Maybe you’re here after you’ve finished reading our recent article about the best electric violins that you can find. And if you’re not, make sure to read that guide too. You might be tempted to start your music career with an electric violin, but that can be more challenging than you think. Here are some details that will help you choose wisely.
Beginners should look for acoustic violins
Many professional players won’t recommend an electric violin for a beginner for a number of reasons. Also, teachers would prefer if you had an acoustic violin. The main reason why acoustic violins are better for beginners is that they produce a resonant sound, unlike the electric violin which uses technology and wires to make the sound.
The fact that the musical notes resonate from a hollow wooden body gives a natural feeling and helps the player improve faster. When practicing, if you don’t turn your violin up in volume and you don’t have the necessary amplifying equipment, the sound will be a very muted and metallic one, in the case of electric violins. This sound is not great for practicing.
Furthermore, at first, you will mainly learn classical music, for which the acoustic violin is best suited. So if you’re not going to play a lot of new genres and your performing environment is a traditional one, it’s best if you stick with the acoustic violin. One such violin is better for these purposes in terms of sound and looks, and it won’t require amplification or anything like that, so you can start playing it immediately.
The good side
Although electric violins aren’t recommended for beginners, there are a lot of positive things that they can bring into a musician’s life. They are great for performances that revolve around contemporary genres of music, something like jazz or rock. These genres don’t rely on the classical tone provided by an acoustic violin.
Within newer styles of music, the electric violin is free to express its creative potential and offers a world of experimentation at the hand of the violinist. Electric violins are great for those musicians that want to expand their range and style.
The great advantage of the electric violin is that it offers you the possibility to practice silently when the situation asks for that. You just need a pair of headphones to plug into the inbuilt amp. But you can also play it really loud by plugging it into an exterior powerful amplifier.
There are some electric violins that will let you practice while a backing track plays so you will be able to perform the solos you want while the other instruments can be heard too. Most electric violins also offer a lot of effects, and you can plug in different pedals into them so you can obtain a huge number of sounds. You thus have a wide range of choices and you can express yourself however you want.
When recording, it’s much easier to plug in an electric violin than it is to record an acoustic one. The editing process can be simplified in this manner. Also, if you’re the type of person that likes eccentric looks, the electric violins offer a lot in that department. There are lots of shapes, colors or even sizes in which you can find an electric violin.
So why is the acoustic violin better?
Made of quality wood, acoustic violins have a hollow body and they produce their sound through two f-holes present on the face of the instrument. Acoustic violins require no amplification due to how they work, but you can amplify them if you wish.
The classic violin offers the most accurate representation of the sound most of us associate with the violin. It’s the classic tone and volume. While there are some quality electric violins that can replicate that sound, there will always be a small difference between the two types, which the professionals can sense.
That is why teachers and experts in the domain recommend starting with an acoustic violin, so you know exactly how the instrument should sound. You will also get the precise and correct feel of the instrument this way.
As already said, there are electric violins that can produce a similar sound to the classic ones, but their price is usually very high. For a beginner, price is most of the times an important aspect, so getting a violin for a low price is a must. Acoustic violins that aren’t too expensive can still produce a great sound, so they are much cheaper than their counterparts.
Better highs on classic violins
Another difference that can be noted between the two is that the classic violin is the one that has a better performance in the upper register. Its sound is a brighter, more resonant one. Also, when you’re playing in an ensemble you often don’t want most of the instruments to be acoustic and some of them electric, as it sounds unnatural.
That is another reason why teachers want you to get an acoustic violin. Setting up an electric violin is also more difficult, as you always need to carry an amp with you, and that thing is heavy. With an acoustic violin, once you’re sure it’s in good condition and in tune, you are ready to play it. An acoustic violin is great in those situations when you don’t have the means to amplify your instruments.
The number of strings
Let’s not forget about a certain aspect that totally differentiates a classic violin from an electric one. The electric violin doesn’t always have 4 strings and you can find models with 5, 6 or even more strings.
Because the electric violins have a solid body, they can accommodate more strings. Usually, the added strings are ones that produce lower sounds, a low C string, and a low F string are good examples. With the help of these strings, the electric violins go a bit into the note range of the viola. And that wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, but if you have more strings to play, there is more to learn.
If you already know to play some violin, you know that the clef used for this instrument is the treble one. But the viola usually uses the alto clef, so if you have some extra strings that let you play some viola parts, you also need to learn new musical notes. More than that, you need to be reading your music following two different clefs, and that’s no fun for a beginner.
There is a middle ground
While some people like the classic sound of the hollow body, others want to experiment more and need some electric help to do that. For those that like both of these things, there are electro-acoustic violins. These instruments combine the traditional look and sound of an acoustic violin while still offering the creative capabilities found in the electric models.
They have a hollow body, much like the traditional violin, and they also have electronic circuitry that allows them to be amplified. One difference between these violins and the electric ones is that they don’t offer you the possibility to practice silently. But you can use them to obtain many variations and effects in your sound and they will still be easy to play.