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Does anyone know of a distortion pedal out there that has an expression pedal to control the gain? I've used effects processors (an ancient DigiTech RP200 that I love), but I was wondering if there are different options out there.

I've heard people suggest just rolling the volume or using a volume pedal, but I don't want to lose volume, just finely manage the amount of gain.

  • Many professional guitarists will have a second volume pedal just to control the gain on their drives. Since less input volume to the drives will create less drive. – jazzboy Sep 1 '16 at 20:26
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Ernie Ball makes both an overdrive and a delay effect with a built-in effects pedal. Here is a review and if you are in Britain here is a shop that sells it. PS Unaffiliated.

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The thing to remember here is that distortion is often compressing the volume too. This means that while a volume pedal after your distortion will definitely change the volume through your amp, one before the volume pedal will change the amount of volume going in to the distortion pedal (known amongst sound technicians as 'gain'). Often increasing the volume into a distortion pedal will not significantly effect the output volume, but drive the distortion harder, which is what you're asking for here.

Try it out, you might be surprised what you can achieve. Also, you can create this effect with your guitars volume knob, if you just want to give it a go without buying a volume pedal.

Again, distortion compresses the volume, so volume before distortion doesn't mean more volume, it means more distortion.


There are numerous effect pedals (usually higher-end) which take a control signal from the expression pedal to control specific parameters of the effect. This is quite expensive, and not really necessary if you use the technique above.

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Check out the Blackout Effectors FUBAR. The expression pedal controls the BIAS, which can be very similar to controlling the gain.

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You can add an extra rubber pad under the heel of the expression pedal to raise the floor from off to low.

I just got an Ernie Ball VP Jr (link) and I love it for boosting the drive. Be sure to read the manual to find the bias switch to add boost to the toe.

Also, MXR pedals are designed with big knobs that can be manipulated with a foot.

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I was going to suggest that it might be possible to scavenge/hack a broken wah pedal and find a matching POT to the gain knob on your distortion pedal and then wiring the new POT to the pedal, but when I poked around a little, I saw a device called "Third Hand" by T.I.P.

It looks like it is a special cable (flexible screw?) attached to a gear on the pedal and you attach that cable to the pedal pot post (remove the plastic knob) you want to control.

This is generic and would work with any pedal.

There is also a "Kick Disk" which is a plastic disk you nudge with your toe. This is probably very easy to make at home.

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  • Originally a harmonix hot foot ? Random quote about the original: "The chief problem with them was that the flexible shaft was so heavy duty that the pedal you wanted to control would need to be either secured in place or else very heavy to avoid flipping over." – Yorik Sep 1 '16 at 17:07
  • These are pretty ingenious little DIY type of solutions! I might have to try the 3rd hand. The kick disk idea is cool, but the idea of balancing on one foot and trying to make fine adjustments using one probably keeps that one out of the running. I am surprised that there's no company making a distortion with an expression pedal. – Mike N Sep 1 '16 at 17:40
  • BTW it looks like the cable is not really anything groundbreaking on the 3rd hand: I am not sure, but you might be able to get a short one that could work in a brake kit at a bike shop etc. The hard part is the gearing on the foot pedal. – Yorik Sep 1 '16 at 18:55
  • Kick discs are pretty easy to use. My Digitech whammy has one to select modes while playing. – Doktor Mayhem Sep 1 '16 at 23:00
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A few were manufactured under the 'George Dennis' brand and Morley made something like this back in the '70s.

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