Electric Violins: pros and cons
Cheap fiddle? Better pass!
There’s something essential to keep in mind: NEVER buy a cheap electric violin. Don’t make this huge mistake. It doesn’t matter how badly you want one: it’s just burning cash. It’s virtually impossible to make them sound good.
Aim for a violin above a Yamaha SV 100; anything below is pretty much useless. I live in Argentina, where unfortunately (due to import regulations) you can’t find many alternatives; that’s the best thing I could get my hands on. It took me a long time to find the proper equalization to make it sound well, and I’m still working on improving this. To get started, it’s a good violin; but, again: don’t go for cheap ones!
On tone and sound
There pros of electric violins are the exact opposite of the cons for the acoustic ones. With electric violins, you can forget about constant feedback, you can use as much gain as you want on your pedals, and you can record however you like on the studio, even with drums right next to us.
The main drawback for electric violins are the sound and tones. To improve the sound of my Yamaha, I rely on my equalization pedal. However, the mids lack depth, and the highs are too sharp. The beautiful, deep sound you get from the natural weight from the bowing arm is solely achievable with acoustic violins. That “scratch” at the beginning of a note, is a response to the weight and touch of the bow. Equalization won’t improve this.
The same goes for tones: it’s not possible to achieve the soft and crystalline pianissimo, or the dense and vibrant forte. Sound is, in general, all the same tone; it feels strange (even annoying) to not get that immediate response on the string at the first stroke of the bow. Electric violins will never sound like acoustic ones.
To sum up
Keeping all this information in mind, it’s possible to start a new path of learning and experimentation with the electric violin, its sound and its reaction.
Weight the pros and cons, and choose according to what you really need to play. It’s possible to bring both violins to a performance or recording, and decide which one is a better fit for each… or even mix both of them! (I have). What truly matters is to decide what the song or the gig requires… Nothing’s off-limits! Rock on!