Learning the Electric Violin
From the Perspective of a Classical Musician
Up until recently I have scoffed at the electric violin. I am a tried and true classical violinist. A violin by my definition was a beautiful wooden, hand-carved instrument that when played just right created rich overtones and color that would vibrate through the whole instrument and the ears of those listening. The violin is rich with emotion, but that emotion had to be created by the perfection of the player. In my ignorance I believed that electric instruments didn't belong in the family of stringed instruments, they belonged in the family of electric guitars, keyboards, and synthesizers. Anyways, I wouldn't know what to do with one if it fell in my lap! They're better off left in the talented hands of famous band members like Boyd Tinsley with the Dave Matthew band, right?
Wrong! Times are changing, music is changing, and the definition of the violin is changing. In fact, many experts predict a turn in the tide with increased electric stringed instrument popularity.
Looking for the Best Electric Violin? Click the link for a list of the recommended brands depending on your needs, budget, and playing ability.
For all of you 'classicalists' who scoff at electric instruments, thought that it would be too difficult to play one, or turned your teenager down flat when they asked you for one because you didn't see the benefits....this page is for you.
Q. What is the main difference between electric violins and the 'classical' violin.
A. The 'classical' violin is a hallowed out instrument. It produces sound by vibration of the strings and by the instrument body itself. The electric violin is a solid body, because of this it naturally produces very little sound and requires the instrument to be plugged into amplifiers to produce sounds loud enough to perform.
Q. What do I need to amplify my acoustic violin?
A. Click here for recommended violin pickups, equipment you will need to get started, and how to choose one that is right for you!
Q. My teenager is excited to get an electric violin. Could investing in one really pay off, and how will it help enrich her musical experience?
A. No one should expect 'classical' violins to be just the same as their electric counterpart. It is a different experience and allows the musician to explore new sounds. Many violinist say that playing on their electric fiddle feels just the same as playing on their acoustic violin. However, it does take time to get used to because of the weight and sound difference. One major benefit to buying an electric violin is that for some students owning an electric violin motivates them to practice.
The Yamaha SV-150 Silent Electric Practice Plus for example takes silent practice to a whole new level. It allows your student to plug right into a headset while they practice. You can also plug a SD card into the instrument full of your favorite songs, and practice tracks. The violinist can adjust the speed of the music from %50 to %150 of the original track speed. They are the only ones that can hear both the SD card and their violin through their headset. These features alone make it ideal for putting a beneficial spin on practice time.
Other benefits to the the Yamaha SV-150 is that it is the same weight as an acoustic violin. This will make the transition between the two easier. You can even use your favorite shoulder rest with the SV-150 for maximum comfort and playability. This is a great electric instrument for intermediate to advanced violin players.
Q. Can I simply use my acoustic violin as an electric?
A. Yes, 'Classical' instruments may be used as an electric violin with the use of a pickup or mic. These violins are referred to as 'amplified violins' or 'electro-acoustic violins'.
Q. Do electric and 'amplified acoustic violins' sound the same?
A. NO! Because of an electric violin's solid body it will produce a rawer or sharper sound. This is the sound that is often preferred in bands and rock music. 'Amplified violins' will have the revurb and tone quality of a classical violin, and sounds a little more natural.
Q. What are the drawbacks with using a classical instrument fitted with a pickup?
A. Because the hollow body of the instrument causes resonance and vibrations, the mic will sometimes pick up these sounds causing feedback. Another drawback is the placement of the pickup. Getting it in the right location can be a little tricky. Another con is that any movement of the violin after the pickup is in place may alter the quality and volume of the sound.
Q. Do I need to buy special strings, and a violin bow?
A. No. You can use regular violin strings and a regular violin bow with your electric instrument.
Q. Is a 'Silent' violin truly silent?
A. No, but it is quieter then an acoustic. Because of the materials used in building electric violins, it will not produce the sound that an acoustic violin does. When a 'silent' violin is not plugged into the amplifier it is much harder to hear. Silent violins also come with the option of plugging into headsets, so only the violinist themselves can hear the amplified sound.
Q. Is it better to start out on an acoustic violin or the electric?
A. As a teacher of violin it is my opinion that it would be better to start out on the 'classical' violin and later add the electric violin.
Coming Soon to The-violin.com.....
Discover which groups and professionals are going electric.