VIOLIN PICKUPS AND LOOP PEDAL

February 27, 2020, 9:53 AM · Hi violinist.com community,

Would anyone be able to give me some advice re. pickups and loop pedals? A pickup appeals as I've started playing in a band where I'm in competition with electric guitars, and I thought a loop pedal might unleash any creative potential!
After a little YouTube research, I'm quite tempted by the Myers FEATHER pickup and the BOSS RC3 loop pedal. Does anyone have experience of these two items?

Many thanks,

Tim

Replies (18)

Edited: February 27, 2020, 10:46 AM · Hi Tim,

I use a Fishman V-200 pickup and I'm quite happy with it. It's easy to remove from the violin, that's partly why I like it so much.

There's a zillion loopers available. I bought the EHX 720 for my daughter (for her cello) and it works really well.

For the pickup you're going to need a preamp. There is a lot of voodoo out there about preamps, about how they "shape the tone" and all kinds of other stuff. Most of that is BS. Fishman wants you to believe that their pickup is "matched" to their preamp so that they can sell you a very expensive preamp. (Honestly, though, the Fishman Loudbox is a really nice amp for violin. I am using a Fender Rumble 25.)

What you really need are gain and equalization. Gain can be had for cheap. I use the HPF-PRE (see link below, but note that I have a custom version of it that the proprietor built for me that is optimized for violin). And if you're going to do equalization you might as well get the 10-band MXR graphic EQ, that's going to be way better than having three or four knobs to turn.

One feature that preamps sometimes have is a knockout frequency that helps you suppress feedback. Maybe look at LH Baggs products for that, and if you think a 10 band EQ will be overkill you could consider one of the preamp units that has 5 or 6 band EQ.

Sweetwater has good prices. Normally I'd say buy locally but Sweetwater offers a 3-year warranty on gear at no extra charge.

https://sites.google.com/site/hpftechllc/home/hpf-pre

Edited: February 27, 2020, 11:42 AM · The Meyers Feather is a microphone, not a pickup. It will therefore "pickup" the sounds of other players around you and be highly susceptible to feedback. Microphones usually sound better than pickups, but they're not necessarily the best choice in a high sound volume situation.

There's no simple answer to your question. Getting a high quality amplified sound is complicated and requires extensive experimentation. A solid body electric violin might be a better choice for your situation, and the Yamaha YEV is a good and relatively inexpensive choice. I think you should go look around at electricviolinshop.com, and even consider calling them up for recommendations.

February 27, 2020, 6:35 PM · I second what Mark says - talk to the Electric Violin Shop. Somebody can recommend a piece of gear they are happy with but somebody else thinks it's awful... Opinions here vary from experienced professionals to well meaning amateurs - don't just jump on the first product somebody mentions.
The only decent way you can use a microphone like the one you mentioned with a looper is with headphones as the noise will loop too and layer up.
Loopers - plenty of good ones. A lot depends on budget and what you want. For me, one big thing to consider is if the looper can go straight into overdub. That's important to me but may not be to you. Other considerations: does it have undo/redo, half speed, reverse etc.
February 27, 2020, 8:18 PM · I have the Fishman V-200 pickup and the Boss RC30. I used to have a boss preamp but the only reason I used it was to have control of the tone and volume when I was going straight through the PA; usually because the sound man didn't really know what a good fiddle sound was, other than that I didn't really understand it's purpose, and since it died my fiddle sounds just fine straight through my Roland Cube 60. At big venues the sound man just mics up my amp. I just got the Boss RC 30 to mess around with, I suppose it would depend on the style of music whether it could be included in a band..
February 27, 2020, 9:31 PM · I've got a boss me80 multi effects device on order at my local store. Apparently recommended by Christian Howes.
February 28, 2020, 12:10 AM · I got the Vox Stomplab II G multi effects unit, I think I only tried it once and got tired of it real quick. The best device I ever had is the Boss Delay Pedal, love the effect of playing in a 'great hall'. Paul, have you joined a rock band.....?
February 28, 2020, 10:24 AM · WOW! Thank you everyone for your detailed replies: obviously I'm new to this game and have a lot to learn - I'm totally unschooled in 'electrifying' sound and clearly need to seek advice from those in the know. The reason I'm considering a pickup/mic is that I'm playing in a Nirvana tribute band (!): they want me to imitate the cello in their 'unplugged' set. I say 'unplugged' but they are very much 'plugged-in', leaving me with nothing but elbow power - bit unfair I'd say!
February 28, 2020, 11:38 AM · .....to recap: I would like a pickup to generate more sound when playing with 2 electrified acoustic guitars ( and drummer!). The loop pedal would be purely for my own pleasure/challenge - not for playing with group.
I guess I'll be needing an amplifier too for when I'm using the loop pedal as I'm assuming that, at the risk of sounding like a bit of a dummy here, the sound from a bridge mounted pickup (e.g. Fishman V-200) would pass into the loop pedal (e.g. EHX 720), via a cable then require being amplified?
Thanks for your patience!
Edited: February 28, 2020, 7:53 PM · To emulate a cello you will need an octave pedal.

The V-200 terminates at a 1/4" socket that mounts onto the rib of your violin in the same way as a traditional chin rest. From there you cable to your preamp, and from there to the looper, and then to the amp.

Think carefully about the length of cables that you want and consider getting a right-angle cable to come away from the violin. If you are wearing a belt-clip-style preamp then a 4-foot cable from the violin to the pre-amp will be fine.

Some amps like the Fishman Loudbox have an effects loop.

Buy the pickup and the preamp, and then go to your nearest store like Guitar Center where they have a lot of amps and stomp boxes.

Also:

https://www.violinist.com/discussion/thread.cfm?page=2930

February 29, 2020, 5:21 AM · Thanks Paul - really useful info and links. An octave pedal does sound interesting, though the group I play in don't seem to mind that the violin plays at a higher pitch than a cello - I pretty much stick to the bottom 2 strings anyway. Given what you say re. Pre-amp 'BS', what would you recommend for someone new to the world of electrified sound? Also, do you recommend buying 2nd-hand (read cheaper!), or can this be, I'm assuming, a bit risky?
Thanks again.
Edited: February 29, 2020, 11:52 AM · A second hand preamp is probably a good risk. Hard to advise you on that item because I have always used the custom device from HPF-PRE (this product is made by my brother who is a physicist by training and an electrical engineer by profession). If I didn't have that I'd be tempted to try one of the cheaper ones by Baggs.

If you get your stuff from a reputable firm like Sweetwater then you can return it if it doesn't work for you. Just don't scratch it up and save all the packaging.

The simple Boss looper is probably fine too.

One truism in this whole business is that there are no stomp boxes or whatever that will take the place of how well you can play.

Someone asked if I joined a rock band. No but that's an interesting idea. I have a goal to put together a group to do 70s fusion. A Jerry Goodman wannabe I guess. Of all the rock and fusion violinists he probably has the best overall sound. I love his tone and his vibrato.

February 29, 2020, 12:07 PM · Thanks again. Yes, as we say in the UK: You can't polish a turd! (don't know if you have 'turds' in the States?). Am getting back into the violin after a 30+ year hiatus - was pretty good in my late teens ( UK Grade 8 if that means anything to you), all classical though. Lots to take into account before taking the plunge... $$$$ !
Edited: February 29, 2020, 3:51 PM · If you are in the UK then Ashdown - a British company makes a very good preamp which is actually cheaper and I feel better than Baggs (I've got three Baggs preamps). These are a replica of the original Trace-Elliot vintage preamps. Actually, these are made by the guy who started Trace-Elliot before it was sold to Peavey:
https://ashdownmusic.com/collections/acoustic

For USA:
https://www.amazon.com/Ashdown-AA-PEDAL-Acoustic-Guitar-Preamp/dp/B00BQV0FPC/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=ashdown+acoustic&qid=1583012632&sr=8-1

Only $80 - wow! 50% off

These are not on the radar surprisingly, but anybody who used the vintage (not the new) Trace-Elliot acoustic amps knows this sound.

February 29, 2020, 6:14 PM · The Ashdown preamp looks fine. The Baggs gigpro belt-clip model is around $130. Belt clip preamp is very convenient. Takes a while to get used to multiple stomp boxes. More than two and you're getting a pedalboard, etc.
Edited: February 29, 2020, 10:00 PM · Yeah, as well as the Para DI and the Venue, I have the Gigpro. It's a good preamp. For me the Ashdown is better. The eq. on the Ashdown plays nicely with violin and has a nice shape button which enhances the tone. Personally, I never liked having a belt-clip, especially being wireless but I can see how you could feel more like Jerry Goodman having one!
I actually use the vintage gear more. You can buy one of the vintage Trace Elliot preamps for about $70 and they are even better but you never know what you will get with vintage - what condition they are in etc. The vintage Trace Elliot amps have the preamp on them and I have several. I tried the newer Trace Elliot preamp and it wasn't too good - sent it back.
March 1, 2020, 4:04 AM · Only $80 - wow! 50% off

Hi Christopher,

I followed your link but couldn't find any reference to the 50% off deal. Would you please send the link again? I live in France, so perhaps I wouldn't be able to take advantage anyway.
Thanks

Edited: March 1, 2020, 7:55 AM · When I go to Chris's link, it says, at the top:
List Price: $159.00
Price: $79.99 & FREE Shipping
I believe this is the information Chris is using to calculate a 50% discount. The word "50% discount" do not appear.
But I don't know how Amazon prices its products worldwide. If you're connecting from Europe you could see a different price.
Edited: March 1, 2020, 5:44 PM · The Amazon link was for US people. The other link was the Ashdown site direct link or just google Ashdown. Note that I'm just giving the heads up on a good preamp which in the US is going at a bargain price. I'm not saying this is the only preamp for every person and every pickup! Both the new and the vintage seem to be under the radar for violinists and they are cheaper than Baggs.

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