For the longest time, volume pedals were one of those love it/hate it things with me. I loved having one and being able to pull back my volume at a moment’s notice or mute it to do a quick re-tune. I hated having a pedal that was little more than a volume pot on a string; volume pedals haven’t changed much since their inception. Especially in a theatre setting, the darkness of a pit makes any regular usage of a volume pedal limited, since you can’t really see your foot or where the pedal is at. It would be really useful to have something that would show me my volume.
Visual Sound’s Bob Weil thought the same thing (I’m thinking) when he created the Visual Volume. Adding a vertical row of 10 LEDs seems a simple fix, but it’s quite useful. Now you can see where you’re at, what you cut down to, where you’re muted, etc.. For my purposes, the LEDs alone were enough for me to sell my old volume pedal and buy one of these. But thankfully, there was a lot more for me to use; this is the “Swiss Army Knife” of volume pedals.
In addition to the shiny row of LEDs, the Visual Volume also boasts two inputs and outputs. You can run them in tandem with two instruments, or use the VV to split the signal of one input into two outputs (as in, stereo) or vice versa. For someone that regularly doubles on electric and upright basses, this removes the need of an A/B pedal in the chain.
It also bears mentioning that each of these inputs has internal controls to adjust the overall output of each input, as well as whether they’re active or passive. In the active mode, the VV can actually act as a boost pedal, allowing you to get a little extra (and given that LED 5 and 10 are different colors than the others makes it easy to keep track of the regular and boosted volumes). In passive mode, it acts exactly like a standard volume pedal.
Like other volume pedals, this one has a tuner out, although it only receives the signal from the first input. So when doubling with this pedal in your chain, you can only reap the benefits of tuning while muted with the first bass. An inconvenience nonetheless, and something I do hope they’ll consider fixing.
All of these bells and whistles are nice, but it really comes down to how durable this is. The VV is housed in a metal casing (which is heavy!), so no problems there. Unlike the strings that most other volume pedals employ (which I’ve been told are not easy to repair if it breaks) as the main part, the VV utilizes a lever system that if it breaks, you can buy a replacement and replace yourself. The durability and ease of repair are something that I can count on when running an eight week, seventy-plus show schedule. There just isn’t time for anything to be down and in the shop.
The Visual Sound Visual Volume pedal sports a lot more options than just a row of LEDs that separate it from the other volume pedals on the market. Because of that, it has easily gone from “just a volume pedal” to something that I rely on for a variety of applications. It’s one of the few pedals that I have in my chain almost all of the time.
Visual Volume available online at musiciansfriend.com