How to Manipulate Volume with an Overdrive Guitar Pedal

Learn how to manipulate the guitar volume knob using an overdrive pedal from musician Michael Aarons in this Howcast video about guitar pedals.


One of the things that I do pretty much 99% of the time in a musical situation, in a rehearsal on a gig, I have the OCD pedal constantly on. I bring it with me everywhere, almost like a tuner. It's just there. It's in my pedal chain. And what I do is I actually have it on and I have the drive setting all the way down and the volume about 12 o'clock. And the volume it'll vary depending on the level of the amp. Right now, we're kind of at a low volume.

The drive, the most important thing about this is that the drive is all the way down. And then what I'll do is I'll get a comfortable volume with the volume knob on the guitar and every guitar is different, so feel it out. But I'll turn down the volume of the guitar on the guitar knob, on the volume knob on the guitar. And I'll get the exact same level volume and drive sound that I would get if the pedal were off with the guitar at full volume.

So here's the pedal off with the guitar at full volume. Here's the levels with the pedal on, with the guitar volume down maybe 25-30%. Pretty much the same, right? It's got a little bit of drive on there. And what that does is that gives you head room to play with. To me, I've noticed in a lot of musical situations when a passage comes up or a solo or a little phrase that; if you're working in an orchestra the orchestrator or the musical director; might want to bring out.

You don't need to necessarily click on a pedal to boost pedal. I've seen people with 20 pedals to do all sorts of little volume changes and tweaks. You don't need to do that. You can do a lot with just the volume on the guitar. So to me, my comfortable setting is the guitar volume at 75%, always.
And then when you just want to add that little extra...

So if you're on, say the verse of a song and the vocals are there and you're not trying to get in the way. Say the chorus is coming up. You don't even have to turn off the pedal. You can just be musical with dynamics. And one of the great things about the OCD pedal is that it allows you to play with dynamics.

Because it's so transparent it responds to the pickup settings again, to the dynamic and the level and the intensity of how you're picking. It really picks up all the nuances of your playing and I find by using the volume pedal on the guitar you can really have some head room and room to play, where you don't even have to turn off the pedal. So I leave it on all the time. That's one of the things that I do and I've found it very effective in my tone.

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