The Use of Volume Pedals in Country Music Guitar Playing

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As any experienced guitarist knows, the use of volume pedals is essential to achieving a polished and dynamic sound, particularly in the world of country music . These pedals offer a level of versatility and control that simply cannot be achieved with a regular guitar’s volume knob. But with so many different types of volume pedals on the market today, it can be difficult to determine which one is the right fit for country music playing. In this article, we’ll explore various aspects of volume pedals, including how they are used in country music guitar playing, top brands, and tips for using them effectively. So whether you’re a seasoned country guitarist looking to expand your aural range or a beginner hoping to get started with volume pedals, read on for helpful insights and tips you can use to enhance your playing.

What are Volume Pedals?

What Are Volume Pedals?
Aspiring country guitar players might wonder if there is any gear that contributes to that effortless, twangy sound they’re aiming for. Maybe you’re one of them, and you’ve stumbled upon the term “volume pedal.” What is it, and why do country guitarists use it?

Volume pedals are devices that change the level of your guitar signal by rocking back and forth. They act as expression pedals, allowing you to control your volume in real-time without touching your guitar’s volume knob. You can use them to create dynamic swells, add layers of texture, or simply blend in with your bandmates’ sounds.

But what distinguishes these pedals from other volume control tools is their architecture. Variations in pedal design can affect not only the level of your sound but also its tonal qualities. So if you’re looking to perfect your country guitar sound, choosing the right volume pedal is crucial.

If you’re still unsure about the purpose of volume pedals, or you want to dive deeper into their types and features, read further. You’ll find everything you need to know in this article. And if you’re interested in other gear that shapes your country guitar tone, check out our article on electric guitar tone controls for country music, or explore the tonal qualities of electric guitars in general.

Types of Volume Pedals

When it comes to volume pedals, there are various types available. Each type has its own unique set of features and advantages, and choosing the right one can make a big difference in your country music guitar playing. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of volume pedals.

Passive Volume Pedals: Passive volume pedals are the simplest type of volume pedal. These pedals use a basic potentiometer to control the volume. They are usually affordable, durable and have a simple design, making them a popular choice among guitarists.

Active Volume Pedals: Active volume pedals are more complex than their passive counterparts. They boost the signal coming from your guitar before it reaches your amplifier. This allows for a cleaner signal and a more consistent volume level. Active pedals usually require a power source or battery.

Buffered Volume Pedals: Buffered volume pedals are similar to active pedals in that they boost the signal before it reaches the amplifier. They also have the added benefit of adding a buffer between your guitar and other pedals in your signal chain, helping to maintain clarity and avoid any signal loss.

Multi-Function Volume Pedals: Multi-function volume pedals are a great option for those who want more control over their sound. These pedals can have a variety of features, such as built-in effects, tone shaping controls, and the ability to control other pedals in your signal chain.

Which volume pedal you choose will depend on your personal preferences and the type of music you play. For country music, passive or active volume pedals are typically the most popular choices due to their simplicity and affordability. However, if you’re looking to add more complexity to your sound, a multi-function or buffered pedal may be worth considering.

If you want to learn more about how volume pedals are used in country guitar playing, check out our article on creating volume swells or balancing tone and volume. Alternatively, if you want to learn more advanced techniques for shaping your sound, read our article on using tone knobs in country music or finding the perfect guitar balance.

How are Volume Pedals Used in Country Music?

How Are Volume Pedals Used In Country Music?
Imagine being able to mimic the sound of a pedal steel guitar on a regular six-string electric guitar. Sounds impossible, right? Wrong! With the use of volume pedals, country guitarists are able to achieve a flowing, pedal steel-like sound that defines the genre. Volume pedals are a key tool used by country music guitarists to create an array of effects, from volume swells to creating layers of sound. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into how these pedals are used in country music and explore their various applications. We’ll also touch on how volume pedals work in conjunction with other tone controls on electric guitars. Don’t miss out on this informative section!

Volume Swells

Volume swells are a popular technique used in country music to create emotive and dynamic sounds on an electric guitar. This technique involves gradually increasing the volume of the guitar note from silence to peak volume, creating a smooth and natural-sounding growth in sound.

How to do Volume Swells:

Volume swells are done using your volume pedal, but can also be done using the volume knob on your guitar. A volume pedal is a pedal that allows you to manipulate the volume of your guitar by rocking it back and forth. The basics steps to create volume swells are:

  1. Play the note on your guitar and then quickly lower the volume on your guitar to zero.
  2. Gradually raise the volume pedal or volume knob as the note sustains to create a swelling, dynamic effect.
  3. When the note has reached your desired volume level, use the volume pedal or knob to gradually decrease the volume, giving a smooth and natural decrescendo.

It’s important to pay attention to the timing and feel of this technique to get the most out of it. Practicing volume swells with a metronome can help improve your timing and consistency.

Volume swells can be used in a variety of ways in country music, from creating a dreamy atmosphere in ballads to adding excitement and emotion to solos. They work particularly well in slow or mid-tempo songs where the nuances of the technique can be appreciated.

If you’re looking to achieve the perfect tone when using volume swells, be sure to check out our article on electric guitar tone controls in country music.

Creating Layers of Sound

One of the coolest applications of volume pedals in country music is the ability to create layers of sound. With just the flick of your foot, you can easily change the volume of your guitar and add new dimensions to your playing.

Here are a few ways you can create layers of sound with your volume pedal:

  • Verse/Chorus Dynamics: Depending on the section of the song you’re playing, you might want to alter the dynamics of your guitar. With a volume pedal, you can easily switch from a quiet verse to a louder, more lively chorus. This can make a huge impact on the overall feel of the song and keep the listener engaged.
  • Clean vs. Overdriven: Another way to use your volume pedal to create layers of sound is to dial in different levels of gain on your amplifier. By rolling back the volume on your guitar, you can create a cleaner, more sparkly sound. Conversely, if you push the volume pedal forward, you can hammer on some overdrive and get a grittier, more aggressive tone.
  • Pad/Melody: One of the most effective ways to create layers of sound with your volume pedal is to use it to switch between playing chords/pads and playing lead/melody lines. With your guitar volume turned down, you can sustain a pad or chord while adding soft melodic lines on top. Then, when it’s time to take the lead, just push the volume pedal forward and let those notes sing out!

By creating layers of sound with your volume pedal, you can add incredible depth to your playing and really make your guitar parts stand out. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different settings and techniques to find what works best for you and your playing style.

Creating Effects in Solos

A volume pedal can add a subtle or dramatic effect to a guitar solo in country music. By adjusting the volume smoothly, you can create a “swelling” effect or a sound that goes from soft to loud in a gradual and controlled manner.

One way to incorporate volume pedals into a guitar solo is to use them to create “fade-ins” and “fade-outs.” A fade-in is where the volume increases gradually as you start playing a note, while a fade-out is where you gradually lower the volume as you end a note or a phrase. This technique is particularly effective for slow and emotional solos where you want each note to have a poignant impact.

Another way to use volume pedals in solos is to create harmonic effects. You can use them to add vibrato or to create a tremolo effect that makes your guitar sound like it’s “shimmering” or “wobbling.” By pairing these techniques with the right chord progressions and rhythm patterns, you can create a haunting and ethereal sound that is unique to country music.

Volume pedals can also be used to create “pushes” and “pulls” in your solos. These effects refer to when you add or remove volume quickly and abruptly, respectively. This technique creates a jarring and impactful sound that can make your solos stand out.

Incorporating a volume pedal into your solos can take some practice, but with the right technique, it can greatly enhance your country music guitar playing. Consider experimenting with different pedal settings using expression pedals or settings knobs to find the sound that suits your unique style.

Here’s a table comparing a few popular volume pedal options for country guitarists:

Brand Features Price Range
Ernie Ball VP Jr Compact design, durable construction, passive operation, adjustable tension $85-$100
Morley PVO+ Volume Plus Optical circuitry for smooth transitions, boost control for added volume, switchable minimum volume $118-$170
Boss FV-500H High-impedance design, stereo input/output options, adjustable pedal feel, buffer circuit for maintaining signal integrity $100-$160

Remember to choose a volume pedal that suits your playing style, goals, and budget. With practice and the right equipment, you’ll soon be creating captivating country guitar solos that showcase the full range of your talents.

Top Volume Pedal Brands for Country Music

Top Volume Pedal Brands For Country Music
When it comes to volume pedals for country music, there are a variety of brands to choose from depending on your budget and personal preferences. Here are some of the top brands that are popular among country guitarists:

Ernie Ball: The Ernie Ball volume pedal is a classic and reliable choice for many guitarists. Known for its durability and smooth operation, this pedal is often used by professionals on stages around the world.

Morley: Morley is a brand that is beloved by many guitarists for its unique style and versatility. Their volume pedals offer a variety of different features, including a buffer circuit and switchable minimum volume setting.

BOSS: BOSS is a brand that is known for its high-quality effects pedals, and their volume pedals are no exception. With sturdy construction and precise control, their pedals offer a seamless transition in volume for country guitarists who demand the best from their equipment.

Dunlop: Dunlop has been making pedals for decades, and their volume pedals have become a go-to choice for many country guitarists. With their solid construction and smooth operation, they provide a dependable option for players at all levels.

Mooer: Mooer is a newer brand on the scene, but their volume pedals have quickly become a favorite among many country guitarists due to their compact size and affordability. Despite their small footprint, they still offer a smooth range of control with no loss of signal quality.

Ultimately, the brand you choose will depend on your personal preferences and playing style. It’s always a good idea to try out a few different pedals before committing to one, so you can find the perfect fit for your setup.

Famous Country Guitarists Who Use Volume Pedals

Famous Country Guitarists Who Use Volume Pedals
Country music has a rich history of talented guitarists who have incorporated the use of volume pedals into their playing. These pedals have allowed guitarists to add a new dimension to their playing, creating unique and dynamic sounds that have become synonymous with the genre.

One of the most famous guitarists to use a volume pedal is Brad Paisley. This country superstar is known for his virtuoso guitar playing, and the volume pedal has become a critical part of his sound. Paisley often uses the pedal to create beautiful volume swells that add texture and emotion to his playing. His signature song, “Whiskey Lullaby,” features a beautiful volume swell solo that showcases his mastery of the technique.

Another country guitarist who has made extensive use of volume pedals is Keith Urban. Urban is known for his high-energy performances and innovative guitar work, and the volume pedal allows him to create dynamic sounds that complement his playing perfectly. Urban often uses the pedal to create layers of sound, building his solos and melodies to create a rich and nuanced sound that is instantly recognizable.

Marty Stuart is another legendary country musician who uses volume pedals extensively in his playing. Stuart is known for his traditional approach to country music, and the pedal allows him to create subtle variations in his sound that add depth and character to his playing. Stuart often uses the pedal to create a swirling, atmospheric sound that is particularly effective in his slower, more emotional songs.

Other notable country guitarists who use volume pedals include Vince Gill, Brad Whitford, and Joe Walsh. These musicians have all found innovative ways to incorporate the pedal into their playing, creating unique sounds that have helped to define the genre of country music.

Whether you’re a seasoned country guitarist or a beginner just starting to explore the genre, there is much to be learned from these masters of the volume pedal. Their playing demonstrates the versatility and expressive potential of this simple but powerful tool, and provides a wealth of inspiration for anyone looking to take their playing to the next level.

How to Choose the Right Volume Pedal for Country Music

How To Choose The Right Volume Pedal For Country Music
When it comes to choosing the right volume pedal for country music, there are a few factors to consider. The first thing you’ll want to decide is whether you want an active or passive volume pedal.

Active vs. Passive Volume Pedals

Active volume pedals require power and use a buffer to maintain the signal level when the pedal is in the heel-down position. This can be particularly helpful if you have a lot of pedals in your signal chain, as it can help prevent signal loss and maintain consistent tone.

Passive volume pedals, on the other hand, do not require power and do not use a buffer. This can result in a purer, more transparent signal, but it also means that you may experience some signal loss depending on how many pedals you have in your chain.


Another factor to consider when choosing a volume pedal is the taper. This refers to how the volume changes as you move the pedal from the heel-down to the toe-down position. There are two main types of taper: linear and logarithmic.

Linear taper volume pedals provide a consistent and predictable change in volume as you move the pedal. This can be useful if you need to make precise adjustments to your volume.

Logarithmic taper volume pedals, on the other hand, provide a more gradual increase in volume as you move the pedal from the heel-down to toe-down position. This can be helpful if you want to make more subtle adjustments to your volume or if you want to create smooth volume swells.


Finally, you’ll want to consider the brand of the volume pedal. Some well-respected brands in the world of volume pedals include Boss, Ernie Ball, and Dunlop. Each of these brands has their own unique features and advantages, so it’s worth doing some research and trying out different pedals to find the one that best meets your needs.

By considering factors like active vs. passive, taper, and brand, you’ll be well on your way to choosing the perfect volume pedal for your country music playing.

Tips for Using Volume Pedals in Country Music

Using volume pedals in country music can be a great way to add depth and character to your guitar playing. However, to get the most out of these pedals, it’s important to use them correctly. Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Practice Your Technique
One of the keys to using volume pedals effectively in country music is to develop good technique. Make sure you know how to use the pedal smoothly and consistently. Practice your volume swells, and experiment with different speeds and rhythms.

2. Experiment with Different Settings
Volume pedals offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to adjusting your sound. Try experimenting with different settings to find the sound you like best. For example, you might want to try boosting your volume for solos, or using subtle swells to create a more mellow sound.

3. Use Volume Pedals in Combination with Other Effects
Volume pedals can be a great complement to other effects, such as delay and reverb. Experiment with different combinations to find the sound you like best. You might be surprised at how much difference a subtle change in effects can make.

4. Learn from the Masters
One of the best ways to learn how to use volume pedals effectively in country music is to study the techniques of famous guitarists. Listen to recordings by legendary players like Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, and pay attention to how they use volume pedals in their playing. This can help to inspire your own technique and give you new ideas to try.

5. Practice in Different Settings
Finally, it’s important to practice using volume pedals in different settings. Try playing with a band, for example, or in different venues with varying acoustics. This can help you to adapt your technique to different situations and become a more versatile player.

By following these tips, you can learn to use volume pedals effectively in your country music playing. Remember to experiment, practice, and learn from others, and you’ll be well on your way to creating your own unique sound.


In conclusion, using volume pedals in country music guitar playing can add a whole new dimension to your sound. By exploring the various types of volume pedals and learning how to incorporate them into your playing, you can create dynamic and emotive performances that resonate with audiences.

Whether you’re looking to create volume swells, build layers of sound or add special effects to your solos, volume pedals are an invaluable tool for any country guitarist. Some of the top brands to consider include Electro-Harmonix, Ernie Ball, and BOSS, each offering their unique features and characteristics.

If you’re looking for inspiration, take note of some of the famous country guitarists who use volume pedals in their music, including Brad Paisley, Brent Mason, and Keith Urban, to name a few. By studying their techniques and incorporating them into your own playing, you may find new ways to use volume pedals and take your sound to the next level.

When choosing the right volume pedal, consider factors such as build quality, functionality, and compatibility with your setup. Experiment with different pedals to find the best fit for your playing style and musical preferences.

Finally, when using volume pedals, it’s important to experiment, practice and adapt to find the best ways to incorporate them into your playing. Don’t be afraid to take risks, try new techniques and explore the wide range of sounds that volume pedals can produce.

In summary, volume pedals are a versatile and essential tool for any country guitarist looking to elevate their playing experience. With the right equipment, practice, and creativity, you can use volume pedals to explore new sonic dimensions and create unforgettable performances that audiences are sure to remember.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a volume pedal in country music?

A volume pedal allows a guitarist to control the volume of their guitar without using their hands. This allows them to create subtle volume changes and effects that can enhance country music playing.

What types of volume pedals are there?

There are two main types of volume pedals: passive and active. Passive pedals do not require external power, while active pedals use electricity to boost the signal and provide more precise control.

What is a volume swell?

A volume swell is a guitar technique that involves slowly raising the volume of the guitar using a volume pedal. This creates a gradual increase in volume that can add a sense of emotion and tension to a piece of music.

Can volume pedals create layers of sound?

Yes, volume pedals can be used to create layers of sound by controlling the volume of different guitar parts. This allows a guitarist to create more complex soundscapes and add depth to their music.

What types of effects can volume pedals create in solos?

Volume pedals can be used to create a variety of effects in solos, such as swells, fades, and dynamic shifts. These effects can help a solo stand out and add interest to a song.

What are some top volume pedal brands for country music?

Some popular volume pedal brands for country music include the Boss FV-500H, Dunlop DVP4 Volume X Mini, and Ernie Ball VP Jr.

Which famous country guitarists use volume pedals?

Famous country guitarists who use volume pedals include Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, and Vince Gill.

How do I choose the right volume pedal for country music?

When choosing a volume pedal for country music, consider factors such as passive vs. active, build quality, and compatibility with your guitar and amplifier. You may also want to read reviews or try out different pedals before making a purchase.

What are some tips for using volume pedals in country music?

Practice using the pedal slowly and gradually to achieve smooth volume transitions. Experiment with different types of pedals and effects to find what works best for your playing style. And always make sure your pedal is properly calibrated to avoid unwanted volume jumps.

Can volume pedals be used with other types of instruments?

Yes, volume pedals can be used with a variety of instruments, including keyboards, bass guitars, and even vocals. They provide a way to control the volume of the instrument without using your hands.


About the author

Hi there! I’m Jack Little – an avid country music fan with tons of live country performances in the past. I used to play banjo in a country band with my best friend John Peters, who’s a true country harmonica master. Those were great years and I’m still mastering new banjo playing techniques, writing my own country songs and lyrics, and collecting banjos!

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