Advantage/disadvantage of Practicing on Electric violins(intending to play on acoustic)?

March 2, 2017 at 04:47 PM · I think this is somewhat similar to asking the question of the advantage/disadvantage of practicing on acoustic violin with a mute on.

As the summer approaches, I must prepare to travel for work, air traveling included.

I currently do have an excellent violin, and after going through several cycles of "second" violin, I decided to just stick with what I have, and put a mute on if I am practicing at night(or go somewhere acoustically isolated). In order to save myself a headache with insurance and etc. I am considering just having my violin safekept at someone I trust, and (buy one then)travel with an electric violin.

I know that playing with the mute on spoils my bowing because I can get away with much clumsier bowing, and it's harder to hear bad intonation.

With my brief experiences with electric violins, I found that it certainly help me get confident at proper bowing because I am not afraid of making bad sound(fear which often itself is the cause of the bad sound), but I did notice some disadvantages as stated above.

Few things that I am aware about:

-It'll be best to have the bridge fitted on the e-violin to match the curvature, and just about all playing-related qualities to be mimicking my main violin.

-Any working Amplifier actually can make the e-violin to sound almost the same as acoustic, even the mistakes, although often people adjust the amp to make your playing sound better than it is. Although, connecting to a headset to make it sound like one through an amplifier requires a decent amp.

From your personal experience, what do you find to be (dis/)advantageous of practicing on electric violin?

Replies (10)

March 2, 2017 at 04:59 PM · It is so much easier to get a good sound from an electric violin. You might think you are making progress with your bowing but when you get back on an acoustic violin...oh dear, it is very disappointing ! I no longer practise on electric violins for that reason.

March 2, 2017 at 05:45 PM · I only do it for working out fingerings and practicing patterns while my wife is asleep. That said, both my e & a violins and e & a violas feel very different in terms of thickness, shape, heel, etc. I feel that there is a definite downside to electric practice in the orchestral and chamber music that I play for both arms/hands.

I do feel that whatever practicing I do on electric, I have to allow time on the acoustic to adjust back. So, as long as you allow time to adjust your performance back to the acoustic, I feel that electric on the road can be better than nothing if you want to keep it under your fingers (not necessarily bow arm.)

March 2, 2017 at 05:54 PM · I am going to be running into this shortly. I have a recital and the weekend before I will be in new york. I plan on taking my electric violin but am worried about what I will lose in the process. I'll be following this thread with interest.


March 2, 2017 at 06:06 PM · Tone production. I have students who start on poor electric instruments because of the low cost and quickly get sent in to rent an acoustic instrument.

You can't learn acoustic tone production on a solid-body electric instrumnent. Acoustic instruments that have some sort of pick-up/amplification system could be considered differently.

March 2, 2017 at 06:33 PM · I take my electric with on vacations and longer business trips. But there is only so much I can practice on it. Learning pieces by heart, vibrato, some technical things. But not tone production. After two weeks I really feel stuck with the electric one and long to get back to my acoustic Instrument.

March 2, 2017 at 06:58 PM · I second Duane's opinion.

March 2, 2017 at 07:09 PM · Oh yeah, I myself played an electric violin for some weeks because my acoustic one was being repaired, and one thing I got used to is its specific bridge curvature. When I went back to my acoustic violin, double stops where impossible, I was always playing only the E string, and you know, the bow was constantly in the wrong position, only playing one string instead of 2. So, I've never played on it again. I sold it indeed. Of course, the bridge curvature problem can happen in any acoustic violin as well, so this is just a general disadvantage of having 2 violins with different set ups. Most important is the shape of the electric violin. You may get used to the body-free shape and bow in a way that when you switch to acoustic, you hit with the stick or hair parts of the body. Also the way of playing it is different and I don't know, if you plan to play on acoustic violins I wouldn't get used to electric violins.

March 2, 2017 at 08:45 PM · I got a Yamaha silent cello so I could practice without disturbng the neighbors; the Yammie was great for that. But bowing an electric instrument is nothing like bowing an acoustic instrument, and that is the big DISadvantage! You won't learn anything about bowing finesse on an electric...I think that's what others are referring to with the term "tone production."

March 4, 2017 at 03:07 PM · agreed!

March 4, 2017 at 05:13 PM · I think a practice mute on an acoustic is just as bad if not worse than an electric for bowing, and putting on and taking off the mute can shift the bridge and thereby change the tuning and sound. Moreover, a mute affects the line of sight to the contact point of the bow. Electric violins are typically as quiet as an acoustic with a heavy practice mute, and can take practice mutes themselves, so win with respect to low volume. I also find that I can see more of my left hand and wrist with an electric due to the lack of body in the line of sight as a little perk.

In all other respects however, notably including the shape, weight, compatibility and similarity to the acoustic, the acoustic of course wins hands down, and to the extent that these factors matter -- e.g. using your favoured chinrest or sponge contraption, the acoustic would be preferred. Matching the string height and tension might also be important factors for maintaining the feel between different instruments.

So if the sound level is quiet enough with a practice mute and the other aspects of that don't bother you too much, then a practice mute on the primary or secondary acoustic instrument would be best. If the goal is to be as quiet as possible, an electric violin would be the best.

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