Effects pedals

February 22, 2005 at 05:03 PM · My daughter plays some live gigs (Irish\Ceilidh) with an L.R. Baggs pick-up bridge through a Marshall acoustic\electric guitar amp. We'd like to experiment with echo, delay,loop effects etc; can anyone please recommend a violin-specific effects pedal? Thank you very much.

Replies (18)

February 22, 2005 at 05:57 PM · I have a Korg Pandora. It's basically a cell phone-sized multi effects processor that mimics the effects of any type of pedal you can wish for. However, beyond delay and overdrive, most of the effects sound like garbage when I run my violin through it. I have a Fishman transducer which is similar to your daughter's bridge system. Look for chorus, echo, and delay pedals first. June is right, you won't find a violin-specific brand, so you'll just have to test them to see what you're looking for. Also, you have an accoustic amplifier so watch out for feedback when you start adding pedals or processors.

February 22, 2005 at 07:17 PM · eq, flange, echo, reverb, delay, distortion, midi converter, ring modulator, whammy pedal, harmonizer, looping, sampling

Id love to play a violin with a midi convertor with a wicked analog synth sound blended with the straight violin tone

boss and lexicon make the best multi efx for the money and roland makes a guitar midi convertor

February 22, 2005 at 08:44 PM · I like Scott's list except: I disagree concerning distortion (love it on guitar, not on violin), and he left off my favorite, the phase shifter (get a Small Stone brand if you can find one).

February 23, 2005 at 12:08 AM · There are really no violin specific effects, violinists just use guitar effects, as they will do the same effect. They are just called "guitar" to market to that specific population. There are many multi-fx, knowing your price range would be nice.

A digital multi-fx would be nice (I trust 0's and 1's more than analog, you can have a lot more parameters at your disposal as well), plus the option to create presets and have everything in one big box is a great advantage. Unless you are an extremely sensitive audiophile (even then), most humans cannot discern 24-bit sound from processed analog sound, they both have their own unrealism to them. Thus, a multifx's reverb algorithm can easily match the springs of analog reverb. Manipulation of frequencies lends itself to digital technology as far as precision goes.

If in your head analog sounds good though, by all means go for it (bear in mind, MANY analog effects do not have true bypass, meaning that even when the effect is not being used-the sound is still slightly changed).

If you can do it RIGHT, you can make a violin sound good with distortion.

Performed at the Sydney Olympics with electric distorted violin


-You can make it sound like shred guitar.

Reverb will always add 100% to your sound. Im experimenting with delay and reverb to achieve an string section sound, but I cannot...

Wah-wah will work, for some funk sounds and such.

I didnt really dwell to much with electronics though, I need to focus sounding good acoustically first...

This website:


has some cool samples of the violin processed with guitar effects, along with explanations for the main types of effects.

February 23, 2005 at 05:22 PM · Everything that the others have said is awesome advice! I have one more type of effect to add and that is a Digitech Whammy pedal. It has many ways to harmonize, you can detune, you can go up to 2 octaves above or below whatever note you are playing, and it has a cool dive bomb effect (Whammy 4 only). It has a pedal on it similar to a wah pedalso you can do tons of different things just by moving the pedal back and forth. It is also easy to bypass, and has a seperate dry out connection so you can plug a regular tuner into it. For regular effects, Boss pedals are the best in my experience. There are also foot switchable effects processers that are really cool (stay away from Zoom pedals). Have you thought about a pre amp also?

February 23, 2005 at 05:54 PM · Try to keep to a small number of different effects boxes. Each one will require a chord to connect to the next box, and a battery or a power chain chord. The probability of equipment failure multiplies accordingly.

Each effect usually has a gain setting, and you don't want to step on a reverb box and suddenly get twice as loud (or quiet). Your sound checks become more of an issue at a gig. The order in which the boxes are connected can make a big difference in possible hum and (unwanted) distortion.

I've had good luck with Boss pedals: Blues Driver, Delay, Harmonizers, etc. I love the effects of the Alesis Nanoverb as a separate unit or built into the Trace Elliot amp. The Alesis AcoustiFX pedal looks interesting at a reasonable price.

I think it's a good idea for an electric violin player to explore these effects. Your playing can develop in interesting new ways.

(If the rest of your band is more conservatively acoustic, they may take some convincing.)

March 9, 2005 at 01:58 AM · My 2 cents: I've been having some problems using pedals with my acoustic violin. I've been experimenting with wah, but apparently the sound it makes on violin is too shrill for rock guitarists ears (apparently the Lee Morley wahs are better for violin). I've tried an old Digitech multi effect and the noise that comes out of it is insupportable. In fact most multi effects pedals I've used have given me terrible feedback, or compres my sound so much I can't be heard above other instruments. Anybody got any advice?

March 9, 2005 at 04:30 AM · Andy, could you look on the amp and tell me exactly what it is?

It's just a solid state combo, right?

March 9, 2005 at 08:13 PM · Ingrid, you may need a solid body instrument to get loud enough without feedback. Or you may try an old Barcus Berry instrument, which is pretty dead acoustically but can be driven to high levels without feeding back. I've seen Eileen Ivers use one with no problems...also Jean-Luc Ponty and Jerry Goodman back in the dark ages (1970's).

March 10, 2005 at 05:01 PM · Does the Marshall have a feedback control? If not, trade it in for a Fender acoustic amp. The Fender amp has feedback control, and is meant for only acoustic instruments. Part of your problem is that your amp can also be used for electric instruments which is why you have more feedback. Any electric or electric/acoustic amp will give you feedback. My Fender acoustic amp never does. Also, the Fender amp also has several different effects which will save you money on pedals.

March 13, 2005 at 10:59 AM · Acoustic amps vs. guitar amps for violin is an interesting question. A guitar amp is sort of an instrument in its own right, while an acoustic amp is more like a p.a., in that it tries to avoid coloration.

Depending on what you play, don't be afraid of feedback. Avoid the screeching kind, but there is a musical kind of feedback which can actually be played, though I don't know how it might work with violin. Certain positions on the stage or certain positions or angles in relation to the amp can start it, as well as touching the headstock of the guitar to the amp, as a last resort.

Being a guitar player, but not an electric violin player, instinct tells me that you might have the best luck with effects that manipulate time, like phasers and flangers and long delays. Also transposing devices, and to some extent distortion. The usual effects come in both classic analog and modern digital flavors broadly speaking, and some people prefer one or the other. The most popular guitar distortion is the Ibanez ts-9 reissue or circuits close to that. The two most popular phasers are the Small Stone reissue made by Electro-Harmonix, and the MXR Phase-90. At the right setting the SS sounds like a Univibe. The MXR on the slowest setting just adds an interesting background flavor, like in EVH's "Eruption." I would definitely work a good flanger into something, personally. There are a lot of opportunities and a lot of things that haven't been done, I think. There are a zillion manufacturer's websites that demo their effects on guitar. The Electro-Harmonix site for their classic effects. www.tonefrenzy.com has probably the largest number of demos of boxes to hear on the web, including classic stuff that hasn't been made for decades. I'd avoid most modified boxes and boutique boxes just because the expense usually isn't justifiable. Once you learn what the boxes sound like you can look for them used on ebay. The more beat up it is, the more mojo it has. As long as it still works, of course.

Multi-effects like the Digitech stuff could be the most cost effective to start, but later you might like individual boxes rather than Digitech's version of everything.

March 13, 2005 at 05:43 PM · The digitech effect that I said would be cool is not a multi effects board. I would never reccommend those to anyone because pedals are easier to use and you can get more effects combinations provided you have many pedals. THe Digitech pedal I was referring to is the Whammy. THe Whammy is completely different. You can go up or down 1-2 octaves,detune, there is a dive bomb effect, and many harmonizations. All are controlled with a pedal that looks like a wah pedal. You can also hook up a MIDI to it. It's like an octave pedal, harmonization pedal, and whammy bar plus all rolled up into one cool unit.

March 13, 2005 at 05:54 PM · I love multi-fx pedals. The problem with having a bunch of stompboxes is you can't have different configurations. If I wanted to go with chorus, delay, room reverb, and wah, and then quickly go to church reverb, slow flanger and pitch shifter down 2 steps. Then the next song might want me to have nothing at all but a fast flanger.

I shudder to think about doing this with stomboxes (bending down to change flanger, while hopping around to switch off all the pedals, all in 10 seconds.

March 13, 2005 at 07:32 PM · Speaking of crawling around to adjust pedals, I went to see Eric Johnson once, probably the ultimate pedal geek. At first it was funny to see him on all fours between songs turning knobs but it ultimately added a touch of humility to his presence, I thought.

Another alternative is rack mounted stuff. Some of the people I like best don't use effects at all, just a guitar into a cranked amp. Angus Young, Slash, and so on.

March 14, 2005 at 12:00 AM · Eric Johnson is a very bare bones guy...

If you want to know what a peddle geek is, then look at The Edge of U2 or Joe Satriani. It takes 4 men to carry in Edge's peddle board, and he has like 5 differnt rack effect towers.

March 14, 2005 at 12:22 AM · I didn't mean ultimate in terms of how much equipment gets used, I was talking about how particular he is in his own mind. He engages in what psychologists call magical thinking, regarding his stomp boxes I think.

March 14, 2005 at 04:19 PM · Hello!

These questions can of course be answered in many different ways. I've used both stomp boxes (Boss, Line 6, for example) and pedal boards (Boss, Digitech) and rack mountable effect processors (Boss, Lexicon).

Question is whether you'd like a possibility to switch between regular violin sound and processed sound (something which I've only managed with the use of Schertler pick up) or if you're satisfied with the somewhat electronical sound you get from all piezo-based equipment. Barbera transducers will probably be my favourite piezo-equipment.

Good piezo-stuff is fairly ok to use without getting too much feedback-problems, but the best again would probably be Barbera or L.R.Baggs, for example. It is extremely important to find a violin pick up that works good. This is really important! Find something that brings your violin sound into the effects as clean and strong as possible.

Like one guitar guy suggested, phaser and chorus, along with reverb and delays can sound awesome on a violin. However, I've also used distortion effects (from Lexicon MPX G2) along with Zeta electric violin (called Zeta Jazz), but this is very expensive, and is probably not necessary to get a good sound. But, my playing sounded like electric guitar, and I fooled good guitarplayers with this, making them believe it was a guitar playing.

My advise would be

1) get a good violin pick up

2) find out how much money to spend

3) if you're capable of controlling parameters within a pedal board or a rack mountable effect processor, and get it to work, try it. If not, start with stomp boxes, I would suggest, for a start, Boss Reverb, Delay, Chorus, Phaser etc. and OCTAVE. Boss Octave pedal sounds awesome with a good violin pick up, and triggers quickly. Some other octave effects (actually like the ones in very expensive Lexicon units) will trigger too slow, and be irritating!

4) Always try equipment in the store A LONG TIME before you by it. Remember that this is built for guitar players, not for violinists.

5) Zeta violins have special effect processors built for violins. However, expensive, so I like the ones for guitar better.

If you have an extra violin you don't know what to do with, try out Barbera transducers special bariton set. A special bridge with a piezo-pickup system, and four strings to go along which is tuned one octave below a regular violin. The sound is airy, a little bit rough, and I just love it!

Good luck!

April 13, 2005 at 11:00 AM · Have just logged in again after a bit of a gap! Thank you so much to everyone who has responded to my original question. We have now set up a really good L.R. Baggs piezo bridge to a Carpenter jack, and have run it through a Digitech RP200A pedal (second hand, just £30!) and into a Marshall 65 watt 'Valvestate' guitar amp. Although some effects are a bit 'over the top', the delay, thirds\fifths\octaves, chorus, flanger, whammy and synthesised 'vocal' effect are really interesting - especially layering one on top of the other. It's cheap, portable, and with a double-press on the pedals can be by-passed completely for a clean amplified sound. Definitely not for the purists, but to add some fun effects to a spare violin we've spent less than £100 by dint of hunting on e-bay and our conclusion is that it was well worth doing. Again, many thanks for the advice so many people took the time to give us. Andy Waters

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