Electric violin advice for a teen

November 3, 2004 at 06:38 AM · I have a soon to be 16 year old son who is a fairly advanced violinist for his age. He has started talking about wanting an electric violin "for fun" and his dad and I would like to think about getting one for his upcoming birthday or Christmas.

We do not have a lot of extra funds (family with four teens right now, three within 2 years of starting college), so this has to be done on as tight of a budget as possible. Would it be wiser to just...wait...until we have at least $1000 to sink into a set up or would a cheap "$219 Maestro" from Amazon be something to even consider for him?

He has an electric guitar and amp...but I'm gathering he'd need a different amp for an electric violin. Any input or "list of things to think about" would be most appreciated.

Replies (14)

November 3, 2004 at 07:18 AM · Hi there,

This is a tough one . . . there are just sooo many cool toys out there. Unfortunately, the prices do reflect the quality in the electric violin arena as well. However, a limited budget need not slow you down.

When I first started playing electrified, I was just getting into college and didn't have the discretionary funds to go all out, either. So, I did the next best thing — I got a piezo bridge pickup for my acoustic violin. It cost me just a little over $100 and gave me a great start into the electric violin world. This also gave me time to "phase" in and out of my electric kick without having any serious buyer's regret.

Of course there is also a small factor of "coolness" when it comes to the electric violin and if your son is into bands like Yellowcard or Dave Matthews or A Perfect Circle, then a $250 plastic "electrified" violin isn't going to cut it.

Just to clarify, be very aware of whether or not a violin is merely "electrified." This does not make what I would consider a real electric violin. Also, there are plenty of great used electric violins to be bought on eBay and through private sellers. And unlike purchasing an acoustic violin online, you CAN judge the quality of the violin by the maker (and hopefully the seller, as well).

Here are a list of a few items I own or have used and would personally recommend:

Pickups (bridge attached as opposed to in-bridge)

Barcus-Berry

Fishman

Electric Violins

Zeta

Jordan

Best of luck and feel free to drop me a line if you have any further questions!

-J

November 3, 2004 at 03:31 PM · When considertin outfitting an existing instrument with a pickup one must decide whether they want to place that instrument in situations where it's more likely to become damaged that at, say, an orchestra rehearsal.

Jams and band performances can be rough on an instrument.

November 3, 2004 at 08:03 PM · Yes — VERY good point. I forgot to mention that. If your son intends to play around other non-classical instrumentalists, it's safe to assume that they DON'T generally as great a deal of safety concerns regarding fragile gear. In this light, it's best to save up for a decent solid body electric violin.

November 3, 2004 at 09:44 PM · I have a really beautiful $200 AUSD electric violin that I really have enjoyed. Doesn't have a name... but it's black and, for Brisbanites out there, I picked it up in Animato's. I love mine to bits, although I still havent been bothered to get some wah-wah pedals for mah electric jazz meddlin heh

November 3, 2004 at 11:07 PM · Tristan - is it an ashton?

Ashton is an australian company that makes ok quality violins - coloured acoustic violins to encourage the youngsters to think it's fun to learn the violin, and also a range of electric and acoustic-electric violins. I've got one of their acoustic electric violins which sounds pretty good in most situations where i've played it. It cost about AUD$350, and the Electric was about $450-500. They're pretty good quality (although the bow's pretty shocking, just a poor bow that's been painted to match the violin...)

hope this helps

November 3, 2004 at 11:51 PM · If his guitar amp is loud enough, it should suffice. An external preamp/EQ of some sort would help ease any bow scratchiness, as I did when attaching a piezo pickup into my acoustic violin. The good thing about violins is that they are not as susceptible to feedback as acoustic guitars are.

The acoustic guitar amps enhance frequencies that I did not find appropriate for the violin, that was just my opinion though.

Solid state amplifiers (not using vacuum-tubes for amplification) are somewhat close to PA systems frequency-wise.

The input jacks i've seen for electric violins are mostly 1/4 inch jacks, and thus can easily be suited to guitar amps. If they carry the three-pronged XLR jacks, then an adapter can easily be set up.

You can always see if the guitar amp will work fine before going all out on a whole studio for the violin. Then if it does not, there are more expensive choices like keyboard amps which i've heard go nicely with violins. Then there are specialized violin amplifiers, which seems to be the best aural choice.

http://www.violinsonline.co.uk/products/aer.html

has some.

November 4, 2004 at 12:21 AM · http://www.music123.com/Fender-FV3-Deluxe-Violin-i60187.music

Only if you want to spend around $500-$600.

November 4, 2004 at 05:45 AM · Ben - nah I tried the ashton, didn't like it. Also it's only a pickup amp isn't it?

Ooh! I just did a google image search, found my electric violin and found the brand name - Carlo Giordano. I thought that was just the name of the case but apparently its the violin too!

http://www.maccorp.co.jp/japanese/giordano/ev202.html

The only thing I don't like about it is how the rosin looks on the nice black finish :P

November 4, 2004 at 11:31 PM · I confess that I'm still a little confused. Could someone take a look at this link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0002IC850/qid=1099611127/sr=8-2/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i2_xglna/002-2191931-7748037?v=glance&n=507846 and tell me if this looks like junk or not?

With the violin he'd need a pre-amp and the actual amp (his guitar amp might suffice), yes?

November 4, 2004 at 11:52 PM · im sorry if caused confusion. In order to just create a sound through the guitar amp a preamp is NOT necessary. The violin says it has an onboard piezo pickup, and that in itself has the ability to carry sound through the cables. With that violin you could just plug it in and play, even connect it to the guitar effects, but it is not necessary. Why I mentioned an "external" preamp, meaning not on the actual violin, was because some enhance acoustic properties of the signal and such. Electric violins come with onboard preamp as a standard. An indication of this is the volume and tone controls, BEFORE the preamp. It doesnt necessarily have to boost the signal of the piezo pickup to be a preamp, thus making it a passive preamp. Most preamps are active (meaning they use batteries), but I see no indication of this with the product you mentioned.

Im sorry if I spilled to many technical details, but thats what it comes to in the world of amplification.

November 5, 2004 at 05:20 AM · I wouldn't go so far as to call it "junk," but just to give you an idea of how you get what you pay for . . . buying a new electric violin for $200 is about the equivalent of spent $80 on an acoustic at SEARS and expecting to get a good instrument.

Really . . . I would strongly suggest saving your money. The price range for "decent" electric violins new/used usually will go anywhere from $500 (if you're an extremely lucky shopper) to $4000 (all the bells and whistles).

The difference is not just in quality, but in playability and materials. Perhaps you should take your son to some shops where he can try the violins first, if this is possible?

November 5, 2004 at 06:52 PM · I suspect your standard of "decent" is highly inflated compared to most people.

November 5, 2004 at 10:51 PM · But Jeff, when I tried my $200 electric violin, it made the $2000 electric violin I had tried earlier sound like crap. The 'Bells and Whistles' this guy put on to make the $2000 mark seemed pretty useless... Such as the "Stereo Sound" in which the e string was audible on the right channel, g string on left channel and the others in between, that just threw me off completely since obviously he had tweaked it to the extremes. Basically, sound quality doesnt matter as much as in acoustic violins since in the end you'll most likely be trying to distort the sound with pedals (to show off to teh chickas), and IMHO the $2000 was a no-go.

November 6, 2004 at 02:18 AM · Yeah, you have a point there. Not all cheap instruments sound cheap, but you still have to be careful when buying a cheap instrument.

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