I've recently started a band, we are a drummer, and a bassist, and me on electric guitar. I am new to using electric guitar and effects pedals, previously I've mainly used acoustic by myself.

Thoughout our songs I sometimes turn on or off Big Muff distortion, which dramatically increases or decreases the volume. Furthermore, I often change my style mid song - e.g from strumming chords, to doing solo work, to palm muting picking, and back again. This also can massively alter the volume.

The volume of my guitar is therefore dramatically changing constantly, sometimes way below or above the other instruments. How should I be dealing with this?

My initial possible answers ...

1) Buy a compressor. But will this always work for each desired section of the song?

2) Fiddle with the guitar volume throughout the song. But won't this be fiddly and hard to work out for each section and each song?

3) Buy more pedals to help with volume, and painstakingly work out for each section what volumes settings on all of my equipment are needed for each bit of the song in relation to the other instruments. Is this a normal thing to do?

4) Something else???

Last edited by yaakovdov at Sep 16, 2016,
A compressor is my first suggestion. For this use, place it at the end of your effects loop chain if you have one or just at the end of your pedal chain. It will help some but I doubt you will end up with exactly perfect volume levels. The next suggestion is to make sure you are setting things up right. You should be able to get reasonably close with your effects to match the volume of the rest of the band. A compressor and guitar volume settings should get you the rest of the way.
Welcome to playing guitar.

1. Good Idea. No. Welcome to playing guitar.

2. Good Idea. Yes. Welcome to playing guitar.

3. Good Idea. Yes. Welcome to playing guitar.

4. Buy a volume pedal and learn to use it.

There is no magic volume genie, sorry.
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
Charles Darwin
Last edited by Arby911 at Sep 16, 2016,
Option 5 - Make it big and just pay your tech to figure it all out.

If you are making tons of changes to your tone the digital effects processor route would be a good option. Just create the banks with the volumes worked out and step on a single button.
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ESP LTD EC-1001FR (EMG 81/60)
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Laney IronHeart IRT-Studio
Peavey Vypyr 30
Peavey ReValver Amp Sims
TOOOO many T.C. Electronic Pedals. . .
pretty much what arby said unfortunately

it's also worth noting that the guitar volume knob thing will also affect the amount of distortion you're getting (unless you're playing totally clean). and will also rob you of some high end (unless you have a treble bleed fitted to the volume knob, which other players think can sound too thin )
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The Big Muff has a volume control, so I'd just use that and balance it so the driven signal is about as loud as the clean signal.

As far as playing styles go, I assume you're using them to have more dynamic songs. Maybe not a bad idea if the rest of the band followed those dynamics.
Arby mostly pegged it.

Use the volume controls on the pedals to fine tune the volume levels of each when you use them. It takes a few minutes, but once you get it, you're ok. You can put small arrow shaped pieces of tape at the right settings and fine tune from there. Most of the time I find I want my distortion and overdrive to give me a slight volume boost over the clean sound, it takes a little working with it to get a feel for how much, then fine tune it during the first song or two. Once you get it there, use some tape markers. I don't bother anymore, I already know where the pointers need to be.

Definitely get a volume pedal and learn how to use it. I've used one for over 30 years, I love it. You don't lose the treble you lose when you turn down the volume knob on the guitar, and your hands are always free to play, you don't have to stop and fiddle with a knob. If the pedal is too loud, easy fix...pull the volume pedal up.

I play clean, overdrive, distortion pedal, finger pick, with a pick, soft and laid back, hard and banging away on the thing, slide, palm muting, simple rhythm parts, acoustic, acoustic finger picking...you name it, I have to do it all on one rig, with the acoustic plugged into the PA. We play classic rock, a little country, blues and several acoustic songs. I'm switching guitars and styles all night. We cover everything from Seals and Crofts, Crosby Still and Nash to ZZ Top, Doobie Brothers and 38 Special. The volume pedal is worth its own weight in gold.
Hmmm...I wonder what this button does...
Last edited by Paleo Pete at Sep 17, 2016,
Cheers everyone! Lots of stuff for me to try. I think I just need to experiment a lot more, sounds like there's no 1 clear answer.