- 1 10 Best Expression Pedal reviews
- 1.1 1. M-Audio EX-P | Universal Expression Pedal
- 1.2 2. Roland EV-5 Expression Pedal
- 1.3 3. Yamaha FC7 Volume Expression Pedal
- 1.4 Final Verdict
- 1.5 4. Digitech Guitar Expression Pedal
- 1.6 5. On-Stage KEP100 Keyboard Expression Pedal
- 1.7 6. Mission Engineering Expression Pedal
- 1.8 Final Verdict
- 1.9 7. Mission Engineering Expression Guitar Pedal for Kemper Green
- 1.10 8. Line 6 EX-1 Expression Pedal
- 1.11 9. Dunlop Guitar Volume Pedal (DVP4)
- 1.12 10. Zoom G3Xn Guitar Multi-Effects Processor with Expression Pedal
- 2 What Is An Expression Pedal?
- 3 Types of Expression Pedals
- 4 Best Expression Pedal Buying Guide
- 5 How Does An Expression Pedal Work?
- 6 What Factors Impact The Compatibility of An Expression Pedal?
- 7 Mechanical Concerns in an Expression Pedal
- 8 Where Does An Expression Pedal Sits In The Signal Chain?
- 9 FAQs
- 9.1 1. Is a volume pedal the same as an expression pedal?
- 9.2 2. What does an expression pedal do?
- 9.3 3. Can you use a wah pedal as an expression pedal?
- 9.4 4. How do you make an expression pedal?
- 9.5 5. Do expression pedals need power?
- 9.6 6. How do you use a volume pedal?
- 9.7 7. Where should my volume pedal go?
- 9.8 8. Why you need a volume pedal?
- 9.9 9. Do volume pedals affect tone?
- 10 Conclusion
Only musicians know how difficult it is to find creative and vibrant sounds. Many musicians realize it after recording. What they thought was a fantastic solo is nothing just a few notes without expression.
So, how to add an expression or to control the sounds? Easy, with the best expression pedal!
An expression paddle is a type of effect paddle used to control sound in electronic equipment. It is more like a remote knob that you can control through your foot. Besides, expression pedals can make the sound exciting in the digital amplifiers, keyboards, stompboxes, etc.
That being said, an expression controller only controls the volume of the guitar. Well, it is somewhat true. However, it can control a few more things, like delay, modulation, etc. It depends on the device or effects it is attached to.
Is all this making you confused? No worries! This review will clear up all your confusion. Here we bring you the best expression pedals along with a detailed buying guide. Let’s get started!
10 Best Expression Pedal reviews
Getting the best expression pedal can be challenging if you’re not well aware of it. That’s why we did in-depth research to find the best option for you. Now, let’s go through the best expression pedal for kemper, digital amps, and more.
1. M-Audio EX-P | Universal Expression Pedal
At the very beginning, explore the full creative range of your controller with the M-Audio Ex-P. The pedal doesn't look fancy by design. However, it provides great sounds for musicians who are looking to explore different effects.
The Ex-P can manipulate any MIDI flexible control or parameter, including volume, modulation, filter sweep, etc. It features a plastic surface that is quite smooth and responsive. The molded construction of the pedal lasts longer if well-kept.
Moreover, it includes a textured foot-rest for non-slip use. Its wide-angled action ensures detailed, expressive ability. There is also a taper switch to reveal its full potential, which offers better portability for the live performer. The pedal has more.
It comes with a separately-located polarity knob to make the pedal adjustable with other brands. The pedal is compatible with most keyboards, synthesizers, and other effect devices. Nonetheless, it's ¼” hardwired TRS cable adds stability to the connection.
The M-Audio Ex-P provides everything you need in an expression pedal. Besides, the pedal is very cost-effective, so you'll get what you pay. Briefly, affordability and quality performance is guaranteed.
2. Roland EV-5 Expression Pedal
With the size, Roland EV-5 is certainly the best mini expression pedal in the market. The pedal is best-known for being useful with delay and reverb pedals. It provides dynamic performance in its mini size.
At first, let us tell you, the pedal is great for use with keyboards and other expression-compatible devices. Even after the plastic housing, the EV-5 is widely accepted among professionals. That’s because of its full-length rubber-coating.
Still, expert suggests to use it more in the studios. The pedal features a smooth, controlled action for comfortable use. Unlike others, the pedal comes with four pre-programmed settings. These provide a range of expression effects.
Moreover, the pedal has a hardwired 6-foot cable, which ensures a smooth connection. The best part of this pedal is its smooth transition. It allows setting the volume level to your choice. While using it with the keyboard, make sure it is compatible.
The pedal may not be designed to be top of the range. However, it provides a great expression option at an attractive price. Overall, it can perform for a long period.
3. Yamaha FC7 Volume Expression Pedal
Yamaha is a reliable name among experienced musicians and beginners as well. Their Yamaha FC7 volume expression pedal is one of the most selling pedals. Besides, it’s a heavy-duty volume controller with a range of expressions.
The pedal is designed to work with Yamaha keyboards or their DG series amplifier. Yet, it’s a safe choice to use with other gears. One of the notable features is its ‘fortissimo’ function.
This feature allows the user to increase the signal level and certain accent parts of their performance. Moreover, the pedal features a 5’ cable and ¼” phone plug. Its spring point and pedal angle are adjustable.
There is a metal connecting plate to connect several pedals together in the signal chain. Besides, the plug-n-play feature makes it easy to use. If you are using it with a keyboard, make sure it has a ¼” jack for volume.
Above all, the pedal has a long throw, which provides better control and sensitivity. It’s rugged, smooth-operating, and non-slip bottom works better even on the wooden surface. Indeed, it’s a great deal for the price.
4. Digitech Guitar Expression Pedal
Digitech Guitar expression pedal is another best expression pedal on the list. Instead of the small size, it delivers the same feel and throws as the big pedals. The pedal allows the user to get natural feedback at both soft and loud volumes.
This Digitech pedal is best-known for removing any distortion while applying effects. That’s how it provides clear and crisp expression effects than most pedals. The pedal is suitable for studios because of its high-quality low-volume performance.
Moreover, the pedal features a TRS/TS/RTS selector. It makes the pedal flexible to use with most gear with expression pedal inputs. Also, its 3-position multi-resistance allows for a range of compatibility.
Alongside the studios, it can also withstand the rigors of live performance. The pedal only concentrates on the out-of-control feedback. It also features numerous onset delay and level balance controls. So you get decent harmonic capability with 7 feedback.
Overall, the pedal is a great option to improve the sound quality and diversity. Its ultra-compact size makes it a favorite choice among most musicians. The pedal also lasts the test of time.
5. On-Stage KEP100 Keyboard Expression Pedal
Whether it is durability or versatility, the On-Stage KEP100 expression pedal is excel in all. It offers everything you look into an expression pedal. The pedal provides the action and spontaneous feel that you need for exact musical expression.
One of the most attraction of the pedal is its textured, slip-resistant rubber surface. It provides stability you need in the studio or on the live stage. Also, it’s reliable chassis, and smooth-operating cam provides the consistency.
However, it has a polarity switch underside. So you can use the pedal with most keyboards and synthesizers. It delivers the best expression effect with each piece of equipment.
The pedal includes a 6’ connected ¼” TRS cable for a secure and reliable interface. It also allows adjusting the expression range, thanks to its scalable control knob. The pedal comes in black and grey composition, which makes it fit for modern studios.
Most of all, the KEP100 can withstand the rough use in the studio or live stage. You’ll surely get what you look for. Above all, the price is extremely affordable. It is worth giving it a try!
6. Mission Engineering Expression Pedal
Mission Engineering is a real deal for people who don’t prefer plastic housing. Indeed, this expression pedal ensures durability with its all-metal body. Even being new in the industry, Mission Engineering has become of the biggest expression pedal manufacturer.
The pedal features a simple yet classy design along with an understated black finish. Its rugged build makes the pedal suitable for any conditions. The pedal has a rubber pedal surface at the bottom. It prevents the pedal from moving around.
As you know, size does matter on a pedalboard. Luckily, the pedal comes in a compact size that takes a little space. But, it doesn’t compromise with the performance even with the smaller size.
Furthermore, the pedal offers a smooth transition. You get the real feeling of an advanced boost in swell and volume. Being a passive pedal, it doesn’t require any power. Lastly, it is worth mentioning that the pedal has a cam system for reliable operation.
All in all, the Mission Engineering expression pedal is going to suit you. The pedal gets its job done and do it correctly. We must say it is the best mini expression pedal you can get in an all-metal body.
7. Mission Engineering Expression Guitar Pedal for Kemper Green
Up next, we have the best expression pedal for kemper from Mission Engineering. The Mission Engineering EP1-KP comes in a fancy design with lots of expressions. It is best to get the most out of your Kemper Profiler.
The EP1-KP features an attractive green or black finish to complement your Kemper profiler. Like the previous one, it also comes with the all-metal body. It includes a textured rubber surface at the top.
This rubber surface provides better grip and stability while using. Then, its linear potentiometer gets matched with the specifications of the Kemper Profiler. This ensures an accurate and natural response.
Moreover, the pedal features a toe switch. You can turn on and off the effects without needing a separate footswitch. From the outlook and performance, it looks and feels like a cry baby wah pedal.
The Mission Engineering EP1-KP is a top-notch expression pedal designed especially for kemper. It is sturdily built, so it is going to last for decades. Yes, it is a bit pricier than most others, but it is worth the price. You can give it a try!
8. Line 6 EX-1 Expression Pedal
Line 6 EX-1 is one of those tools that can change your music much better. It is the ideal pedal to use with the Line 6 M5 stompbox modeler and AX2. The pedal offers simple operation with diverse opportunities.
The pedal is great at controlling volume swells, delay times, subtle variations in pitch, etc. Many people have expressed their concern about the build-quality. But, for your information, it is made with hard plastic.
It may not feel that solid, but it won’t break that easily. The plastic shell cut down the weight significantly. So you can take it anywhere you go. It’s a tool that you can always keep in your gig bag.
Besides, the pedal includes ¼” jack and ¼” connecting cable. You can use it with other ¼” cable for the longer run. The best part is, it allows us to switch from low to high settings gradually. Thus, it provides smooth movement between different values.
Overall, Line 6 EX-1 is a great value for the money. It won’t disappoint you as long as you accept its plastic housing. With the Line 6 Ex- 1, you’ll certainly rock your world despite its simplicity.
9. Dunlop Guitar Volume Pedal (DVP4)
Dunlop guitar volume pedal is a real space-saver. Indeed, you can now control the volume and FX parameters without crowding your pedals. It doesn’t compromise with the durability and functionality, even being compact in size.
The pedal is built sturdily with a lightweight aluminum chassis. At the top, it has a non-slip tread, which offers great stability. Its patented Low Friction Band-Drive reliable performance with a smooth range of motion.
Though the pedal comes in a compact size, it provides fully adjustable rocker tension. So, you get maximum comfort and precision. There is an AUX output that combines expression functionality and tuner into one jack. You can toggle them with a switch inside the pedal.
However, the DVP4 can be used both as an expression pedal and a volume pedal. While using as an expression pedal, a calibration control allows setting the minimum expression level. The pedal also allows reversing the heel-down and tow-down positions with an internal switch.
All in all, Dunlop DVP4 is a lightweight and pedalboard-friendly option. Even though it’s a small size, the pedal doesn’t sacrifice control over your volume level and FX pedals. So, get yourself the Dunlop DVP4 expression pedal NOW!
10. Zoom G3Xn Guitar Multi-Effects Processor with Expression Pedal
Last, in the list, the Zoom G3Xn is one of the best expression pedals for many reasons. It provides the freedom and flexibility needed to explore new playing styles. There is a lot into a single pedal unit.
Firstly, this multi-effects processor includes 70 onboard high-quality digital effects. The pedal has distortion, overdrive, EQ, reverb, delay, and so on. It means you get everything you need to fine-tune your tone.
There is a built-in expression pedal in this multi-effect processor. It allows having optimum control over volume, tone, and other selective parameters. Moreover, the G3Xn lets you choose from five classic amp models.
So you can adjust the sound with the knobs and switch in a way you want. The pedal comes loaded with 75 custom-designed factory patches. It allows us to recreate necessary guitar tones and explore new sounds.
Above all, its 68 built-in rhythm patterns allow for solo performance. You can also record and overdub phrases with an onboard looper for up to 80 seconds.
In general, the Zoom G3Xn lets you explore all the brand new sounds. It has all that every musician wants to have in their pedalboard. Evidently, it comes at a reasonable price, but buy it as a long-term investment.
What Is An Expression Pedal?
An expression pedal is a treadle-type foot pedal used in electronic music equipment. It is used to control different parameters such as; volume, delay level, modulation, etc. An expression pedal mostly controls the volume of the tone.
It doesn’t produce the sound itself instead of remotely control aspects of the equipment it is attached to. Possibly, that’s the reason it is called a remote knob. An expression pedal doesn’t control all the aspects of a device.
What it controls depends on the features of the attached equipment. When digital amps use expression pedals, it controls volume, wah, and whammy. Also, most high-end stompboxes allow controlling parameters like delay time or tremolo speed or reverb.
Sometimes it controls delay feedback, reverb trails, rotary speaker speed, etc. to give the best sounds in the situations. Note that, it can be used with the devices with a dedicated expression-pedal input or a MIDI control input.
Types of Expression Pedals
Expression pedals don't have any specific type in that sense. However, there are two types of expression paddles, depending on its functionality. They are; passive and active.
Passive expression pedals depend on the potentiometer. It doesn’t require any additional power or current to be functional. In that sense, passive one only needs a plugin, and it is ready to go.
Also, there is no stress on batteries and tangled cables. It has one downside that is passive expression pedal can ruin somewhat ruin your tone. However, it also depends on the brand and model you are buying.
Conversely, active expression pedals require a power supply to get activated. It provides the possible strength of your tone. And it’s a great plus. Luckily, the market has both types of expression pedals. You can try anyone that suits your needs.
Best Expression Pedal Buying Guide
As the name suggests, the purpose of an expression pedal is to add expression to your playing. There are a lot of features that can have a great impact on its role. You should check them before buying the best mini expression pedal.
Length of the Power Cord
One of the essential features to keep in mind is the length of the power cord. Expression pedals are mostly used in live situations to a vast crowd. So, you’ll likely need a longer power cord.
The longer cord will let you move around the stage without rolling down. However, if you are an indoor player, a shorter power cord will be enough.
As you know, an expression pedal is controlled through the feet. It means the pedal has to endure a lot of stress. So, the pedal should be made of the best quality materials. Expression pedals can be made of different materials, such as heavy-duty aluminum, rubber, or plastic.
The aluminum ones are stable and durable than the other two types. But, aluminum pedals are expensive than plastic ones. However, most manufacturer brings an expression pedal with a plastic top and aluminum base to lessen the cost.
Those units are functional, but the plastic top may slide the foot while you are performing. Therefore, expression pedals with rubber tops are the most reliable option. It won’t slide your foot in the live situations.
Expression pedals have a few compatibility issues. If it is not compatible with the device you are using, you won’t get the desired result. It should be compatible with the guitar so it can work.
Check the compatibility before buying the best expression pedal for kemper or other gears. Because you can't refund it in case, it is unusable.
Size of the Pedal
The size of the pedal does matter. You need a pedal that you can take around. In the case of an expression pedal, the smaller sized pedals are more practical. They are easy to carry from the studio to the live stage.
But then, there comes another fact. You cannot use the smaller sized pedal with bigger feet. In that case, you need to buy a larger sized expression pedal.
Versatile Models and Additional Features
Another thing we must include is the multifunctional models of expression model. You’ll likely want to have a model that offers more than its obvious job. Some models of expression pedals come with an expression/volume combo. Also, a few models include an expression/wah combo.
It is great to have those models, especially for active setup. But, you need to be careful while buying them. Some manufacturers will fool you with a cheap-quality package at a very affordable price. Those packages are actually master at none.
There is a wide range of prices available for expression pedals. The more you play, the more options you’ll get. Mostly, the price varies from 40 to 160 dollars. How much you need to spend depends on your skill level.
The beginners can go with an affordable expression pedal. However, if you are a professional, you should have a good budget. You’ll need a pedal with more technical features.
Last but least, it is crucial to get a pedal with a good warranty. As a user, it’ll protect any damages. Different manufactures have different warranties, so check it before buying.
How Does An Expression Pedal Work?
Before you learn how an expression pedal works, let’s know about its structure. It has a top panel called a rocker. And, it stays stable at one end and rotates up and down. At the other end, an arm is attached to a potentiometer shaft.
Besides, a pot is wired to an output cable. When you move the rocker, it rotates the pot—an expression pedal work by supplying a control voltage to a guitar or other device. The voltage passes from the device through the cable and then the pot.
Finally, it comes back to the output. When you move the rocker, it changes the pot resistance and so the control voltage returned. The device then reads this voltage it is attached to. This is how the energy is used to change any parameters.
What Factors Impact The Compatibility of An Expression Pedal?
Expression pedals are designed to control a variety of parameters. We all know that. If you ask, is there any limitation to what I can or cannot use? The answer is, yes, there are a few things that affect the compatibility of an expression pedal.
More or less, all expression pedals include a potentiometer. The problem with the potentiometer is that it has a limited resistance rating. Some pedal can operate up to 50K Ohms, and others are designed for 250K or higher.
Finding the correct resistance value corresponding to your pedal or other devices is essential. The mismatch rating might not damage your equipment but won’t give the desired result. Hardly some expression pedal will offer limited performance, while others won’t function at all.
The potentiometer taper defines how its electrical resistance varies consistently with its mechanical movement. The electrical resistance varies at the same rate in the linear potentiometer. Mostly, the linear taper performs best for an expression pedal.
However, the electrical resistance changes differently in the logarithmic pater. It slowly changes when you start to move the pot. Gradually it becomes faster when you get near the end. Logarithmic taper works better in volume controls but not with expression pedals.
The wiring polarity inside the stompbox also does matter. It is important to look at the relationship between a CW and a wiper, ring, and sleeve. And, also the relationship between a CCW and tip. Here CW is always paired to the sleeve.
However, the other comes in different patterns. Similar to the resistance, the wires should match properly. The mismatched wiring polarity can result in a limited capacity, or it stops working. Fortunately, some pedals let you switch the wiring polarity.
Mechanical Concerns in an Expression Pedal
Most expression pedals use a mechanical way to convert the linear movement of the rocker to rotate the potentiometer. These usually employ a rack and gear mechanism that utilizes a Kevlar string or metal band.
Most general-purpose pots are turned by hand. These create a few problems and become unsuitable for expression pedals. First of all, it is not designed physically for foot operation. The force we apply is much than the panel mount pot’s mechanical specifications, so it breaks.
Moreover, a few shelf potentiometers will likely rotate between 270 and 320 degrees. The movement of the shelf potentiometer has to match with the rocker’s movement. If it doesn’t match, the pot might not change with the evolution of the shelf potentiometer.
So, it may knock out the shelf potentiometer’s stops. It may also result in dead spots and harm to the pedal. That’s why it is essential to have a dedicated pedal for the rocker movement.
Where Does An Expression Pedal Sits In The Signal Chain?
An expression pedal can literally sit anywhere on your pedalboard. However, it cannot goes directly to your signal chain. You need to connect it to the pedal that you wish to control. Generally, expression pedals are a bit bulky than other pedals.
So they are often placed next to volume pedal. It not only provides a better effect but also saves space. There is no specific rule of thumb on where to put an expression pedal. You should place it on your pedalboard where it makes sense.
You should place it where it adds an extra level of expression. Wherever you place it, make sure there is nothing in the way. Otherwise, your pedal cannot serve its purpose.
1. Is a volume pedal the same as an expression pedal?
An expression pedal and volume pedal may look precisely the same. However, at the core, they offer entirely different functions. As you know, expression pedals are used to change range parameters, including volume.
Alternatively, the volume pedal will only change or control the volume level of the guitar. Both pedals can indeed be united into a single unit. That’s a different thing. There may not have any physical differences, but they are made for various purposes.
2. What does an expression pedal do?
Earlier, we have mentioned this quite a few times. Expression pedals control different parameters on electronic equipment, including stompboxes, digital amps, MIDI controller, rack effects, etc. Along with the volume level, it controls parameters like delay, reverb trails, wah, mix, and more.
3. Can you use a wah pedal as an expression pedal?
Yes, but a wah pedal needs to be gutted and revised to use it as an expression pedal. Otherwise, it will not work right out of the box.
4. How do you make an expression pedal?
You can make an expression pedal from a crybaby wah pedal. Here is how;
5. Do expression pedals need power?
Most expression pedals are passive, which doesn’t require any power. It operates through the control voltage that is generated by the device it is attached to.
6. How do you use a volume pedal?
As you probably know, the volume pedal has a particular task, which is volume control. What matters about a volume pedal is where they perform the best. Many guitarists may have their preferences.
But, the standard practice is to place it either before delays or the end of the signal chain. These two positions have a distinct effect on your signal.
7. Where should my volume pedal go?
Volume pedal should go either the end of the signal or before delays. While using at the end of the signal chain, the signal becomes attenuated. The signal holds all the modulation effects, full-overdrive saturation, and all. Moreover, using it before a delay, let you control the volume as much as you want.
8. Why you need a volume pedal?
You need a volume pedal to attenuate the complete signal chain. Volume pedal also allows doing swells and other similar effects.
9. Do volume pedals affect tone?
Of course, they can affect tone. Not only volume pedals, but the other pedals in a signal chain can also affect tone. Some do it terribly, and some do nothing.
Finally, we are at the end of our review. If you’ve noted this article in-depth, you know how and where to find your option. Undoubtedly, adding the best expression pedal to your signal chain will hugely change the guitar effects.
The pedals we’ve presented are some of the best options you will find currently. We tried to add the expression pedals of different budgets. So, you can find one that fits your desires and abilities.
Get ready to expertise new effects and make the incredible possible. Best of Luck!