Choosing a violin and electric fiddle is a complex task, taking into account all the different instruments that you can find out there. Unlike classical instruments, the electric violin can be found in many different shapes and colors, each violin coming with its own wide variety of effects. So let us help you make a decision depending on your budget and how you want to use the violin.
Cheap electric violins
For some people, the budget is a very important issue, and finding an electric violin for a very low price can prove difficult. Unfortunately, unlike acoustic instruments, electric violins don’t vary in price that much. You can find acoustic violins for as low as $100 or as high as thousands of dollars. Of course, the difference in quality between those is huge.
That is not the case with the electric violin, where the cheapest models can be found for $100 and the most expensive for about $5,000. Unfortunately, electric violins that cost under $500 aren’t very good. If you already own a classic violin, it’s recommended that you don’t purchase a cheap electric model, but rather invest in a quality pickup, amp and effects processor.
This could take about $300 out of your pocket, but it’s way better to attach the pickup to your reliable violin than to be frustrated by a cheap $300 electric model that will produce mediocre sounds.
There are many reasons why a cheap electric instrument is not recommended. First of all, the sound it produces is a brittle, nasal one. It’s hard to find a natural tone in a violin that costs less than $1000. Of course, you can use preamps, or other devices to warm up the tone to make it listenable, but this doesn’t always work.
And even if it works, you will end up investing more in the equipment than you initially wanted and that is not worth it. Cheap electric violins are most often made of cheap materials, and that means poor reliability. The materials used to make the violin have a huge influence on the tone and playability too.
$500 to $1,000
When you can spend more than $500 you have many more options to choose from. You can find decent instruments in this range, and some of them are good for silent practice. Some of them are even good as performance violins.
Depending on the maker you can find instruments that have high build quality, that can be played with ease, and have a good tone. In terms of color and design, the choices don’t vary too much, but you can still choose between a small number of colors. These electric violins have 4 or 5 strings usually.
You won’t get an extensive control of your tone, no extraordinary features, but you will be able to do your job if you manage to find a good violin in this price range. The good thing is that you won’t get disappointed by these violins and find yourself frustrated on stage because of a broken component. The tone should also be a consistent and pleasant one.
Be sure, however, that when you purchase a violin in this price range, you get it from a professional maker or a known brand. There are many retailers that sell cheap electric violin kits but they aren’t qualified to do adjustment work on the violin. If the seller isn’t interested in making the instrument as good as possible before selling it, chances are the customer service that comes after the sale is non-existent.
Electric violins need a lot of adjustment and even the best models from the most reputable makers still need some fixing to be done to their bridge curvature or pegs. That is why it’s important to buy from a reputable maker, so you don’t have to pay for those additional adjustments, or worse, be forced to do them yourself.
Mid-range electric violins
Once you go over $1,000 you can find some violins that show the manufacturers paid attention to the quality of the craftsmanship and details. The components are better, the build is more sturdy and it shows more quality and the appearance draws the attention more.
In this price range, you can also find electric violins that have many more of the features that such an instrument can provide. These violins can be used by professionals for performances or recording purposes.
Violins between $1,000 and $2,000 are well manufactured and provide a step up in terms of quality, components, and tone, compared to cheaper models. You can find violins featuring a dual-piezo pickup, or two pickups that have a blend feature. The preamp that helps with obtaining a better tone is almost a must in this category.
The material of choice for the body is also important for the manufacturers of these electric violins and in some cases, a Kevlar-carbon composite is used to obtain a rich tone. For those that like eccentric details, there are violins in this price range that are made of transparent acrylic and come with LEDs built into them. You can thus have a violin that lights up in many different colors.
You can also find a great handcrafted violin in this price range. Individual violin makers will be able to give you a good violin with gorgeous acoustic-like tone and you will be able to voice your opinion about the design and change it.
Electric violins that have a higher price than this are professional models that can be used in top-level performances. These are usually handcrafted and they have a lot of features that will let you experiment. They also have an interesting design, durable components and most importantly a very steady tone.
Their pickups are great quality and they provide a fantastic tonal output that covers all the frequencies. The sound of these electric violins can be compared to that of good acoustic violins.
If you are only interested in the quality of the tone and the playability of the instrument, there is no actual need to go over $3,000, as those will not improve. All the needed features can be found under the aforementioned sum. However, the higher the price, the more unique the wood or material that the violin is made of is.
You also get some really eccentric finishes or veneers. This is why, for a high price you are not investing in the quality of the instrument only, but you also acknowledge its value as a piece of art. Furthermore, if the electric violin is handmade for you, it’s a unique masterpiece. If you own such a beautiful instrument you will be impressing your audience with the look of it along with its sound.
Types of electric violins
Let’s not forget that there are different types of electric violins and each of them serves a certain purpose. Of course, that leads to different performances and thus the price varies from a type of electric violin to another.
Some people want an electric violin only for practicing or for playing it silently. There are headphone practice violins that allow you to plug a pair of headphones in them and let you practice in silence. Because they don’t need to produce a sound that is similar to the real deal, they are usually cheaper, and you can find some decent violins for this purpose for around $800.
Another type of electric violins that can be found for lower prices is the electro-acoustic violin. While not entirely electric, because they also rely on the acoustic properties of the classic violin, these instruments can offer a decent sound for a relatively low price, starting from $600.
Of course, there are violins that need to be more expensive, the performance ones. If you want to obtain more detail from your violin, a better tone, and more effects, you need to invest more. For a violin that can be used for professional recordings, you need to pay at least $1,000.