If you love the sound of the violin but also like to experiment with new music styles and gear, an electric violin is a great choice. Of course, once you purchase one you will need additional equipment such as tuners for violins and some extra cables. However, what should you consider when buying a violin? Here are 5 things that we think are important.
You can find electric violins in many price ranges, from under $500 to over $3000 and each of these ranges show if a violin is good or not. Thanks to their style, however, there isn’t that much difference between the sound of these instruments.
Of course, the ones under $500, especially those that get close to $100 are the ones that should be used by the players that just want to practice, and not those that look for a professional sound. This is a good step for the players that aren’t sure if they want to continue making big investments in this kind of instrument.
Violins close to $1000 are most often good for silent practice and have great build quality. You can find electric violins with good tone in this price range and they are also easy to play. If you want extended tones or amazing designs, you won’t find them in these violins, however.
When you spend $2000 or more on an electric violin, you get a top-level professional instrument. They are usually handcrafted and offer features that lower-priced models don’t. Having advanced design components and a complex tonality, they offer a choice of pickup models. Going over $3000 doesn’t give you any benefit in terms of sound, but it means that you get a rare electric violin, with a unique design, that can be considered a piece of art.
Once you know your budget, you should also decide how you intend to use your violin. Would you only practice on it, or do you want it to look great and give you an awesome feeling when playing it?
Some people only get an electric violin because they can use it in quiet environments, at home, without disturbing the family or the neighbors. If you want to use the headphones to listen to your violin, or if you just want to try one to see if you like such instruments, you should get one that is below $500. Just make sure that the electric violin has a headphones output.
But you might want to use it for more than that. Electric violins are great for recording purposes. And if you want to use it for that, you should make sure it has a good sound, the sound sensor is a quality one, and the design is suitable too.
You need a quality sound sensor to get a high enough volume and to get the desired sounds. Professional electric violins have at least one sensor per string, allowing for accurate capturing of the sound. The result is a melodic, noise-free and powerful tone. If you also want to play on stage, the design also has significant importance.
Hardware and features
When choosing a certain model, there are some physical aspects that you should focus on. One of the most important parts of an electric violin is the pickup it has, as it will ultimately have a huge impact on how the instrument sounds.
Some violins have a pickup embedded in them while others have it resting between the bridge and the face of the instrument. Better violins also offer you the possibility to alter the volume and the tone using two control knobs. Players have different preferences when it comes to these knobs but what is important is how accessible they are, if you can use them while you play and also if they get in your way.
The tuners can be of two types, and the first of them is classic pegs. They provide a good look, but for better practicality, you should choose machine tuners, as those allow you to change the tuning quickly, in live plays. Also, if you like to exercise and still keep things quiet, look for electric violins with headphones output.
Looks and feel
There are certain electric violins that have a very futuristic design and people are often impressed by that look. However, some players prefer the classic, traditional violin look. No matter how wild the body style, the violins must conform to the standards regarding dimensions.
Every electric violin should give the feeling of playing on an acoustic instrument. Depending on the shape of the violin you will get a certain sensation when playing it. Factors that affect how such an instrument feels include the shape, the shoulder rest system, and the weight. Electric violins are designed to allow you to use your favorite shoulder rest with comfort.
Some models even have an adjustable rest system, while others use a shoulder strap to allow you to play hands-free, meaning you don’t have to hold the instrument. Weight is also an important factor – if your violin is too heavy you will get tired a lot quicker. Fortunately, most of the time, additional weight is balanced by a smart design that ensures you won’t feel too much pressing on your shoulder.
Most electric violins rely on a pickup to produce the sound and a pre-amp to help that pickup. How good these components are has a great impact on how the instrument sounds. Some models are passive, meaning that they don’t have the pre-amp part installed and their only advantage is that they don’t require a battery to work.
However, to get the best out of them, you need to use an external pre-amp. The context in which you use your violin most times should dictate what kind of model you choose. As such, if you use it mainly on stage, you need to also have control over the volume and at high volume, the electric violin shouldn’t sound noisy, hissy or anything like that.
High-end models have a smoother sound compared to the brittle one of the less-expensive violins, and that sound is produced by quality pickups.