar. You set the overall volume for a humbucker with dirt, but then when you switch to a single coil for clean things - it's not loud enough.

Lately though, it seems as if I have just been using separate pedals for distortion and overdrive so I can preset levels.
 

MagusFaerox

Member
Messages
47
So, first....how much of a volume difference are you getting? "Too much" is a little vague. Phone app SPL measurements (however inaccurate they are) should help some in figuring out exactly what you mean.

That being said...if the amp is clean and the problem is that "loud" is too loud and/or "quiet" is too quiet....that's what compressors fix (with the side effect of raising your noise floor if you have them set to boost the level after the compression). They do the same thing you want to do with the volume pedal, but you trade off some direct control for it just happening without your intervention.

I'd say try a compressor either last in the chain or right before delay/reverb, depending on your preference. It essentially does the same thing (to the level) as running your pedals into a crunchy amp, but without adding obvious distortion.

I'd go for one that allows you to adjust the ratio, and start with it pretty low, like 2:1 ish, to see how it feels (side note: turning up the clean blend knob on compressors that have them effectively lowers the ratio, so that's another way to go). I don't think you'll have to go over 4:1 to get this effect...so you might have a hard time finding a pedal that actually does that without abusing a clean blend. If you find it's killing your pick attack (and you don't like that), increase the attack time. Decrease it if your pick attack is too loud. If it sounds too smooth, turn down the release time. If you need more sustain, turn up the release time.

It's a lot easier with modelling or if you use a load box and speaker sim, because you can do more processing in the modeller or at line level before you amplify for playback....but that can also get really expensive if you're talking about integrating hardware.
 

cosmic_ape

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,701
Yeah, this is tricky. I have personally resorted to using multiple pedals for this to avoid the headaches. A Suhr Eclipse is perfect for this, BTW. It is two pedals in one, with a flip flop option. So, you can set one to stun and the other one for full Death Star doom and match the output levels accordingly.

If you are going the volume pedal route, I recommend a Lehle volume pedal, as it uses magnets, not a regular potentiometer. The "taper" is perfect for this kind of thing and is super consistent.

I have also tried the compressor at the end thing. It works well. I did use a comp with a clean blend for this.

Honestly, if your amp has any kind of gain, give it some. It helps with the difference in volume from crunch to lead. Going into a pristine clean makes that gap so much wider.
 




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