Electric Violin

September 24, 2004 at 06:46 PM · I was wondering if anyone here has ever played an electric violin. My husband gave me one for Christmas when I told him I used to play violin. I can't seem to get comfortable with it at all. Its so heavy and to be honest it just sounds horrible. I'm used to the beautiful, rich tones of what I used to play. I am so touched that he would go through the trouble of hunting one down to give to me but I just can't seem to get into it. Its painful...physically and to the ears. I'm determined to get it down if it kills me. Any advice from someone who might know what I'm going through?

Thanks so much :)

Replies (23)

September 24, 2004 at 11:08 AM · What brand and model is it?


Violin Info

September 24, 2004 at 12:20 PM · Sorry about that. I completely forgot to add that information :|

Its a Fender FV-1 electric violin.

Of course..the horrible sounds that I'm getting could be because I'm just not used to this particular instrument. I just can't get past the weight issue that I'm having with it. Plus it seems that it requires extra pressure on the strings that I'm not used to using.

I'm more of a classical music person...but its odd how Irish jigs sound fine on it.

Maybe its time to switch genres! :Þ

Thanks for any help :)


September 24, 2004 at 04:54 PM · What are you plugging into?

September 24, 2004 at 06:46 PM · The amp is a Crate for bass guitar. He was told that a regular guitar amp could not handle the lower register of the violin (??) I don't personally know this to be a fact but all I know is that is what he was told.

September 25, 2004 at 01:42 AM · Yeesh, there's your problem. You should be using either a violin amp such as the Yamaha AS60 or Zeta AP-12; or an acoustic guitar amp such as the Crate CA series, not a bass amp. See if you can return it.

For lots of info on playing electric, check out this site:


September 25, 2004 at 05:41 AM · Get either an electric guitar amp - NOT BASS, or a keyboard amp. you also might look for either an amp w/ reverb, or consider a delay/reverb effect pedal to add some warmth to the sound. also, the EQ is essential.

HIs- just under 12 o'clock

MIDs- 10 o'clock

LOWs- 2 o'clock

that's what I use and I always get a VERY desired tone. I'm a nationally touring electric violinist.


Ross Christopher


September 25, 2004 at 03:08 PM · I have a feeling that what's been addressed so far has been the symptom rather than the problem... Heather, how long has it been since you played an acoustic violin? If it's been years rather than months, I'd be inclined to suggest that you're simply rusty; it really is a case of use it or lose it. Why not go for a few lessons on an acoustic (maybe borrow one?) and get your technique back in shape before you try the electric?

September 27, 2004 at 04:30 AM · OK, here's my 2 cents:

I play a ZETA Strados (4 strings) and have tried a few more (i.e. Yamaha, Fender, Rave). The Fender seemed to be the heaviest and least responsive. Amplifying it though is another matter. I plug mine into a Peavey Eccoustic 120W amp and model it with a Boss SZ-700 (or you can try a Korg AX1500 Toneworks). The amp is such a critical part of your final sound, I would definitely invest in a good one.

September 28, 2004 at 12:33 AM · I personally find electric violins plugged straight into the amp to have an bad sound in general ( ok... more like not to my taste).

However, in a mix with other instruments, it actually sounds allright.

You may have to tweak the EQ on the amp a bit to flatten out the nuances of your e-violin. Also, I find that some effects pedals, can really aid in the tone. I am particularly fond of chorus pedals for violins - they "warm" (or maybe "muddy") the sound a bit and mask some of the shrill. At least that's what my sound engineer friend says anyway.

September 28, 2004 at 02:44 AM · Acoustic violins are better. I dont believe in playing electric ones. If anything, put a pickup on the accoustic one

September 28, 2004 at 04:46 AM · You know it's interesting, electric guitarists get so picky about the wood which their guitars are made from (e.g. mahogany, alder, poplar, swamp ash etc.) in order to change the character of their sound. Not to mention what sort of pickups are used.

1950's Fender Telecasters/Strats and 1959 Gibson Les Pauls are given the same holy grail status as stradivari's and del gesu's (to a much lesser extent of course).

This sort of fussiness and tone-snobbery seems somewhat non-existant in the electric violin world.

September 29, 2004 at 02:46 AM · LMAO, that's because the snobbery is reserved for the acoustic instruments. The electric ones are so "cheap" that nobody really cares.

September 29, 2004 at 07:18 PM · Well, there was a time in the 60's when no one would have believe certain solidbody electric guitars would be worth 4 figures in the 70's or 5-to-6 figures in the 90's. There's no telling what will happen.

Personally I never cared for a chorus pedal when playing electric violin. One of the things it does is give you slightly false intonation--I have enough problem with that as it is.

I did, however, like to use a phase shifter pedal, Small Stone brand. Great sound for rock.

October 11, 2004 at 12:43 AM · Don't knock it. As technology advances, sounds change, art becomes more and more contemporary, and we all evolve a bit. To say that electric violins aren't real instruments, or are "cheap," kind of knocks contemporary arts.

What I can do on an electric cannot be done on an acoustic, and visa-versa, what you can do on an acoustic probably cannot be done (in the acoustic sense) on my electric. However, to say that an acoustic player is more ture, or more anything for that matter is simply absurd.

Could we ask who is more reputable? Mozart or John Lennon, Chopin or Elton John... the list could go on and on.

Basically, what I'm posing is that music has an effect of creating an emotion with its listener. Whether created in the 17th century or in the last 50 years, doesn't make any one style, or make, better. If you can inspire a listener to, themselves create music and ideas, with the spoons, then you have succeeded as a musician. And any other argument becomes trivial.

So do your best to make a difference in peoples lives. Play your heart out and inspire listeners to learn, or appreciate whatever it is your playing; acoustic, electric, bass, drums, guitar, spoons - just inspire and pass on the gift of music.

October 12, 2004 at 01:07 AM · that's true Sam Li, money is the bottom line in performance. More so than talent, inspiration, and sincerity, the cost of your instrument over-rides and matters most - i'm glad you reminded me and other violinists - I must have forgotten.

October 12, 2004 at 04:14 PM · It is indeed very sad that the Electric Violin has not made much progress towards improving it's sound quality. I really believe that they could be better and have invested a large amount of time investigating how to do that. Piezo's (PZT Piezo Pickups) have a problem nortoriusly as the Piezo Quack this tone/squawk seems to occur at about 2.5 khz so, it can be subdued via an equalizer. Naturally the cheaper the piezo pickup the worse the sound is. Someone mention adding a piezo to an acoustic instrument and I can say it does seem to help. Another issue with piezos is that some version don't seem to capture the full harmonic range of the instrument or that they capture it incorrectly and sadly enough this is true. It is up to the makers of electric instruments to sit down and do something about this but sadly few have done so. I wouldn't expect to much from the lower priced instruments like the Fender FV-1 with it's inexpensive Korean Piezo pickup but, even this can be improved. The trouble is that while the situation can be improved due to the lower volume of output of electric violins the cost can be high to make these improvements. So, when asked if I think an electric has much hope of sounding acoustic like I usually say no but, if aksed if it can be made to sound good I say it is possible.

If you want to read more look here http://www.fiddleforum.com/fiddleforum

October 15, 2004 at 02:17 AM · you know, an electric alone doesn't have the great warm sound it should. however, with very little effort or money, one can make a "quality" electric, such as a zeta strados, sound amazing. with various effects processors, reverb, delay, etc, you can warm up an electric to your desired sound; again, this is relatively inexpensive compared to an acoustic instrument.

the pro's of the electric are its availability for such a broad range of sounds(via use of processors, effects pedals, etc), not to mention excellent control from the sound technician when used in a band setting - whereas an acoustic either micked or used w/ a pickup, you fight the issue of feedback.

remember, if you know the technical aspect of the equipment you're using, you can program your electric to sound however you want it. of course it takes time and effort, but the results are fantastic.

October 15, 2004 at 03:26 AM · While it's true that the amp is often called "the other half of the sound," it's also true that there is considerable variation in the basic tone of electric violins. (I own seven). My favorite for playing in a band when all other instruments are electric is a Design & Harmonie fusion model with an SWR "California Blonde" amplifier.

My favorite for playing with "amplified acoustic" instruments is an early American violin with a special Barbara transducer bridge. With a country band I use a tube-based Peavy "Delta Blues" amplifier. With a "gypsy-jazz" oriented group I use a smaller AER "cube."

These combinations work for me. Some classical players seem to like to amplify their violin with the Fishman combination pickup-mic system.

The Yamaha "silent" violins are another possibility. They are lighter in weight, and have a sound chip that is more "violin-like" than most electric fiddles.

Just my opinion, but trying to get an electric violin to sound like a classical violin is like trying to get a Fender Telecaster to sound like a classical guitar.

The electric violin is a unique instrument with a different purpose from the traditional acoustic violin (of which I also own seven).

The Fender electric is not to my taste. I have an FV-2, a beautiful looking instrument, but it's going up for sale on eBay soon.

October 15, 2004 at 04:59 AM · yeah what David said...

My personal preference (Althought I don't own any of these yet) is:

Violin: Yamaha Silent range

Amp: Fender Blues Jnr

Pedals: Boss or digitech chorus and maybe a phaser/flanger.

November 21, 2004 at 03:09 AM · I own a yamaha 5 string electric and have yet to get the "country sound" . My ev-205 has a pickup for each string...not unlike the zeta,BUT I have yet to get the correct setup of effects. What does nashville use to make there fidddles sound soooo good????

November 22, 2004 at 12:05 AM · I agree that comparing acoustic violins to electric ones is like comparing apples to oranges. Each has their purpose, and neither could take the place of the other.

I play in the university chamber orchestra and also play electric (Yamaha Silent) -- I'm actually in the process of forming an electric quartet. I also use the Yamaha to practice my orchestra music in my dorm so I don't have to trek all the way to the music hall and I don't disturb the other residents.

I love both and think that saying an electric violinist is any less a musician than an acoustic violinist is just in bad taste.

Price is no way to determine musical value, whatever that is. All that matters is the love of the music when the sound finally comes out of the f-holes or the amp -- that's it.

And look at Bond... surely no one would argue that they don't produce good sound with their instruments (some of which are the Yamaha silents, by the way).

I love my acoustic *and* my electric.

This thread really went off topic. To the original question, I agree, a bass amp is the worst thing you could be playing on. And definately consider getting an effects processor.

December 3, 2004 at 12:00 PM · I've been seriously researching this whole topic of electric violins ever since my college violin "professors" told me

a) you're bound to like it because it's easier to play;

b) there's no-one to exam you, it's too new... and

c) put it on ice until you've proven you can play Bach, Mozart and Beethoven or get out today...

My fifteen years study prove that

a) is WRONG

b) is WRONG

c) is WRONG

But to say this with confidence, truth and conviction takes time, study and patience.

An almost TOTAL rethink of the instrument in hand needs to take place. Otherwise, you'll end up thinking the sound of an electric violin is "ugly", "toneless", "harsh"... etc... God-Forbid you look to your own skills and see them wanting?!

Learn about the history of your instrument:

The first electric violins, like the earliest acoustic violins are just about lost in the mists of time. There are possibly a few surviving 1930s examples in museums and private collections - but you try locating them... let alone playing them to see what they sound/feel like!!!

The production model of the 1958 Fender violin is practically speaking the oldest surviving electric violin that can be referred to. You got to take my word for it, I own it. And it's Great!

It's not until the 80s that electric violins became more commercially available/viable/noticed. ZETA ran an ad in the Strad magazine in the late 80s/early 90s. It stated "Evolve or Die". Believe it. Absolutely believe it.

No? Ask yourself:

How many people hear the sound of an unamplified violin? How many studios use acoustic recording techniques?? How many insternational soloists don't completely rely on the power of electricity and the wonder of digitisation to let their "voices" be heard?!?

I have a very matter of fact point of view when it comes to the electric violin. The electric instrument is what the acoustic violin was to the viol. End of Story. If you want to play in a consort of viols, that's your choice and fair enough. But if you want/need to play electric violin you will have to relearn your technique almost entirely. And that is fair enough and entirely up to you too.

Just don't go trying to say one's better.

I have a feeling that

a) the electric violin is harder to play than the acoustic

b) it's got a time tested history that is reaching a century and

c) prove you can play Bach, Mozart and Beethoven yourself - if that's what you think audiences want you to do

Looking forward to your thoughts on the subject!

December 3, 2004 at 06:28 PM · Hi! Here are my three cents on the subject! Hee hee....

I admit I don't have a ton of experience with electric violins, but I have been a part of my college's brand new MIDI Band for over a year now. The school's electric violin is a Fender, and it certainly is heavy, slow to respond, and somewhat difficult to play, at first. The feel of the fingerboard is somewhat awkward. I never could get any of my classical pieces to sound good on it, but when I just let it go and wailed away on the jazz, funk, country, pop, etc. that the Band does, and not worry about so many of the technicalities I've been trained to worry about, then it ends up being a lot of fun.

How it's amped is a big thing, too. When the Band started, the teacher leading it was adamant about bringing everyone through the main board, and I could never hear myself (I just aimed and hoped it was in tune). Granted, this was probably because we didn't have anyone capable running the board! This past quarter, though, a different teacher wanted to try having the solo instruments on amps. It was great! I could hear myself, my tone was much more pleasing to me, and I had ultimate control of my levels. The one bad thing is that we as a band were not used to balancing ourselves to each other and we had some balance issues....

One more thing I've discovered, is that I have a lot of fun with my guitar effects-pedals. I can hook up through a phaser, a wah-wah, a glass-tube distortion, a chorus effect, an analogue delay.... These effects hide the fact that my violin doesn't have a resonant tone (which, in my opinion, is part of it's charm and appeal, and I sometimes use its "natural" sound when I'm playing a tune that's more melancholy.) And I can adjust each effect to my desire and switch them on and off during a song. Lots of fun!

So, I think electric violins in general (and especially the really good ones) have a lot of potential and possibilities in the coming years.

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