Acoustic violin midi controller

May 21, 2005 at 03:41 PM · Are there any pickups that convert a standard acoustic violin into a midi controller? I know about Zeta, but as far as I can tell, you have to have one of their violins.

If there isn't, does anyone have any idea why not?

Replies (5)

May 21, 2005 at 04:38 PM · I'm not sure about the midi issue but apple's garage band program will allow you to play via microphone into the mic input on the computer.

You might consider that; the sounds are very good for the money.

May 21, 2005 at 08:39 PM · I can answer the "why not" part of your question. Around 1987 I worked on one of the first midi guitar controllers for one of the major American guitar manufacturers. At the time the Japanese were just beginning to try this but they had problems that made them unusable really, the biggest being tracking. What you would have to do to a violin is first essentially turn it into an electric violin with the added dimension that each string would have to be detected and brought out to a processor separately. This is because when you have just one signal from all the strings there's no algorithm that can reliably determine all the pitches present, much less their relative levels. Therefore each string is handled independently and the results combined later. I would probably build it all into the bridge, which would then sound lousy acoustically (partly on purpose, since I would deaden it to avoid string interaction, and to try to make it produce as much of the fundamental pitch of the note as possible). The expense probably wouldn't be less than a violin designed from the ground up to do this, and the results might not be as good. Violin frequencies are relatively high, which helps. Has it been done? I don't know :) If you find one, the first thing to check would be the tracking though. Originally I designed a multi-processing board to get the necessary speed, plus separate A/D converters. These days a single chip could handle the processing, including the conversion.

May 21, 2005 at 08:26 PM · Thanks, Shane, I use a Mac as my personal computer, so I'll be sure to give Garage Band a try. I picked up a Midi keyboard to use with it and with Practica Musica.

Jim, what you said was just what I wanted to know. It all makes sense to me. I found one 10 year old Zeta Midi violin pickup on EBay for about $300 bucks. It had been converted for use from a 5 string fiddle to a 4 string violin. Just looking, you can tell it would make the violin sound awful. Didn't tempt me a bit.

Now I have another question:

Is there any reason a more expensive Midi-enabled violin would be better than a less expensive one?

June 20, 2005 at 07:04 PM · WEll I have a Zeta midi system, and I was not happy at all with the performance.. that they're expensive..

June 20, 2005 at 08:11 PM · I dont know if you want to try it but you may be interested in roland's guitar midi convertor

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