Music is about expression – expressing what you feel, how you feel and when you feel it. It’s a fusion between person and instrument, each part combining to produce a profound and (hopefully) beautiful whole.
For many years, the violin and some other string instruments, like the viola
, were largely restricted to the classical world but as more musicians started looking for new ways of expressing themselves, the sound of the violin found new playmates and so began to feature in more non-classical music.
It was only a matter of time before an electric version would hit the scene. The main reason why many people get an electric violin is the ability to easily amplify it without fear of feedback and the like. In addition to amplification, it is now easy to add effects to violins while jamming with them on stage. Unlike before, when violinists with their acoustic violins
were stationary and largely expressionless, today, you find violinists very mobile and full of expression thanks to the mobility provided by electric violins.
With an electric violin, all you need is a suitable audio cable
or wireless transmitter/receiver and you can plug your instrument into an amplifier to enjoy a feedback-free sound. When considering an electric violin, you have the option of turning your existing acoustic violin to an acoustic-electric by getting a violin pickup for it. This will serve to some extent but will always have feedback issues as a result of the natural amplification from the traditional hollow acoustic body.
It is pretty clear that one of the most important factors in an electric violin is the pickup as this is really what makes it an electric instrument. Having said this, we must also add that other considerations made when choosing acoustic violins such as the headstock, tuning pegs, fine tuners, neck, fingerboard, body and bridge also matter when choosing an electric violin. You just add the electronics to these considerations.
In this guide, we will help you understand what to look out for so you can choose what you consider the best electric violin.
Everyone knows how expensive violins can be, and electric violins are no different. However, we took the time in our research to cover a wide range of budgets. We found that with between $130 and $1400, you can get a good electric violin.
Needless to say, the material, craftsmanship and features of each instrument will determine its price. If you want more features, better materials and higher craftsmanship, then you should be ready to pay more for them. One thing you can however be sure of is that each instrument we have chosen will give you value for your money.
Note that we were careful not to choose cheap electric violins where the low price has been reached by compromising quality too far.
Aside from the regular factors considered when choosing an acoustic violin, the electric violin requires consideration for electronic parts. We shall list the regular features to watch out for with violins and the additional features to look out for when it is an electric violin under consideration. These features include:
- The headstock
- The tuning pegs
- The fine tuners
- The neck
- The fingerboard
- The body
- The bridge
- The pickup
- The weight
Let’s look at these in some detail…
Construction and Design
The headstock, the tuning pegs, the fine tuners, the neck, the fingerboard and the bridge all play very important roles, whether it’s an acoustic violin or an electric one. They seriously impact the playability of the instrument.
The headstock and the tuning pegs are important because the tuning of the instrument depends on them. Without properly tuning the instrument, you cannot play any sensible music. If the headstock and tuning pegs are of poor quality, the instrument will easily go out of tune, requiring constant tuning.
The fingerboards should be made of good quality wood and not plastic as this will affect the quality of the instrument because the neck is connected to the fingerboard, keeping the strings aligned to the board. The neck should also be of good quality and in good shape. It should not be bent.
The bridge supports the strings, keeping them at appropriate levels. If the bridge is not properly fitted or not well adjusted, it can make playing very difficult or impossible. Issues with poor quality bridges can, however, be fixed by violin repair technicians.
The fine tuning pegs are also important especially for the two thinner strings which can be very difficult to tune with only the main tuning pegs. Ensure your electric violin of choice has fine tuning pegs.
In an acoustic violin, the body will be of great importance as it has a direct impact on the sound. However, with the electric violin, the pickup plays a huge role in what determines the sound of the electric violin. Sadly, there is no real way of knowing the quality of a pickup until the violin is played – unless of course you are very technically oriented and can tell the quality from the make of the pickup.
Having said the above, many electric violins use piezoelectric microphones as pickup. There are other kinds of pickup that could be used. However, one simple way to know a high end pickup is that it does not come with a preamp. Preamps are used to improve the sound quality of electric violins and high end ones do not need this feature. Electric violins with direct headphone inputs have preamps, which make it possible for you to hear the sound of the violin from the headphones. If it does not have a preamp, you will require a headphone amp or another device to provide the amplification the headphones need.
Issues like design and finishing are totally personal preferences as they have no real effect on the playability or functions of the instrument.
Performance and Ease of Use
One important thing to consider when choosing an electric violin is the weight. Electric violin makers strive to make them as light as possible because the lighter they are, the better. The weight should also be comfortable and balanced so you can play without stress. This also leads to the issue of the ergonomics of the design.
Most electric violins allow you to use your preferred shoulder rest. Where this is not possible, some of them have adjustable shoulder rests that you can adjust to fit your needs. Be sure to find out if you can use your shoulder rest or if the included shoulder rest is adjustable. You need to be comfortable while playing.
Finally, some violins come as what is called an outfit. An outfit is a bundle with other accessories that will help you get started playing immediately. If you are a beginner or intermediate player, these outfits will be a great option for you as it will give you all you need in a single package so you won’t need to get additional accessories.
Choosing a suitable electric violin is to a very large extent a personal decision. You alone can determine which electric violin is best for you because tastes and preferences differ from person to person. Now that you’ve taken some time to go through the features that appeal to you, let’s review our selection.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this guide and review. It’s our hope that we provided you with enough information to help you make the right choice. You can now confidently go ahead to choose the electric violin perfect for you.