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The Ultimate Guide To Buying An Electric Violin

Electric Violin Buyer's Guide

There's absolutely no better time to buy an amplified electric violin than now! The world of music has changed dramatically within the past few years. Anybody with an iPhone gets Garageband for free. 10 years ago, It would've been like walking around with a 2 million dollar music studio in your pocket.

Music sharing is no longer reliant on record labels anymore. Any kid can experiment with any genre of music they want, then share it with millions of listeners within seconds through platforms like Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify, TikTok, and so much more.

Plugging your violin into your phone or computer is like plugging it into the digital world of 2020. And that's in addition to plugging your violin into any amp or speaker at a live venue to get your mad violin skills heard.

The question is, which electric violin is right for you? There are more and more options out there. And the price can range anywhere between $200 to $7000.

And that is where this guide comes in. By the end of this article, you'll have a clear understanding of which electric violin is best for you based on your needs!

And as always, our team is ready to answer any questions you may have by simply sending an email to us at info@greatviolincases.com

Table Of Contents

Why Do Musicians Get Electric Violins?

Why Get Electric Violin

To begin, let's start with the most basic question. Why get an electric violin in the first place? Now there's definitely a ton of reasons, but here are the most common ones we see:

  • I want to practice in silence at home through headphones. I don't want to bother my housemates or neighbors.
  • I need some way to sound louder. I play with other musicians that are plugging their instruments into amps or speakers. I want to plug in my violin too!
  • I want to mess around with effects. I want to try reverb, echo, delay, distortion, and other cool effects on my violin. I want to jam on my violin!
  • I want to record a clean violin sound directly into my recording software. I don't want to spend a ton of money on microphones or soundproofing my room. Or pausing every time a car drives by.
  • I want to produce music. I've already got Garageband, Logic Pro, or Ableton. I've got cool plugins. I want to produce music with my violin since I've already spent years practicing. And it's a lot easier for me than playing the keyboard.
  • I'm looking for a fretted violin. I play the guitar, but I want a bowed, sustained sound so I can try new melodies, not just chords.
  • I want the low sound of a C string, like I'm playing a cello on my violin. I'm looking for a 5-string violin.
  • I'm looking for a different tone. Something that my acoustic violin can't do.
  • Electric violins just look way too cool, I need one.

If you can relate to any of the reasons above, then you're going to be very happy with an electric violin!

Different types of electric violins

Now that we have an idea of why you should get an electric violin, let's take a look at some of the different types of electric violins, and why certain types may serve your needs better.

Silent Electric Violins

As the name suggests, these electricviolins are designed for practicing in silence. There's really nothing too fancy about these violins. It's safe to assume you're not performing in silence. So these violins usually aren't too "showy". They don't glow in the dark, or feature beautiful high-end varnishes. They're simply a tool for you to practice in silence.

And all you really need is a headphone jack. Some electric violins have ⅛ inch jacks, also known as mini jacks or 3.5mm jacks. These are the same as your Apple earphones. Most will feature ¼ inch jacks, also known as guitar jacks or 6.3mm jacks. Some electric violins have both.

 

Performance Electric Violins

Stage  Electric Violins

These violins are designed for performance on stage. They generally have higher quality tones. And they often feature volume and tone knobs. Some even have treble and bass EQ knobs. Such as the NS Design NXTa electric violins.

These are important features for violinists that have to play with other instruments on stage.

For example, you may need to tone down your bass frequencies if you're playing with a bass guitar. Or maybe you need to tone down your treble frequencies so that the vocals can shine through a little more. Performance electric violins basically give you a few options to do your own little "mixing" on your instrument.

Acoustic Electric Violins

If you can't decide to get an electric or acoustic violin why not get the best of both worlds! You still get the body of the violin. Which means sound is still projected even if it's not plugged in. But you also get the option to plug in and amplify.

This is great for electric violinists who may be asked to perform on the spot, even if they don't have any amps or speakers to plug into.

The most popular acoustic electric violins are the Glasser NY carbon fiber violins.

5-String Electric Violins

Perfect for classically trained violinists that have always loved the deeper sounds of the cello. The fifth string is a low C. Also great for fiddlers that want to do some serious fiddling across 5 different strings!

Good 5-string electric violins will have decent string spacing. So even if you spent your entire life practicing on 4 strings, the fifth string will be very easy to get used to. Cheap 5-string electric violins though, will make it almost impossible to play one string at a time.

Fretted Electric Violins

To proficient violinists that have spent years practicing finger positioning on their wooden acoustic violins, frets may not be all that appealing. In fact, it may almost be counterintuitive to a classically trained violinist.

However, for guitarists that have spent years honing in on their guitar skills on fretted fingerboards, this electric violin would be perfect. You'd be surprised how easy it is to transition from guitar to violin if you're already accustomed to frets.This is also a great option for beginner violinists that don't want to spend too many years on becoming proficient on a fretless fingerboard.

Discreet Electric Violin

Not sure if this is the official name for this type of instrument, but that's what we're calling it. These violins look exactly like traditional wooden violins. They're made of wood. And you wouldn't be able to tell it's electric until you notice the camouflaged volume & tone knobs on the side, and the ¼" jack on the back of the violin.

What purpose does this unique instrument serve you ask? It's great for orchestral musicians!Because you can't really play your electric violin in an orchestra. You'll stick out like a sore thumb.

With these discreet electric violins though, you get to do just that. And you get to plug in the same violin if you were playing in a band, or at church venues with choir. Plus you're getting the natural sound of the violin you're playing even when amplified.

The best discreet electric violins are The Realist violins.

Qualities Of A Good Electric Violin

Sound Quality

An acoustic violin can be worth millions because of the sound produced from the wooden sound box. For electric violins, the pickup determines the quality of the sound that is amplified.

An electric violin's pickup is a device that converts the mechanical vibrations of the strings and converts it into an electrical signal that is later amplified through amps or speakers. A cheap pickup can deliver awful tones and unwanted white noise.

A high-end pickup will capture every nuance of the vibrations produced and deliver rich and sonically pleasing tones. The sounds will feel organic. And bow strokes will be accurately captured as well.

Playability

A good electric violin should be comfortable to play. For example, if you were playing fifths, you shouldn't have to twist your finger left and right as you move to higher positions. This is often a result of poorly designed fingerboards or scroll placements. Same goes with a bridge. A nicely cut bridge should allow you to switch between strings seamlessly. With a poorly cut bridge, you'll find it difficult to play one string at a time.

Playability is also extremely important if you plan to use the electric violin to practice in silence. You do not want to practice on a poor quality instrument.It would be like practicing on the grand piano, then later practicing in silence through headphones on a cheap keyboard. You could actually be practicing "backwards".

Craftsmanship

An electric violin that is well crafted will also be intuitive to play. This includes the materials used to build the body and the electronics within. Cheap electric violins are often painted with cheap materials. The paint could actually melt off the instrument and onto your hands… yikes!

Good electric violins use quality materials that would enhance the overall playability of the instrument. Such as using real maple wood fingerboards, so that it feels like a real wooden acoustic fingerboard.

Luxury

expensive electric violin

Then comes the "Louis Vuitton" of electric violins. These type of electric violins are usually handcrafted by famous instrument designers with the highest quality materials and craftsmanship.

The Difference In Electric Violin Prices

The million dollar question. Or in this case, the "hundreds or thousands of dollars" question. Electric violins can range anywhere from $200 to $7000. We've just explored the qualities of good electric violins, but now let's take a look at what you actually get for your buck.

Electric Violins Under $500

In 2 simple words - not great. It's difficult for any instrument manufacturer to deliver quality sound, playability, and craftsmanship under $500. But for you more budget conscious musicians out there, you may be wondering, can't I use the tools I have in Garageband to make the sound better? Yes… and no.

One of the biggest issues with cheap electric violins is unwanted white noise. And that's difficult for any tool to get rid of without affecting the sound itself. Plus there's the issue of playability. It's not going to be very easy to play. It just really isn't worth the time and effort to be "fixing" the sound coming from these violins, and losing your creativity and motivation in the process.

If you had a budget of $500, we would suggest getting a nice violin pickup instead for your acoustic violin.

 

Electric Violins Between $500-$1000

In this range, you can get an electric violin with the most important aspects you need - decent sound, playability, and craftsmanship. The tone may not be as sonically full and rich as some higher-end electric violins, but you'll have a clean and accurate soundthat you can "go to town" on with effects to enhance the tones. And you won't have to deal with "fixing" the sound. Or materials that'll melt on your fingers.

Gewa Novita and NS Design WAV electric violins are some of the more popular ones under $1000.

Electric Violins Between $1000-$3000

Now you're getting into a whole different class of instruments. Besides great sounds, playability, and craftsmanship, the electronics on these instruments can produce more complex sonics and tones. These violins sound brilliant, even without any effects. And you just get inspired more by these sounds. It's like the difference between Yamaha and Moog synthesizers. Both are synthesizers. But one of them sounds like it was designed for karaoke, while the other sounds like Daft Punk.

Electric Violins Over $3000

Electric violins over $3000 don't necessarily sound better than electric violins between $1000-$3000. The difference is luxury. In this range, you're paying for craftsmanship, materials, and the name of the famous instrument designer that handcrafted this instrument. Think of these violins as the "Louis Vuitton" of electric violins.

Top Reasons To Avoid Cheap Electric Violins

cheap electric violin

As mentioned before, you want to avoid electric violins under $500. And why are we mentioning this again? Cause it really sucks to be stuck with one of these instruments, and we just want to make sure you know it's really not worth it. And here are some of the top reasons why:

  1. Cheap electronics = white noise. Which is extremely difficult to fix, and not fun to play with.
  2. Poor quality craftsmanship. This could mean unbalanced fingerboard, scrolls, and bridge. Even if you wanted to get a cheap electric violin to practice in silence, you'll be practicing incorrectly on these instruments. It's like practicing on a cheap keyboard for a grand piano performance.
  3. Poor materials can be dangerous. We've actually heard of cheap paint melting onto the fingers of violinists. Really cheap paint can melt from body heat.
  4. Dull sound. Cheap electric violins sound like toys because...they kinda are! You're not going to be very inspired or motivated to practice with the dull sounds coming out of these instruments.
  5. Short life span. Electric violins under $500 usually do not come with warranty. The makers of these violins aren't confident enough in these instruments to guarantee it'll last, even within 6 months!

Which Electric Violin Is Right For Me?

There isn't one electric violin that is suitable for every violinist out there. Because every violinist has different needs.So finding the right electric violin for you, largely depends on your reasons for getting one in the first place.

If you just want to practice in silence, you don't need an electric violin with all the tone and EQ knobs. You can get an electric violin between $500-$1000 with decent sound, quality, and craftsmanship, so that your practice time on this instrument is worth it.

If you perform on stage, you may want to get an electric violin with tone and EQ knobs, so that you can do a little "mixing" on your instrument. You can get $500-$1000 electric violins with good and clean sound that you can throw effects on with your pedals, or you can go for an electric violin for $1000 and up with more unique and brilliant sonics; where you may not want too many effects on.

If you want to produce and record music at home, you may want a decent electric violin with a clean sound to go directly into Garageband. Then throw on some crazy effects for some unique sound design. You may also want an acoustic electric violin, so you get more of that authentic violin sound going directly into your recording software.

The possibilities are endless. And once you really get passionate about these instruments, you'll most likely have more than one electric violin. Just like how some guitarists have several guitars. Each has a different purpose.

 

Should I Get A Violin Pickup Instead?

electric violin pickup

Depending on what you're trying to achieve with your violin, you may consider getting a violin pickup instead.

Reasons To Get A Violin Pickup

  1. A $200 violin pickup is better than a $500 electric violin. The pickup is responsible for the quality of the sound. Getting a good pickup for your acoustic violin is better than getting a cheap electric violin with a cheap pickup. If you're on a budget, go with a pickup instead.
  2. Amplify the sound of your acoustic violin. You love the sound of your acoustic! And you just simply want that sound amplified through amps or speakers.
  3. Record the sound of your acoustic violin. You've already got Garageband, now you just want to record your violin without having to spend a ton on a decent microphone or soundproofing your room.

Reasons To Get An Electric Violin Instead Of A Pickup

  1. Play with unique sounds. Think of electric guitars. There's a ton of genres that are just more suitable for electric guitars than acoustic guitars. Same with electric violins. The tones are different.
  2. Get the most out of effects.Electric violins deliver clean and powerful direct tones that you can shape and manipulate with effects. You can do the same with pickups on acoustic violins, but not as clean as electric violins. You're still be getting a lot of the "acoustic" elements. And a lot of acoustic pickups still capture reverberation (reverb) of the acoustic violin. Which means if you decide to throw on a reverb effect on top of an acoustic violin with reverb already captured by the pickup, the sound may be drowning in reverb.
  3. Avoid acoustic violin sound in your ear. This is especially true for sound design. You can still throw all kinds of effects to create some really unique sounds by using an acoustic violin and a pickup, but you'll always be hearing the original sound of your violin in your left ear. It's like playing an organ but hearing a piano in your left ear. It may get in the way of your creativity.
  4. Look awesome on stage. Electric violins just look cool. And since they're still pretty rare, all your friends will see it and say "Woow, what is that?". Electric violins are great icebreakers too.

Final Thoughts

Electric violins really open up a lot of new doors to the world of music. Especially if you want to adapt to the way music is changing these days. If you want to sound louder, record better, explore genres, and get inspired like never before, then you're going to have a lot of fun with electric violins!


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